This is a little write-up about the call out of the RN Bomb Disposal Section to Hinkley which you may have read about recently. It was sent in by one of our photographers, Ian Brown, who is Burnham-on-Sea RNLI’s Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer…
Well it’s been a very busy day for us here at the station. Our first job of the day was to assist a team from the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Section. Ordinance had been located in the Bristol Channel and they were tasked to make it safe. Their boat had been left with us for a couple of days as they had been called away to another operation but this morning they returned ready to go with all their equipment.
After discussing their plans and preparing kit they made their way to the beach. Due to the state of the tide and the risk of their vehicle sinking in the soft mud we launched the boat using our Soft Track which is much better suited to the conditions. Our crews are well aware of the risks so it seemed a sensible option for us to carry out the launch. The Bomb Disposal Team then made their way to the site of the ordinance and made it safe by the use of small charges. They then returned to the beach where we assisted with recovery. It was then back to station where our launch vehicle was washed down ready for service.
You may think that was enough for one day but many of our staff and crews then went on to undertake shore-based assessments which form part of their training. This continued all day including more assessments afloat when we launched for training that evening.
A fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography who shoots all over the world for National Geographic, Nigel Hicks, has been announced as the official judge for this year’s South West Coast Path photo competition.
Based in South Devon, his latest project is much closer to home, having recently published a stunning collection of work from the region in ‘Wild Southwest’.
Nigel says of the Coast Path: “The huge amount of work I’ve done overseas has taught me just how valuable our South West Coast Path is. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been prevented from accessing coastlines overseas by closed private property, my reaction to which usually varies somewhere between bewilderment and righteous indignation. By contrast, the Coast Path embodies a deeply held democratic principle that everyone, no matter how rich or poor, how famous or obscure, can wander at will along almost every piece of our coast. Not only is the coast itself priceless but so is this principle.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Coast Path is one of the world’s great hiking trails, not just one of the UK’s. Though some sections offer gentle walks, much of the terrain is surprisingly rugged and challenging even for a seasoned hiker, and along practically every yard of its 630-mile trail, dramatic and incredibly beautiful vistas continually unfold. This is one of Britain’s wildest natural frontiers, quite a surprise to many people on such a crowded island.
“Whilst it’s true that the great majority of both visitors to the South West and the region’s residents don’t walk vast stretches of the Coast Path, I’m sure it’s also true that the great majority do walk at least small fragments of it, making the Path quite central to the region’s tourist – and hence its principal – economy, enabling large numbers of people to get close to and enjoy the region’s principal attraction – its coastline.”
The South West Coast Path’s annual photo competition closes on 1 December 2017 and is open to budding photographers of all ages and abilities; prizes include a £250 voucher to spend at Cotswold Outdoor for the overall winner and a place on any of Nigel Hicks’ one-day photography workshops in the South West, plus a signed copy of his book. All calendar winning entries will receive membership of the South West Coast Path Association, a Cicerone guidebook, as well as the chance to grace the official 2018 Coast Path calendar.
Here are some of Nigel Hicks’ top tips for taking great photographs on the Exmoor coast:
Exmoor offers some of England’s most dramatic and stunning coastline, so it’s no wonder that everyone wants to get the best possible photos of the landscapes and seascapes. Of course, great photography on Exmoor’s coast follows essentially the same golden photography rules as anywhere else, but there are a few issues specific to this coastline. Paramount among these is the fact that the great majority of Exmoor’s coast faces north, and so for much of the year the cliffs have no sunshine directly on them.
So, with that little conundrum in mind, here are my top tips for Exmoor coastal photography:
Generally speaking, shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening, times when the sun is low, giving good shadows and bathing the landscape in a golden light. That said, in mid-winter there’s no need to stick rigidly with this rule as you’ll get this kind of light all day long (if there’s any sunlight at all!).
When photographing coastal cliffs try to choose those sections that face east or west (rather than north-facing cliffs) and which, as a result, receive sunlight at least for a few hours of the day. If you’re shooting a west-facing cliff, photograph it in the afternoon/evening. Photograph in the morning if you’re looking at an east-facing cliff.
Keep your compositions simple and containing a single strong subject that dominates (but doesn’t necessarily fill) the image frame. Most people try to cram too many elements into their photos, with the result that they look cluttered and lack any impact. Shoot those scenes that contain a strong subject, make that the main subject of your image frame and then try to compose it in such a way that the rest of the frame is free of clutter and distractions. Easier said than done, but this is the crux of great photography.
When photographing a view in which you have to have some foreground visible, make sure it’s an interesting foreground; not just dull, rough grassland or tangled brown brambles or bracken, which will distract from the final photo. Select your viewpoint carefully so that your foreground contains something interesting, such as an angular rock that points towards your subject further into the frame, or a meandering stream or track, again ‘leading the way’ towards your subject.
If photographing at dawn, dusk or on a very dull day when light levels are low, put the camera on a tripod, and let the camera use a long exposure. It is very hard to hold a camera still enough to get a sharp, high-quality image in these conditions, so don’t even bother trying!
Sticking to these golden rules will help you generate some great photos of Exmoor’s coast, so this coming autumn and winter get out there with the camera and get shooting!
To see some of Nigel’s work, pick up a copy of Wild Southwest, his latest book about the landscapes and wildlife of South West England. It is available through all good bookshops and online at both Amazon and at www.aquaterrapublishing.co.uk.
This October the Challenge returns to the South West Coast Path. Your Challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to help beat the record for the number of miles of Coast Path covered collectively in a month – and raise vital funds for the upkeep and improvement of this beautiful trail.
Join one of the Association’s organised events throughout October like the Minehead to Porlock 10-mile walk on 7 October, or set yourself a personal challenge. Walk, jog, skip, hop or run as much or as little of the Path as you like – it is totally up to you! Grab your friends, family and colleagues, head down to your favourite part of the Path and achieve something amazing together.
The Challenge raises money for two registered charities – the South West Coast Path Association, and the National Trust, who work together to care for and improve the Path, ensuring the unique and precious coastal landscape of the South West can be enjoyed on foot, for free, now and in future generations.
Registration is just £10 and includes an official 2017 Challenge t-shirt. You can either add a donation or fundraise. Your support makes a real difference to the millions of people who come from near and far to explore, keep fit or find peace on the Coast Path each year – good luck!
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.
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.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is joining the celebration of marine life that will be taking place across the UK from Saturday 29 July to Sunday 13 August, as part of National Marine Week, to inspire everyone to show a little love for the county’s little-known, unique marine wildlife and habitats.
Somerset has nearly 50 miles of coastline which includes a variety of habitats such as sand dunes, rocky shores, tidal estuaries and the longest continual stretch of coastal deciduous woodland in England – all home to a wealth of captivating species, world class geology and fascinating history and heritage.
National Marine Week is the perfect opportunity for families to get out exploring some of Somerset’s natural coastal wonders. Try the rocky shore around Brean Down where you can find Beadlet Anemones, Green Shore Crabs, Common Periwinkles and Limpets, and at Minehead beach at low tide you may see starfish like the Common Sunstar and Common Brittlestar!
In August look out for the small wading birds, Sanderling and Dunlin, as they start to arrive on our beaches having made their journey from the Arctic in search of warmer climes.
National Marine Week is not only a chance to get out and about and appreciate the beautiful species that can be found locally, but to raise awareness of the wildlife that is under threat and what can be done to protect it for the future.
Michele Bowe, Director of Conservation, Policy and Strategy from Somerset Wildlife Trust, explains why we should spare a thought for our coast when enjoying it this summer: “Climate change and rising sea levels, harnessing the Severn Estuary’s natural power for energy generation, alongside general coastal development, are just a few reasons why Somerset’s coastline is under serious pressure, and this is why we are in the second year of a comprehensive three year coastal survey to increase the scientific evidence base of Somerset’s coastal wildlife. This work is crucial, as in order to deliver conservation programmes that protect our county’s marine wildlife for the future, we need to discover and understand in more detail what is there.”
What can you do to help Somerset’s Coast?
Somerset’s coast is rich in wildlife, from the seriously cute Ringed Plover chicks, to the debatably cuddly Sea Slug, and the bouncy Bouy Barnacles in Minehead to the very delicate Moon Jellyfish at Steart Marshes. There is so much to discover, love and protect along our coast. Why not get involved this National Marine Week? Perhaps you can do a volunteer survey, or support the Wildlife Trust’s coastal appeal that is funding their survey work? You can also join in one of our many events that are happening over August. From a Beach Clean to looking for Porpoise, to scoring the coastline to see what you can find on our ‘Rockpool Ramble’ or a ‘Seashore Safari’ there is something for all the family to enjoy. For more details on these events and more, please go to www.somersetwildlife.org/events .
Don’t forget to tweet @SomersetWT, with what you find.
We predict a Riot! Devon’s longest running Surf & Music Festival tickets selling out fast.
Now in its 19th continuous year – a huge achievement in itself – the GoldCoast Oceanfest team are delighted with the way tickets are going. “It’s been our fastest-selling year for a long while,” says festival co-organiser Warren Latham. “Maybe it’s the sunshine which always brings people to the coast, or maybe everyone just wants to get out and let their hair down for a weekend and forget about any political shenanigans. We are looking forward to welcoming them all.”
Whatever the reason, Goldcoast Oceanfest, taking place mid-summer weekend 16-18 June 2017 beside the sea at Croyde Bay in North Devon, is all set to welcome its biggest crowds. And it’s not just the surf that will be pounding.
Friday evening kicks off with a cool DJ set by SIGMA. Multiple Brit-award winning, indie-rock band, KAISER CHIEFS will top the bill on Saturday night and SCOUTING FOR GIRLS will be Sunday’s headliners. The Cuban Brothers, Charlie Sloth, The Shelters, Gentlemen’s Dub Club, Willie and The Bandits and Alice Jemima are amongst other great acts playing the sunshine stage this year. There’s also a second stage, complete with Bar and Cider garden, offering an alternative music choice and stand-up comedy with the Comedy Avengers.
