The priceless views from the White Cliffs of Dover have been protected by a public show of financial generosity. The National Trust has linked up five miles of Kent coastline by buying a section spanning almost a mile along the famous stretch, paid for after a fundraising drive received £1.2 million in 133 days.
© National Trust Images / John Miller
Donations from more than 16,000 people and organisations averaged more than £40 each. The appeal has earned £9,000 a day since launching at the end of June, when organisers warned the landmark could be threatened by development if the campaign failed.
“This appeal has tapped into something unique – the emotional connection that people have with special places such as the White Cliffs of Dover,” said Fiona Reynolds, the departing Director-General of the Trust, revealing that the target had been reached two months earlier than expected.
“The Trust will now look to enhance the quality of access to this new land and build on some of the fantastic nature conservation work that has been carried out by the team on the ground.”
Alison Burnett, a volunteer on the White Cliffs of Dover team, said there had been “a real buzz” around the appeal.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add the missing piece of the White Cliffs so that they are in the care of the National Trust.
“This chalky stretch of coastline symbolises so much for so many people. It’s wonderful to think that we’ve managed to raise the money so that future generations can enjoy all that this unique place has to offer.”
The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, described the Cliffs as “a glittering breastplate Caesar saw from his ship” in a specially-commissioned work to celebrate the success of the appeal.
The towering cliffs – dwarfing Big Ben at a height equalling 25 London buses – have witnessed historic moments such as the arrival of the Romans in Britain, as well as being home to rare plants and birds such as breeding ravens and peregrine falcons.
They are in distinguished company under the care of the Trust, which looks after more than 720 miles of coastline and first acquired a section of the Cliffs in 1968.
Watch a video about the Cliffs: