THE Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of the 15 to be awarded a share of £7.4million from the National Lottery.

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths and Dedham Vale will receive a joint £129,000 grant from the National Lottery, which will help the two AONBs celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The areas, which were formally designated in 1970, will encourage residents and visitors to connect with the landscapes, raising awareness of the special qualities of the AONBs and track the changes to the landscape through a photographic exhibition.

The Dedham Vale is characterised by a lowland English river valley landscape, with significant cultural heritage, made famous by artists including John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.

Nigel Chapman, chairman of the Dedham Vale AONB, said they are delighted to receive this award which will help them celebrate the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Dedham Vale AONB.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Nigel ChapmanNigel Chapman

He said: “It is of great importance to us, as this grant will allow us to seek to get more people from a broader background involved in the nationally designated landscape to support its natural beauty, visitor economy and quality of life fore residents.”

Simon Amstutz, manager of AONB staff team, said it is the first time the National Lottery has awarded them a grant to work across the two national landscapes both in Essex and in Suffolk.

He added: “The grant will enable us to work with the community, visitors and businesses to conserve and enhance these wonderful areas.”

Since 1994, the National Lottery has invested £829million into nature and wildlife projects and this round of funding will help threatened species and habitats.

Drew Bennellick, head of land and nature policy at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said urgent action is needed to help nature recover.

“The funding is creating incredible opportunities for people to take such action for species under threat and, crucially, equipping a new generation with the skills and passions to make a real difference for the future of out natural world”, he said.