The Attenborough Nature Reserve Lifeline Appeal, endorsed by Sir David, was launched on 25th November. In December the charity announced that an application for support from Biffa Award had been successful to the tune of £750,000. This news triggered a surge in private donations due to confidence that the ambitious target could now be reached. The appeal has been further boosted by a donation of £75,000 from Broxtowe Borough Council – a long-term supporter of the Trust
Sir David, who has close family links to the village where the reserve is located and an association with the site stretching back to 1966 when he visited to open it, has previously described the nature reserve as
“a lifeline to the natural world”
and ahead of the appeal launch said the site was “a symbol of hope in a challenging world”.
To date well over 4000 individual donations, ranging from a few pounds to £10,000, have been received from as far afield as The Isles of Scilly and Shetland.
Speaking about the appeal Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Paul Wilkinson said: “We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the response to our call for funds to acquire and look after Attenborough Nature Reserve. With thousands of individual donations now received on top of our amazing £750,000 grant from Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, we can now complete the negotiations to buy this special nature reserve with confidence.”
The campaign to secure the future of the reserve, which has been managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for over 50 years, was launched following the end of commercial sand and gravel extraction which helped shape the site for almost a century. Since being opened by Sir David in 1966 Attenborough Nature Reserve has become one of the best loved nature reserves in the UK, in part due to its close proximity to the cities of Nottingham and Derby. It is considered as one of the best places to see kingfisher and its accessibility means that it provides a connection with nature for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
In addition to individual donations the local community has thrown its backing behind the appeal, with people taking on sponsored challenges and organising events such as ‘bring and buy’ sales. Lucy Briggs 45, a mother of two from Chilwell, has committed to walking a 1 million steps to raise funds for the appeal. Lucy has been visiting the reserve since childhood and like many people views the reserve as her sanctuary and believes her walks on the reserve with her dog Molly, help her cope with the stresses of single parenting and everyday life.
Many donations have been made in memory of lost loved ones whilst others have cited the importance of visits to the site in maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. For one couple who donated, the reserve is special because it is where they crafted their wedding vows; another couple who relocated recently from Hertfordshire chose their house due to its proximity to the reserve.
“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.”
Nottinghamshire Wildlife 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.
Paul explained: “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.”
Donations in support of Attenborough Nature Reserve can be made at nottinghamshirewildlife.org/lifelineappeal