A family from Ventnor got a surprise at Dinosaur Isle on Sunday 8 February when they became the museum’s millionth visitors.
Lee and Alison Starling and their daughters Tamlyn and Kaitlyn walked through the doors just before midday to take the total number of customers since the museum opened in 2001 past the magic number.
As part of the celebrations, Kaitlyn and Tamlyn each put a handprint on a special plinth which will remain outside the museum, recognising the milestone. The family were also given a yearly pass to the museum.
The museum has predicted it would reach the millionth customer figure on the day and was hosting a free fun day.
General manager Peter Pusey said: “We needed 474 people to come through the doors on Sunday, but ended up with nearly 1400 in total at the free fun day. The Starling family were the lucky ones to take the number past one million.
“I think they were a little shocked but were very happy and had a great time at the museum. It is certainly something they won’t forget for a while.”
Alison Starling added: “This was our first visit to Dinosaur Isle as we’d seen the event advertised and because there was plenty to do for the kids we decided to pay a visit.
“We were really surprised when the alarm sounded and to then be told by staff that we were the millionth visitors. It was so lovely for Tamlyn and Kaitlyn to have their hands cast in the cement outside, which will be lovely for them to always see as they get older.
“We feel honoured and would like to thank Dinosaur Isle for a lovely day and we are looking forward to spending more time there this summer with our free yearly pass we won.”
The museum first opened in August 2001 and has been going strong ever since. It holds tens of thousands of fossils, and regularly hosts popular fossil walks and school visits. Memorable discoveries down the years include a new species of pre-historic crocodile and a partial skeleton of a Brachiosaur.
Councillor Shirley Smart, Executive member for tourism and economy, said: “I was very happy to be at the museum on Sunday when the Starling family became the millionth visitor.
“The museum is a major part of the Isle of Wight’s tourism industry and I would like to congratulate all the staff and volunteers, past and present, who have helped the attraction reach this incredible milestone.”
Photos from the fun day are available to view on Dinosaur Isle’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dinosaurisle.