Nation rallies to safeguard iconic white cliffs of Dover

A £1.2 million appeal launched by the National Trust in the summer to raise funds to acquire the iconic stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover coastline has reached its target in just 133 days, raising an average of £9,000 per day.

The Trust needed the money to buy a 0.8 mile stretch of this world-famous and much-loved piece of the Kent coastline overlooking the port.

It completes the missing link of coastline under National Trust care, uniting a stretch of more than 7km (nearly 5 miles) between the Trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland Lighthouse.

More than 16,000 people and organisations [1] have supported the appeal which was launched in June 2012 with an average donation of £40.21 (including Gift Aid) from members of the public.

Hundreds of messages of support were posted on a virtual White Cliffs of Dover on the charity’s website [2].

Donations included a significant contribution from the Dover Harbour Board, which helped the Trust to reach its target earlier than had been anticipated, and support from the Regatta Foundation, Royal Oak Foundation and 16 National Trust supporter groups.

The fundraising drive was given a boost in July when a number of household names including Dame Vera Lynn, Dame Judi Dench and the soul singing sensation and Dover-born Joss Stone gave their support.

Writer and philosopher Julian Baggini spent a week in August at the White Cliffs in Dover looking into how they have come to symbolise what they mean for our national identity [3].

Fiona Reynolds, who is in her final week as Director-General at the National Trust, said: “Thanks to the generosity and support of thousands of people we’ve reached our target nearly two months early.

“This appeal has tapped into something unique – the emotional connection that people have with special places such as the White Cliffs of Dover.

“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.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only pair of breeding ravens in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Alison Burnett, a volunteer on the White Cliffs of Dover team, added: “There has been a real buzz around the appeal with this 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 and 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.”

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

White Cliffs appeal making waves in bid to break £1 million

A Shakespearean actress, soul singing sensation, a world beating sailor and a passionate seafood champion have thrown their weight behind the National Trust’s biggest ever coastal appeal to acquire a stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Dame Judi Dench, Joss Stone, Ben Ainslie and Rick Stein have joined thousands of people that have already supported the Trusts bid to raise £1.2 million to buy 1.35km of this much loved Kent coast.

Soul singer Joss Stone, who was born in Dover, said: “I love Dover and the White Cliffs.  They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.”

The appeal was launched in late June to acquire this ‘missing link’ between the land that the Trust already cares for and enable it to be managed for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “In just one month, thousands of people have backed our appeal and we’ve raised almost half of the money needed. 

“This tremendous support shows the love we as a nation have for our special places – thank you to everyone who has contributed.  We now need to keep going to make sure we reach the target and secure this piece of coastline for ever”.

Other high-profile figures that have given their support to the Trust’s campaign include actor Richard E. Grant, actor and TV presenter Tony Robinson, Comedian, presenter and Kent resident Paul O’Grady, Kent born and world famous fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, iconic singer from the 1940s Dame Vera Lynn, round the world yachtswomen Dame Ellen MacArthur and BBC Coast presenters Neil Oliver and Miranda Krestovnikoff.

Comedian and presenter Paul O’Grady said: “For the past 14 years Kent has been my home and I’ve come to really love the peace and quiet of the Kent countryside. It’s where I can relax and have some downtime. When the sun is shining and I’m out walking with the dogs it’s just fab – it feels like I’m on a permanent holiday.

“The White Cliffs are Kent’s most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts. I’m backing the National Trust appeal so that they will be secure forever, for all of us – I urge everyone out there to do the same.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history [1].

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war. 

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons [2].

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968 as part of its Neptune Coastline Campaign. 

There are three easy ways that money can be donated to the appeal:

  • Make a donation online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal and you can choose to have your name engraved on our virtual White Cliffs of Dover.
  • You can text a donation to support the appeal.  For example, if you wanted to

donate £5 you’d need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount that you wish to donate must be included in the text.

  • Make a donation over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

The Twitter hashtag #whitecliffs will be used on twitter to keep people updated about the progress of the appeal.

The money needs to be raised by the end of the year to successfully buy the land and every donation can help take a stride forward to raising the amount needed.

[1] An article by the historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, which first appeared in The Times on Wednesday 27 June, can be found here: http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/lets-all-take-over-the-white-cliffs-of-dover-dan-snow

[2] For an article about the wildlife value of the White Cliffs of Dover visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/06/white-cliffs-dover-hidden-natural-gem?INTCMP=SRCH

List of all of the quotes from supporters of the White Cliffs of Dover appeal:

- Joss Stone, said: “I love Dover and the White Cliffs.  They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.”

