Oliver Ellis-Birdsall (9) reading a book called Owl Babies to some very attentive owl babies.

Owl centre goes viral online as family thank ‘amazing’ support for appeal

It’s been a crazy week for Baytree Owl and Wildlife Centre as the family behind it have been inundated with offers of support while a video of son Oliver (9) has been watched by over three million people.

As reported last week, the Weston centre run by Mark Birdsall and Louise Ellis appealed for support concerned they only had enough money to feed their around 100 birds for a few weeks after being unable to open for Easter due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But following their appeal, they’ve raised around £5,000 to keep the birds fed and now every single bird in the centre is sponsored.

As if that’s not enough, the couple posted a video online of eldest son Oliver Ellis-Birdsall (9) reading a book called Owl Babies to some very attentive owl babies. It’s now gone viral.

Mark says it’s received over three million views as of today (Monday) and has led to attention from right across the world, leading to even more sales.

“It’s just been amazing,” he said. “The support from the public has been incredible and now randomly we’ve just put this little video of Oliver on and that’s gone crazy.

“Oliver and his brother Bobby (4) are always helping us out at the centre, feeding the owls and topping up their drinking water.

“We’re home schooling him while still looking after the hours and he had to read his book Little Owls, so he said he’d like to read it to the owls.

“As soon as he started a few of them came over and really seemed to be paying attention. We took a small video, put it online and now it’s just gone everywhere.”

It follows the around £5,000 raised by the centre through donations, the purchases of books and learning materials from the store and the sponsorship of birds.

It includes a brilliant donation of £1,200 from Brian Thompson Windows of Weston which is enough to cover one month’s worth of food for the centre.

“The public have just been amazing,” Mark continued. “We’ve had people getting in touch from all over including Australia.

“The birds are all sponsored. One person who is a regular sponsor of birds just rang up and asked how many weren’t sponsored yet. There was only about 10 then anyway and he just said he’d sponsor them all.

“The donation from Brian Thompson Windows is just fantastic.

“We’ve had so many donations including anonymous ones. One was an anonymous donation of £500 and I e-mailed back to say thank you but they’ve not responded, so I’ve no idea who that was.

“We should be alright now for a few months, so long as we can re-open in summer. If that’s the case then we’ll be fine for the end of year.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us.”

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