Category Archives: Charities


The well-known Exmoor Pony Centre, operated by the charity Moorland Mousie Trust, is facing imminent closure after trustees revealed a downturn in financial revenue. They have launched a Crowdfunder Appeal which has to reach its £20,000 target by 2 June.

The Moorland Mousie Trust, based near Dulverton on Exmoor, helps unwanted moor-bred Exmoor pony foals facing slaughter each autumn and operates a dedicated centre for their promotion and protection.

Opened in 2006, The Exmoor Pony Centre was a dream that the charity’s founders had after seeing the plight of these rare and endangered foals. Since then over 50,000 visitors have discovered the wonderful native Exmoor pony breed and over 300 moor-bred foals have found a future either as riding ponies or within conservation grazing herds throughout the UK and abroad.

This week, following several years of rising costs and decreasing income, the Trustees have sadly announced that unless the charity can find a minimum of £20,000 it will be unable to stay open. “This will also mean the closure of the popular riding, education and community outreach activities enjoyed by local visitors and tourists,” said Linzi Green, Centre Manager. “We are all terribly worried about the imminent threat of closure at the end of the summer, our target of £20,000 means that we would be able to continue for the rest of 2017 while we work to raise further funding which we hope will ensure our long-term survival.”

The Exmoor Pony Centre provides a vital service for the free-living Exmoor pony herds. With closure, not only would the foals have nowhere else to go but also public access to the breed would end. This unique interaction and opportunity to ride, developed over the last 11 years, fulfills a vital need in marketing the breed and encouraging future sales and support for the ponies.

In an attempt to prevent closure, a Crowdfunder Appeal is being launched to raise funds, organised by volunteer Gail Cheeseman. The Appeal was launched on April 21 on

Gail’s dedication to the centre and work in setting up the Appeal has been praised by the Trustees. “I just couldn’t sit by and watch the Centre close without us all having fought as hard as possible to raise the funds to stay open,” she said. “I have been supporting the charity for years and have seen first-hand the good work undertaken by trustees, staff and volunteers to improve the lives of these ponies.”

So many people and ponies have benefitted from the work of the Centre and although the charity Moorland Mousie Trust will continue, with a much smaller and less effective presence, the closing of the Centre will be a blow for all future foals bred on Exmoor.

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, stated:  “The Exmoor pony is an important part of Exmoor’s heritage and one of the National Park’s special qualities. Visitors and locals alike delight in seeing the free-living herds grazing the moor and we are sorry to learn that the Centre’s future is uncertain. We have worked with them for many years and we hope that people across the country and indeed the world will feel able to help.”

Fiona Dickson veterinary surgeon to the Moorland Mousie ponies commented: “It will be a devastating loss and a massive backward step in the safeguarding of the breed if the Exmoor Pony Centre were to close. The Moorland Mousie Trust and their work through the Centre is an integral part of the Exmoor pony’s future in finding homes, education and the rescue of ponies in difficulty. I hope this fundraising initiative helps to secure the future of the Centre and raises awareness of their plight.”

Activities will continue as normal throughout the summer, as revenue brought in by activity days and visitors will also assist in raising funds. You can find the centre’s activities on the facebook page or

To help or register your support, log on to and pledge whatever you can.

There are some great rewards on offer by donation through the appeal site and a video showing the work of the charity and Centre. You can also see some of the cute foals, all of which have had nowhere to go. The charity will also be pleased to accept donations by post and over the phone.

PHOTO: Taken for Exmoor Magazine by Jane A. Mares.



A Somerset-based charity is launching an appeal to raise £1.5million towards the development of internationally renowned Hestercombe Gardens and to secure its future for generations to come.

In its 20th year since opening to the public, Hestercombe Gardens Trust, based in Cheddon Fitzpaine, near Taunton, is launching The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal on 21 April to help support this unique historic landscape of international importance.

The money is needed to carry out the next phase of restoration projects within the gardens and provide an endowment to secure future sustainability. Thanks to a generous private charity the first £200,000 raised will be match funded pound for pound.

