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Caithness News Bulletins July 2007

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Seadrift Centre Officially Opened
Seadrift, the visitor centre that focuses on the natural heritage of the north coast of Caithness was officially opened to the public today (Monday 23rd July, 2007) by Councillor Drew Hendry, Highland Council's Chairman of Planning Environment and Development Committee.

Managed by The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service, "Seadrift" is the new name for the recently refurbished visitor centre. The centre has seen a complete makeover with 100,000 funding from The Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, LEADER+ and HIE Caithness and Sutherland.

Located at Dunnet sands about one mile from the village of Dunnet, Seadrift visitor centre, is also used as a base for Highland Council's Rangers.

Following the official opening of the Seadrift visitor centre at Dunnet Beach, Councillor Drew Hendry, chairman of the Highland Council's planning, environment and development committee views a whale bone crux donated by Katherine Finlayson (left), Dunnet. The ribbon to officially open the centre was cut jointly by Councillor Hendry, Ms Finlayson and Tori Mackenzie (2nd left), Dixonfield, Thurso, who recorder the Caithness dialect poem, "e' Caithness Midgie" for the listening centre. Looking on is Mary Legg Highland Council's Caithness Ranger who is based at the centre.

Visitors to the centre can view an exhibition about seabirds and their "life on the ledge"; the Pentland Firth and its marine life as well as the wildlife of the dunes, farmland and forest. The exhibition also highlights what is special about Dunnet Bay throughout the seasons. Children can size-up against height and weight charts and scales so that they can compare themselves to the local wildlife.

While declaring Seadrift officially open, Councillor Hendry said: "Highland Council's Rangers have worked here at Dunnet Pavilion for over 20 years. They do a terrific job informing and educating people of all ages about the natural marine and landward environment of Caithness.

After jointly cutting the ribbon to officially open the Seadrift visitor centre at Dunnet Beach, Councillor Drew Hendry chairman of The Highland Council's planning, environment and development committee, Ms Katherine Finlcayson, (2nd right), Dunnet and Tori Mackenzie, (right), Dixonfield, Thurso, are shown the baleen of a Minke Whale, by Mery Legg the Council's Caithness Ranger based at the centre. The whale had been washed uip on the east coast of Caithness within the past ten years.

"In addition to locals and visitors to the area receiving first class information, advice and service from their local Ranger they can now also enjoy a first class visitor experience at the Seadrift Visitor Centre."

While Mary Legg, Highland Council's Caithness Ranger thanked the Council's funding partners in the refurbishment project, she added: "We would like to thank StudioLR and Eastern exhibition & display both of Edinburgh for their magnificent designs and installations of the exhibition. Also we thank writers Elspeth Wills from Edinburgh and Ralph Macgregor from Thurso; and local poets Donald Mackay from Bower and George Gunn from Thurso for allowing us to use their works in the displays. Photographers Ken Crossan and Iain Sarjeant also provided stunning visuals.

Mary said: "The Whale bone Cruck in the exhibition has been salvaged from our previous Ranger exhibition, for which we owe our gratitude to Ms Katherine Finlayson of Dunnet for her kind donation."

The centre is open daily (except Saturdays) during May, June and September from 2 - 5.30pm and in July and August from 10:30am - 5.30pm. Admission is free but donations are welcomed.