An ambitious bid to extend a rail link to a north Norfolk town centre faces three days of destiny.

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Efforts to buy up land for the extension into Holt hinge on the success of a £30,000 online giving appeal today, tomorrow and on Saturday.

If the £30,000 target is met in double-quick time, The Big Give will hand over an additional £15,000 to the Melton Constable Trust, whose ultimate goal is to reopen old routes and create a Norfolk Orbital Railway.

But the success of the appeal depends on speed, as donors will be involved in a race with people supporting other charities.

If they are not out of the blocks quickly, the funds from the Big Give could be exhausted, leaving the trust to find the money from elsewhere - and delaying the scheme.

The trust wants to buy land alongside Holt bypass, which used to be the route for the railway from Holt to Melton Constable.

Lord Walpole, patron of the Norfolk Orbital Railway and the Melton Constable Trust, said he was pleased with the first phase of the fundraising appeal, which saw a £15,000 pledge target met in double-quick time.

He said: “Before opening our appeal for funds we had already paid a £15,000 deposit on one section of the route and covered considerable legal costs.

“We were then fortunate to be accepted into the Big Give, the country’s biggest challenge fund supporting charities.

“The challenge is a two stage process: first we have had to reach our goal for pledged donations and next we have to attract online donations in December.

“Our pledge goal of £15,000 was successfully achieved through the generosity of our supporters. We now, vitally, have to raise £30,000 in online donations on the three days designated for the Big Give Christmas Challenge.”

Lord Walpole added: “Donations via the Big Give can continue to be made until December 19 but it is a competitive process and the Big Give’s matching funding may well be exhausted by then.

“The key thing, therefore, is to donate on December 6, 7 or 8 as close to the opening time for donations of 10am as possible. It is quite an exciting way of doing things.”

If successful, the trust would have £60,000 towards the cost of buying land, and accelerate it bid to extend the line and develop a new halt on the edge of the town - potentially boosting tourism and local businesses.

Donations to the Big Give can be up to £5,000 from any individual. People who have already pledged donations are not eligible to donate online as well but other family members or friends can do so.

● To give, visit http://new.thebiggive.org.uk/project/17274 or call 01692 404044 between 9am-5pm.

1 comment

  • Good to see the EDP is 10 years out of date with its "Railtrack Route" map - Railtrack became Network Rail in 2002!

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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