Vera Lynn white cliffs campaign hits 1m

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Dame Vera wanted to see the cliffs protected for future generations

A campaign backed by Dame Vera Lynn to buy land at the top of Dover’s white cliffs has reached its £1m target in under three weeks.

Amid fears the land could be sold to developers, the National Trust urgently appealed for funds on 4 September – with a deadline of 22 September.

More than 17,500 people had donated money to buy 700,000 sqm of land.

Dame Vera – The Forces’ Sweetheart – thanked people for protecting the “national icon”.

Image copyright National Trust Images/John Miller
Image caption The National Trust owns the clifftop but later found more land had become available

She celebrated her 100th birthday at her home in Ditchling, Sussex, this year – became known as the Forces’ Sweetheart after her performances of the 1942 classic, The White Cliffs of Dover.

“I am delighted to learn that the small part I played in the campaign to protect the white cliffs of Dover has been so effective,” Dame Vera said.

“Over many years, I have been a supporter of the National Trust and the vital work that they do in preserving our heritage and landscapes – long may this continue.

“My thanks to everyone who embraced the campaign to protect this national icon. The white cliffs of Dover are a significant landmark and it is so encouraging to know that they will now be protected for future generations.”

Image copyright National Trust/Gareth Wiltshire
Image caption The land is a haven for flowers, grasses, birds and butterflies

The trust bought the clifftop in 2012 but later found out the 700,000 sqm of land had become available.

The current landowner has requested confidentiality and their name has not been revealed.

Between the South Foreland lighthouse and Langdon Cliffs, the area is a haven for more than 40 species of flowers and grasses, butterflies including the Adonis blue and marbled white and birds including the peregrine falcon and skylark.

It also has several structures from World War Two including two large gun emplacements.

The trust wants to return the land to chalk grassland, make the military structures watertight and create access routes for visitors.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption Planned work includes creating access routes for visitors

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