FAUSTUS AT HALSWAY MANOR

Catch Faustus, the pioneering, “bloke folk” triumvirate  of Benji Kirkpatrick, Paul Sartin & Saul Rose as they return to Halsway Manor for a live gig on Thursday 6 July at 8pm.

Previously nominated for the Best Group Award in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and Artist In Residence at Halsway Manor Centre for Folk Arts across 2016 supported by funding from Arts Council England, Faustus brings to the stage three of the leading lights of their generation: Saul Rose (Waterson:Carthy, Whapweazel, War Horse), Benji Kirkpatrick (Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin (Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast). They have a plethora of experience between them, brought together here in a virtuosic display of musicianship and testosterone representing the best in the current vibrant English folk scene.

Faustus released their acclaimed third album, ‘Death and Other Animals’, in October 2016, tackling head-on subjects from the Dance of Death to the plight of the common man, sand-swallowed ships to mythical black dogs. The album has huge local resonance as it was researched, rehearsed and recorded at Halsway Manor on the Quantock Hills, during Faustus’ time as Artists in Residence. Beastly good” said Folking.com, “Modern day folk Buccaneers… so blindingly dazzling you’ll need to don a pair of RayBans before listening,” said LouderThanWar.com.

Faustus are leading a course ‘From Page to Performance’ halswaymanor.org.uk/event/faustus-from-page-to-performance/  at Halsway in the run-up to the gig, and the evening will open with performances by participants, before the mighty Faustus take to the stage!

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for ‘Faustus’ are priced at £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN FOR THE TENTH NORTH DEVON FOODFEST

North Devon’s biggest celebration of local food and drink is back and exhibitors are being urged to get in quick to secure their place at the event.

Online bookings are now being accepted for Foodfest 2017, which takes place on Sunday 22 October at Barnstaple Pannier Market and will feature over 100 local food and drink exhibitors.

Now in its tenth year, event organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management and North Devon Council have seen the event increase in popularity and success since it first launched in 2008. With over 10,000 visitors, 100 exhibitors and top chefs from some of North Devon’s best local restaurants at Foodfest last year, the annual event is now a firm favourite in the foodie calendar.

Hannah Harrington from Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “This year’s event will be as busy and popular as ever, showcasing and celebrating the best of our local food and drink and will, as it always does, helping promote our area and support our suppliers, growers and traders.”

Executive Member for economic development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “Foodfest is always a massive boost for the town’s economy, with thousands of visitors enjoying some of the best food and drink our wonderful district has to offer. Foodfest is a great opportunity for local food producers to showcase their business with a guaranteed audience of about 10,000 – get your applications in quick!”

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 1 August. Apply online at www.barnstaple.co.uk/north-devon-foodfest, email foodfest@barnstaple.co.uk or call 01271 321049 for more information.

THE GREAT EXMOOR RIDE IS COMING!

The Great Exmoor Ride is a brand-new city-to-coast challenge bike ride from the team behind the hugely popular Great Weston Ride (GWR), and the inaugural outing is taking place in the West Country this summer.

Billed as the GWR’s ‘baby brother’, the Great Exmoor Ride starts in Taunton and ends on the seafront at Blue Anchor near Minehead, but only after it has covered 63 miles (100km) of a stunning route through tranquil Somerset country lanes and on to and across the eastern part of Exmoor National Park.

The Ride is taking place on Sunday 3 September 2017 and participants are promised another great day to remember, courtesy of a spectacular route and the prospect of a late summer day out by the sea with friends and family at the end of it all.

And, while the Great Exmoor Ride may be the GWR’s baby brother in terms of its age, it is worth noting that it is every bit as challenging as an event – probably even more so, with the 63-mile route packing almost 1,600 metres of climbing.

A spokesman for the Great Exmoor Ride commented: “The aim with the Great Exmoor Ride is to replicate the challenge and enjoyment of the GWR in another wonderful part of Somerset and, while this new event is most definitely a decent cycling challenge, it’s been designed to still be accessible and to appeal to as many people as possible.

“We want to see lots of people out on their bikes and rising to their own personal challenge on the Great Exmoor Ride. It’s a truly spectacular route and there’s certainly enough of a challenge on offer. Like the GWR, it’s something that most people with a degree of fitness and the right mindset should be able to tackle – we want to see all sorts of people taking part, it’s very much intended as a social and community occasion so people are actively encouraged just to do it at their own pace with no time pressures, and we’re certain that riders who take the challenge will feel a huge sense of achievement when they reach the coast and cross the finish line.

