Category Archives: Charities


At 21.50 on the evening of 20 January in the Tedburn St Mary area, one of Devon’s Air Ambulances was targeted by a green coloured laser. The crew were on their way to Holsworthy to help an elderly lady who had fallen and needed essential medical treatment at the major trauma centre in Plymouth.

The increasing sales of powerful hand held laser pens have always been considered to be a viable threat to all aircraft but this is the first significant incident involving Devon Air Ambulance, which has occurred only a few weeks after the introduction of night operations.

Rob Mackie, DAA’s Safety Manager and a helicopter pilot with 34 years of experience, said: “Thankfully, on this occasion, due to a quick-thinking crew member, the team were able to continue to Holsworthy to help the patient. However, we recognise that should this have not been the case, and had a crewmember received injuries to their eyes or if the crew had been temporarily blinded, it might have meant aborting the mission and us not being able to get to a patient in need.

Rob continued: “Hand-held lasers are not illegal in this country and they are usually quite low powered and suitable as presentation pointers.  However, it is very easy to acquire military strength lasers on the internet at very low prices and it is the misuse of these higher powered lasers that has caused the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and other industry bodies to call for them to be classed as offensive weapons.

“I am sure that most laser attacks are caused by thoughtlessness rather than malicious intent so we would call on anyone with a laser to think of the consequences before they shine them towards an aircraft. Lasers can cause a catastrophic blinding light and can quite easily damage a pilot or crew members eyes or distract the pilot enough to cause an accident.

“It would be better all-round if they were regulated but in the meantime we would certainly also ask any parent who knows their child owns one of these devices to explain the consequences of misuse to them.  This includes the damage they can inflict on themselves or others by shining the laser beam in their eyes.”  

The Charity fully supports moves to get high-powered lasers classed as offensive weapons. The service has submitted a Mandatory Safety Report to the Civil Aviation Authority on this incident.


Braunton-based songwriter Steph Lott (32) will feature on ‘Survive’, a new EP from Charlotte Elizabeth, which will be released by CEI Music in February in aid of cancer support charity The Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

Charlotte (31), a cancer survivor, was inspired to write songs after being diagnosed with Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma as a teenager. Charlotte said, “I wanted to share my story with other cancer patients and let them know life doesn’t stop after cancer and you can achieve if you want to; I was told it would be impossible to get a publishing deal but I have proven them wrong, despite being unable to sing or play an instrument.”

Charlotte, who works as a country music promoter, set out to produce a collection of co-written songs, with each track performed by a different artist.

Steph takes up the story: “Charlotte had heard my song ‘It Wasn’t Meant to Be’, which I released in aid of Cancer Research UK, and approached me to ask if I would co-write a song with her. It’s the first time I’ve ever collaborated with someone I’ve never actually met; I’m looking forward to finally meeting her at the launch event on the 3rd of February.”

Steph and Charlotte’s song ‘Stronger’ is produced by Matt Bishop from Honey Ryder and performed on the EP by up and coming country folk artist Kim Tink, alongside tracks by Ash Cooper (of The Ash Cooper Band), Stanford Road, Emma Moore, Angels with Dirty Faces and Thorne Hill.

The first single from Survive, called ‘Shatter Like Glass’ is performed by Angels With Dirty Faces, co-written by Charlotte and lead singer Stuart Landon, and reached number four in the iTunes country chart in October 2016.  

The EP will be available for Pre-sale on iTunes from Monday 16 January prior to its release on 3 February, with all pr- orders receiving a CD version as well as the digital download.

Steph and Charlotte enjoyed working together so much they are already collaborating on further writing; with three songs now penned and more in progress they are planning to release a full album of their own work later in the year.


Calvert Trust Exmoor is asking residents of North Devon to vote this month to help them receive a grant from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative.

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch the monthly funding scheme, which sees grants of £5,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from the 5p bag levy – being awarded to local outdoor community projects.

Voting is open in stores from 2 January to 28 January 2017. Customers cast their vote using a token given to them at the checkout in store each time they shop.

Calvert Trust Exmoor will use the grant to fund accessible play equipment for a new inclusive play area, which will be open to both residential guests and local visitors.

Artist's Impression of the accessible play area
Artist’s Impression of the accessible play area

Fiona Walker, Community Fundraiser at Calvert Trust Exmoor, said,
“We are so pleased to have been chosen by Tesco to be part of Bags for Help; this grant and the accessible play area it supports will make a huge difference to our guests and visitors. Please do visit your local Tesco store and vote for us this month!”

You can vote for Calvert Trust Exmoor in the following North Devon Tesco stores:

Barnstaple Rose Lane (EX32 8PG)
Barnstaple Extra Taw View (EX31 2AS)
Barnstaple High Street (EX31 1EZ)
Westward Ho! (EX39 1LH)
Braunton (EX33 2DU)
Ilfracombe (EX34 9RH)
Bideford (EX39 4AJ)

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £24 million to more than 2,400 projects up and down the UK. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each month. At the end of each month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding.

