SPRING has finally sprung!
Just as we were getting ready to give up hope, the sun finally showed its face this week - just in time for the school Easter holidays – peeking out from behind the clouds and giving us the first indication a long, cold and snowy winter might, at last, be coming to a close.
The welcome weather was a relief for tourist attractions across South Yorkshire which have faced a tough time with disappointing visitor numbers in recent weeks.
Cheryl Williams, director of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster, said: “It’s been such a hard season and I think we were all beginning to feel like it would never end.
“But this week has been wonderful. People who haven’t ventured out in months were so excited by the sunshine, they wrapped up and came to see us.
“We had 3,000 visitors on Bank Holiday Monday alone, who got to walk in the fresh air and see the animals.
“What a difference a bit of sunshine makes!”
Staff at the Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife and Falconry Centre, in North Anston, were also delighted by the improving weather.
Animal presenter Heather Scott said: “It’s been such a fantastic week, we’d almost forgotten what nice weather felt like.
“Our animals have been in a better mood and more active thanks to the sunshine and we’ve had quite a few of them laid out sunbathing which our visitors have really enjoyed.
“The birds especially haven’t enjoyed flying in the drizzle and wind this winter, so they’ve been spreading their wings and getting stuck into the bird shows this week.”
Graves Park Animal Farm in Norton, Sheffield, has also been enjoying a busy week.
Simon Knagg, for the farm, said: “It’s been tough working in the snow but we’ve just kept going. It’s been hard and visitor figures have reflected that.
“Nobody wanted to come out and we’ve lost a lot of money, but this week has been the turning point and visitors have flocked out to see the animals again which has been great.”
And at Cannon Hall Farm, near Barnsley, director and farmer Robert Nicholson agrees that spring has broken just in the nick of time.
He said: “A couple of weeks ago we were all so despondent at the farm and feeling as though Easter was going to be a white wash-out.
“We’ve had weeks of fighting through snowdrifts to do chores and shovelling carparks for visitors who weren’t showing up. This week has answered our prayers - what a turnaround.”
The improvement follows the coldest March in Sheffield for more than a century.The city also had the most snow – with 21cm falling – in more than 30 years.