A family of barn owls are sleeping happily through a major development at a Chester hospice after a builder took special measures to ensure their nest remained undisturbed.
Ewloe-based Anwyl Construction had started work on a £2.2 million extension to the well-known Hospice of the Good Shepherd, at Backford, near Chester, when the owls were discovered.
The award-winning construction company have been working with Cheshire West and Chester Council and local wildlife experts to ensure the owls have been left in peace.
Anwyl Construction Site Manager Steve Langford explained: “We discovered the nesting box near the site was occupied so we have had it cordoned off and made sure it is secure.
“Now we’re happy to report that the pair of barn owls there have hatched three chicks and all seem to be doing well.
“We have put up warning signs to keep people away from the nest and restricted access to that area of the site and we’ve even used low-noise whisper generators to help them get a good day’s sleep.”
The project to provide a much-needed extension to the Hospice is also well advanced and will double the size of the existing building in a development which will hugely increase the service the charity provides there.
The Hospice has already raised over £1.7 million towards the total cost of the new extension and are appealing for help to raise the remaining £460,000.
Among the fund-raising efforts is a buy a brick appeal and a golf day at Eaton Golf Club, Waverton.
Apart from ensuring the safety of the owls Anwyl have moved over 4,000 cubic metres of soil, about 1500 tons, and sunk steel pilings 12 metres deep to retain the land on the sloping site.
Simon Rose, Anwyl Commercial Manager, said: “It has been quite a complex build and of course it’s also a site where, apart from the owls, we also have to be sensitive to the residents at the hospice, their visitors and local residents but we are on schedule for completion in the autumn.
“It’s a traditional style build to remain in keeping with the existing hospice and we are using locally based contractors to ensure that the area benefits from the investment that the Hospice has made in its new facilities.”
The Hospice was opened in 1989 by Diana, Princess of Wales, and annually currently provides care for over 1,500 adults from West Cheshire, Chester and Deeside with terminal illnesses.
The new extension will enable the hospice to increase and enhance the services they provide on an in-patient and day care basis.
The new building, which has a ground source heating system, will house therapy rooms, four ensuite single rooms, rooms for clinical treatment, counselling, creative and occupational therapies and physiotherapy, consulting and training as well as a new café and shop and a garden and patio with raised beds to help patients enjoy gardening.
Steve Hoy, Chief Executive of the Hospice, said: “It will double the size of the old vicarage building that will enable us to provide improved access and facilities to manage the complexity of illness many of our patients have. It will also increase our capacity to provide Day Therapy services.
“It will provide three new therapy rooms for the treatments we provide, including acupuncture, and enable us to work with students from Chester University and other colleges to provide creative therapies alongside our staff and volunteers.
“It’s all about providing better quality care for our patients and a better working environment for our staff.
“As people live longer they have more complex needs and we’re there to provide compassion, care and kindness when people need it most.
“The work is progressing very well and we’re very pleased with the progress Anwyl have made and we’re looking forward to it opening on time.”
For more information on the Anwyl group go to http://www.anwyl.co.uk and for more on the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, including details of their fund-raising events, go to http://www.hospiceofthegoodshepherd.com