“And, of course, with the long-established Great Weston Ride in July and the new Great Exmoor Ride in September, it’s a fantastic opportunity for people to bookend their summer with two fabulous West Country bike rides!”

The event is registered with British Cycling, the sport’s governing body, and riders will be provided with a whole host of event support services, including clear route signage, marshalling, medical cover, and ample mechanical support throughout the route.

The event organisers are once again asking riders to consider if they can fundraise while taking on the challenge, with Prostate Cancer UK being the event’s official charity partner. Over £150,000 has already been raised for the charity via the GWR and it is hoped that the Great Exmoor Ride can emulate that success over time.

Further information and full details on the event, including how to enter, can be found at www.greatexmoorride.com.

BARNSTAPLE’S ANNUAL BLAST OF SMALL-SCALE THEATRE FUN IS BACK

This year’s Fringe TheatreFest is back in Barnstaple from Thursday 29 June, animating venues across the town in a riot of theatre, dance and live performance.

Featuring over 60 shows from across the UK from Thursday 29th June until Sunday 2nd July, TheatreFest is building on ten years of experience and has added a whole raft of outdoor shows and shows in informal spaces to the long established venue programme: Shakespeare on the grass, hi-jinx in the high street, magic in cafes, dancing on benches and much, much more.

Some old favourites returning to TheatreFest include Monday Collective with A Trip Down Theatre Lane – a journey back to the roots of theatre in Barnstaple, told by minstrels, jugglers and buffoons; Multi Story Theatre Company with Fit for Purpose – a story without words; and Rob Gee with Fruitcake – Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward.

When you hear laughter resounding around the town head down to The Square where you’ll discover The Tent, the venue for family shows. Audiences lucky enough to get a ticket will be able to catch Fractured Theatre with Clowns of the Baskervilles; Lucky Dog Theatre Productions with Hats off to Laurel & Hardy; Seska with Seska Fruit Salad; Wild Toy Theatre with The Fisher-Knight’s Tale and Autojeu Theatre with The Organised Chaos.

Fringe TheatreFest was founded back in 2007 by Bill Buffery & Gill Nathanson of Multi Story Theatre Company. Bill is confident that the 2017 event is the biggest and best that it’s ever been. He says “2017 is going to be huge with double the number of shows! We’ll be in some of our usual places – St Anne’s Arts Centre, The Baptist Hall and back in The Golden Lion Tap where we were for a number of years. And then we’ve got new venues – The Guildhall, an extra space at The Baptist Hall and a big Tent on the Square. Added to that, we’ve got a large programme of work in outside spaces and town centre cafes.

“With The Queen’s Theatre unavailable this year we’re going to miss the support of the Queen’s staff, but we’re thrilled that many of them are volunteering with us to make sure that Barnstaple gets its annual blast of small-scale theatre fun.”

The growth of this year’s Fringe has also meant that more volunteers than ever before are involved in getting the show, literally on the road. Gill is thrilled by the unstinting enthusiasm of this large volunteer force. She says: “Our volunteers are Fringe TheatreFest. And this year there’s a bigger volunteer force than ever – which is just as well because Fringe TheatreFest is bigger than ever. It’s great to have such a big team and this year we’re able to work with younger people too.

“We’re also incredibly grateful to our partners and supporters including Barnstaple Town Centre Management, Barnstaple Town Council, The Bridge Trust, Samuels Solicitors, Smiths Solicitors, Rosie Bracher Solicitors, Barnstaple Museum, Golden Lion Tap, Park School, Barnstaple Coffee Shop, The Bike Shed and St John’s Garden Centre. We were also fortunate enough to secure a grant from the Celebrate England Big Lottery Fund which has allowed us to present so much outside work.”

 The full line-up for Fringe TheatreFest 2017 can be viewed online at www.theatrefest.co.uk.

Tickets and Frequent Fringer Vouchers for cash or cheque are available from Re:Store in Boutport Street, Barnstaple
and from Fringe TheatreFest venues from the opening day of the festival – Thursday 29th June.

EXMOOR MAGAZINE DOG BLOGS: NEW RECRUIT FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE

Hi, my name’s Lottie and I am the latest recruit to the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team! I’m a Working Golden Retriever and, along with my trainee handler Nick, I am just about to start learning the skills to become a Search and Rescue Dog with SARDA England.

I will be starting in the puppy class at my first training weekend at the beginning of August on Dartmoor and training will take us up and down the country every month to areas such as The Lake District, South Wales, The Peak District and North Yorkshire, and we will also be doing some regular training on the team patch here on Exmoor and across to the Quantocks.

Luckily, I’m not alone as there are always new puppies starting their training and also, on Exmoor, there is Poppy, who is a very experienced SARDA dog. I’m sure her handler James will be helping Nick out!

Across the country SARDA dogs provide a highly trained extra resource to mountain rescue teams, helping to look for vulnerable and missing people in all weathers, at all times of day and night.

SARDA dogs are trained primarily as ‘air scenting’ dogs, working across the wind to pick up what’s known as a ‘scent cone’ and gradually working their way into the casualty before indicating their location to their handler by returning and barking.

Once past the puppy class, which covers obedience, agility and being stock-proof, I will start working towards Stage 1 and 2 and, ultimately, Stage 3, training building up the work with ‘dogbodies’ and bigger search areas.

More information on SARDA, the dogs and their training can be found on the website at www.sardaengland.org.uk

Made up entirely of volunteers, the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team provides a Search and Rescue service across large parts of Devon and Somerset. The team assists the Police in locating lost or missing persons and recovering the injured or ill from remote locations as well as working closely with the Fire & Rescue Services and Ambulance Service in the area. Details on the team’s work and recent call outs can be found on the web at www.exmoor-SRT.org.uk and on Exmoor Search and Rescue’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

We’ll be providing an update on training and photos of progress every couple of months, so please watch this space!

Woof!

If you are a special dog living on Exmoor, the Quantocks or in North Devon and you have a story to share, just get in touch! email editor@exmoormagazine.co.uk

BLACKBERRIES AND BANDAGES: CONCERT EVOKES LIFE ON DEVON’S HOME FRONT DURING FIRST WORLD WAR

Devon, 1917, and communities across the county are working harder than ever to bring food to their tables and having to find the time and energy to do their bit for the war effort, too. Women, children, key workers and older men all mucked in together while the county’s young men were away at the Front.

Blackberries and Bandages tells the story, in songs, of what life was like on the Home Front in Devon during the First World War. The concert has been produced by Devon’s community music charity, Wren Music, who were asked to create the musical element of the Devon Remembers Heritage Project, which is running for four years to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 war.

Working with their community choirs and orchestras across the county, Wren have written several songs that reflect what day-to-day life was like for folk back home.

The concert is coming to Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple, on Saturday 24 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5; £3 for Under-16s.
Marilyn Tucker from Wren Music explained: “We did a lot of research during the winter, sifting through old documents at the Devon Heritage Centre and various museums around the county, finding out about the Home Front in Devon.

“We looked through newspaper cuttings, people’s diaries and other historical material and we’ve come up with about 10 songs. But we couldn’t discover the folk songs that were being sung at the time because nobody seems to have written that down anywhere and we decided that if there was no evidence that particular songs were sung on the Home Front in Devon, then we wouldn’t include them.”

Blackberries and Bandages is therefore a concert of largely new songs, with place names and people’s names in them, so the concert is really located in Devon. “The songs are all informed by the research we did,” said Marilyn. “For example, we found a poem with the theme of ‘this week’s menu’ which was quite derogatory about the food people were getting so we’ve put that to music.

“There’s also a scurrilous little verse about Dad’s Army, from the Sampford Voluntary Training Corps in Sampford Peverell. And we’ve got reports of a concert party in Exeter where there was a famous concertino trio, so we’ve chosen one of the tunes they played.”
From the research, Wren learnt more about the role that nature and natural remedies played on the Home Front, which is why the concert is called Blackberries and Bandages: “People spent a lot of their time foraging,” said Marilyn. “Many of the women who went into nursing had never worked before, they were quite genteel, not like the women who had to work on the land during the First World War. The nurses would use foraged sphagnum moss which was then dried and used for bandages because the moss has healing properties. They’d use these bandages for injured soldiers that came home but they also sent some to the Front as well.”

One of the songs Marilyn has written is called ‘The Lilies of the Valley’: “These flowers were used medicinally and they were thought to counteract the effects of mustard gas by flushing out toxins. So the flowers were foraged and used by nurses in the VAD (voluntary aid detachment) hospitals.

“The children did their bit too. They’d collect conkers to make cordite for ammunition. Anything that could be foraged was foraged, and of course all the fruit like blackberries would be made into jams and sent to the Front.”

