Category Archives: Charities


Exmoor is leading the way for other UK tourism hotspots by providing fully accessible adventure holidays for disabled people at Calvert Trust Exmoor.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health, and Work, Sarah Newton, and Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, both visited the Calvert Trust’s facilities last month to see first hand the work they’re doing so disabled people can enjoy adventurous activities that many others take for granted, such as horse riding, abseiling and canoeing.

Sarah Newton said: “The Calvert Trust is a real asset to Exmoor, helping to ensure disabled people can enjoy time away with their families and take part in a range of adventurous activities. It’s been great to see their work and how they’re enriching people’s lives.

“The spending power of disabled people and their families is almost £250 billion, so making tourism more accessible isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the construction of Calvert Trust Exmoor’s boat house, which was created on behalf of the Trust by the BBC television programme Challenge Anneka. As well as seeing the facilities built by Challenge Anneka, the Minister formally opened a new wet room, which will enable guests with the highest needs to access specialised showering and toileting equipment at the waterside.

MP for North Devon, Peter Heaton Jones, said: “I am incredibly proud to be an ambassador for this fantastic organisation; I always leave inspired, and I know the Minister will too. It’s fantastic that North Devon is home to this facility that we should be proud of at a national level; I will continue to support this truly inspirational place.”

CEO of Calvert Trust Exmoor, Heidi Watson, said:  “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to our centre and honoured that she opened our new wet room facility; I  enjoyed introducing her to some of our wonderful guests and fantastic staff and being able to show her that at Calvert Trust Exmoor it’s What You CAN Do That Counts!”

PHOTO: Left to right: Heidi Watson (CEO, Calvert Trust Exmoor), Floyde (the horse), Sarah Newton (Minister for Disabled People), Peter Heaton Jones (MP for North Devon).


Mountain bike enthusiasts from across the South West will converge on the picturesque Exmoor town of Dulverton on 6 May 2018, for the third annual ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor’ event.

Hosted by local charity Calvert Trust Exmoor, working in conjunction with British Cycling, the ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor’ event offers cyclists the opportunity to enjoy 22 miles of beautiful Exmoor scenery, much of which is not normally open to the general public.

The route starts in the picturesque Exmoor town of Dulverton and follows the route of the River Barle up to Tarr Steps. From there the route climbs up onto the moor, with far-reaching views in all directions, before heading south east to the River Exe and then back into Dulverton for the finish line.

Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, said, “We’re delighted to be running this fantastic event again for the third year. Last year 282 riders took part, enjoying a fantastic ride and raising over £5,650, enabling us to help more people with disabilities to access cycling and other adventurous activities. We are extremely grateful to the wonderful people and businesses of Dulverton and the surrounding area; without their support in allowing us to use their land, volunteering to be marshals, running refreshment stations, and helping set up the route, this event just wouldn’t be possible.”

Registration for the event is just £21 per rider, with £20 of that fee going directly to Calvert Trust Exmoor to help them support people with disabilities to enjoy accessible adventure activities, including accessible cycling. (The remaining £1 is an administration fee retained by British Cycling).

The riders really enjoyed the 2017 event. “Rock solid ride out! Many thanks to all who helped. Great loop with nice challenging hills, I’m glad to have ridden all of them! Thanks to the landowners and villagers too. Loved the bluebells!” (Dave Hewlett)

To find out more about Eat Dirt on Exmoor or to sign up visit or email Sharon from Calvert Trust Exmoor on


Leading independent brewer, Hall & Woodhouse, is delighted to announce it has chosen eight local air ambulance charities as its Charity Partner for the next two years.

Devon Air Ambulance Trust, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance, Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance, London’s Air Ambulance, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Air Ambulance are all set to be equal beneficiaries of the fundraising partnership.

Fifty-one Hall & Woodhouse public houses are taking part in supporting the life-saving services, with an aim of raising in the region of £250,000 over the two-year period. This will be achieved through a number of fundraising activities organised by each of the local public houses, such as quiz nights, sponsored events, fun days and sports tournaments. All monies raised will be equally split between each charity, enabling them to fund the cost of missions, to further enhance their operations or purchase new items of specialist equipment.