Lindsey Crompton, Head of Community at Tesco, said, “We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for January. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see them come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Groundwork’s national Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said,
“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.
We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”

The Bags of Help scheme is permanently open for applications and anyone can nominate a project at any time. Just ask in store for more information or visit the Bags of Help website, visit


Kate Gliddon is an animal and people portrait photographer based on the edge of Exmoor.

Kate is passionate about horses, having worked with them most of her life. She has teamed up with the Moorland Mousie Trust, which is a small charity working to promote and protect the Exmoor pony. The trust is situated in the heart of the beautiful Exmoor National Park and was founded in 2000. Now more than 500 moorland bred ponies have been taken into their care to be either rehomed or given the job of conservation grazing throughout the country.

A great way to help the work of the Exmoor pony centre is to buy a gift voucher for a friend or loved one for Christmas. Kate is selling gift vouchers up until Christmas, giving you the chance to get a photo shoot for the amazing price of £20 instead of £75. The money will be donated to the Moorland Mousie trust so they can continue with their amazing work. The vouchers are valid until October 2017.

If it’s a horse shoot you’re after, Kate will come to your yard or home to photograph you with your horse or horses. On arrival she will go for a walk with you to scout for places to photograph. Some of these you may never have guessed would make suitable backdrops for amazing images. After the photos have been edited you will be invited to come and view them and buy the ones you like.

They make the perfect gift for any horse lover.

For dogs or other pets, Kate will meet you out at a location of your choice or will suggest some great scenic places. The shoot can be studio based if you’re after something more in the way of fine art. If you would like to combine the two Kate has some great places to photograph where she lives.

With portraits, you have the chance to get your hair and make-up done specially for the shoot. Studio or location based, it’s your choice as all shoots are tailored to suit you.

You will find more information on Kate’s website or use the link below which will take you straight to the donation page.


It was announced in the Autumn Statement by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, last week that further grants were being made from the Libor (Bank Fines) Fund to emergency services charities.  Devon Air Ambulance are delighted to announce that £1 million has been awarded to facilitate night landing sites.

Heléna Holt, CEO of Devon Air Ambulance, explains, “We applied for a £1 million grant on behalf of the Devon community, to assist in funding community landing sites across the county. We were so pleased to hear this morning that we had been awarded the grant.”

Nigel Hare, Operations Director of Devon Air Ambulance, added, “We are now flying into the hours of darkness. We have been working hard with the community since January to build a network of community night landing sites.  These sites are pre surveyed and have state of the art technology with remote switching to turn on and off the lights at scene.

“Communities have very much taken ownership of their own landing site, not only funding them but also undertaking to ensure they are kept in good order.  Even though the communities would still need to raise the funds to buy the equipment, the grant would be available to fund the cost of installing the flood lighting.”

The £1 million grant will help with the installation of up to 300 landing sites.

To find out more about our community landing sites


Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is once again encouraging supporters to sign up early for their Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2017 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 14 May 2017.

Last year’s event sold out within three days of online registration being open and demand is expected to be even higher this year. The event saw cyclists of all ages and abilities take part raising over £70,000 for the life-saving charity.

Online registration will open at 9.30am on Tuesday 13 December, via the charity’s website: and, with only 600 places available, those wishing to take part will need to be quick to avoid disappointment. So why not set yourself a reminder now. We will also put one on our social media pages the day before. 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 2017. This will be our seventh year in the saddle and every year the event seems to get better and better. I believe one of the main reasons for this is the feedback we get from those who take part and the stories of courage and determination along the way.

“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 are really looking forward to this years’ event and hope that everyone that enters will once again encourage their family and friends to sponsor them in a bid to make 2017 the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet.”

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has flown more than 11,500 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, we rely on the generosity of the public and events like Coast to Coast for support.

To register online, visit the charity’s website: or for more information call: 01823 669604. Alternatively you can email:

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


Calvert Trust Exmoor are looking for volunteer painters to join their painting party, in the first two weeks of January 2017.

Help is needed any time from Monday 2 to Friday 6 January, and again from Monday 9 to Friday 13 of January.

No previous experience is necessary, and people can join in for any amount of time from a couple of hours to whole days; if you join them for half a day or more they will provide lunch too!

To get involved contact the centre on 01598 763221, or email



A new Clinical Training Facility, situated at the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance’s airbase, has been officially opened by Ken Wenman, Chief Executive Officer of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).

The unit includes a modern clinical training facility, a day/night aviation planning room, improved clinical storage and crew rest facilities. The whole project reflects the charity’s drive for clinical excellence and effectiveness and is designed to further build on the success of its award-winning education and training programme.

Funding for the project was provided last year by the Association of Air Ambulances Charity (AAAC) after £5 million was allocated from the Banking Fines Fund (LIBOR) by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne in support of UK’s air ambulances.   After securing funding for the project, work began on August 15 2016 and took approximately eight weeks to complete.