The role of women working the land is celebrated in a song Wren have written called ‘Bidlake Girls’, about the women’s co-operative that was set up at a large farm near Bridestowe: “Up until then, they used to say ‘women can’t work on the farms, they’ll curse the land!’ Well, they had to forget about all that nonsense,” said Marilyn.
Wren found cuttings about the conscientious objectors being held at Dartmoor Prison and learnt that Devon as a county was reluctant to go to war: “We didn’t sign up like the rest of the country in the early days of the war, when it was a volunteer army,” said Marilyn. “It wasn’t until conscription was introduced in 1916 that men from Devon went to the Front in large numbers.”

Marilyn added: “It’s a concert, not a story, but at the same time I think we’ve covered most of the main themes. And we’ve tried not to be too downhearted about it; everybody knows about the First World War don’t they? So we’ve looked at it and asked, ‘What was the effect on people’s lives on the Home Front?’ ‘What about the lesser-told stories, some of the things we don’t know so well?”

The first half of each concert features a repertoire from 50 members of Wren’s community choirs and orchestras local to that area; the second half is Blackberries and Bandages, bringing together the 20 members from across the groups who have worked on the concert.
The groups involved in the Blackberries and Bandages concert are the Rough Music Orchestras of North and East Devon and Torbay, and the Voices in Common folk choirs from West, North, East Devon, Exeter and Torbay. Marilyn is the concert artistic director, with Paul Wilson and David Faulkner sharing musical direction.
The opening concert slots are being performed by the Folk Choirs of West and North Devon and The Folk Orchestra of North Devon in Barnstaple; the Folk Choirs of Torbay and Exeter and The Folk Orchestra of Torbay in Paignton; and East Devon Folk Choir and The Folk Orchestra of East Devon in Honiton.

For tickets to the Barnstaple concert, call 01837 53754.

The concert tour in full: All start at 7.30pm, tickets £5; £3 for Under-16s.  Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple on Saturday 24 June (for tickets, contact 01837 53754); Palace Theatre, Paignton, Saturday 1 July (01803 665800); and Beehive, Honiton, on Saturday 8 July (01404 384050).

PHOTO: Newly recruited nurses with Sphagnum moss, Princetown, 1917. Courtesy Halsgrove Publishing.

ROSE FESTIVAL FOLLOWED BY AUGUST FLOWER SHOW AT RHS ROSEMOOR

A trip to Rosemoor is a must for visitors to beautiful Devon this summer as the RHS Garden celebrates the nation’s favourite flower with a Rose Festival (17 June-30 July), and a few weeks later holds its inaugural RHS Flower Show (18-20 August).

Rosemoor is surely the ideal place for a Rose Festival in early summer. Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, it is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together 200 different cultivars and a wealth of hues and perfumes, from cottage garden climbers to bright and beautiful container plants.

Visitors to the first RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show in August will see the garden awash with floral displays and specialist nurseries brought to the South West by the RHS for the first time. With expert advice on hand from horticulturists, this is an occasion not to be missed for keen gardeners.

RHS Garden Rosemoor Curator Jon Webster says: “There is nothing like Rosemoor in summer. From the warm days of June when the roses begin to bloom, releasing their indescribable scent, to late summer when our ‘Hot Garden’ peaks in swaths of oranges and reds, there is so much to enjoy and so much to see. And with our second annual Rose Festival and our first-ever RHS Flower Show taking place, summer at Rosemoor in 2017 is sure to delight and inspire.”

Rose Festival highlights (17 June-30 July 2017)                      

  • A Rose Weekend on 24 and 25 June with a floral-themed craft and food market, more than 30 stalls, plus free, guided tours of the renowned Rose Gardens.
  • A range of rose-inspired and rose-infused treats, throughout the festival, freshly served from Rosemoor’s Garden Kitchen: rose meringues, rose and rhubarb cakes, and Turkish delight coffee.
  • For ‘Rosemoor Late’ evenings, the gardens will open until 9pm on 6, 14, 20 and 27 July. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and rolling hills of this Devonshire garden at dusk as the roses release their evening perfume. Live music and Pimm’s will add to the festivities.
  • Every Wednesday afternoon an expert florist will demonstrate flower-arranging techniques with roses.
  • Visitors may take a self-guided Rose Trail on an historic journey through the garden, from the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden to the Long Borders and the Cottage Garden.
  • In celebration of British Flowers Week (19-25 June), British roses will be firmly in the spotlight in the Rosemoor Plant Centre, with high-quality selections on sale from David Austin Roses.

RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show highlights (18-20 August 2017)

  • Rosemoor’s first RHS Flower Show will be awash with striking floral displays and an abundance of quality plants, along with 20 specialist nurseries from across the UK, plus garden trade stands throughout the weekend.
  • Offering the very best of the South West from Rosemoor’s award-winning catering team, an Afternoon Tea Tent will be serving up delicious prosecco cream teas to take away and enjoy as visitors soak up the atmosphere.
  • For those seeking the best gardening advice, visitors can learn how to transform their gardens and make the most of their plants with an extensive programme of specialist talks and demonstrations taking place in the Garden Room.
  • Visitors can book tickets for exclusive early access on 18, 19 and 20 August, which will treat them to breakfast and a first look at the featured nurseries and trade stands from 9am before the official opening at 10am as well as guaranteed parking.
  • A free Park ‘n’ ride service will operate from Torrington Rugby Club.

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH

www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor 01805 626810

Entry to the both the RHS Garden Rosemoor Rose Festival and RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show is included in normal garden entry.

The Garden opens from 10am – 5pm each day.

NEW ERA FOR AIR AMBULANCE PATIENTS IN DORSET AND SOMERSET

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is delighted to announce that its new AgustaWestland 169 (AW169) helicopter entered into service yesterday. This becomes the first AW169 to enter air ambulance operational service in the UK and is the culmination of years of planning and development.

The aircraft was selected following an extensive evaluation process. Its outstanding characteristics, superior capabilities and safety standards will ensure unprecedented levels of mission effectiveness and provide an enhanced life-saving service for the people of Dorset and Somerset.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said: “It has always been the Charity’s aim and clear vision to pursue clinical excellence; pairing Critical Care Teams with the outstanding capabilities of the AW169 s is a natural development of that vision. Patient benefit remains our top priority and this was the single biggest criteria in selecting the new aircraft.

“Our ambitions and clinical aspirations determined a particular requirement from whichever aircraft we selected. The capabilities and flexibility offered by the AW169 made it a clear winner and in our view it was the only aircraft which fully met our criteria. Another major plus in selecting a new mark of aircraft is that you are taking advantage of the latest advances in technology. That means that it is safer and easier to maintain and operate.

Larger cabin area gives full access to patient

The medical equipment in the AW169 will not be hugely different to that which was carried on the Charity’s previous aircraft. However, the biggest difference is the space inside the cabin. This allows the Critical Care Team to have complete access to a patient, head to toe; a significant benefit if a patient needs further intervention or treatment on-route to hospital.

Over the past few months, the life-saving service has increased its operating hours from 12 to 19 hours a day (7am-2am).   During this time and in the hours of darkness, the crews have been deployed using a Critical Care Car.

Bill continues: “We are most grateful to Specialist Aviation Services who operate the AW169 helicopter on our behalf. They have worked closely with our clinical team to develop a medical interior that will enable them to more fully meet the needs of our patients than ever before.

“The AW169’s night-flying capabilities mean that we can now move forward into providing full night HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) missions. Our team will have the ability to fly directly to the patient without the need of any fixed or pre-established lighting which is a significant advantage. We are now looking forward to completing night HEMS training and subsequently operating the new aircraft for 19 hours a day.

“Our approach has been truly innovative and as a result the AW169 has had to undergo very intense scrutiny by the European Aviation Safety Agency. This is why it has taken a little longer than we had hoped for the aircraft to become operational. However, it has certainly been worth the wait and we are delighted to now have clearance to fly.”

More information on Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting: www.dsairambulance.org.uk or by calling: 01823 669604.

SOUTH WEST LAKES TRUST AND SOUTH WEST WATER PHOTO COMPETITION

After the huge success of last year’s ‘Love your Lakes’ photo competition, South West Lakes Trust and South West Water have decided to hold it again this year.

The competition, now in its fifth year, aims to encourage people of all ages to make the most of the fantastic photo opportunities at their lakes across Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset. The lakes of the South West are popular among amateur and professional photographers alike and the opportunities are endless.

This year there will be three photo categories – ‘family fun’, ‘on the water’ and ‘feats of engineering’. Photos must be taken at one of South West Lakes Trust’s lakes. A fantastic prize of a £250 will be awarded to the overall winning photograph, with £100 for each individual category winner. Runner-up prizes will also be up for grabs and a special prize will be awarded to the photo which receives the most public votes.

