‘Overwhelming’ response to Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s �1m Cley Marshes appeal

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust has received a record-breaking response to its �1m appeal to preserve a treasured north Norfolk habitat, with �135,000 donated in the first month.

The trust needs the money to purchase 143 acres of Cley marshes, which is the last unprotected, privately-owned piece of land in 8km of coastal nature reserves, stretching from Blakeney Point to Salthouse Marshes.

Since launching the appeal last month, NWT has been inundated with more than 1,700 donations, ranging from �1 up to �5,000. More than a third of the donors live outside of Norfolk, and more than 10pc of donations have come through the NWT website.

Fund-raising tactics have included people selling their jewellery, donating artwork and books, and putting posters up in their towns and villages.

If successful, the new land will expand Cley Marshes nature reserve by about a third, creating important habitat for rare marsh harriers, bitterns, otters, water voles, avocets, countless thousands of migratory birds – and for the 100,000 people who visit each year.

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But with only 22 months to raise the total, the trust is determined to maintain the early impetus of the campaign.

NWT chief executive Brendan Joyce said: 'We knew that there was a lot of support from our members and from people who know and love Cley, but we are overwhelmed by the response to date. This is the most successful start to an appeal in the trust's history - all the more creditable and heartening given the economic climate.

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'Cley Marshes is one of Britain's best-loved and most important bird watching nature reserves. It is very touching to see that Cley is held in such high regard and donations have been coming in not just from people in Norfolk, but from all over the country. But we still have a long way to go to reach our �1m target. Please continue to support our appeal. Your contribution, large or small, will help us directly, but will also act as leverage to attract funds from other sources.'

The appeal boost comes during the reserve's most successful breeding season for many years. Between 80 and 90 pairs of avocets nested and produced around 120 chicks, of which 49 have fledged. There were 46 successful nests of lapwing, producing over 120 chicks, including 25 which fledged on the land NWT hopes to buy.

Two young grasshopper warblers were also seen being fed on the reserve, which is the first confirmed breeding record since 2004. The reserve also recorded its first pair of breeding stonechat.

Cley Marshes' warden Bernard Bishop said: 'For the general visitor to Cley, seeing so many avocets with young has been an undoubted highlight. Two pairs of little ringed plover nested successfully, with seven chicks, the first time young have hatched on the reserve. It has also been a good year for Cetti's warbler and bearded tit.'

How to donate to the Cley Marshes land purchase appeal:

-Online: www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal

-Credit Cards: Call 01603 625540

-Text: CLEY12 + the amount (�) to 70070

-Visit: NWT Cley Marshes visitor centre and donate directly

-Post: Send to Cley Marshes Land Purchase Appeal, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Freepost ANG20591, Bewick House, 22 Thorpe Road, -Norwich, Norfolk NR1 1ZW.

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