FORMER footballer Jimmy Case stepped in to lend a hand to support a barn owl conservation project.

When its barn owl-box building workshops were cancelled due to lockdown, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which is based in Fordingbridge, put out the call for friends and family to help.

Three-time European Cup winner Jimmy picked up his tools and set about making many of the 64 flat-packed nest boxes that are set to be installed across farms in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset early this year as part of a new barn owl conservation scheme.

Hampshire-based Jimmy, who represented AFC Bournemouth, Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion across a playing career spanning more than 20 years, said: “Giving my spare time to the Owl Box Initiative has been great.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing pictures of the nest boxes up and in place, ready for new occupants, and getting feedback on how the birds progress.”

The Owl Box Initiative is a Green Recovery Challenge Fund awarded project run by the GWCT, working with 100 farms, which collectively cover 40,000 hectares, to inspire farmers and communities to work for the conservation of the iconic barn owl.

The project grant will allow GWCT scientists to build on existing barn owl monitoring work with local farmer cluster groups and expand to new sites across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, as well as working with volunteers and young people.

The project will also GPS tag a number of barn owls to identify their preferred type of habitat and track small mammals across farmland to understand prey availability.

The Owl Box Initiative staff have thanked everyone who has helped to build barn owl boxes to allow the project to move forward.

Get more Forest news.

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

Email with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.