Always a family event, there will be a circus performance area complete with aerial rig and stilt walkers weaving magic and imagination with live music workshops, lego making and crafts, storytelling and drumming. Food outlets, stalls and a fab chill-out zone are all in the mix.
Sports action takes place down on Croyde beach with football and volleyball tournaments, surfing and water sports.
A 3-Day Festival Ticket costs £59 per adult, £52 per child (under 18) and to encourage families, a 3-Day Festival Family Ticket costs just £150 (2 adults & 2 children). Under 6s: booking fee only. www.goldcoastoceanfest.co.uk
Wake up to the sound of the waves in weekend accommodation right across the road at Parkdean Resorts Ruda Holiday Park. (Costs from £699 – sleeping up to 8 in a 3-bed caravan. www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk(0344 3353450) There are many other campsites, B&Bs, cottages and hotels in the local area.
Grown from grassroots beginnings, Goldcoast Oceanfest is run by two eco-minded brothers who have a huge respect for the wonderful north Devon coastal playgrounds. The festival is a true family lifestyle event, with festival-goers encouraged to sign up and join in with the beach soccer, beach volleyball, surfing and ocean swimming competitions.
Work is under way to repair and enhance the East Face berth at Ilfracombe Harbour.
North Devon Council is repairing worn fender fixings to improve the safety of the berth for visiting ships. The set of steps at the end of the pier will also be extended, so that local passenger boat operators have an alternative and safe landing to operate from during low spring tides.
There will be restricted access to parts of the pier to allow divers to carry out the work, which began on Monday 24 April and will take four to five weeks to complete, depending on weather conditions.
Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Rob Lawson, says: “We will try to keep any disruption to a minimum throughout the project and ask the public and harbour users for their patience whilst this important work is carried out. We are also asking all vessels to give the area a wide berth and pass slowly with caution. Warning Flag Alpha will be flying when diving operations are taking place, so that harbour users know when to pay extra attention when entering and leaving the harbour.”
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is holding its seventh annual Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday 14 May 2017 and is hoping that the public will come out in support of the 600 cyclists taking part.
The event, which is not a race, involves a challenging 54-mile cycle ride which starts at Watchet Harbour in the north and ends at West Bay in the south, following a wonderfully scenic route through the beautiful Somerset and Dorset countryside. 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.
Last year’s event saw people of all ages and abilities take part, raising over £81,000 (including gift aid) for the life-saving charity. With only 600 places available, it was no surprise that the event sold out within 11 hours of online registration being open.
This ever-popular event is renowned for being an emotional and inspiring day out for everyone involved. That’s no surprise given the fact that the cyclists include patients who have experienced the work of the air ambulance first-hand and those who take part in memory of a loved one. Others get involved as part of a team or simply want to challenge themselves and support the charity in return.
This year, for the first time, the cyclists who were fortunate in gaining a place, will be joined by members of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance crew who are set to cycle the 54 mile route on triplet bicycles.
The team, who call themselves the ‘COASTBUSTERS’ have been training for the event at their Henstridge airbase and are hoping the public will get behind them and show their support.
In a bid to raise £2,500 and fund one life-saving mission, the team have set up a JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/dsaa-coastbusters where donations of any size can be made. Mobile phone users can easily donate by texting: CREW54 £5 to 70070. Every penny raised really will make a big difference.
Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge is a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere is incredible. The fact that members of our crew are taking part this year makes the event even more special. They are incredible ambassadors of the Charity and I’m sure it will be an extremely emotional day all round; the aches and pains will definitely be worthwhile.
“Every year the event seems to get better and that is mainly due to the wonderful team of volunteers, members of the public and local businesses who help us with marshalling and keeping the cyclists safe.
“Our thanks go to the event sponsors and the various pit stop locations along the route, without their help and support, we simply could not put on such a large scale event.
“Finally, a very big thank you to all the cyclists taking part who are encouraging their friends and family to sponsor them. Let’s hope the weather stays fine and we raise as much as possible and make this the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet!”
Supporters will be able to encourage the cyclists at the starting point, along the route, or at the finishing line celebrations at East Beach Car Park in West Bay.
More information about the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting: www.dsairambulance.org.uk or by calling: 01823 669604.
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.
Minehead’s “Enterprising Esplanade” has won a significant financial boost thanks to the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
The project that aims to breathe new life into The Esplanade – the mile-long stretch of seafront – has been awarded £130,696.
The project is being led by the Minehead Coastal Communities Team, and is designed to give the resort an economic boost and make the most of its spectacular stretch of seafront.
The initiative aims to create new trading opportunities on The Esplanade and will restore six Edwardian shelters that are a reminder of past glories.
There are plans to convert one shelter into a trading post as a pilot project. The team is planning to encourage more seafront tourism attractions to make sure visitors thoroughly enjoy their time at the seaside, while a festival and Harbour market are also in the pipeline.
The initiatives will stretch the best part of a mile along the Esplanade, complementing and celebrating the best of the past and present – and looking to the future to help boost Minehead’s economy.
The Minehead Coastal Community Team comprises representatives from Minehead Town Council, West Somerset Council, Minehead Chamber of Trade, Minehead Development Trust, Minehead Eye, Engage West Somerset, West Somerset Railway, and others.