Batwoman Robin and her crusade to help Northern Ireland’s bats


robin talk

Robin gives her final Bat Annual General Meeting review in Cultra

Robin Moffitt is a well-known name in Bat Conservation, having received an MBE for her dedication to these amazing mammals.  After 28 years as a member of the Northern Ireland Bat Group with a long stint as Chair of the group’s committee, Robin has decided to stand down.  She has helped train a new generation of bat workers including the new committee. She lives with her husband, granddaughter and dog in Helen’s Bay, County Down and continues to care for injured and grounded bats. We put some questions to her…..

What made you start working with bats?

I joined the Northern Ireland Bat Group in 1986, one year after it was formed. I did an extra curriculum course at Queens University Belfast on bats. While I was there, Ian Forsyth asked me to join the bat group and train for my bat licence. I was always interested in wildlife and bats were one of my favourites as they were so misunderstood. I loved the myths that surrounded them. I then became Chair of the bat group in 1988.

What is the most unusual or funny thing that has happened working with bats over the years?

I have had so many funny and weird happenings when doing bat calls!

One was over 15 years ago when I was in an old 17th Century house that was supposed to be haunted by a murdered peddler.  The story goes that the peddler would whistle and stomp with his wooden leg to warn people to stay away.  I was with Ian and Pamela Forsyth at the time. I was upstairs and Pamela was waiting outside for bats to emerge. Suddenly I heard whistling and stomping getting louder and nearer. Ian went on looking out the window and paid no attention. Just as I thought I was going to faint with fright, Pamela came in saying ‘I know Ian is getting deaf but I thought you could hear me whistling! I have had to climb up all these stairs!’ She had caught a solitary bat and after whistling to get our attention, had stomped up the stairs. Ian hadn’t heard a thing and just stood there oblivious.

You (along with Donna Allen) started a special bat club for children, tell us a bit about that.

Robin at an event

Spreading the message

The young bat worker’s club is aimed at primary school children and encourages them to learn all about the environment and bats. They play games and also do batty crafts and make bat boxes. The club runs from October to May in Belfast Zoo and in October 2016 we are hoping to start new branches in Cultra Folk Museum and at Creggan Country Park, Derry. I have wanted to start something for young bat enthusiasts for years. One day I was up at the zoo when I met up with a former work colleague and we got to talking and the idea was put to him. Donna
Allen arranged for me to meet Mark Challis and explain what we planned to do and he kindly offered us a room for free. We are the first and I think only bat club for children in the British Isles. We are now in our 7th year. I always felt there should be something to hold the young people’s interest, they were always interested in the bat talks but could not join the group.

Hopefully we are encouraging the bat workers of tomorrow.

She may have left the committee but Robin is still dedicated to bat conservation. She will continue to work as a member of the group helping with talks, walks, exhibitions, young bat worker club and training new bat volunteers.

Thank you Robin for everything you have done for bats in Northern Ireland over the past 28 years!