NWT Visitor Centre at Cley North Norfolk

NWT Visitor Centre Cley-next-the-Sea North Norfolk

Great news! The fundraising goal for the NWT’s Norfolk coast project has been reached.

When the £2.6m appeal was launched in July 2012 to purchase Pope’s Marsh, the land between the Trust’s reserves at Salthouse and Cley Marshes, it was a huge sum of money that everyone thought would be difficult to raise. The fears turned out to be groundless as the money started to roll in, not only from the UK public and organisations, but also from places as far away as New Zealand and Iraq.

In excess of £900,000s was donated by NWT members, charitable trusts and businesses. Included in that was a very generous anonymous donation that ensured success. The Otter Trust and the Geoffrey Watling Charity each donated £100,000s and an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund secured a further £1.5 million.

Numerous fundraising events were organised over the two-year appeal period; gardens were opened, art exhibitions were held and 40,000 “appeal biscuits” were sold.

The Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce said: “It has been two years since Norfolk Wildlife Trust was first approached about Pope’s Marsh and our vision for Cley Marshes truly took shape, incorporating vital new land and an education centre to inspire and inform our many thousands of visitors.

“What followed was an intensive period of fundraising and two goals: £1million to secure that land as part of a wider target of £2.6 million target to build the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre and develop a three-year events programme.

“I am delighted to announce that an incredible £2.6million has been raised to fund the project. There is no doubt that this is an historic achievement and I am truly moved at what we are now able to deliver for the conservation, enjoyment and understanding of Norfolk’s coastal habitats  We are still receiving donations even now and while we have reached our target, these donations will still play a vital role supporting restoration of Pope’s Marsh in particular.

“The delivery of this project has begun and I look forward to updating you on its progress. In the meantime, as we are now the proud owners of Pope’s Marsh and on the cusp of building the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre. I would like to thank everyone for the incredible and history-making support.”

Pope’s Marsh has increased the Reserve land by some 143 acres. The Trust will now commence creating new areas of reed bed, freshwater areas and grazing marsh to support the population of avocets, water voles, otters, bearded tits, bitterns and marsh harriers that inhabit the area. This should draw even more human visitors (110,000 each year at present) to enjoy the Reserve, something that will greatly  benefit the North Norfolk economy.

The Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre will be built adjacent to the existing Cley Visitor Centre. It will be used for events and educational facilities for all age groups. Simon Aspinall (1958 – 2011) was a highly respected conservationist, ornithologist, naturalist and writer who lived in Cley-Next-The-Sea. It will be a fitting tribute that the new Centre be named in his honour.

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