PLANS to open an outdoor education centre in the New Forest National Park have received a £200,000 boost.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded a grant to a project named after a teenage naturalist who was killed in an accident in 2013.

Cameron Bespolka, of Winchester, was on holiday in the Austrian Alps when the accident happened.

A new facility called Cameron’s Cottage will provide accommodation and outdoor pursuits for youth groups and charities as well as schools, colleges and universities.

The £200,000 grant will go towards the cost of furnishing the cottage and organising a raft of nature-related activities.

The project is the result of a partnership between the RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust, with support from organisations such as the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Cameron's Cottage, due to open later this year, occupies part of a 386-hectare nature reserve known as Franchises Lodge.

RSPB spokesperson Beth Markey said: "The funding provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund is vital in helping us provide the best possible experience for guests.

“Cameron’s Cottage is a brilliant place that gives people a unique opportunity to completely absorb themselves in trees, plants and wildlife, free from the concerns of daily life.

“There’s nowhere more idyllic than Franchises Lodge. It's earned the nickname ‘the secret forest’ and it’s easy to see why.”

The first group through the doors will be Black2Nature, which provides outdoor excursions for Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) young people.

Members have already taken part in a trial activity day at the centre, describing it as great fun and unlike anything they have done before.

Cameron's mother, Corinne, said: “Cameron was a young naturalist who loved wildlife. His stay in a similar cottage was an experience he spoke of frequently and was central to the naturalist he became.

“We are keen that other young people can experience something similar and set up the Cameron Bespolka Trust in his memory.

"A stay at Cameron’s Cottage will immerse them in nature, engage them with wildlife and benefit their wellbeing.

"We are delighted to partner with the RSPB who work tirelessly to protect wildlife and bring nature into everyone’s lives."