Help to open old doors to learning

21st July 2006 at 01:00
Barry Sheerman MP, who chairs the Parliamentary education and skills committee, likes to go in for social entrepreneurship. So when his committee's inquiry showed the clear benefits of out-of-classroom learning, and the former dwelling of England's greatest nature poet came up for sale, he saw the chance to acquire the latter to provide the former. Thus was formed the John Clare Education and Environment Trust, which has now bought Clare Cottage, in Helpston, near Peterborough, for about half a million pounds and is developing it into "an international environmental educational centre of excellence, writers' retreat and outstanding seminar and reception venue". The trust has received a pledge of nearly pound;1.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the restoration of the house, dovecote and gardens. Now it needs donations and voluntary help with the educational and administrative side of things so that it can open to the public next year. Contact johnclareappeal@googlemail.com

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