Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

Last weekend I took my two year old Daughter to the Jungle Experience at Manor Heath in Halifax.

It's an amazing place, where you can see tropical plants, butterflies and Quails running around your feet. It is entirely funded by what people choose to put in the donation boxes.

It was a quiet, rainy day and we found ourselves the only visitors. The place was being looked after by a lovely Senior Gentlemen who was tending to the Quail chicks. He let my Daughter go to look at the tiny birds. 

After passing a few moments in casual chat I asked him about the future of the place. He informed me that it was under threat. It has over 80,000 visitors per year, but I was informed that despite having over 300 visitors the previous Sunday only £4 was donated.

The plan is introduce a mandatory charge for year, and if it isn't financial viable after that then closure beckons.

What was moving was the fact that he loved the place, and tended the animals and flora with love and care. He knew the different Quail, despite their number, by plumage alone. He explained that what really made him sad was that so many poor families living locally were known to him. He knew them from being babes in arm to eight year old children. He knew the difference such a lovely, peaceful oasis made to some very disadvantaged families.

While this was conveyed to me, he didn't even mention the fact if it closed it would almost certainly mean he wouldn't work again. That wasn't his concern.

No one would argue that butterflies should trump care for the elderly. However, are we to leave local services to entirely utilitarian functions? What about the aspects of life that add quality and open our eyes to the rich planet we share?

It would be a tragic loss to lose a wonderful place that brightens up the lives of people whose access to such environments would otherwise be non existent.

More importantly, it would even more tragic for Calderdale Council to lose such wonderful, inspirational people such as the lovely gentleman who is so devoted to his service to the community.

1 comment:

  1. Garry,

    Tristam Hunt agrees with you.. he outlined a policy for charging [with concessions]...

    In future, please post your link through so that we can all this material