National Lottery winners bring Christmas magic to Suffolk

Ellie (4) from Lowestoft - Rod Kirkpatrick/Camelot

A team of National Lottery winners are creating moments of Christmas magic and surprise for visitors, young and old, at a Lowestoft nature reserve with a scattering of Christmas fairies.

The Christmas fairies have been lovingly made by a team of National Lottery winners who turned November’s lockdown into a knitting production line – all socially-distanced from their own homes. Now more than 155 of their finished handicrafts are to be distributed amongst the flora and fauna of Carlton Marshes in Suffolk, where eagle-eyed visitors of all ages will be free to pluck their Christmas decoration and take it home to adorn their tree.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Richard and Cathy Brown - Rod Kirkpatrick/Camelot

Delighted to see the fairies gifted at Carlton Marshes, one of Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s largest reserves, were Richard and Cathy Brown from Ipswich who scooped £6.1M on Lotto in 2013. The pair are passionate nature lovers who have been able to support Suffolk Wildlife Trust in many ways since their win. Cathy said,

“This year has shown just how essential it is to have natural spaces for all communities to enjoy and coming here today to watch everyone, young and old, enjoying the marshes is wonderful.

“And to see the look of delight on all the visitors’ faces as they discover their little Christmas surprise is equally magical. From the Wild Tots group in their wellies to the walkers and bird watchers, everyone with a little homemade decoration in hand is beaming!”

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Ellie (4) from Lowestoft - Rod Kirkpatrick/Camelot

The winners, who would normally team up in person at Christmas to help support various charities, adapted to the current lockdown by creating a Facebook group to share ideas, and got together for ‘Knit and Natter’ Zoom sessions to celebrate the highs, and occasional lows, of their knitting adventures.

Among the winning knitting brigade was Jean Swatman from Lowestoft, who won £2M on Lotto in 2013. Jean said,

“We all need a bit of magic this year and we hope that those who find our little Christmas fairies will feel that moment of magic.

“I knitted for my children when they were small but put my needles away years ago! I may have been a little rusty but it’s been so lovely to get back into it with my fellow winners and know that during lockdown I’ve done something for my local community that will hopefully bring a smile this Christmas.” 

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Richard and Cathy Brown - Rod Kirkpatrick/Camelot

Visitors to the National Lottery-funded Carlton Marshes will find a vast wetland teeming with wildlife including otters, water voles and marsh harriers, and now one-off knitted fairies too.

Sara Holman, Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Head of Learning, said,

“These beautiful and unique little decorations from the nation’s lottery winners will be dotted about the marshes in the coming weeks so that our many winter visitors can discover a little piece joy amongst the flora and fauna.

“A little fairy magic is a fitting end to celebrate the year. The team has been determined to keep the gates at Carlton Marshes open throughout 2020 so people can escape the pressures of urban life and safely recharge their batteries. Their determination has paid off, the marshes has become an essential destination for young families, older people and those wishing to get outside while still keeping their distance.”

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Ellie (4) from Lowestoft - Rod Kirkpatrick/Camelot

Other National Lottery winners from across the East of England region who picked up their needles to help out were Sarah Cribb from Ipswich, plus a host of winners from Essex – Susan Richards from Billericay (£3M), Tracy Field from Thurrock (£2.5M), and Southend’s Debra Pearce (£1M), and Hertfordshire – Julie Jeffrey from Watford (£1M), Vicky Ingham from Bishops Stortford (£1M) and Kerri-Ann Robinson (£2.5M) from Stevenage.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust received a £4.1M National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to aid the transformation of Carlton Marshes into the southern gateway to the Broads National Park.

Knitted Christmas goodies will also appear at Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice’s in Middlesbrough and Liverpool, and will be gifted to isolating older people in the Midlands.

The support these winners are giving Suffolk Wildlife Trust comes as The National Lottery teams up with ITV to encourage people to volunteer in their local community.  'Miss Out To Help Out' is a new campaign and website where anyone in the UK can get hints and tips on how to get started as well as information on volunteering opportunities near by from charities and organisations. For more info, visit www.missouttohelpout.com