Princess gives to Suffolk Punch appeal
By Richard SmithTHE multi-million-pound appeal to safeguard the future of the Suffolk Punch horses has been given a royal boost after Princess Anne donated thousands of pounds.
By Richard Smith
THE multi-million-pound appeal to safeguard the future of the Suffolk Punch horses has been given a royal boost after Princess Anne donated thousands of pounds.
The Princess Royal, patron of the Suffolk Horse Society, is a great admirer of the heavy horse and is taking a personal interest in the project to buy the stud at Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge.
John Marsh, project manager, said: “From the very outset the Princess Royal has been extremely supportive.
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“She allowed us to print an open letter in our publicity material and at the public appeal launch she also made sure that another letter supporting that appeal was read out.”
The amount given by the Princess Royal has not been disclosed publicly, but it was described as a “very generous donation”.
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The Suffolk Punch Trust has signed an agreement with the Prison Service that gives it first refusal to buy the existing Hollesley Bay stud, stable block and 180 acres of land.
But the option to purchase must be exercised by August 31 and the final date for completing the purchase is March 31, 2006.
The trust has launched a £3.9million appeal to buy the stud and create a visitor centre at Sink Farm, Hollesley, that will include craft workshops, an exhibition arena and other facilities.
It hopes a Heritage Lottery Fund grant will provide £2.8m and a decision is expected on its application in June.
The capital costs include £450,000 to buy 180 acres of land and stud buildings, £100,000 for horses and equipment and £225,643 to refurbish the stable block.
A further £840,000 is required for the visitor centre, £230,000 for craft workshops, £189,000 for the display arena and £223,098 for the car park and a new access road.
Mr Marsh said: “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.”
Suffolk Punch horses will be parading through Woodbridge on Saturday as part of a event organised by the town's mayor Russell Geen to raise money for the trust's appeal.
They will parade from 9.30am along Burkitt Road, Market Hill, New Street, Thoroughfare, Church Street and back to the Market Hill, where a coffee morning will be held from 10am to noon in the Shire Hall.
Leading the way will be Ian Whalley, a town crier, to rally residents and shoppers to attend the event.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the appeal should contact 01953 714123 or e-mail email@example.com.