Through this appeal, key areas of the gardens will be brought back to life – restoring and recreating lost features. Part of the money raised through the appeal will go towards the recreation of ‘Sibyl’s Temple’, an eighteenth-century rotunda in the Landscape Garden. Footings for a rotunda have already been established and the plan to recreate the temple from drawings and descriptions will link the design with the Great Cascade and the Gothic Alcove, both key features in Hestercombe’s Landscape Gardens, reinforcing the original design.

Other garden projects include the reinstatement of the lime tree avenue along the west side of the Formal Garden, which has been traced by old maps, plans and photographs. This avenue of trees was part of the original Lutyens design, planted between 1904-1908.

A rustic Hermitage situated overlooking the Vale of Taunton and dating to c.1755 is also to be recreated and reinstated on its original site, the foundations of which were uncovered by archaeologists only relatively recently.

Other significant developments which the money will be put towards include the recreation of an unusual garden kitchen attached to the Octagon Summerhouse, the installation of traditional wrought-iron fencing in the park, together with ongoing wildlife protection, archaeology and general planting. In the future it is also hoped that an exceptionally rare Elizabethan Water Garden will be restored – one of just a handful left in the country, adding a fourth period of history to Hestercombe’s unique collection of gardens.

Hestercombe’s historically important gardens currently display three centuries of garden design and the formal gardens have been recognised worldwide as one of the best examples of design by eminent plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens. The attraction is proud to have been presented with the European Gardens Award in 2016 (in the category of historic restoration) and two regional awards for tourism excellence (a Gold award in the Bath, Bristol & Somerset Tourism Awards 2016 and a Silver at the South West Tourism Awards 2017)

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal aims to restore and recreate many of the historical features originally found within the grounds and to bring their stories alive for visitors, whilst maintaining Hestercombe’s high ecological and sustainability credentials.

The appeal is the first stage of a longer-term ambition to raise £8m to develop Hestercombe even further – bringing art and the landscape together in a project resulting in the complete restoration of Hestercombe’s House and Gardens and eventually the establishment of a new garden for the twenty-first century garden, 12 artist’s studio spaces and an auditorium to seat 200.

CEO of Hestercombe, Philip White, said: “Thanks to continued support from our trustees, members, visitors, volunteers and staff, Hestercombe has been transformed over the last 20 years. We have come a long way, but there is still more to do to complete the picture.

“This is the first step on a new journey, which will take us even closer to giving current visitors and future generations a true taste of what Hestercombe looked like in its heyday whilst continuing to develop and ensure its future sustainability.”

“As a charity we rely on donations to help us care for Hestercombe and we hope people’s generosity will enable us to give back to our local community as well as playing a role as an internationally significant garden.

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal launches with an exhibition celebrating 20 years with 20 amazing images, which runs from 22 April until 21 May, 11-5pm in Hestercombe House. The exhibition shares some of the most incredible pictures from the archives in a mini-exhibition, charting the story of Hestercombe – from designed Arcadian landscape, to its ruin and highly acclaimed incredible restoration.

Donating to the appeal is simple. You can either visit the website at, call 01823 413923, or pick up a donation form from Hestercombe. You can also text to donate 70070 HEST20 £ adding the amount you’d like to give (up to £10). If you’d like to donate to a specific project or consider other ways to give, for example leaving a legacy, contact Hestercombe directly.


Ian Brown, who is one of our photographers, is also Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer at the Burnham-on-Sea RNLI  Station, which covers us down as far as Watchet. He emailed to tell us about the Station’s latest news…

Saturday 8 April was the official naming ceremony and service of dedication of our D Class Lifeboat D-801 Burnham Reach. This replaces our previous D Class, Puffin. The proceedings began with an introduction from Ashley Edwards (Chairman of the Lifeboat Management Group) followed by our new lifeboat being handed over to the RNLI by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset Anne Maw. Our new Lifeboat was then accepted by David Page, our RNLI Representative, on behalf of the RNLI who then handed it into our care at Burnham-on-Sea Lifeboat Station.

Accepting this was our Lifeboat Operations Manager Matthew Davies. The Service of Dedication was led by the Reverend Graham Witts which included a short reading by Lyndon Baker (Deputy Launch Authority).

