A PORTLAND man who lost his mother to leukaemia has purchased nearly four acres of land at Portland Bill in her memory – but insists he will do nothing with it.

Mark Winterburn, 41, from Portland, said his decision to leave Annie’s Field untouched is a conscious effort to protect and preserve its natural habitat for wildlife – and he’s encouraging members of the public to get involved in the cause themselves.

Mr Winterburn explained his project – called This Land is Your Land – is about encouraging people to take ownership of their local spaces and protect them both for their importance as a natural habitat and as spaces to enjoy.

He said of his impulse purchase of the land at auction: “I was kind of shocked when I won it. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it initially. I loved the fact that I owned a little bit of Portland Bill. Lots of the land around Annie’s Field is a site of special scientific interest but the bit I bought wasn’t and lots of land around there is owned by someone who wants to develop it. Personally I don’t think Portland Bill should be touched so I didn’t want it to be developed.”

He said that several conservationists have already been visiting the site to record the creatures living there.

“My mum was very passionate about land conservation and I know she’d like [it]. There’s a protected butterfly caller, the Silver Blue, that was important to my mum. We have seen them in that field. It’s a very beautiful butterfly. It’s not native to just Portland, but when people talk about it, Portland is one of the places they point to.”

Mr Winterburn said he hopes to expand the scheme to similar sites in different areas, crowd-sourcing the funds to purchase land residents want to protect in the communities.

He said: “The sites don’t necessarily have to be in Portland or even Dorset. It would be amazing if it became a nationwide of global thing.”

He added people also have a chance to buy a share of the field so they can feel as though they have an investment in the land too.

He said: “The idea is that people all see it as a unique present for birthdays and Christmas.”

Mr Winterburn said he encouraged members of the public to use the public footpaths bordering the field to come and see the special space for themselves, while asking them not to walk on the field so it can be preserved as a conservation site.

For more information, visit thislandisyourland.co.uk