LOTTIE’S BLOG: TALES FROM DARTMOOR – MY FIRST SARDA TRAINING WEEKEND

Hi everyone, Lottie here and I have just got back from my first training weekend with SARDA and what a great weekend I have had.

Based at the Harford Bridge campsite just outside Tavistock, some 25 search dogs gathered for a long weekend training on the nearby Tors. Along with the ‘dogsbodies’ who go out and hide on the moor, dogs ranging from the puppy class to final Stage 3 pre-assessment were kept busy for the three days.

I joined in the puppy class alongside the other young dogs, Chief, Murphy and Jess, and started work with Dad on some tasks and skills needed to pass the registration test. The others had been doing it for a few more months than me so were amazing to watch and it won’t be long before they will be moving on to Stage 1.

As well as general obedience and walking to heel, we started work on exercises that will be useful when I start in the later stages of training including ‘down at a distance’, ‘recall with distractions’ and ‘down/stay’. I managed to stay where Dad wanted me to for about ten minutes but will have to keep practising because in the test Dad has to be out of sight for five minutes as well.

It’s all a big game and it’s great to play with the other handlers and I get a toy as a reward when I ‘speak’ to them (WOOF!) which is what I will have to do when I start training with the ‘dogsbodies’.

I have certainly not worked so hard and much to Dad’s relief was completely shattered by the end of the day and slept really well – which was lucky for the rest of the campsite!

What also really made the weekend was meeting my half-sister, Maya (that’s her on the right), for the first time. She is already doing really well in Stage 1 and had travelled all the way down from Derbyshire for the weekend with her handler, Dan.

Can’t wait for next month’s training – a bit further afield in the Yorkshire Dales.

By the way, if you missed my first blog for Exmoor Magazine, you can find it here.

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 our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

NICOLA DAVIES COMES TO NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON

Number Seven Dulverton is delighted that Nicola Davies will be visiting them as part of her national celebrations marking her twenty-year career publishing the most inspiring and awarding-winning books. 2017 saw her 50th title roll off the press. Some of you may remember her from presenting the BBC’s Really Wild Show alongside Chris Packham and Terry Nutkins.

Aided by her publishers, Walker Books, Nicola has swapped skills from writing to illustration and has created an eye-catching window display which was first shown in Crickhowell.

It is currently on show at Number Seven where Nicola will be signing books, sharing stories and future publishing plans on Friday 1 September from 11am until 1pm; all are welcome. Among her most recent titles are Lots, King of the Sky, Tiny and A First Book of Nature.

Nicola is a natural storyteller and has some amazing experiences to share alongside an in-depth knowledge of all things zoological. Her gift is in making these facts so accessible to all ages and her books are a great testimony of her skill.

For further information do contact Davina Jelley info@numbersevendulverton.co.uk or call 01398 324457 or visit the website: www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk.

HELP BRIDGE THE GAP AT WOODSIDE

A fundraising campaign has been launched by Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor* to replace a much-loved feature of Exmoor – Woodside Bridge, which has provided a crossing of the East Lyn river near Lynmouth for over a hundred years.

Woodside Bridge had to be removed last December following an inspection which revealed that the softwood timber beams had come to the end of their life. The bridge was replaced in the 1950s after the Lynmouth Flood and again in 1993 by the Royal Engineers working with Exmoor National Park. At 17.3m/57feet, the structure is the longest single span countryside bridge in the National Park.

Thousands of people used the bridge each year to enjoy the short, easy circuit  taking in Middleham Memorial Gardens along with the beauty and wildlife of the river and woodland valley. The bridge is an important link for visitors and the local businesses which they support.

Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager at Exmoor National Park, said: Many people are surprised to learn that the bridge is not recorded as a public right of way which means there is no duty for local authorities to replace it, so we need your help.

“We are keen to replace the bridge as soon as funds allow so we are asking visitors, residents and anyone who cares about Exmoor to make a donation. Any amount, large or small, will help and we hope to reach our target by Christmas which will allow us to get the bridge installed ready for Easter next year when the main visitor season begins.

“We now have a price of £65,000 to install a high-quality new structure. This is a steel beam supported bridge with hardwood timber work which will have a very long design life.”

The land where the bridge is sited is owned by The National Trust, which is a partner in this project.

For more information and to contribute to the Woodside fund please visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside

* CareMoor for Exmoor is the Authority donation scheme for Exmoor National Park. It offers everyone who has been inspired by Exmoor an opportunity to contribute to the upkeep of the environment of the National Park and its future. Donations help fund Nature, Heritage and Access projects to keep Exmoor special. For more information  visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor
 

PHOTO AT TOP: Colour-tinted image shows two ladies walking on the footpath opposite Tors Road, early 1900s. Photograph kindly donated by Paul Sheppard.

ONE WEEK TO GO: SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO CREATE A BUZZ AROUND BEES

Since the 1930s in the UK we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows, and with them our critical pollinators such as bees and butterflies. To help reverse this decline, and to support the creation of a beautiful expanse of meadow to support Somerset’s bees and butterflies, Somerset Wildlife Trust has created the Perrymead Wildflower Project – which aims to harvest seed from flower rich areas and sow it on species poor areas to create enriched habitats to support more pollinators.

To help fund this work the Trust has launched its first ever crowdfunding campaign to raise £5,000 by 31 August and is hoping that people across the county who care about our bees and pollinators will donate to the fund.

Mark Green Reserves Manger, South Somerset, Somerset Wildlife Trust gives a bit more detail: “Insects pollinate our crops and help provide one in every three mouthfuls of our food.  That bowl of strawberries or pint of cider you had wouldn’t exist without them – and they do it all for free! Collecting seeds from our flower-rich fields at Babcary Meadow Nature Reserve and sowing it onto a species-poor field at Perry Mead Nature Reserve is something that we can do to have an immediate impact in the area in terms of supporting our county’s pollinators.   We really hope that the public get behind the crowdfunding campaign so we can raise funds to carry out this work.”

For pledge a donation please visit /www.crowdfunder.co.uk/perry-mead . Any donation, large or small, will make a difference. Thank-you! If you want to tell others, and have a Twitter account use the hashtag #PerryMeadPollinators
PHOTO: Buff-tailed bumblebee by Jon Hawkins.

EXMOOR WILD WATCH: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR

Exmoor is home to a fantastic array of wildlife and to prove it so far this year Exmoor Wild Watchers have submitted more than 200 sightings of everything from red kites to tree bumblebees.
Ben Totterdell from Exmoor National Park says: “We are always grateful to people that take the time to let us know what they have seen and this year we were delighted to receive 83 sightings or sounding of a cuckoo and it’s been a bit of a surprise that people have reported seeing more red kites (24) than kestrels (15).

“Now in its third year, Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity for you to join us in finding out more about some of the species that are particularly characteristic of Exmoor. We would still love to hear from you if you see any of the species listed below. Some are nationally rare and others we simply do not know enough about.”

In the next month or so keep a special eye open for golden-ringed dragonflies, red admiral butterflies, adders, grey wagtails and tree bumblebees.

To submit a record simply visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch and click on a species to find out more and to report a sighting. If you are inspired after taking part in this survey you may want to join in one of the family-friendly events or get involved in an Exmoor Wild Watch training event: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved/events-and-training . These include one off Discovery sessions to longer term surveys.

Handy spotter guides and family wildlife leaflets can be picked up from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth.

PHOTO: Red kite in Valley of Rocks, photographed by Jack Clegg of Exmoor Photography, as seen in our winter 2016 magazine in a piece by the late Trevor Beer. Jack’s images have often accompanied pieces written for us by Trevor – here is another back from autumn 2011, all about this magnificent bird! Click on the image to enlarge.

A NEW HOME FOR PARKS & GARDENS UK WITH HESTERCOMBE

Parks & Gardens UK is entering an exciting phase in its development at its new home with the Hestercombe Gardens Trust. In September 2016 Parks & Gardens UK (P&GUK) with Hestercombe Gardens Trust received £97,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the future of the P&GUK database and website of historic designed landscapes.

The P&GUK archive has records of over 9,100 historic designed landscape sites and over 2,400 biographies of associated people and organisations. The Hestercombe archive contains a significant collection of documents, photographs, plans and manuscripts relating not only to Hestercombe itself (with its eighteenth-century Landscape Garden and also its Jekyll/ Lutyens gardens) but to other parks, gardens and designed landscapes in the United Kingdom.

