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We've done it! Suffolk Wildlife Trust joined by Ray Mears to celebrate purchase of new land at Lackford Lakes

Tuesday 7th November 2017

Renowned bush craft expert and wildlife enthusiast Ray Mears joined Suffolk Wildlife Trust to celebrate hitting a £200,000 fundraising target to extend Lackford Lakes nature reserve.

The appeal towards the purchase price of 77 acres of land – an important habitat for species such as nightingale and stone curlew – was launched in September.

Following overwhelming public support, the Trust has now completed the purchase, ensuring that a precious area of developing Breckland near Bury St Edmunds will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

Will Cranstoun, West Suffolk Sites Manager for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the purchase, in what is the 30th anniversary year of the founding of Lackford Lakes, was a special moment for the reserve and everyone associated with it.

“I think first of all we would like to say thank you. We’ve been genuinely overwhelmed with the level of support we’ve had from across the county. To reach the target in such a short time shows just how much Lackford Lakes means to people and how important it is to them to safeguard more of west Suffolk.

“Lackford Lakes nature reserve is famed for its kingfishers, dragonflies and winter wildfowl. The addition of this new land will add big skies, an open Breckland landscape and hopefully more stone curlews.”

The meeting of the fundraising target and the purchase of the land was announced ahead of a talk by Ray Mears at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

Ray, whose own fascination with wild environments was forged from childhood experiences of exploring the countryside around the North Downs, said as well as protecting the land it was vital that more people would now be able to experience it.

He added: “It’s great news that places like Lackford Lakes are able to grow and become not only a refuge for wildlife but somewhere people can come to be inspired and engaged with the natural world.

"Congratulations to Suffolk Wildlife Trust and everyone who has supported them.”

One of the major donors to the campaign was Bernard Tickner MBE, who effectively founded Lackford Lakes 30 years ago, initiating the transformation of the used quarry into a rich wildlife habitat.

In 1987 he bought part of the reserve, known as The Slough’ and gifted it to the Trust.

During a weekend of celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of Lackford, Mr Tickner presented a cheque for £65,000 towards the land purchase. He had previously given £35,000 towards the appeal.

The new land, which connects the existing nature reserve with Lackford village, was last cultivated 25 years ago and the grass heath typical of the Brecks has now started to move back in.

The land adjoins similar fields that the Trust purchased in 2005. Linking them together will create a significantly bigger area for specialist Breckland species, such as unusual solitary bee and wasps, ground beetle and stone curlew, to flourish.

Over the next year, the Trust will begin the work to create new trails around the new land and connect it with the existing reserve.