A CAMPAIGN to safeguard Wroughton’s nature reserve has come on in leaps and bounds since the start of the year with nearly £3,000 raised in less than three weeks.
Kings Farm Wood was rescued from potential development back in 2012 after parish councillors along with Swindon Council and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust teamed up to buy the £180,000 woodland.
The local authority and trust pledged £100,000 and £50,000 respectively towards the purchase of the grounds and even fronted the parish council the remaining £30,000. The parish will have until March to repay the loan.
Thanks to generous donations from villagers determined to preserve the legacy for generations to come, activists have collected £2,900 since the beginning of January, to add to the £16,000 previously raised, leaving just £11,500 to pay back.
Jane Lane, one of the leaders of the appeal, said she was overwhelmed by the amount of public support the fundraiser had gathered.
“I am really quite shocked,” she said. “We are down to £11,500 to raise. It has really got into people’s minds. The word about the appeal has gone out in all sorts of ways.
“And that’s what we wanted: for the community to get involved. It’s a very important cause.
“Some people donated a box full of pennies and 5p and 10ps to the parish office. Others have given notes.
“People are doing what they can and it’s very uplifting that they want to help.”
Kings Farm Wood is a 45-acre woodland that links the existing reserves of Clouts Wood and Markham Banks to the southern edge of Wroughton.
Once the loan is repaid, the wood will be owned jointly by Swindon Council and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and managed by the trust on a 125-year lease.
If they miss the deadline, campaigners hope Swindon Council will allow them extra time to come up with the funds.
Wroughton Parish Councillor John Newman added: “We are over half way there now. The target is feasible indeed.
“A number of things are being run and people have been generous. People in Wroughton understand what their heritage is and that the threat to their heritage is very certain. The community ownership was the easiest way to protect Kings Farm Wood. People have contributed magnificently.”
To help them reach their target, they have arranged a ‘mile of money’ event on January 25. People will be asked to lay down as many coins as they can spare to stretch along High Street, beginning at the Ellendune community shop and running along to the Willow Brook Gardens.
Donations can be made at the parish office. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’. Alternatively, donate online at www.wiltshirewildlife.org