‘Ammonite’ film funding given to projects honouring Mary Anning

Oscar-winning actresses Kate Winslet pictured meeting local schoolchildren while filming scenes for ‘Ammonite’ in Lyme Regis (photo by Janet Wraith)

THREE projects in memory of Lyme Regis’ most famous daughter, fossil hunter Mary Anning, are to benefit from £15,000 grant funding.

Following negotiations with Lyme Regis Town Council, production company Fossil Films Ltd donated £15,000 in return for transforming several areas of the town, including Bell Cliff, into a film set for ‘Ammonite’.

The scenes, starring Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet as Lyme’s famous fossil hunter Mary Anning, were shot in Lyme Regis in March and the film is expected to be released in 2020.

The town council were tasked with distributing the funds and invited local organisation to apply, with the Mayor, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, saying he wanted it to be used to “support a worthy project or cause to create a lasting legacy for Lyme Regis”.

Eight local organisations made their bids in November and the council made a final decision on how the money should be spent on Wednesday.

Members agreed to split the £15,000 evenly between three proposals that they felt were the most appropriate to receive the funding, as they each had a connection to Mary Anning.

The winning proposals were as follows:

Axminster & Lyme Cancer Support – This local charity supports those facing the diagnosis and impact of cancer, and will use the grant funding to set up Mary Anning’s Beach Hut. This will be a seafront beach hut available to book through the charity for anyone affected by cancer, providing space by the sea to relax and spend time with family. The hut would be named after Mary Anning, who died of breast cancer aged 47.

Mary Anning Rocks – This campaign was inspired by fossil-mad Dorset schoolgirl Evie with the hope of erecting a statue of Mary Anning in Lyme Regis. Initial plans for the statue have recently been scaled back and it is now expected to cost between £55,000 and £75,000, which would be raised via a Crowdfunder campaign to be launched in the New Year. The group requested £5,000 of the ‘Ammonite’ funding for educational workshops and to commission an artist’s impression and maquette of the statue.

Mary Anning Scholarship Fund – The scholarship fund will support students from Lyme Regis attending higher education to study earth sciences or STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths). It would specifically help those who are not currently well represented in these fields, particularly women from less advantaged backgrounds, honouring the legacy of Mary Anning by offering local young people the opportunity that she was not awarded within her lifetime.

Bids from B Sharp, Lyme Regis Gig Club, Lyme Regis Musical Theatre, the Town Mill Trust and Woodroffe School PTFA were unsuccessful.

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