Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


This application is for funds for a project costing £25,000 to purchase a piece of land in North Norfolk to sustain, and develop, environmental and personal development opportunities for young people and community groups from Norfolk and beyond.

Funding is required for the purchase and fees for the 1.5 acres of land for camping and environmental activities and the 0.5 acres of land currently under lease giving the Kearns Foundation freedom to expand their offer and develop better, more usable facilities for young people and community groups.

The Foundation wishes to increase and expand the provision on the site and develop day-time use through a series of nature classrooms constructed inside overgrown hedgerows and under wooded canopies on the unmanaged site. These developments will form part of a wider development plan, once the site has been acquired, and will involve input from young people, teachers and youth workers to ensure that the offer meets the current demand for positive activities for young people that address physical and mental health needs as well as personal and social development.

We have operated on part of the site since 2015 through an informal arrangement with Norfolk County Council, who now wish to sell the land. The use of the camping fields over the three years (2015-2018) that it has been operated by the Kearns Foundation has dramatically increased from 292 camping nights (2015) to 659 (2018) camping nights by predominantly young people. This proves the demand for the site, and the positive feedback from returning and new customers.

We have also been working with the Parish Councils at Trimingham and Gimingham and the recently formed Gimingham Road Residents Association to explore proposals for the site and all have given their support which will return the site to its former intended use. In 1939 land at Gimingham Road, Trimingham was gifted to the local education authority by the Jewson family, well known in Norfolk for their philanthropy and support of communities. It was gifted for use by youth and the community. The land is currently owned by Norfolk County Council (since 1974) but has remained unmanaged by them for almost 10 years. It was declared “surplus to requirements” by them in 2017.

The Kearns Foundation was formed in 2007 as part of a 40th birthday celebration which sadly co-incided with the death of his father by James Kearns. James had worked and volunteered in youth and community projects in Norfolk for over 20 years was aware that there were gaps in provision, in particular supporting individual young people, or community groups with big ideas and small resources.

Rather than have a party James decided to make a difference and proposed to launch the charity to raise money and support such projects, however a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer for his father, resulted in plans being put on hold. His subsequent death 2 days before James' birthday provided the focus once again. In making funeral arrangements, the family adopted the idea and used memorial gifts to launch the fund that has since supported a small grants programme and support for community organisations with a value of over £40,000 - and in 2015 purchased a 12 bed residential Log Cabin in North Norfolk to provide facilities for young people and community groups to appreciate the outdoors, and maximise personal development opportunities.

This project aims to expand that operation with the acquisition of neighbouring land to develop nature classrooms and additional camping space to meet demand.

We want people to support us to provide young people, and their volunteer supporters with the time and space to appreciate the natural environment, develop leadership and teamwork skills, grow physically healthily and spiritually in a safe, natural environment. Their support will help us retain a facility that links coast (0.5miles away) and countryside providing young people with space to explore.

The Kearns Foundation

Moment of Pride

I have a personal connection to this project as it stands as a legacy to my family's involvement in supporting youth and community projects in Norfolk for over 40 years, more importantly it fills a growing gap where young people can get out of doors in a safe environment that is wild and wonderful.

Location: Trimingham