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Lyme Regis is a beautifully situated seaside town at the western extremity of Dorset, with an interesting history and fine old buildings. As with many coastal towns, the economy is rooted in summer tourism and life can be hard out of season. Indeed, despite its tidy and affluent exterior, Lyme Regis ranks as one of the more deprived towns in Dorset.

Lyme Regis Development Trust (LRDT) was set up in 1998 to promote the economic and social well-being of the town and its environs. The Trust is particularly keen to develop economic activity that will benefit the town in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.

Jurassic Coast Studies Centre

On each side of the town are high cliffs composed .of multiple layers of soft rock prone to landslip, especially after heavy rains. These landslips cause pre-historic fossils to be regularly deposited on the beaches, thus making Lyme Regis and the surrounding areas ideal territory for fossil hunters .and geologists.

The Trust wants to build a Field Studies Centre .in or around Lyme Regis to be used as a residential educational facility for students of geology and related earth sciences, using the stunning Jurassic Coast for practical work. Partners in this medium term enterprise are the Natural History Museum and the Field Studies Council and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team. Various universities, oil companies and other organisations are also involved.

Fossil Festivals

Since 2005, the Trust has organised an annual Fossil Festival in marquees and other venues on and behind the beach. Exhibitors range from the Natural History Museum, national and local suppliers of fossils to universities and educational presenters. The programme includes guided walks along the Jurassic Coast, talks and lectures. The Festival attracts up to 14,000 attendees, many of whom are children.

To take advantage of the Olympic Sailing at nearby Weymouth, in 2012 the Trust also ran a 4-month long Earth Festival along the whole Jurassic Coast with many special events and projects celebrating England's only Natural World Heritage Site.

Onboard

Onboard is a flight simulator conceived and built by Hartnell Communications in Lyme Regis. Sitting in a section of real Boeing 737 cabin, visitors experience a simulated flight with Jurassic Airlines. Starting with a sweep along today's coastline, passengers are taken back to prehistoric times where they see on a screen and through the cabin windows life as it developed. An entertaining check-in procedure helps convey important environmental lessons. The attraction was hugely popular in Lyme Regis and Weymouth in the 2012 season.

LymeNet

Operating as a subsidiary company of the Trust, LymeNet is an educational facility for local people, many of whom are elderly, unemployed or in receipt of benefits. It offers individually tailored training in reading and writing, numeracy, ICT and general life skills in a friendly and welcoming environment. It also offers general facilities such as fax, photocopying, and internet access for a small charge. LymeNet is currently supported by a Big Lottery grant, more funding sources are needed to secure its future.

Lyme Forward

The Trust has championed community consultation and planning initiatives since it started in 1998. It supported the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative that led to the development of the LymeForward Lyme Regis Community Plan, and has taken the lead on providing input to the various Regional and District Plan consultations.

Now, working in the Local Area Partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations and individuals, the Trust manages LymeForward as it organises monthly community lunches, offers a befriending scheme and other support groups, operates a food bank and a Credit Union. It also works on a strategy to meet the town's need for affordable housing and supports local groups with funding applications and other activities.

The Hub

Right in the centre of Lyme Regis is a deceptively large building, originally built in the 1920s as a church hall. By 2003 it was being run as a Club for Young People but it then closed due to lack of funds. After a long campaign, joined by Lyme Regis Town Council and many local people, the Trust was able to purchase the building in 2010 and make good the roof thanks to substantial grants from DCC Youth Service and LRTC. It is already used for youth activities, music making for young people, dance, sport and other activities whilst further improvements take place.