The Friends of Crich Chase was set up in October 2021 when the 182-acre ancient woodland was put up for sale. They decided they would attempt to raise the funds to buy the land – with the aim of protecting it and ensuring that public access is maintained.
Since then, the group have raised almost 10% of the £720,000 total they need to purchase Crich Chase. An anonymous local benefactor has also agreed to match the first £50,000 of community donations – with their contributions being added in £10,000 chunks.
Jane Corton, from the FOCC, said everyone involved in the fundraising was proud of their efforts over the past few months.
“We’ve raised over £70,000, so we’re 10% of the way there – we’re quite proud of that to say it's only been a few months since we started. We’re really pleased with the amount of money we’ve raised.
“Sometimes, you feel like there’s such a long way to go, and you wonder if we’ll ever do it, but we’ve come so far in such a short space of time.”
FOCC is being registered as a charity, and they are working alongside the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who will take on the management of Crich Chase – a site of special scientific interest – if the bid is successful.
Jane said: “We’re in the process of registering as a charity. Now we’ve got the trustees sorted, the FOCC will be completely focused on fundraising and raising our profile.
“The DWT are still supporting us with the view that, eventually, they’ll manage the woodland if we’re successful in securing it.
“Obviously, they’ve got a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to ensuring the long term health of the woodland and the ecosystem there, and we’re hoping to tap into that.”
Jane added that the FOCC are not slowing down after this latest milestone, and will continue to raise awareness amongst the local community and Derbyshire-based businesses.
“We’ve got a treeometer in the village – someone has made a big ten foot tree with the amount we’ve raised on it, just to make sure people in the local community are aware of what and how we’re doing.
“We’ve got a stall at the local fair, and we’re hoping to have a presence at the festival at Crich Tramway Village. We’ve contacted a few big companies and haven’t heard back, but that’s our next port of call.”
When asked what made all the hard work worthwhile, Jane said that Crich Chase was a unique natural location that needs to be preserved.
“I think it’s just a really special place to be. It’s beautiful, there’s nature all around you, and it’s a wild place.
“I can’t put it into words, but you feel as though you’re in a special place that needs to be protected – and that’s why people are getting behind it.”
Donations can be made here – if the FOCC’s bid is unsuccessful, donations will be refundable.