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Join the Love the Forest Valentines Challenge

Love the Forest is calling on walkers, joggers and runners to join its Valentines Challenge to help fund vital conservation, commoning and education projects in the New Forest.

The scheme set up by the New Forest Trust charity is calling on people to make their local lockdown miles count and get sponsored to walk, jog or run a distance when out on their daily exercise from home.

Love the Forest usually raises tens of thousands of pounds each year from personal donations and with tourism businesses adding a pound to visitor’s bills, but sadly most of the businesses have been closed for a lot of 2020 due to the pandemic and donations have plummeted.

Over the years the scheme has helped rare bats, birds and snakes survive, educated thousands of youngsters about the New Forest and funded vital projects to reduce animal accidents on Forest roads.

The New Forest ponies and cattle are known as ‘the architects of the Forest’, roaming freely across the landscape. Owned by people called commoners, it’s the animals’ grazing which creates the amazing range of habitats which make the National Park a world capital for wildlife.

Sadly 49 animals were killed on the roads in 2020 with nine killed in a particularly harrowing week after Christmas. Although 2020 saw the lowest number of accidents since records began, any animal death is a great loss to its owner and the Forest.

New Forest Trust Chairman William Ziegler said: ‘We’re asking people to join in our virtual challenge and help fund measures to help the New Forest survive into the future.

‘We suggest people choose from a distance of three, five or 10 miles and complete their challenge from home any time from Valentines’ Day to the end of February. You can take part anywhere – you don’t have to be in the New Forest!

‘Of course, while completing the Challenge we will all need to follow the latest Government restrictions about travel and contact with other people to keep everyone safe. We hope as many people as possible will get involved to help care for the New Forest landscape and animals.’

Anyone who would like to take part but not seek sponsorship, or would like to support the event, is encouraged to make a suggested donation of £20 instead.

William added: ‘We would like to thank all our fantastic businesses who have been supporting the Love the Forest scheme over the years and it’s extremely sad to see how difficult a time they are having but we hope they’ll be open again soon and we can return the favour and support them too.’

This is a virtual event and you must follow the latest Government restrictions about travel and contact with other people to keep everyone safe.* See the latest advice here.

Your challenge:

Make your lockdown local exercise miles count and join our Love the Forest Valentines Challenge to help care for the New Forest ponies and wildlife.

Walk, jog or run a distance and route of your choosing and ask friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you.

Start your walk/jog/run on Valentine’s Day – Sunday 14 February and complete your challenge over the next two weeks (ending Sunday 28 February).

Choose your distance:
It’s up to you how far you walk and how long you want to take to complete your challenge, but you can choose from our suggestions:

  • 3 miles
  • 5 miles
  • 10 miles

Stay safe:

  • Please follow the latest government restrictions  due to Covid-19.
  • If you’re walking alone, tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
  • Take a drink, snack and a fully charged mobile phone with you. You should take a map too as you can’t always rely on a phone signal.

I’m signing up!
Set up a Love the Forest VirginGiving page or a Love the Forest Facebook fundraiser page and ask your friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you.

By setting up a Love the Forest fundraising page on Virgin Giving or Facebook, you are confirming you have read and accepted the following Terms and Conditions:

By completing the registration form for the Love the Forest Valentines Challenge you agree to the following Terms and Conditions:

  1. Entrants take part in the Love the Forest Valentines Challenge do so entirely at their own risk and are 100% responsible for selecting a safe route. The New Forest Trust accepts no responsibility for any accidents, injuries or losses sustained whilst taking part in the Love the Forest Valentines Challenge.
  2. Entrants must agree to adhere to the latest government guidelines for Covid-19 and walk only with your household or support bubble as part of your local daily exercise.
  3. Participants are responsible for ensuring that they are sufficiently fit and healthy to take part in their challenge.
  4. Participants are responsible for ensuring that they are wearing appropriate attire when taking part in the challenge, taking into account the nature of the challenge, the weather forecast and the terrain involved.
  5. Children are welcome to take part in the event but should be accompanied and closely supervised by a responsible adult at all times.
  6. You agree that all funds raised shall be paid to the New Forest Trust as quickly as possible after your event and in any case by no later than eight weeks after the event end date (28 February 2021). All payments to the New Forest Trust shall be made via debit or credit card, cheque, bank transfer or via a secure online fundraising page.
  7. You agree that should you, for whatever reason, not take part in the challenge, it is your responsibility to contact your sponsors telling them you are no longer participating in the event, and what will happen to their sponsor money.
  8. I confirm that I am aged 16 or over.
  9. All participants enter the challenge entirely at their own risk. We shall not be liable for any death, personal injury, damage or loss to participants or their property that might occur as a result of their participation.

Share your support online:

  • Get someone to take a photo of you (or set your camera timer) while making a heart with your hands and post it on social media
  • Tag @lovetheforest
  • Use the hashtag #lovetheforest in your post and it will appear on our website and social media with everyone else taking part.

What can you spot?

Keep an eye out for local wildlife when you’re on your Love the Forest Valentines Challenge.

Not able to take part this time?

Please consider making a donation to the Love the Forest scheme to enable us to continue our important work to care for the New Forest National Park.

Keep up to date

Sign up for our email newsletter for all the latest news about the Valentines Challenge and Love the Forest scheme.

To start fundraising or donate online, visit: Virgin Money Giving | New Forest Trust