Conservation charity's appeal to buy a stretch of the Kent coastline reaches its target two months earlier than expected
The National Trust has raised the £1.2m it needed to buy a stretch of the white cliffs of Dover coastline in just 19 weeks.
More than 16,000 organisations and people supported the appeal, which reached its target in 133 days, two months earlier than expected, bringing in an average of £9,000 a day.
The trust launched the appeal in June to buy the stretch of nearly a mile from a local landowner, adding the "missing link" to the five miles of the famous coastline it already owns.
The purchase means that walkers will be able to enjoy an unbroken ramble between the trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland Lighthouse. It will also allow the trust to expand its conservation work in the area, which is home to rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and the only pair of breeding ravens in Kent.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, who is in her final week as director-general of the 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 said a gift of £200,000 from the Dover Harbour Board helped it to reach its target early.
Members of the public donated an average of £40.21, including Gift Aid, to the appeal.
Celebrities including the singer Dame Vera Lynn and the actor Dame Judi Dench supported the appeal as did the Dover-born singer Joss Stone.
Alison Burnett, a volunteer on the trust’s white cliffs of Dover team, said: "This chalky stretch of coastline symbolises so much for so many people. 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."
The trust bought the first stretch of the chalk cliffs in 1968.