Thursday 2 September 2021

South Hill Bat Project – helping bats and humans share their space and keep the roof over both our heads!

 By Judith Ayers


During lockdown, St Sampson’s Church in Cornwall has become home to some very special, regionally rare and declining Natterer's bats.

In May 2021 two families of bats were found in our roof.  We discovered that we have, common pipistrelles and the more infrequent Natterer's bat. The UK population of Natterer’s bats is of international importance and they are listed as declining within the red data book for Cornwall.  

This was both a blessing and a problem!

St Sampson’s needs urgent roof works to keep the rain out and the bats need their maternal home to be undisturbed. The bats would be in danger if we carried out the works in May and hence we have to postpone the work until we have a licence and the babies have left the nest.  Whilst bat habitats are protected by law, it falls upon us as volunteers to fund their habitat conservation and enable them to thrive.

Dr Honor Gay, Bats in Churches Project agrees: ‘churches are crucial sanctuaries for Natterer’s bat’s and I applaud the church community at St Sampson’s for living alongside their important maternity roost’.

The extra cost, on top of vital roof repairs to keep the bats safe is £6,000.  We had to find a way to raise that money and quickly and we came up with a plan for a campaign to sponsor a bat.

The survey identified 30 bats flying in and out to their roosts so each bat needs £200 rent - although babies live free!   The campaign suggests you can sponsor a whole bat or a contribution towards it (whole bat £200, wing £50, leg £20 echolocation hearing £10). 

The Bishop of Truro, Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, was the first to sponsor a bat and he named it Acro-bat.  He said:

‘Learning to live in harmony with nature, rather than trying to curb and control it, is one of the greatest challenges of our time. That’s why I’m very supportive of the ‘South Hill ‘Sponsor a bat appeal’ – and why I’m delighted to be sponsoring a bat myself. Please do consider how you could help support these amazing creatures – and the lovely community of St Sampson’s, South Hill.’

In return for sponsoring a whole bat, the sponsor can chose the name.  For a contribution towards a bat, the name is pre selected.  The sponsor receives a certificate with the bats name on it and full details of the project.

Donations can be made via Just Giving page South Hill Bat Project -helping bats and humans share their space. - JustGiving  then send an e mail to  to receive your certificate or, by sending a cheque made out to ‘The Rector and Church Wardens of South Hill - to Judith Ayers, Southview Barn, 83 Launceston Road, Callington, Cornwall PL17 8DS.

For further details of South Hill Bat Project, helping bats and humans share their space.

Contact Judith Ayers or  St Sampsons Unlocked | Facebook   or  St Sampson's, South Hill - A Church Near You

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