Lyme Regis organisations make bids for ‘Ammonite’ film funding

‘Ammonite’ stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan on set in Lyme Regis (photo by Richard Austin)

LOCAL organisations have made their bids for £15,000 grant funding donated to Lyme Regis by filmmakers behind the Mary Anning biopic ‘Ammonite’. 

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.

Local organisations were invited to apply for the grant funding 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”.

Representatives from eight local organisations made their bids at a town council meeting last night (Wednesday), several with connections to Mary Anning.

However, due to the length of last night’s meeting, the council has still not made any decision on how the money should be spent.

The meeting ran until 11.40pm so three items were deferred until next month, including the decision on the film funding.

Those applying for the £15,000 funding are as follows:

Axminster & Lyme Cancer Support – This local charity supports those facing the diagnosis and impact of cancer, and hopes to use the grant funding to set up Mary Anning’s Beach Hut. This would 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.

B Sharp – Lyme’s music charity has a strong track record working with children and young people across the region. They hope to use the grant to create a ‘Town Songbook’, involving the whole community in celebrating the town through visual arts and songwriting. The ‘Town Songbook’ will comprise of a series of original songs based on local stories, which could be used in local school singing and assemblies, and by local singing groups.

Lyme Regis Gig Club – Having launched in 2007, the club has a membership of almost 200, ranging in age from eight to 80, and a further 45 on the waiting list. The grant funding would allow the club to purchase a further gig with fitting to enable it to also be sailed, upgrading the safety of the club’s existing training gig which is particularly important for junior rowers. The new gig would be named ‘Ammonite’ to tie in with the Mary Anning theme.

Lyme Regis Musical Theatre – Formerly known as the operatic society, this local group will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020 and will stage a concert version of ‘The Mikado’ as well as hit musical ‘Chicago’. The grant funding would allow them to purchase a folding platform that could be used to extend the stage at venues such as the Marine Theatre and Woodmead Halls, which could also be used by other local organisations.

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 would 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.

Town Mill Trust – One of Lyme’s most historic attractions, the Town Mill was rescued from demolition 20 years ago and is now a thriving hub of artisan businesses, workshops and galleries, as well as the working watermill itself. The grant funding would go towards a new ‘Grain to Loaf’ themed multi-sensory exhibition, which would tell the story of man’s use of grain for food, specifically for bread, from the Stone Age to the modern day.

The Woodroffe School PTFA – The Parent, Teacher and Friends Association of Lyme’s Woodroffe School are hoping to win the funding to cover the design and installation of al all-weather outdoor canopy for the use of students and teachers. This will create an outdoor learning space, as well as an area for students to socialise during their breaks, and a key element of the project would be the incorporation of artwork developed by pupils on the themes raised in the Mary Anning biopic.

A decision on how the money will be spent will now be made at a council meeting on Tuesday, December 17.


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About Francesca Evans 2770 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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