The Fairfield Association first became aware that the fields we now call Flora could be purchased in 2010-11, while working on possible footpath access points into the Fauna nature reserve. Wanting to preserve the green corridor between Fauna and Lancaster canal, the Lune estuary and beyond, we started a local fund-raising campaign to buy the fields. It transpired that the land we were trying to buy had multiple owners:
- In 2011 we bought a 2-acre strip in the middle of Flora from the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders;
- In November 2012 we came to an agreement with the Harries family to buy a further 26 acres, with a maximum completion of date of the end of July 2013. We have raised the funds and are
currently (June 2013) finalizing this purchase through our solicitors;
- In April 2013 we came to an agreement with Gleesons, the property developers, to buy the remaining 6 acres of Flora. We raised the money for that purchase and have completed that purchase too. The overall cost, including legal and other fees, for buying Flora approached £300,000, an enormous amount of money for a small local charity, and more than we have raised for our all our other local projects put together since the charity was formed in 1996.
We received some very welcome and substantial outside funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, but by far the biggest contribution came from the hundreds of local people who donated money from their own bank accounts and raised money for us through a series of fund-raising efforts to preserve and enhance Lancaster’s ecology. Flora, then, is the result of a stupendous community effort on the part of Lancastrians from all walks of life and indeed people from outside the area too. We received donations ranging from £5 or less to £10,000. In addition to the substantial Lancaster contributions, we also received donations from friends in Lancashire, the rest of the UK and, indeed, the rest of the world, including from Amsterdam and Beijing! Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs played their part too, as the large majority of our donations have been eligible for Gift Aid.