Hot on the heels of February’s news of the outstanding £1.75m start to its fundraising campaign, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve’s proposed Discovery Centre project is celebrating another major award, this time for a huge £900,000 from the European Union.
The grant – one of the biggest of its kind in the programme’s history – is being provided through a major EU initiative to support rural development in England. In particular, it recognises the positive impact on jobs, skills, education and tourism the Discovery Centre project is aiming to achieve in the local area and is being seen as a major vote of confidence in Sussex Wildlife Trust’s vision to engage more people with nature throughout the region.
Commenting on the award, Sussex Wildlife Trust Chairman Carole Nicholson (pictured) says the news brings the goal of having a new Discovery Centre at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve open by 2019 a big step forward: “This is fantastic news – not just for Sussex Wildlife Trust but for the whole community in Rye Harbour and beyond. We are delighted the Rural Development Programme shares our vision for the Discovery Centre project. It will not only provide much-needed facilities for visitors but will play a vital role in helping us maintain and conserve this outstanding landscape for wildlife in years to come.”
Her views were echoed by Councillor Sally-Ann Hart, the lead member for Tourism, Culture and the Public Realm at Rother District Council. “This is a huge boost for the region, bringing in almost £1million in new funding to the area. More importantly, once it is open, the Discovery Centre will play a vital role in strengthening our tourism offer here, helping our local economies grow and thrive.”
News of the award also comes at an ideal time for the project’s other fundraising work. Appeal Chairman Alastair Fairley says: “This couldn’t have come at a better time and takes us more than two-thirds of the way towards our funding target. Whilst there is still a considerable sum to be raised, the EU grant now brings this landmark development a major step closer. Therefore, in May, we’ll be asking everyone locally to get involved and do their bit to help see the Discovery Centre project realised. This is a real community project – but this award demonstrates it also has the strongest support at the highest levels.”
The Growth Programme Rural Tourism Infrastructure theme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (administered by the Government’s Rural Payments Agency). It is designed to strengthen rural economies in England through tourism. The Discovery Centre project will therefore be an important development under this scheme for the South East.
Anyone wanting to know more about the Discovery Centre project – or wanting to support its future development in the coming months – can find out more by visiting ryeharbourdiscoverycentre.org.uk
Above: artist's impression of the proposed Rye Harbour Discovery Centre