At the official opening, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, Bill Sivewright, thanked all those who had help make the project a reality.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to so many people.   To our landlords Geoff Jarvis and Losan Ltd for giving us the opportunity to further enhance the hangar that they so generously provide to the Charity. To Babcock International, who, as well as supporting our flying operations brought their wider industry expertise to bear and manage the build project. To the AAAC for helping to secure and distribute the funds and to SWASFT for their enduring support to the Charity’s operations, especially during a significant period of change. Finally, to the air ambulance crew who have lived through a great deal of disruption with patience and flexibility and have done so without any drop in the life-saving service provided to the people of Dorset and Somerset.”

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive Officer of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, was then invited to cut a yellow ribbon which officially opened the new training facility.

More information about the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting: or by calling: 01823 669604.

PHOTO: The new Clinical Training Facility was officially opened by Ken Wenman (CEO, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust). Pictured from left to right: Neil Bizzell, Owen Hammett, Bill Sivewright, Ken Wenman, Roger Morgan (DSAAChairman of Trustees), Dr Phil Hyde, Dr Ian Mew and Paul Owen.


Somerset Wildlife Trust is excited to announce the release of its  latest Knit for Nature™ pattern – Boris the Barn Owl –  as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the decline of much-loved Somerset species and get communities inspired to pick up their knitting needles to raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation in the county. Boris follows on from the success of Rustle and Bluebell Hedgehog patterns.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is dedicated to protecting vulnerable species such as hedgehogs and barn owls by creating richer and more sustainable habitats for them across their reserves – but they need the public’s help to ensure this important work continues. Action is needed now from people and communities where these wonderful animals choose to make their homes. So, whether you are a nifty knitter or knitting novice, there’s a simple way that YOU can support their work AND have fun at the same time!

You can get your hands on the wonderful new pattern and others from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website and all proceeds will go directly to the work they do to safeguard vulnerable species in the county. To download the pattern go to:

You can not only raise money by buying the pattern, but why not also raise funds through hosting a tea party or coffee morning to knit with friends and sell cakes or other crafts at the same time. Every penny raised makes a real difference.

Barn Owl numbers have declined by 70% in the UK since the 1930s due to the changes in land use and loss of available nest sites and reduction of the rough grassland areas that support their small mammal prey. We have also lost around 30% of our hedgehog population since 2002 due to the disappearance of our hedgerows and permanent pasture, increase in roads and traffic and the use of pesticides amongst other things.

Don’t forget to share photos of your creations on social media -­ maybe you knitted Boris in some crazy colours, or perhaps you took Bluebell with you to a wild or exotic location? Somerset Wildlife Trust want to know!

Share your photos and stories with them using #knitfornature on Twitter (@SomersetWT), Facebook (@somersetwildlifetrust) Pinterest or email them to and they will feature them on our website. Please also share them with Exmoor Magazine (@exmoormagazine) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you’d like to send some barn owls or hedgehogs back to the Trust, the address is Somerset Wildlife Trust, 34 Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AW

‘Knit for Nature’ is a registered trademark of Somerset Wildlife Trust.

PHOTO: Rustle, Bluebell and Boris photographed by Paul Mitchell.


Internationally renowned artist Ken Hildrew has lent his support to North Devon Hospice by producing a calendar featuring some of his well-loved paintings of Exmoor. All proceeds will go to the charity that supported Ken and his whole family during the death of his beloved wife, Alison.

Ken is based in North Molton and the stunning landscapes of the Exmoor area have long been an inspiration for his work. He counts Marks and Spencer, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Intercontinental Hotels among his list of high-profile clients. Now he has teamed up with friend and owner of North Molton’s Politmore Inn, Alan Boddington, to support a charity which has given them both a great deal of support in times of need.

“When I sadly lost my wife five years ago, she was wonderfully cared for by North Devon Hospice,” said Ken. “Not only that, but myself and the whole family were given a great deal of support afterwards, to help us cope and adjust. They are a wonderful charity and we hope that people like the calendar and buy lots of copies, so the hospice can help other families like ours.”

Alan Boddington teamed up with Ken to launch this fundraising idea as he himself had gone through the same experience of losing his wife and being supported by the hospice.

“This is a joint venture by myself and Ken to recognise the valuable work and support provided by North Devon Hospice to both our families,” said Alan. “We both lost our wives and they were cared for by the hospice, but the support they gave our families continued and we found the bereavement group and counselling sessions helped us all greatly. Their outstanding work got us through a difficult recovery and helped our families adjust. We hope that the money raised by this calendar will help other families benefit, as we did, when they are faced with the toughest of times.”

Ali Hunt, head of fundraising at North Devon Hospice, said that is was a very personal and moving way of Ken and Alan to support the hospice. “It is so touching that Ken and Alan have both gone through the same experience, and are now trying to help others who might need the care of the hospice. They have seen first-hand how we support not only patients, but also their loved ones. So every pound raised through this calendar will make a difference to local families who really us. Ken is such a well-renowned artist, and his paintings of Exmoor are legendary. We are hopeful that this limited-edition calendar print will sell out entirely.”

The calendars are available priced at £7.50 from North Molton’s Poltimore Inn and South Molton Pannier Market and there will soon be more stockists across the area – plus the hospice will be taking the calendars out to events with them on their travels. For a full list of stockists, visit The list will be regularly updated.

PHOTO: Ken Hildrew and Ali Hunt.