WILDLIFE lover Chris Packham was the star of the show at the official opening of the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

The naturalist, nature photographer, author and presenter of BBC2’s Springwatch officially opened the new £1million attraction to the delight of fans and budding young nature experts.

Along with the Mayor of Bournemouth, Cllr Rod Cooper, and representatives from Heritage Lottery and Canford Environmental, Mr Packham marked the official opening of the resource and learning centre by unveiling a special plaque.

He said: “This is being used by a great breadth of people – not just nature geeks or geology geeks but everyone.

“Part of my job is to go onto television and enthuse about wildlife and tell people about it.

“I think that is simply a way of showing people wildlife and exciting them, but to get the reward we have to get out ourselves.

“You have got to get out – touch it and feel it – get slimed, bitten and stung by it.”

Pausing halfway through his speech, he asked the crowd for quiet to listen to a skylark.

He added: “What we need are centres like this to provide resources to excite young people.

“We have got a fantastic resource in the UK but we have got to make sure people develop a deep-rooted affinity for it.”

Thanks were also given to the volunteers who help run the centre for their dedication and support.

Opened to the public earlier this year, the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre, based near the Iron Age double dykes at the main entrance to the headland, boasts an array of interactive exhibits.

As well as cameras set-up to record the peninsula’s many bird species, the centre contains artefacts covering the history of the area.