The ‘Love your Lakes’ photo competition is free to enter and will be judged by Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of South West Lakes Trust, Alan Hyde, South West Water’s Head of Community Relations, and last, but at no means least, renowned professional news and sport photographer Richard Austin.

Richard has been working at the top end of the newspaper and magazine industry for more than a quarter of a century. His photographs are used all over the world in newspapers and magazines, and as a modern-day media photographer Richard has the ability to adapt his photographic work not only to news and sport but also in the expanding business world of Public Relations and website photography.

Andy Parsons said: “Everyone in our area has a lake within thirty minutes’ drive of their home, providing an ideal setting for perfecting photography skills. Throughout the year the landscape changes, shadows lengthen and shorten and greenery appears and disappears, giving photographers the fascinating challenge of capturing their favourite locations in differing stages. I really look forward to judging the competition this year, knowing that it is a great leveller, open to people of all ages and abilities. Please feel encouraged to take a trip to a lake near you – you never know what wildlife you will encounter or how much fun it can be trying to capture that special scene.”

Alan Hyde added: “We’re pleased to be supporting South West Lakes Trust’s photo competition again this year. Every dam is an amazing feat of engineering and the lakes that they create provide lots of opportunities for family fun, whether that’s watersports or simply picnicking and enjoying the scenery. Take your camera with you, send us your best pictures and I look forward to seeing the results in the autumn.”

To submit your photos visit www.swlakestrust.org.uk/photo-competition

PHOTO by Julia Amies-Green: Wimbleball misty evening in spring.

SOUTH WEST CHEF OF THE YEAR COMPETITION IS OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

The 2017 prestigious South West Chef of the Year competition is open for applications. The highly anticipated culinary contest is the only one in the UK with the aim of finding the very best regional talent from not one but five categories including professional and young professional chefs, students and apprentices, junior cooks under 16 years and home cooks. The South West’s culinary reputation has long been lauded, shaped by its bountiful lands and coastline that create outstanding produce and in turn inspire an increasingly long list of home-grown, Michelin-starred chefs. The peninsula’s passion for delicious and sustainably sourced food and drink is recognised and nurtured by the South West Chef of the Year as it aims once again to find the region’s hottest talent.

Lead judge, Michael Caines MBE of Lympstone Manor, who has championed the competition since 2004, said: “South West Chef of the Year has always aimed to not only provide a springboard for the region’s emerging chefs but also to inspire home cooks of all ages and to help young people to make cooking a career choice. I have always said that the South West is home to some of the best food in the world but the industry always needs new blood and I invite all those with a passion for cooking, for wonderful ingredients and the produce we have in abundance here in the region to enter South West Chef of the Year. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn, to improve and be challenged.”

Michael added, “Exmoor has an amazing larder ranging from venison, lamb and beef from our North Devon cattle, all the way to seafood from the coastline. This produce enables us to produce high-quality dishes.”

Michael will be joined by an impressive list of judges from the region’s most esteemed venues, including Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park and Chris and James Tanner of Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare. The judges will be looking for competitors who display the highest standards of cooking as well as flair and creativity. The competition is renowned for its mentorship of contestants, with those entering the final rounds receiving invaluable feedback in a supportive environment.

Entry to the first round of the competition opened on 1 June with four of the five categories now taking online applications until 31 July at www.southwestchef.co.uk. Those interested in applying should devise and submit a two-course menu that includes the compulsory ingredients set for their category.

The Professional Chefs category includes those working as a sous chef, pastry chef or above. Menus submitted for this category should include saddle of lamb (on the bone) and pollack and mussels. ‘Young Professional Chefs’ entering the competition includes those working in any position up to and including junior sous chef and aged 19 to 24 years. Their compulsory ingredients are pork tenderloin and red mullet.

‘Student and Apprentice Chefs’ are those at college or in an apprenticeship and aged 16 to 19 years; their menus should include beef sirloin (untrimmed) and John Dory and clams or cockles. Finally, those entering the Home Cooks Class (those who have never worked or trained in the catering industry aged from 16 years) must create a menu that includes a main course of best end of lamb or sea bass and a dessert with fruits of the autumn (apples, pears, quince, berries).

Those selected by the judges to go through to the next round will be asked to recreate their menus at semi-finals and finals taking place in September and October.

Entry is via an online entry form available at www.southwestchef.co.uk/how-to-enter/ by the deadline of Monday 31 July 2017.