Anne Maw then officially named our Lifeboat ‘Burnham Reach’ and christened her with a local cider kindly donated by Rich’s Cider Farm. Our Town Mayor, Cllr Michael Clarke, gave a vote of thanks and closed the proceedings.

With the official ceremony over, guests were invited to meet on the seafront where our crew (now changed into their operational kit) launched Burnham Reach and gave a short demonstration of the boat’s capabilities. The Lifeboat was then recovered back to station where guests enjoyed light refreshments provided by Café Aroma and were able to chat with our crews and volunteers. Amongst the beautiful cakes provided was a stunning celebration cake made and donated by Tina Whatley showing Burnham Reach “in action”.

Burnham-on-Sea RNLI would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the crews, volunteers, staff and everyone who through their dedicated fundraising efforts have made the acquisition of our new lifeboat possible. Also to Burnham & Highbridge Town Band and Burnham & Highbridge Sea Cadets for their support on the day.

Visit the Station’s Facebook page, where you can see a video of the launch.

Photo by Ian Brown (DLPO), Burnham-on-Sea RNLI



Children of all ages are invited to take their Mums for a Mothering Sunday (March 26, 2017) treat at a boutique Devon hotel to help raise funds for charity close to the owner’s heart.

The Jubilee Inn in West Anstey near South Molton is supporting Cancer Research UK by hosting special ‘Perfectly Pink’ champagne teas for mothers on Saturday 25 March 25 and Sunday 26 March.

Claire Sellar-Elliott, co-owner of the luxury country inn that offers gastropub/fine dining food and designer B&B rooms, who is also a mum-of-four and a cancer survivor herself, explained: “Mums are the unsung heroes of the world, without a pay cheque, or the numerous ‘thank yous’ they deserve, so at least once a year we should remember how amazing a Mum is and how lucky we are to have them, and let them know by a gesture how loved and appreciated they truly are.”

After a divorce and disabling liver cancer diagnosis, Claire left a career as a partner in a law firm in London’s West End in 2012 to follow her dreams of running a country house hotel on Exmoor where she used to spend her childhood holidays riding.

Claire added: “With my four young children and the incredible support of my family, we all set about renovating and rebuilding The Jubilee Inn together while I fought Hepatocellular cancer (HCC), underwent countless operations, received a live donor liver transplant from my brother Barrie Elliott and continued to live with and treat the recurring HCC in my lungs with chemotherapy, radio-frequency ablation and resections as and when necessary and continuing. My family has shown remarkable fortitude throughout and my Mum was a rock, this is why we’ve chosen to support this wonderful charity in this way.

“Bring your Mum for a special Mothering Sunday or Saturday treat with us to show her how much you care, while also raising funds for Cancer Research UK with each booking by donating £5. Also for every Mum booked in to stay with us during the Mothering Sunday weekend, we will donate a further £5 to this amazing charity too.”

The Jubilee Inn is offering its ‘Perfectly Pink’ luxury champagne tea on Saturday 25 March and Sunday 26 March from 11am until 12 noon and from 2.30pm until 6pm. The tea is priced £24.50 each or £45 for two.

Claire continued: “Enjoy a selection of pink finger sandwiches, homemade pink scones, strawberry clotted cream, homemade ‘pink’ cake, mini ‘pink’ desserts with pot of tea and a glass of Brut Rose Pierre Gobillard Premier Cru. Advance bookings only. £5 will be donated per booking to Cancer Research UK.”

After having spent three years closed, Claire and her family fully refurbished and re-launched The Jubilee Inn in 2015 with the help of Executive Chef and co-owner Sam Salway.

“We’ve created a successful restaurant and boutique B&B with an excellent reputation for ambience, customer service and fabulous food. We’re open throughout the week except Mondays, serving seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby. We also have six beautiful and individual guest rooms that are all luxurious and inviting. We wanted to create a real home from home atmosphere, with all the little extra luxuries!”

All the bedrooms are ‘uniquely different’ and some have four-poster beds. They have en suite bathrooms with showers and beds with Vi-Spring mattresses and crisp linens.

Claire added: “We provide our guests with luxurious accommodation, fabulous fine dining in our restaurant or classic comfort food in our bar. All our dishes are cooked to perfection, feature local and regional seasonal produce and are accompanied by fine wines and ales.

