New £1m appeal needed for Suffolk Punch

A NEW public appeal will have to be launched to raise £1million after supporters of the rare Suffolk Punch horse failed to receive lottery funding for a heritage centre.

Richard Smith

A NEW public appeal will have to be launched to raise £1million after supporters of the rare Suffolk Punch horse failed to receive lottery funding for a heritage centre.

The Suffolk Punch Trust admitted yesterday that it was extremely disappointed that it had not secured £965,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Last night the HLF said the decision to turn down the bid, which would have been used for a heritage and learning centre at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, had not been taken lightly.

Now the Trust will once again have to turn to members of the public for support, who raised £700,000 to buy the stud of Suffolk Punch horses in 2006.

John Marsh, project manager, said the Trust was “hugely disappointed” at the decision not to give money - but he added everyone was determined to succeed with the scheme.

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“When the Trust was raising money to purchase the land, buildings and stud of horses in 2005/6 HLF refused to help,” he said. “Nevertheless, with a huge number of donations from people in Suffolk and other grant giving charitable trusts, who did understand the importance of conserving the Colony Stud of Suffolk Punch horses, we raised £700,000.

“Now we are faced with another challenge and the Trust will somehow raise the money. The shame is that it will take very much longer.”

The heritage and learning centre would showcase the Suffolk Punch horse and other rare Suffolk breeds alongside collections of historic farm equipment and farming techniques and the Trust believes it would deliver substantial and lasting benefits to people of all ages and social disposition.

But Robyn Llewellyn, the HLF's east of England regional manager, said the scheme did not show the need for capital investment of the scale suggested.

“Based on the information supplied, the committee did not feel that this scheme represented good value for money,” he said.

The HLF said that all projects which received money had to increase access, learning and employment.

It said the Trust had received a project planning grant of £15,000 to help it develop the details and the trust had produced some useful additional information.

“However, this planning work did not appear to have been used to inform the design and content of the proposed building,” it said. “Projects we support must meet either our priority for conservation or our priority for public involvement in heritage. The project does not relate to conservation work and offers limited benefit in terms of new opportunities for involvement.”

But Lady Caroline Cranbrook, a trustee of the Suffolk Punch Trust, said the bid was very well prepared.

“Its aim was not only to preserve the Hollesley Suffolk Punch stud for posterity, but also to continue and expand the provision of educational opportunities for the children of Suffolk and beyond,” she said. “If we had succeeded in our bid we would have been able to provide a unique opportunity for children and adults to learn first-hand about the countryside and the importance of the Suffolk Punch horse in the history of this county.”

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