A FUNDRAISING appeal launched in a bid to help a Hampshire charity hit by the lockdown has upped its target.

The Countryside Education Trust (CET), which teaches children about the importance of the countryside, fears it may be several months before it can fully reopen.

At the beginning of July the Beaulieu-based charity launched a £3,000 Crowdfunding campaign to help it raise the money needed to feed its animals.

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The appeal proved so successful that the target has now been increased to £5,000, of which more than £4,000 has already been raised.

If the new target is reached by July 28 the charity will receive match funding from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

The CET's chief executive, Jane Cooper, said: "We are so grateful to those people who have donated so far and so touched by the support of our local community.

"Please help us at this critical time – and huge thanks to those who already have. Every penny counts."

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Anyone on social media who likes and shares the CET's fundraising campaign will be entered into a prize draw.

The prize is a treehouse party for up to 25 people, to be held before the end of the year in accordance with government guidelines at the time.

A statement on the CET's Crowdfunding page says: "We run our farm and ancient woodlands in an environmentally-sensitive way, with a real focus on rare farmyard breeds and wildlife species developed over decades.

"We teach our visitors about farming, introduce them to nature and feed them home-produced food. Most importantly, we help them experience the joy of the outdoors.

"We are inventing new ways of doing this remotely until we can welcome people safely, while we continue to care for our animals and wildlife habitats.

"At the moment, we can’t pay our own way - fundraising events, residential school visits, weddings, outdoor playgroups and rural skills courses are sadly all on hold.

"Even though lockdown measures are easing, we won’t be able to fully re-open for many months. But we do need to carry on caring for our animals and our wonderful wildlife habitats in the meantime."

The CET normally attracts up to 10,000 visitors a year to its sites, which include a farm and tree-houses in ancient woodland.

But Ms Cooper said the charity's income "literally stopped overnight" after the lockdown was imposed.

Several of the charity's supporters have left goodwill messages of its Crowdfunding page.

Samantha Brown said: "This is a fantastic farm which offers so much support to youngsters from towns and cities whose eyes are opened to nature and the countryside."