IN JUST 10 day,s Suffolk people have pulled together and raised £100,000 to enable Suffolk Wildlife Trust to go buy Knettishall Heath.
This week, the trust celebrated with youngsters from Hopton Primary School who are holding their own fund-raiser today.
The race to raise the massive sum was launched on January 7 and on Wednesday the trust reached its critical milestone.
The trust was awarded £720,000 of Heritage Lottery funding towards the purchase of the heath, which has previously been leased by Suffolk County Council and run as a coutryside park.
As part of the funding agreement, the trust had to raise £100,000 itself.
Audrey Boyle, for the SWT, said: “It says a lot about the people of Suffolk who treasure the heath.”
Fund-raising will continue to help pay for the trust’s conservation work on the heath – including an icy dip in the Little Ouse by Green councillor Mark Ereirera-Guyer on Saturday.
The trust is now on course to purchase the land from owners Riddlesworth Estate. The county council is giving the trust riverside meadows which it owns.
This will create 434 acres of reserve and five miles of new nature trails.
Much of the heath is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is home to the rare grey carpet moth and maiden pink.
The Little Ouse, which flows through it, attracts otter, water vole, kingfishers and spotted flycatchers and it is an area much loved by dog walkers.
The trust is also hoping to graze Exmoor ponies on the heath to retain its special Breckland habitat.
Julian Roughton, SWT chief executive, said: “We have been astonished and delighted by the level of support for the trust’s plans to buy Knettishall heath.
“Reaching £100,000 so quickly is a huge achievement and we want to thank everyone for their support. Well over 1,000 people sent in donations and many included memories and stories about Knettishall Heath and its importance to their family.”
Further donations can be made via 01473 890089 or to Suffolk Wildlife Trust.