“We’ve also put together a special one-night stay at the hotel for Mums. If you book your mum and a guest in for a one-night break, either the Friday or Saturday night of the Mothering Sunday weekend, it will cost just £180.

“For every additional generation of mother in any family booking, staying with us, so, for example, where there is a mother and grandmother booked in together, we will donate £5 per mum to Breast Cancer Research.”

For further details about The Jubilee Inn, which is on the B3227 at West Anstey near South Molton, please call 01398 341401 or visit


‘Sing Out Louise’ – a touching and exhilarating event – takes to the stage at the Regal Theatre for two performances on Sunday 12 March.  Internationally acclaimed acts perform alongside talented local groups for one massive ‘sing out’ in honour of friend and fellow entertainer, the late Louise Doolan.

Audiences will be treated to an energetic and uplifting show starring Bucks Fizz and featuring tributes to Take That and Madonna.  Also performing will be vocalist Max Hutton, LA Dancers, Taunton Amateur Operatic Society, Fusion, Dunster First School choir and Dynamix, a close harmony vocal group. What better way to spend a Sunday!

All Acts appearing are linked personally and professionally to Louise and are all giving their services for free. All profits from this event will be donated to the charity Hope for Tomorrow.

Performances on 12 March begin at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.  Tickets costing up to £8 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm Saturday.

PHOTO: Bucks Fizz will be singing at the event.


Somerset Wildlife Trust is pleased to present the return of its successful Somerset Nature Reserves Fund. Launched in 2016, the Fund was established to raise money to safeguard some of Somerset’s most iconic landscapes and precious wildlife, and has already helped achieve some enormous gains for wildlife across the county. The Trust hopes that this year it will be able to do the same with the help and support of wildlife lovers across Somerset who will hopefully kindly donate this year.

Tim Youngs, Director of Land Management, explained, “In Somerset we are incredibly lucky to have some amazing habitats from internationally renowned wetlands and ancient woodland, to species-rich grassland and magnificent meadows, each requiring specific conservation programmes in order for the unique biodiversity to not only survive, but thrive.

“Our nature reserves within these special places are the bedrock upon which we are able to deliver critical conservation work and, to ensure these special places are kept healthy, an incredible amount of planning and resource is involved – our reserves cost nearly £2,000 a day to maintain, which is a significant outlay.  As the seasons and weather change, we have to continually adjust and fine-tune our work and habitat programmes, such as grazing management – with the failure to provide the necessary feeding and breeding grounds at certain times potentially having detrimental consequences for species the following year.

“Having extra funds not only means that we can continue with our practical conservation work on our reserves, but helps us to be prepared for what the future may hold. We will be able to respond faster and provide on the ground solutions when we are faced with unforeseen challenges – such as ash dieback.”

The Fund last year supported some amazing results for wildlife and was critical in conserving habitats for populations of some of Somerset’s most charismatic wildlife, from otters to dormice. The county is now the stronghold for Bittern, with five booming males recorded last year on Somerset Wildlife Trust’s National Nature Reserve Westhay Moor, thanks to the restoration of their reedbed habitat. And the Trust’s Green Down Reserve now holds 36% of the UK population of Large Blue Butterfly.

Katie Arber, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Director of Fundraising and Marketing, added, “It is very clear from the response we received last year that Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves are held dear by many people. Somerset’s wildlife is part of what makes living, working and visiting the county so special. Our members and supporters have been always been generous and we hope that they will give what they can again for what is a very important fundraising initiative for the Trust.  We also hope the wider public and local businesses who value their green spaces, and understand and appreciate their value in their lives, will support the Fund and help us ensure Somerset remains a wildlife rich county.”

For more information on the Fund and some examples of where monies raised will be spent, please visit Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website:

Any gift given to The Somerset Nature Reserves Fund will go directly to wherever the need is greatest on Somerset Wildlife nature reserves, ensuring that they are kept in the best possible condition to support wildlife and our conservation goals.  You can donate securely by card on our website (link above) or by telephoning 01823 652429. Every donation, whatever the size, will make a difference.

PHOTO: Hazel dormouse by James Maben.


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.