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Stump Cross Caverns owners to raffle apartment to pay for essential works

Stump Cross Caverns owners are raffling off their apartment in Pateley Bridge to pay for essential maintenance and repair work at the caves.

The owners of Stump Cross Caverns are raffling off their £130,000 apartment in Pateley Bridge in order to pay for essential maintenance and repair work at the caves. Owners Lisa Bowerman and Nicholas Markham were successful in their 'Save the Caves' campaign in which they raffled off their VW Campervan and raised more than £70,000 to keep the business alive. But due to essential maintenance costs and loss of earnings during the pandemic, the couple are launching their biggest Crowdfunder to date as they attempt to cover costs of more than £200,000. The couple, who live on site at the Pateley Bridge tourist attraction, have seen visitors drop from 60,000 to just 15,000 due to lockdown closures and social distancing restrictions. Owner Lisa Bowerman said:

"Having to sell another of our personal possessions is heart-breaking, but an unsuccessful bid for government funding and forced closures have seen ticket sales plummet, leaving us with losses of more than £500,000. "We just haven’t had the income to cover maintenance and reinvest in the future of the caves.
"It’s make or break for us right now and selling the apartment is the only way we can do essential repairs, including the renewal of the lighting system, and also ensure the caves are here for the benefit of others for many generations to come."
Lisa and her partner Nicholas are asking for supporters to pledge £10 per ticket for the raffle, with the prize being their one-bedroom Pateley Bridge apartment valued at nearly £130,000. The winner will acquire the flat mortgage free and with no outstanding stamp duty or conveyancing fees. Lisa added:
"We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the public and hope that they will be there to help us on our last push towards reopening. "Pledging as little as £10 means one person could walk away with their very own property and contribute towards saving this ancient tourist attraction."
To help overcome the impact of the pandemic, Stump Cross has also been working closely with Otley-based business Apollo3D to provide virtual guided tours for schools. Lisa said:
"This is a really important step forward for us as we’ll be able to reach out to schools, who either can’t visit due to visitor number restrictions or are based too far away to explore in person. "Clever technology, developed by Apollo3D, means our team of experts will be able to take children on a live virtual 3D tour of the magnificent caves, including parts hidden away from everyday visitors, and answer any questions they may have - all from the comfort of their classroom. "There’s also potential to tap into a global market and generate some much-needed extra income. It’s a very exciting development opportunity and we’re hopeful it will prove to be really popular with those unable to visit in person."
The crowdfunder will remain open until 20,000 tickets are sold. Once this total has been reached, a date will be set for the live prize draw. If the £200,000 campaign target isn’t met, refunds will be processed and the apartment withdrawn from the appeal. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Crowdfunding page here. Each participant will also receive a complementary virtual cave tour also created by Apollo3D. Alongside this there’s still time for people to sign the Stump Cross Caverns ‘Save the Caves’ petition. Launched earlier this month, and so far signed by nearly 3,000 people, the petition has been created in response to a government funding setback and is an attempt to get the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to listen to their plea for help. Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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