CRICKLADE is to receive investment to help protect and preserve its wildflower meadows thanks to a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Blakehill reserve on the site of a former airbase will receive part of a £3m pot to transform it into a hive of natural wildlife, insects and flowers by nurturing the meadows and grasslands.

It is the first time that the Lottery Fund has awarded a grant to a partnership of conservation organisations and councils, including the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

The Save Our Magnificent Meadows project, led by Plantlife, will see 74,000 acres targeted to develop the wildflower meadows vanishing from the countryside during the next four years.

Dr Gary Mantle, Director of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said “The Trust is delighted to be part of the Saving Our Magnificent Meadows project. Locally, it will enable us to undertake habitat restoration work at our Blakehill nature reserve just outside of Swindon.

“This former MOD airbase is one of the UK’s largest grassland restoration projects and is the Trust’s biggest nature reserve. Combined with Stoke Common Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it covers over 600 acres. It is a massive refuge for wildlife.

“Our vision for this wonderful reserve is to create a space where butterflies like the grizzled skipper, reptiles such as slow worm and common lizard can thrive among the wildflowers and skylarks can soar overhead.

“We plan to create features such as mounds to provide south facing slopes to make basking, feeding, foraging, breeding and nesting areas to attract invertebrates and reptiles.”

As part of the project more than 500,000 people are expected to get involved to support the partnership of ten organisations, including the National Trust, the RSPB and Cotswold Conservation Board.

Glynis Hales, a keen gardener and campaigner for wildflower meadows from Penhill, said: “I think it’s fantastic news of course, that’s marvellous.”

£134,00, not including public donations will be put towards the pot. Blakehill site from the £3m pot.