- Dame Judi Dench, said: “Whenever I see the white cliffs of Dover, I think of the Matthew Arnold poem ‘DoverBeach':  the cliffs of England stand Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay”

- Dame Vera Lynn, said: “I thoroughly endorse the National Trust in it’s appeal to buy the ‘missing’ piece of The White Cliffs, so that they are saved in their entirety.   The sight of them meant so much to returning service men during the Wars, and they continue to be a huge part of the history of this Island, as they always have been.”

- Paul O’Grady, said: “For the past 14 years Kent has been my home and I’ve come to really love the peace and quiet of the Kent countryside. It’s where I can relax and have some downtime. When the sun is shining and I’m out walking with the dogs it’s just fab – it feels like I’m on a permanent holiday! The White Cliffs are Kent’s most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts. I’m backing the National Trust appeal so that they will be safe forever, for all of us – I urge everyone out there to do the same.”

- Tony Robinson, said: “The old lighthouse where Marconi experimented with his radio transmissions, the deep vertical channel cut when the locals hauled up a cargo of wrecked pianos in 1910, the one hundred thousand tons of brilliant white debris which slipped into the sea in 2012, the horizontal line of flint that must have provided the raw materials for a thousand stone-age tools; the White Cliffs are a palimpsest of human history.  Who knows, maybe once this 1.3 kilometre stretch has been saved for the nation, the blue birds may even start nesting there again!”

- Rick Stein, said: ‘Preserving our coastline from development so that we all can enjoy the pleasure of wild and empty cliffs and bays is one of the most precious things that the National Trust does, particularly as in this case, when it’s preserving those glorious white cliffs of Dover.’

- Neil Oliver, said: “The White Cliffs of Dover are to England, as Glencoe or the Buachaille Etive Mor are to Scotland, or the Great Orme to Wales, or the Giant’s Causeway to Northern Ireland.  They are part of all the grandeur that reminds us why we love our countries – and we must be constantly vigilant about the well being of such locations.   They don’t belong to any of us.  We are just passing through.  Any efforts to preserve the White Cliffs, so that present and future generations can benefit from access to them, have to be supported by anyone and everyone who cares about the natural environment.”

- Miranda Krestovnikoff, said: “We have a national love affair with the coast and the White Cliffs capture this special relationship perfectly.  Its so important for these places to be protected for everyone to enjoy; that’s why I’m supporting the National Trust’s appeal to acquire this missing piece of the White Cliffs of Dover.”

- Zandra Rhodes, said: “The experience of seeing the white cliffs of Dover is one of the most marvellous in the world, and walking in the chalk grassland above the cliffs is equally fabulous!  We must never lose this heritage!”

Let’s all take over the White Cliffs of Dover – Dan Snow

Landscape can be totemic. The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Table Mountain have all come to symbolise the spirit of their nations. The UK is blessed with several iconic features that, to the romantically inclined observer, seem to reflect back something about ourselves, our history and character.  We have the Giant’s Causeway, the Great Glen and Cadair Idris, but few places loom as large in our collective consciousness as the White Cliffs of Dover. The brilliant white chalk has served for generations as a canvas upon which we have projected our national story.

As a child on a wave tossed ferry, reeking of diesel, they meant home and release from the tyranny of seasickness. Until the advent of aircraft a huge number of travellers arriving in Britain would have been greeted by the White Cliffs. They were seen and recognised by the crews of the millions of ships that have used Europe’s busiest shipping lanes for millenia. During the First World War British soldiers returning on leave from the Western Front yearned to see them, as confirmation that they were truly leaving the hell behind them and would see their homes once more. Bomber crews in the Second World War glimpsed them on a moonlit night, a ribbon of silver demarking the start of territory that remained free from the Nazi yoke. In 1940 a shattered army carried in frigates, ferries, barges, paddle steamers and tenders from the cauldron of Dunkirk saw the cliffs and knew they would live and fight again.

The cliffs welcome and reassure but they have roared defiance.  Despots like Bonaparte and Hitler have gazed across the narrows. The only site of their implacable enemy was the line of cliffs like barred teeth on the horizon, the manifestation of a stubborn island nation that would not be beaten into submission. From the cartoons of Gillray and his contemporaries, to the paintings of Turner and Dame Vera Lynn’s anthemic World War Two smash hit, the cliffs have been an instantly recognisable metaphor for Britishness.

The cliffs have played this role long before the great wars of the last two centuries. Caesar himself commented on them in his Commentarii De Bello Gallico, the first eye-witness account of Britain that survives in literature. His first impression was of a wild island with giant natural fortification. In 55BC his first expedition was met by “armed forces of the enemy on all the cliffs.” They rained javelins down on any ship that approached the shore. Disinclined to assault such a strong position he sailed north and landed on a more open beach. The Britons had tracked his forces and met his legionaries as they staggered out of the shallows, making this first recorded invasion the only opposed one in our history.

Many travellers, conquerors and tourists alike, have followed in Caesar’s footsteps. Henry II enlarged Dover Castle and created one of the world’s supreme medieval strongholds, its defences taking full advantage of the precipitous cliffs. Twice, the invading French were unable to penetrate the walls and seize what was rightly known as ‘the key to England.’ Monarchs such as Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth stayed there for a nervous foreign princess, like Henrietta Maria, the cliffs and the castle were her very first taste of a country that she would preside over as Queen.

A walk along the cliffs today is a walk through the layers of our history. Mighty ramparts which are older than the name of Britain, a Roman lighthouse towering three stories high, the castle, Second World War radar masts, the world’s first, which allowed the RAF to see beyond the horizon and meet the German raids head on with Spitfires and Hurricanes, the first electric lighthouse in the world on South Foreland, where Marconi carried out the first ever international radio transmission.

There is nowhere better on this island to ponder our past, with its contradictory mix of cooperation and defiance, of Englishness, Britishness and Europeaness, than the meadows atop the White Cliffs.  That is why I’m involved with a National Trust campaign to take advantage of an opportunity to acquire a key section of the White Cliffs. This not only means the actual cliffs themselves but also the stunning land on top of them. This will ensure that the cliffs are a place we can all visit, lie among the wildflowers and stare out to sea. Access will be guaranteed and conservation implemented. The National Trust is creating a truly public space on top of the national icon. We must seize this chance to secure them for future generations to enjoy. Now we have a chance to shape the destiny of the cliffs, as profoundly as the Plantagenet kings, the Victorian army or the wartime engineers. This year we can take them into our own hands and protect them, in the words of the National Trust motto, ‘for everyone, forever.’

This article first appeared in The Times on Wednesday 27 June

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/

@TheTimes

Make your mark on history and save England’s White Cliffs of Dove

A £1.2 million fundraising appeal has been launched by the National Trust in a bid to secure the long-term future of the world famous White Cliffs of Dover in Kent.

The appeal is the charity’s biggest ever coastal fundraiser and will help ensure that public access to the White Cliffs can be improved for future generations to enjoy.

It will also mean that this much-loved stretch of Kent coastline can be cared for in a way that will improve its habitat for local wildlife.

If the appeal is successful, the most iconic stretch of the White Cliffs – the 1.35km (just under one mile) sweep overlooking the port of Dover – will be looked after and managed for the benefit of the public and for wildlife.

It will complete the missing link of coastline under National Trust care, uniting a stretch of more than 7km (nearly 5 miles) between the Trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland lighthouse.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said: “Immortalised in song and literature, the White Cliffs of Dover have become one the great symbols of our nation.

“We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure their future for everyone to enjoy.

“If we don’t raise the money then the future of the White Cliffs is uncertain and this stretch of coastline might one day be disrupted by inappropriate management or development.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Historian and television presenter Dan Snow, who is supporting the appeal, added: “For me it’s simple.  The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the country’s greatest and most iconic landmarks.

“When I heard that the National Trust had this opportunity to safeguard this crucial stretch of the Cliffs, I thought great.

“It’s brilliant that they have a chance to secure this important section of the cliffs, for ever, for everyone.”

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

The funds need to be raised by the end of the year to help acquire this piece of the Kent coast and help with the conservation and management of the whole White Cliffs of Dover.

There are three easy ways that money can be donated to the appeal:

-        Make a donation online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal and you can choose to have your name engraved on our virtual White Cliffs of Dover.

-        You can text a donation to support the appeal.  For example, if you wanted to donate £5 you’d need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount that you wish to donate must be included in the text.

-        Make a donation over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

The Twitter hashtag #whitecliffs will be used on twitter to keep people updated about the progress of the appeal.

-ends-

For further information and images please contact:

Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer, on 01793 817708, 07900 138419 or mike.collins@nationaltrust.org.uk

Stephen Field, Assistant Press Officer, on 01793 817740 or stephen.field@nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Notes to editors:

  • National Trust – The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 720 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/