AFTER nearly 20 months of fundraising by Stump Cross Caverns to raise vital funds to install specialist lighting in their show caves, one lucky winner has scoped a £130,000 apartment in Pateley Bridge.

The winner, Vanessa Fletcher-Lonsdale from Teeside learnt of her win live on Christmas Day when the owner of the visitor attraction at Greenhow Hill, Lisa Bowerman, along with Father Darryl Hall of St Cuthbert’s Church in Pateley Bridge, drew the winning ticket.

Vanessa and husband Garry, and their 12-year-old daughter Amber, were shocked to learn they had won.

Vanessa said: “We were absolutely flabbergasted to have won this beautiful home. When we learnt of the win on Christmas day, we couldn’t believe our luck, it’s a life-changer”

“I only bought the tickets to support Lisa after I met her in July of 2021 at the caverns. I was really taken with her enthusiasm to raise funds to keep going, so was happy to buy a few to help out. We are going to enjoy the apartment for now, and then decide what we will do with it later in the year.”

Stump Cross Caverns is a family-owned business and has had to dig deep to stay afloat through the Covid pandemic. Their first Crowdfunder campaign to win a VW Campervan raised sufficient funds to stay afloat during lockdown.

It became clear that additional funds would be needed to replace the existing 1940’s lighting with specialist LED lights to reduce the growth of a damaging fungi called lampenflora. The new lighting will also help save on soaring energy costs as it is more energy efficient to run.

Lisa Bowerman said: “We are so grateful and can’t thank everyone enough for taking part in our Crowdfunder. The money raised will go a long way to reaching our target of £200,000 to enable us to start replacing the lighting. It was a joyful moment handing over the keys to Vanessa who I think is still in shock.”

The local community, friends, colleagues, and even celebrities such as football presenter Gary Lineker, have twittered, posted and liked the campaign, which has seen people sleeping in the caves for 105 hours; a bike challenge; open days at the apartment and a social media campaign to get the word out.

The Crowdfunding campaign will continue to run until the stretch target of £200,000 has been reached, with all donations going towards the task of illuminating the show caves for future generations to enjoy.