The combination of the two databases, by offering economies of scale and ease of access between them, will offer a powerful research resource unmatched elsewhere. It will also allow for its expansion by maintaining and developing the existing close relationship between County Gardens Trust and The Gardens Trust, as well as the development of new relationships with like-minded organisations. Hestercombe, near Taunton, is readily accessible and has a range of conference rooms for seminars, summer schools and workshops that will make the study of gardens and landscapes available to a wider public.

Dr Barbara Simms, chair of P&GUK, said: “Both organisations have worked hard over the past months to secure the successful transfer of Parks & Gardens UK to Hestercombe Gardens Trust. It is very exciting that Parks & Gardens UK has a new home that will allow its expansion as the leading on-line resource for historic parks and gardens.”

Philip White, Chief Executive of the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, said: “I am delighted that Hestercombe will have the opportunity to develop and expand on the considerable work achieved by P&GUK over more than ten years and look forward to working with the County Gardens Trusts and others in realising the database’s considerable potential.”

Explaining the importance of the National Lottery support, Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage at the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This project offers a unique opportunity to bring together two incredibly important sources of data and research for the very first time. Whether it’s someone just wanting to find out more about our rich history of landscape design, or a researcher delving into the history of an early park or garden, these databases are an important and accessible resource for all. Having supported the Parks & Gardens UK database since its inception, we’re pleased to offer this support so that it can transition into a new chapter in its existence.”

PHOTO by Chris Lacey Photography for Hestercombe.

JOIN THE NIGHT FLIGHT AT FREMINGTON NATURE RESERVE

Join wildlife experts on a ‘Night Flight’ and find out what fascinating bats and moths live at Fremington Nature Reserve.

A special evening walk is planned at the nature reserve on Thursday 24 August starting at 8pm. During the walk participants will have the chance to find some bats using bat detectors and investigate moth traps to see what they can find.

The free event has been organised by North Devon Council, Fremington Parish Council and North Devon Biosphere Service and is suitable for all. Participants should meet at Fremington Village Green and park at Fremington Long Stay Car Park (beside the medical centre). It is recommended to wear sensible sturdy shoes and bring a torch.

Executive Member for Parks and Leisure, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The ‘Night Flight’ is a great opportunity to explore Fremington Nature Reserve at night and find out all about it from our local wildlife experts. I encourage anybody who enjoys the nature reserve by day to come along and see it differently by night, you never know what you might find.”

Local ward member and Fremington Parish Council Representative for the Fremington Environment Group, Councillor Tony Wood, says: “This is a unique experience which is very exciting, these events are always popular and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Tom Hynes from the North Devon Biosphere Service, says: “The bat and moth walk is an regular fixture at the reserve but this is the first year we have tried it at Lovells Field so we are excited about what we might find.”

Follow North Devon Council on Facebook to keep up to date with news and other upcoming events.

 

RNLI LIFEGUARD RECOGNISED FOR COURAGEOUS RESCUE OF BODY BOARDER AT CROYDE

RNLI Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger has been selected to receive the charity’s Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award for his heroic actions last summer, when he risked his own life to save body boarder, Mary Harkin, who was in trouble at Croyde Beach, North Devon.

The Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award is made annually by the Trustees of the RNLI, for the most meritorious rescue by RNLI lifeguards during the previous season. It was created in 2009 and is sponsored by Alison Saunders, a former Deputy Chair of the Institution. Alison Saunders was the first woman to be appointed to the Trustee Committee, and served on the RNLI Council from 1985 to 2009. She was deputy chair from 2004 to 2009.

RNLI Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger, courtesy RNLI Jade Dyer.

The 2016 award has been made to Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger for his bravery, presence of mind, skill and determination during the rescue which took place on 8 August 2016.

It was sunny with a brisk north-westerly wind and a 5-6ft challenging ‘messy’ surf, with rip currents on both sides of the lifeguard patrolled zone. Croyde is a wide, sandy beach popular with both swimmers and surfers, as it’s considered one of the best surfing beaches in the UK.

At 4pm lifeguard Sean Deasy was actively patrolling the rip currents on the Rescue Water Craft (RWC). At 4.30pm Freddie Hedger joined Sean on a water patrol using a rescue board, making his way to the southern end of the rip current to enter the water. On his way out he teamed up with Sean to help move a group of novice surfers who were drifting out of the black and white flags into the rip current.

