The founder of the Drews Pond Wood Project, which has transformed a piece of derelict woodland into Devizes’ own nature reserve, has called upon the local community to help it buy more land.

The former cricket pitch and orchard on what used to be the site of the county asylum, Roundway Hospital, has come up for sale and the volunteers need to find £22,000 to clinch the deal and link it up with the existing woodland.

Stuart Hislop, who set up the project in 1990 with his wife, Lorna, said the new land would give the community the chance to protect it from housing development and give the town its own community orchard.

He said: “We need to raise about £22,000 to buy the land and cover legal fees. We already have £5,000 promised by Devizes Area Board and a local company has matched this sum, so we are almost halfway there.

“I am sure there are other companies in the town that could find the money to support this project and earn the admiration of the people of the town in so doing.

“The maths is simple. If ten companies or firms can give £1,000 we are almost there, or 20 give £500. Equally, individuals with money who care for this town, the local area and the environment could make a commitment, as others have in the past.”

The Drews Pond Wood Project has received national recognition for its work in maintaining the woodland and its environs.

It has won “outstanding” certificates in the South West in Bloom competition two years running and helped Devizes and Roundway win and retain a gold award in the contest.

The project already receives help from some local businesses. The Southgate Inn has taken it on as their charity since Ian and Sarah Wixon took over as licensees and Mrs Wixon handed over a cheque for £1,176 last week.

The sum was raised by fundraising events including a bonus ball competition and a meat raffle. Regulars Simon Berry and his partner Carol raised over £250 from their produce stall alone.

Mr Hislop said: “We cannot express enough how grateful we are for this great level of support to our work in the nature reserve.

"This is localism in action and we would like to thank everyone at The Southgate for their continued support.”

For further information email or ring 07853 299074.