SUFFOLK Wildlife Trust is in a race against time to raise £100,000 as it attempts to buy the country park at Knettishall Heath.
The trust has been awarded £720,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has until the end of the month to raise a further £100,000 to secure the site.
A susbtantial bequest from William and Mary McAtamney, from Ipswich, has enabled the trust to press ahead with the purchase, which will cost a total of just over £1 million and includes three years of ranger management
Knettishall is one of the largest surviving areas of Breckland and much of it is a site of special scientific interest.
The heath was previously leased by Suffolk County Council from the Ribblesworth Estate as a country park. To support the creation of the nature reserve, the county is giving the riverside meadows – which it owns – to the trust and the site will include adjoining woodlands, creating 434 acres of reserve and five miles of new nature trails.
One of the fund-raising efforts being planned is a chilly dip by Green councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer ,who will be immersing himself in the Little Ouse as part of the Big Winter Splash for Knettishall on January 28.
He aims to raise £2,500 and for every £250 raised will stay in the icy waters for five seconds.
The county councillor for Tower is celebrating the trust’s 50th birthday and his own half century with the icy challenge.
County councillor Joanna Spicer, who represents Blackbourn, has also donated £1,000 from her locality budget to the project.
The trust hopes to introduce Exmoor ponies on to the heath to help maintain its open landscape. To donate to the campaign, go to www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org and to support Cllr Ereira-Guyer, go to www.justgiving.com/BigWinterSplash4Knettishall