It was at this point that Freddie became aware of a surfer and body boarder further out to sea, both of whom appeared to be in difficulty, so he immediately informed Sean who made his way out on the RWC followed by Freddie on the paddle board. On arrival it was clear that the surfer was physically struggling with the difficult conditions and was frightened, having stopped helping the body boarder who was in serious trouble. Sean was unable to rescue Mary, the body boarder, as he couldn’t get close enough with the RWC due to the large surf, which was breaking heavily on the sand bank at this point.

Freddie made the decision to leave his rescue board and swim towards Mary. When he got to her, she was face down in the water and unconscious. He lifted her face out of the water so she could breathe and worked hard to protect her from the waves breaking over them. Sean witnessed them both get dragged under by a wave, disappearing from sight in the turbulent water. He made further attempts to assist Freddie with the rescue, but was hampered by the waves and undertows. With a break in the waves, he was finally able to make a move to rescue them both.

Despite being exhausted, Freddie managed to grab the handle of the rescue sled on the RWC with one hand. Using his other to keep the Mary’s head above water, he signalled to Sean to drag them towards the shore as he tried to keep them afloat. They were towed about 10m before Freddie could hold on no more due to being almost completely exhausted. Fortunately they were now closer to the beach so he was able to stand in the water.

Lifeguard Jack Middleton had seen the events from the shore so met Sean and Freddie at the shoreline with the casualty care kit. Once ashore the casualty, who was barely conscious, began vomiting and was clearly in a bad way. Both an ambulance and coastguard helicopter were called to the beach and Freddie’s presence of mind and leadership were crucial in helping the other emergency services with the rescue.

Freddie stayed with Mary as she was taken to the top of the beach, where she was given casualty care by the RNLI lifeguards before being handed over to the ambulance crew and spent a night recovering in hospital. The surfer managed to get himself back to the safety of the beach and went straight to the lifeguard unit to find out how Mary was.

Mary has since completed a sponsored cycle ride with two friends from her home in London back to Croyde beach as a way of thanking the lifeguards who saved her life that day. So far the trio have raised over £4,000 for the RNLI.

Mary said: “I can’t put into words how much the RNLI mean to me. The team at Croyde are selfless, incredibly brave and highly skilled. Last summer, they put their lives on the line for me and if wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. The lifeguards should get the recognition and support they deserve for the work they do.”

The surfer involved in the rescue, Fraser Gibb, said: “As for Freddie’s efforts, it’s hard to describe just how grateful I am that he managed to get out there. I’ve described to many others many times now how I was in awe of his swimming ability as the conditions had changed quickly and it was extremely difficult to control myself, let alone keep someone else afloat… if Freddie hadn’t swam out there like he did and didn’t give up until he had her, it would have been a very different story.”

Freddie will be presented with the award on 24 August by Alison Saunders and joined by the rest of the lifeguard team who helped with the rescue.

PHOTO: The conditions at Croyde beach at the time of the incident, courtesy HM Coastguard.

THE GREAT EXMOOR RIDE

The Great Exmoor Ride, on 3 September, is a new city-to-coast challenge ride from the team behind the hugely popular Great Weston Ride (GWR). It starts in Taunton and ends on the seafront at Blue Anchor near Minehead, covering 63 miles of tranquil Somerset country lanes and venturing onto and across the eastern part of the National Park (the route packs in almost 1,600 metres of climbing).

The aim 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 has been designed to be accessible and to appeal to as many people as possible who are keen to enjoy it as a social and community occasion at their own pace, with no time pressures.

The event is registered with British Cycling 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. And 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.

Find out more: www.greatexmoorride.com.

COULD YOU HELP SAVE LIVES BY VOLUNTEERING FOR DEVON AIR AMBULANCE

The Devon Air Ambulance is currently looking for people to join their volunteering family.

Cara Jones, Volunteer Manager for Devon Air Ambulance, said, “Our volunteers are an invaluable part of our team and ensure we remain truly rooted in the community we serve. If you have a couple of hours to spare, we would love to hear from you. We appreciate you may have other commitments so we welcome flexible volunteers who do not need to commit to a minimum amount of time.”

She added, “We have a variety of rolls to suit everyone such as, box collecting, giving talks, attending cheque presentation, assisting in our charity shops and attending our events.”

If you are interested in finding out more please contact our Volunteer Manager Cara Jones by calling 01392 466666 or emailing c.jones@daat.org for more information.

PHOTO: Volunteers at the South Molton shop.