05/02/20 – A £1million appeal to secure the future of the crown jewel of Nottinghamshire’s wildlife sites has smashed its target in less than three months.
In November last year, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust announced it was bidding to buy the much-loved Attenborough Nature Reserve.
Described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” the charity had a target of £1 million to raise by the end of January 2020which would cover the cost of buying the reserve and maintaining it for years to come.
Now, thanks to a major grant from Biffa Award and thousands of individual donations a total of £1,133,000 has been raised – a figure that continues to rise daily.
The appeal was further boosted with a recent donation of £75,000 from Broxtowe Borough Council – a long-term supporter of the Trust.
The appeal has been backed from the beginning by legendary wildlife broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.
Sir David, who has close family links to Attenborough village and visited to open it in 1966, has previously described the nature reserve as “a lifeline to the natural world”.
Ahead of the appeal launch he described the site as “a symbol of hope in a challenging world” and urged nature-lovers to “give generously”.
Within the first week, more than £80,000 was raised and the figure continued to rise as high-profile local figures such as Sir Paul Smith showed their support.
There have been more than 4,000 individual donations so far ranging from a few pounds to £10,000 from as far as The Isles of Scilly and Shetland.
The Trust has praised the work of the local community with people taking on sponsored challenges and organising events.
Lucy Briggs, 45, a mother-of-two from Chilwell, committed to walking a one million steps to raise funds for the appeal.
Lucy has been visiting the reserve since childhood and describes it as her sanctuary helping her cope with the stresses of single parenting and everyday life.
The Lanes Primary School in Chilwell also raised £724.49 through a cake sale and non-uniform day.
Headteacher Joanne Revill said the school’s 500-plus pupils and staff members have “close ties” with the nature reserve, using it for school trips and walks out of school time.
“We use the nature reserve a lot as a school and a lot of children live nearby and go for walks,” she told Nottinghamshire Live.
“We use it as a conference centre. We have got a lot of close ties. It’s great [the £1million has been achieved] and that’s why the children did it because it’s great for our local community.
“The children are always keen to raise money for charity but it’s always more meaningful when it’s closer to home.
“This appeal means something for the children.”
Donations have also been made in memory of loved ones while others have spoken of the importance of the site in maintaining their wellbeing.
For one couple who donated, the reserve is special because it is where they crafted their wedding vows, while another couple chose their house due to its proximity to the reserve.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has been managing the site for more than 50 years.
Commercial sand and gravel extraction has shaped the land for almost a century, but came to an end in 2017.
It was this that spurred the Trust to launch their bid to buy the site and ensure it would be in safe hands for future generations.
From its opening in 1966, the reserve has become one of the best loved nature reserves in the UK welcoming half a million visitors every year.
It is considered as one of the best places to see kingfisher as well as rare species such as otters and bitterns.
The Trust is currently working to complete the purchase of the site but will keep the appeal open as it plans for the long term future of the reserve.
CEO for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, Paul Wilkinson said: “We knew Attenborough was much loved and it is clear from the messages linked to many donations that the reserve has a special place in people’s hearts, and I’d like to thank everyone who has donated from the bottom of mine.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by people’s generosity and thanks to everyone’s support we can confidently proceed with our plans to buy the land we have cared for over 50 years – ensuring this wonderful reserve can be forever safe in our hands.
“Further donations will help us look after Attenborough Nature Reserve, a site which connects people and wildlife like no other, by restoring habitats, maintaining access routes and facilities for visitors and supporting our volunteers.”
Leader of the Broxtowe Borough Council Milan Radulovic MBE said: “Attenborough Nature Reserve is a valuable asset of regional significance which Broxtowe has always played an active role in supporting for the benefit of the local community.
“The council is proud to have contributed £75,000 towards the appeal to secure the future of the site and we look forward to working with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to develop even further the potential of the site for people, for wildlife and for environmental education.”