LOCAL nature groups have organised an online auction to raise cash for Otley’s new community woodland.

The community purchase of Weston Woods (aka East Wood, Weston) is finally expected to complete in early December. Friends of Weston Woods (FoWW) - the group who will be managing the woods on behalf of the community after completion - is delighted to announce that they have recently received an incredible £29,000 donation from partners of Hg Capital. However, they are still actively fundraising to pay off a further £29,000 still outstanding from Julia Davies’ original generous loan, which was needed to help the group reach the purchase price.

Consequently, FoWW have launched an online auction and they’re asking everyone to get involved. There are many exciting lots to bid on and a wide variety of items including: ‘Tea for Two’ at Betty’s, a Garden Wildlife Survey, a Fly-Fishing taster experience, original artworks, signed books and even a private String Quartet performance, with more items being added all the time.

Supporters have until December 10, 2023 to head to online at https://app.galabid.com/foww to bid for their chance to win and support this amazing venture.

Francesca Bridgewater, Chair of Menston Area Nature Trust, the charity which will have legal ownership on behalf of Friends of Weston Woods and the community, said: “We have been overwhelmed by this huge donation, which gets us so much closer to our goal. But we still have a long way to go and need everyone to support the cause. An online auction is a fun way for the entire community to be involved. People have donated a variety of brilliant ‘promises’ and also good quality items to bid for, so why not go green this Christmas and support your local woodland by bidding in our auction!”

For more information about the auction and the purchase of Weston Woods, go to: https://mant.org.uk/east-wood-acquisition/

Francesca added: "Julia is an environmental campaigner, lawyer, philanthropist and true impact investor who uses her personal funds to enable charitable projects (including land acquisitions for nature restoration) to progress. Julia is kindly supporting our acquisition but on the understanding that we will do all we can to reduce the loan from her needed at completion and then to pay back any loan she does provide as a priority. We can’t progress work on the site until the loan is repaid. Equally Julia can’t support the many projects which contact her regularly, until her commitment to this project is substantially reduced.

The purchase of the woods has also been supported by a donation from Otley Town Council.