Easing of restrictions comes just in time for conservation centre

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Sarah Saunders

Outdoor attractions including theme parks and zoos have also been able to re-open from today, halfway through the Easter holidays, typically one of their busiest times of year.

Hemsley Conservation Centre near Sevenoaks say if lockdown had gone on much longer they might not have survived.

"It's been incredibly tough. Money wise these guys don't go to sleep, they need food, heat, attention.  And with our main source of income gone it was a real struggle to fund what we do here".

  • Harry Weedon, Operations Manager

Although visitors haven't been able to support the centre during lockdown, they've still managed to find a way to keep them ticking over.

Harry says: "When all the supermarkets dried up in lockdown one it blew us away, when all our food dried up, there was a lack of food because all our food is donated".

If there was a backwards step in the easing of restrictions Hemsley Conservation Centre say they would have been in "real difficulty". Credit: ITV News Meridian

The team at the centre say that had there been a backwards step in the easing of restrictions they'd have been in trouble.

Harry says: "We are in the last couple of weeks where we were "we need to open now". So if we had gone back a step and we hadn't been able to open we would have been in real difficulty".

  • "It gives us a break from the noise inside" - relieved parents happy to be back

For the children visiting, today was nothing short of exciting. For the parents, it was a story of relief.

"It gives us a break from the noise inside.  The pubs are open, the shops are open but e chose to get in the country and check out some local conservation" one dad says.

"The kids love the animals so, we'd rather go into the outside space rather than shopping centres" says another parent.

Harry says it's been a nerve wracking few weeks getting everything ready and Covid safe, but are happy that they've been able to open and they can now work towards securing the centre's future.