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Our History

The Countryside Restoration Trust was established in 1993 by the Chairman, Robin Page and the late artist and conservationist, Gordon Beningfield.

Launched in response to growing fears about intensive and industrialised farming, the CRT initially aimed to purchase land which had been intensively farmed, in order to restore it to a living countryside, rather than a lifeless food factory. As the CRT has grown its aims have broadened to encompass purchasing farmland and woodland where traditional farming methods, wildlife habitat and biodiversity are under threat.

The CRT promotes a working countryside using sensitive and sympathetic farming practices that encourage and protect wildlife to produce quality food.

Why Support Us

We all have a responsibility to look after our environment which is composed of innumerable complex and interlinking systems of flora and fauna that together maintain an essential balance.

Over the years much damage has occurred to our countryside and farming, with large areas of ordinary countryside and familiar species disappearing.

We want to put a stop to this.

We believe that conservation should not be concentrated on preserving ‘islands’ of specialist habitats and endangered species in nature reserves.

The Countryside Restoration Trust is dedicated to restoring and protecting the wider countryside and its wildlife. Our aim is for conservation improvements to be carried out alongside practical farming and land management and to spread these aims by example and education.

CRT Timeline


Re-launch of Dorset Appeal

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Re-launch of Gordon Beningfield Dorset Farm Appeal.

Eric Standen gifts Yarwell

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Eric Standen gifts Yarwell (34 acres).

Alison Mountain gifts Twyford Farm

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Alison Mountain gifts Twyford Farm, West Sussex (220 acres). Star-studded CRT 20th Anniversary Celebration at The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Red squirrel enclosure opened

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Red squirrel enclosure opened at Mayfields.

Margaret Wood pond created

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Pond created to mark the 10 year anniversary since Margaret Wood gifted to the Trust. Tit Brook Meadow celebrated its twentieth year since planted as a ‘traditional hay meadow’. Bourn Free project launched, which aims to clear the Bourn Brook, Cambridge, of mink and so help protect water voles.

New state-of-the-art dairy built

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A new state-of-the-art dairy built at Pierrepont Farm.

Greta McDonough purchases a house

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Greta McDonough purchases a house for the CRT near Mayfields, enabling the appointment of a tenant. Signed walks at Lark Rise Farm are put in place.

Purchase of Tinker's Field

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Purchase of Tinker's Field, Cambridge (30 acres) which borders Lark Rise Farm on three sides.

John Broadbent-Jones gifts 200 acres

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John Broadbent-Jones gifts Green Farm, Churt, Surrey (200 acres).

Jo Baker gifts 200 acres

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Jo Baker gifts Pierrepont Farm, Surrey (200 acres).

Jason Martin gifts 12 acres

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Jason Martin gifts land at Bicker, Lincolnshire (12 acres).

Greta McDonough gifts 40 acres

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Greta McDonough gifts Mayfields Farm, Norfolk (40 acres). Gerald Sanctuary gifts Harold’s Grove (8.5 acres). Prince Charles visits Lark Rise Farm again.

Purchase of Turnastone Court Farm

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Purchase of Turnastone Court Farm, Herefordshire (247 acres). Star-studded CRT Tenth Anniversary Celebration at The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Robin Page completes Butterfly Safari

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Robin Page completes Butterfly Safari raising over £10,000 for The Gordon Beningfield Memorial Appeal.

Duncan Elliot gifts Margaret Wood

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Duncan Elliot gifts Margaret Wood, Yorkshire (32 acres). Purchase of Westfield (120 acres) extends Lark Rise Farm.

David Powell gifts Awnells Farm

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David Powell gifts Awnells Farm, Herefordshire (220 acres). Mary Thorley gifts Buxted, Sussex (5 acres). David Shepherd agrees to be Patron.

Nan Major leaves CRT £120,000

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Nan Major leaves CRT £120,000 in her Will. Her ashes are spread on Lark Rise Farm. First harvest for Lark Rise Farm on Nan’s Field.

Purchase of 140 acres at Barton

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Purchase of 140 acres at Barton with the aid of Heritage Lottery Fund. Lark Rise Farm is formed.

Lark Rise Farm Appeal

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Lark Rise Farm Appeal reaches £200,000. Sir Laurens van der Post sadly dies.

Purchase of Warner’s Corner

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Purchase of Warner’s Corner (50 acres) from Mr Mervyn Page (Robin’s father) at a hugely discounted price.

Purchase of Holt Field

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Purchase of Holt Field. Land now totals 40 acres.Donation from Her Majesty the Queen and a visit by Prince Charles.

Planting of Hedge

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Planting of hedge in Telegraph Field and first Open Days at Barton.

Public Launch

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Public launch of the Countryside Restoration Trust. Sir Laurens van der Post accepts role of Patron. Purchase of Telegraph Field in Barton, Cambridgeshire (22 acres).

Expenditure 2014/15

Total Expenditure 618,842 (in pounds sterling)


Costs of Generating Voluntary Income

25%

Fundraising Events

8%

Investment Management Costs

5%

Farm and Land Management

39%

Conservation

9%

Education

8%

Other

6%

Income 2014/15

Total Income 3,128,849 (in pounds sterling)


Legacies

82%

Investment Income

4%

Charitable Activities

2%

Fundraising Events

4%

Friends

3%

Donations

5%

Who We Are

Patrons

  • David Shepherd CBE – artist and one of the best known conservationists in the UK
  • David Bellamy – a key figure in raising the profile of environmental issues throughout the world
  • Jonathon Porritt – environmentalist and latterly a government advisor on sustainable development
  • Brian Jackman – writer, journalist and conservationist based in Dorset
  • Dame Judi Dench – Patron of the Dorset Appeal

Staff

The day to day running of the Trust is managed by a small team of full-time and part-time staff. Staff Members are as follows:

  • Sarah Stannage FRSA, MSc (Director)
  • Lois Dixon BSc (Hons) (Marketing & Communications Manager)
  • Liz Kirkby (Finance Manager)
  • Sarah Clay (Fundraising Manager)
  • Kenny MacKay (Conservation, Volunteer and Education Adviser)
  • Ann-Marie Murray (Friends and Office Administrator)
  • Vince Lea (Monitoring Officer)

Trustees

A board of Trustees, made up of volunteers, manages the Trust.

  • Robin Page (Chairman) – well known author, farmer and conservationist.
  • Tilly Smith (Vice Chair) – farms in Scotland where her livestock includes Britain’s only free-ranging reindeer herd.
  • Chris Knights (Trustee) – Norfolk farmer and internationally renowned wildlife photographer.
  • Zac Goldsmith (Trustee) – Conservative MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston.
  • Robin Maynard (Trustee) – has campaigned for over 25 years on farming & countryside issues at Friends of the Earth, FARM & the Soil Association; including a brief stint on BBC’s Farming Today. He now works independently.
  • Annabella Evans (Trustee) – a solicitor specialising in agricultural property law
  • Nicholas Watts MBE (Trustee) – Farmer and entrepreneur, largest grower/seller of bird seed in the country through Vine House Farm
  • John Terry (Trustee) – Former Education and Events Officer at the CRT and member of the Cambridge Flood Mitigation Group.