Readers boost Suffolk Punch appeal

THE iconic Suffolk Punch faces a brighter future after EADT readers rallied round to support an urgent appeal to safeguard the endangered species.

Richard Smith

THE iconic Suffolk Punch faces a brighter future after EADT readers rallied round to support an urgent appeal to safeguard the endangered species.

There has been a flood of grants and donations totalling �570,000 since the appeal to build an education centre at the stud in Hollesley, near Woodbridge, was launched.

The Suffolk Punch Trust, which runs the stud, say the centre is crucial because it will bring in visitor income to pay for the development of a range of education and work skills programmes and ensure that the long-term future of the stud.

The Trust was refused a �1million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund last year so an appeal was launched by the EADT.

Generous readers have donated �40,000 to the �700,000 project. Other contributors include Suffolk County Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Waste Recycling Group Ltd (WRG) which contributed �250,000 through their environmental body Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd (WREN).

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The trustees announced yesterday that although there is currently a �130,000 shortfall in funding they are confident it will be found and have therefore given the go-ahead to the centre.

There will also be a new access road, car and coach parking, refurbishment of stables, landscaping and improved site security.

The Trust will expand the education programme for prisoners at Hollesley Bay open jail, people on community service orders and children from inner city deprived areas who come to Hollesley to experience the countryside.

Philip Ryder-Davies, chairman of the Trust, said: “We want to thank the EADT and its readers for raising so much money and for doing so much for our publicity.”

John Gummer, Suffolk Coastal MP, attended a celebration ceremony at the stud yesterday and he said: “I am incredibly impressed by the way people have supported the Trust all over the county and significant amounts of money have been raised.

“This has touched the hearts of everybody, this is something very special for Suffolk.”

Chris Ellis, operations director of WRG, said: “WRG has a very clear vision of the benefit that cash from the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) should bring, and that every project should make as wide-ranging and lasting difference to the community and the environment as possible.

“The Suffolk Punch Trust, with its focus on improving the lot of these wonderful animals, but also of helping disadvantaged and excluded people in our society, represents one of the best examples of what WRG and WREN( who distributes our voluntary contributions to the LCF) are seeking to achieve. We are proud to be associated with this project.”

Lord Tollemache, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, has held an Open Day for three years at Helmingham Hall to raise money for the Trust.

He said: “I congratulate all involved for their magnificent efforts in raising such a sum of money for the splendid Suffolk Punch Trust.

“It is vital that the final sum of �130,000 is raised to reach the target of �700,000 for two excellent reasons.

“The first is that the Trust will be able to safeguard the future of our wonderful Suffolk Punch horses - those magnificent, powerful and gentle animals which have been working the Suffolk fields for so many years and which are now so endangered.

“The second reason is that completion of the education centre will enable families of all ages to visit these splendid animals and learn about their importance to the history of Suffolk.

“I want to encourage everyone to help raise the money to save this iconic breed for future generations to enjoy.”

Lady Caroline Cranbrook, one of the trustees, said the heavy horse provided a link between the countryside, the environment and the county's agricultural heritage, and it was an important reminder of the disappearing country life.