Lucinda Gray, sixth-generation of the Woodhouse family and Hall & Woodhouse Charity Champion, commented, “As a company that places community at the heart of our business, supporting worthy causes is very important to Hall & Woodhouse. These local air ambulance charities cover the counties where our public houses are located and each of them work tirelessly to care for critically ill or injured patients within our community. We are extremely proud to have so many of our public houses backing the campaign and being able to support this wonderful cause.

“Having raised a phenomenal £248,000 for Macmillan in 2013/14, and then in excess of £210,000 for Together with Short Lives in 2016/18 (final number yet to be confirmed), I know our team and guests will do everything they can to exceed these totals over the next two years.”

Tracy Bartram, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Communications Manager, said, “We are so excited that Hall & Woodhouse have chosen us as their new Charity Partner. This unusual partnership, with eight air ambulance charities being supported by one umbrella organisation, is quite rare. The fact that Hall & Woodhouse team members voted to support us means so much and we believe that this relationship will be very special. Not only is the partnership set to raise a significant amount of funds, it will also enable us to engage with so many people in the local community, raising awareness of the work we do.”

Fundraising for the air ambulances will begin in February 2018 and in March some of the public houses will be taking part in ‘The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz’, an event being led by PubAid.

PHOTO: Left to right Lauren Dyson, Neil Bizzell, Lucinda Gray, Debra Reed, Ollie Zorab and Dan Tucker.


ACEarts is working in partnership with the Somerset Wildlife Trust on an Open Wildlife Art Exhibition, and is seeking submissions from artists and creators.

The submissions are now open and will be judged in May by a panel which includes Wildlife Broadcaster and Patron of Somerset Wildlife Trust Simon King OBE; Stewart Geddes, President of the Royal West of England Academy; Katie Arber, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, Somerset Wildlife Trust; Nina Gronw-Lewis, Curator of ACEarts; and Frank Martin, Trustee of ACEarts. The exhibition will take place at ACEarts between 6 October and 3 November 2018.

Nina Gronw-Lewis, Curator of ACEarts, said, “This is a really exciting opportunity for local creators of every discipline to be part of an exhibition of wildlife art. We’re really looking forward to seeing the artwork which is submitted, and are grateful to Simon King OBE and Stewart Geddes for agreeing to be part of the judging panel.”

Katie Arber, Somerset Wildlife Trust, comments, “Britain’s wildlife inspires many artists. Working in partnership with ACEarts we hope many more people will become aware of just how special Somerset is for wildlife and understand how important it is to safeguard our local wildlife and wild landscapes.  It will also help us and ACEarts raise the critical funds needed to continue to carry out our work.”

Interested artists can find out more details by visit ACEarts’ website, emailing aceartssomerset@icloud.comor visiting their Facebook page.

Somerset Wildlife Trust has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving Somerset’s wild places for over 50 years and, with over 18,000 members, it is the largest conservation charity in the county.  Alongside its members and volunteers the chariety works year round to protect wildlife, transform landscapes and put nature back into people’s lives.

Top: ‘Launch’, by Kaye Parmenter


A North Devon Council employee is to undergo a head and sideburn shave in support of his colleague’s daughter.

Nick Poole, a council skip driver for more than 25 years, plans to celebrate his birthday on 2 February by having his long hair and sideburns shaved off in honour of 27-year-old cervical cancer patient Kimberley Baldwin. Kimberley has been told that her cancer is terminal but she refuses to give up hope, so is currently raising money to pay for additional treatment. Sadly, cancer is a cause close to Nick’s heart as his 19-year-old son lost his life in 1995 to Hodgkin Lymphoma – cancer of the white blood cells.

Kim’s mother, Tania Fletcher, has worked alongside Nick for many years, so he wants to raise the funds to help towards her goal of raising enough money to pay for immunotherapy treatment, which is not available on the NHS, to either prolong her life or hopefully even cure her cervical cancer.  She also wants to campaign to reduce the age at which the smear test is given.  Currently women begin their smear tests from the age of 25, but this does not detect the cancer at an early stage for many younger women.  Kim’s cancer was already at an advanced stage when she was diagnosed, aged only 26.

The event will take place at Brynsworthy Environment Centre, with a stylist from Barnstaple hair salon, Jill’s Hair Design, chopping off Nick’s long locks as his colleagues look on.

Nick is a keen fundraiser, having previously taken part in charity head shaves to raise money for both Children in Need and The Red Cross.  For Nick’s 70th birthday in a few years, he plans to do a sky dive for charity and will also continue to grow his hair for even more charity head shaves in the future!

The head shave is taking place close to World Cancer Day , which is a global annual event held on 4 February. The event aims to unite the world in the fight against cancer and  to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and promoting education about the disease, as well as pressing governments and individuals to take action.

Every day, nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three of those women will lose their lives to the disease. Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme and the number of women dying from cervical cancer has halved over the past 28 years as a result of the NHS screening programme as well as improvement in treatment.

Despite this success, over 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. The majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have delayed coming forward for screening which has impacted on their ability to have early changes treated.

If you would like to sponsor Nick’s head shave, and help raise the money that Kim needs for her treatment, please visit her Justgiving page:



The Somerset West Community Lottery is building a head of steam with a special Valentine’s day prize on offer.

Everyone who buys a ticket this month will be entered in a special draw next month for the bonus prize of two tickets on the West Somerset Railway’s Dunster Castle Express.

The prize is generously sponsored by the heritage railway and the prize draw takes place on 10 February. The winner will be able to redeem the tickets at any time between April and October this year while the Express is running.

The community lottery is now ready to start awarding grants to local good causes through the Somerset Community Foundation. More than £4,000 is available in Taunton Deane and a further similar sum is available in West Somerset.

Applications are open to voluntary and community groups in West Somerset and Taunton Deane; the maximum grant – £1,000.  For more information, please visit:  The closing date for applications is 26 February 2018.

The lottery is a joint initiative by Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils and an example of the two authorities working together in partnership.

Players have a 50-to-1 chance of winning one of the prizes, which range from the £25,000 jackpot to three extra tickets. From each £1 ticket, 60p goes to local good causes, 20% goes to the prize fund, and the balance meets running costs and VAT.

The lottery management company, Gatherwell, has been appointed to run the scheme.

To buy your tickets or register as a good cause visit

PHOTO: The Dunster Castle Express by Sam Burton of


The RNLI is in search of new recruits to spend the summer working on some of the South West’s most popular beaches, as applications open for 2018’s beach lifeguards and face-to-face fundraisers.

Both roles are essential in supporting the RNLI to reduce the number of people who drown on our coasts, and to help keep people safe by providing key local safety advice to the millions of holidaymakers who visit the beaches every summer.

RNLI lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. At the forefront of the RNLI’s lifesaving work, they saved 127 lives and helped 20,538 people in 2016. Successful applicants receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, and they have the chance to develop transferable skills.

Abbie Cranage, Area Lifesaving Manager for West Cornwall, said: “Working as a lifeguard has got to be one of the best jobs to have – you get to call the beach your office for a start! But far more importantly, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way. With strong career prospects and leadership skills, for many it’s more than a summer job, with some of the busier beaches patrolled from March until the end of October.

“This is a demanding job requiring commitment, skill and a clear head. The South West has some of the busiest beaches in the country. We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to draw on their training and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role that involves strong communication skills, talking to members of the public about key coastal activity safety messages and raising awareness of coastal risks.”

The RNLI is also recruiting face-to-face fundraisers, who’ll work alongside lifeguards to provide beach visitors with important safety advice, playing a vital role in saving lives by educating the public on risks at the coast. Applicants will need to be dynamic and act as a positive ambassador – encouraging support for this lifesaving charity is just one of the things these fundraisers will do this summer season.

Hannah Cobb, Face to Face Fundraising Manager for South Devon, West Dorset and Somerset, said: “A good fundraiser generally has to be friendly and relaxed, but also energetic, able to talk to anyone and be passionate about what they do.

“We provide quality training which ensures new fundraisers feel confident and capable in the role. Developing new skills, working in a team at the beach for a national charity is really has to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs.”

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply to be part of these amazing lifesaving teams at or search for #BestSummerJob on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Nathan Williams


Grants of up to £1,000 are available for local charities, voluntary or community groups, sports clubs, or social enterprises based within either Taunton Deane or West Somerset and the deadline to apply is Monday 26 February.

The Local Community Fund, which is administered by Somerset Community Foundation on behalf of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset District Council, was set up to support community projects in the local area by distributing money raised from the Somerset West Lottery, which raises money within the community for the community, enabling people to support the causes they care most about, while also helping good causes to connect with their supporters.

A ticket for the Somerset West Lottery costs £1 per week, 60p of which goes directly to good causes – more than double what the National Lottery gives. Players can choose to support a named local good cause, or they can decide to award their contribution to the Local Community Fund. Grants are awarded from the fund by a panel of Borough or District Councillors, depending on where the project is being delivered.

Groups wishing to apply for funding, should visit: or call Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 for more information.

If you run a local community project and would like to find out about our other funding programmes, please call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949 or visit:


Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is once again encouraging supporters to sign up early for their Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2018 after another overwhelming response last year.

The event, which is not designed as a race, involves cycling through some of Dorset and Somerset’s most beautiful countryside and takes place on Sunday 13 May 2018.

Last year’s event raised in excess of £74,000 (including gift aid) and sold out within hours of online registration being open. Demand for places is expected to be even higher this year.

Online registration will open at 10am on Tuesday 5 December 2017, via the Charity’s website – – and, with only 600 places available, those wishing to take part will need to be quick to avoid disappointment. Participants can enter as an individual or as a team.

The Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge offers two different routes and distances. For those who like a challenge, the brilliant 54-mile cycle, which starts in the Somerset port of Watchet and finishes at West Bay near Bridport, will not disappoint.

With a mixture of quiet back roads, interspersed with some very demanding climbs and equally hairy descents, the event has something to offer for everyone! A staggered start will see the stronger cyclists set off first at 11am, with the less experienced riders departing at 11.15am. A shorter 11-mile route starts at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton at 2pm and also finishes at West Bay.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are thrilled to be able to announce the date for our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2018. This will be our eighth year in the saddle and every year the event seems to get better and better.

“We always strive to build on the success of the previous year and with this in mind we are once again restricting our numbers to 600 cyclists. We are also continuing with a staggered start time in order to keep the event as safe as possible and to encourage all standards of cyclists to take part without fear of being overcrowded.

“With such a demand, there will undoubtedly be those who are disappointed not to gain a place which is why I cannot stress enough how important it is to register early! We also hope that those who are fortunate to gain a place will once again encourage their family and friends to sponsor them in a bid to make 2018 the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet.”

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has flown over 12,000 missions since its launch in March 2000, saving many lives and aiding recovery, with outstanding immediate care and rapid delivery to the hospital best suited to meet the patient’s needs. With no direct Government or National Lottery funding, the charity relies on the generosity of the public and events like Coast to Coast for support.

To register online, visit the charity’s website: at 10am on Tuesday 5 December 2017 or for more information call 01823 669604.

Entrance fees are: Adults (£20) & Under 16s (£10).


Calvert Trust Exmoor is calling on local businesses large and small to provide volunteer teams for their January 2018 painting ‘party’.

Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, explains; “Every year our fantastic volunteers pull out all the stops and help us freshen up our centre before guests start arriving. Early January is the only opportunity we get to do this as we have disabled guests staying with us from the end of the month and onwards for the rest of the year!”

This year the charity is asking local businesses to encourage their employees to put some volunteering time into the project, or perhaps pick a date and come together as a team.  Slots are available every weekday from 2 January to 17 January 2018.

Martyn Barrow, who is coordinating the volunteers for this project, continues the story: “In previous years we’ve had volunteer teams from organisations like Tesco, Accord, Eaton and Petroc, as well as lots of individual volunteers. For 2018, we are again looking for companies to support us by encouraging their staff to come along and get involved. No previous experience is necessary; we will provide all the paint and equipment, and if you volunteer a whole day we will provide you with lunch too!”

Any companies or individuals wishing to get involved should get in contact with Martyn to book their slot, on or 01598 763221.