£4m appeal to buy Suffolk Punch stud

By Richard SmithTHE organisers of a £4million appeal to save the Suffolk Punch horses from becoming extinct are urging the public to show their support.

By Richard Smith

THE organisers of a £4million appeal to save the Suffolk Punch horses from becoming extinct are urging the public to show their support.

They have launched a leaflet campaign, containing an appeal to buy the Suffolk Punch stud run by Hollesley Bay Prison, create an education and heritage centre and make it a new tourist attraction.

The stud has been part of East Anglia's history for more than 100 years and the Suffolk Punch horse has the longest pedigree of any working horse breed, dating back to a stallion born in 1768 in Ufford.


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An agreement has been signed between the Suffolk Punch Trust Ltd and the Prison Service.

It gives the trust first refusal to buy the existing stud, stable block and 180 acres of adjoining land at Hollesley at an agreed market value.

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But the option to buy must be exercised by August 31 and the final date for completing the purchase is March 31, 2006.

John Marsh, project manager, said: “This is another piece of a very large jigsaw in place following the granting of detailed planning consent in January.

“Now all we need to do is raise the money to build an education and heritage centre which incorporates this stud of Suffolk's, of which our county can be justly proud.

“The public needs to be able to see these magnificent animals and enjoy a part of Suffolk which is nationally important in conservation terms. After three years of trying to put this project together we are, subject to raising about £3.9m, now on the verge of success.”

An application has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a substantial part of the building costs, but the trust will be left with securing match funding of about £800,000, which has to be raised from other sources.

Broadcaster and farmer Paul Heiney, writing in the leaflet, said: “It would be a tragedy if the Suffolk Punch horse were to vanish from its native landscape. We can all help to prevent this from happening.

“There is an enormous pool of horse breeding skill and experience at the colony stud and to allow it to disappear would be a tragic waste. Future generations would not forgive us.

“For the sake of the Suffolk Punch horse and all that it stands for, I hope you will support this worthy appeal.”

The trust will also preserve other breeds indigenous to Suffolk including Suffolk Sheep, Red Poll Cattle and Large Black Pigs.

The stud has been used as a valuable means of giving inmates at Hollesley Bay open prison the opportunity of working with animals and learning skills to help them when they rejoin the community after serving their sentence. Prisoners will still be allowed to work with the horses and the animal management/welfare and related rural crafts are viewed as an important factor in successful rehabilitation.

New facilities will include a lecture theatre and classrooms, a heritage centre with static and interactive displays, research facilities, working areas for animals, stables and paddocks, a covered exhibition ring, rural craft workshops, a shop and restaurant, and horse and cart rides.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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