Celebs Back White Cliffs Appeal

Dame Judi Dench, singer Joss Stone and chef Rick Stein are among a host of stars who have backed a £1.2 million appeal to safeguard the White Cliffs of Dover.

The National Trust says it has already raised almost half the money needed since launching its largest-ever coastal fundraiser last month to buy a stretch of the chalk cliffs just less than a mile long.

The purchase would fill in the missing link in a stretch of coast almost five miles long owned by the National Trust on behalf of the nation, from its visitor centre above Dover port to South Foreland lighthouse.

Dover-born singer Stone said: "I love Dover and the White Cliffs. They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.''

Other high-profile figures who have lent their support include Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, actor Richard E. Grant, yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur and comedian and Kent resident Paul O'Grady.

He said: "The White Cliffs are Kent's most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts. I'm backing the National Trust appeal so that they will be secure forever, for all of us.''

The chalk cliffs stretching east from Dover are home to a rich array of wildlife such as the Adonis blue butterfly and peregrine falcons, Kent's only kittiwake, and plants including oxtongue broomrape and sea carrots.

Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, said: "In just one month, thousands of people have backed our appeal and we've raised almost half of the money needed.''

Although people are already able walk the cliffs from the visitor centre to the lighthouse, part of the stretch is privately owned and in places arable fields come to the edge of cliffs, leaving just a slither of land for the coastal path.

By buying the 1.35km (0.8 mile) piece of the coastal jigsaw, the National Trust would be able to restore the natural habitat, providing more space for species to retreat as the cliffs naturally erode, and connect the Trust's existing areas of land.

The Trust - which acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs in 1968 - said the money needs to be raised by the end of the year to buy the land.

You can contribute to the appeal by visiting www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal.