Category Archives: Events

SHROUDS OF THE SOMME LAUNCHES IN LONDON

Shrouds of the Somme, an extraordinary commemorative art project, has been launched in London with a crowdfunder campaign which began on Wednesday 10 May, asking people to be part of this awe-inspiring installation.

A total of 72,396 shrouded figures will be laid out in rows in London to mark the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018. Each 12-inch figure represents a British serviceman* who died at the Battle of the Somme but whose body was never recovered. Every one is bound by West Somerset artist Rob Heard into a hand-stitched calico shroud and made to a name identified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Rob will spend a total of 15,000 hours to achieve this staggering feat. He must work for 15 hours every day to get the memorial done in time for the centenary of Armistice Day.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Mr Kenneth Olisa OBE, said, “Shrouds of the Somme is a very imaginative and special piece of commemorative art. We are delighted and honoured that this installation is coming to London to mark the Centenary of the end of the Great War.  The Shrouds will be of huge significance.”

Last year Rob created 19,240 shrouded figures to represent each soldier killed on the first day of Battle of the Somme. These were laid out in Exeter and Bristol, giving a powerful and poignant reminder of the loss during the anniversary of the battle. Now Rob needs to make 60,000 more shrouds to represent each of the 72,396 British servicemen whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme battlefields.

Taking five years to create, Rob’s work is a feat of endurance and an act of humility.  The idea for the artwork behind the shrouds, in which figures representing the dead are laid out in rows on the grass, came to him in 2013 while he was recovering from a car crash which damaged both his hands. He began thinking about military fatalities in history and how impossible it was to visualise the huge numbers involved.

Rob said, “The idea for stitching 72,000 shrouds came when a man at the display in Exeter told me that his great uncle was killed on the first day of the Somme but his body was never recovered. He said ‘this feels like he is back on British soil for the first time in 100 years.’ That got me thinking that if anybody should come home, it should be those whose bodies weren’t recovered. Some were blown to bits, others buried where they lay with no known grave.”

As he makes the shrouds, Rob refers to a list of names of the British servicemen recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves commission and engraved on the Thiepval Memorial in France.  Each figure is associated with a name so that each one is individually acknowledged and remembered. Rob works his way down the list, crossing off a name for each figure created. He cuts and hand-stitches their calico shrouds, then covers and binds the figures in the shrouds in a ritual of creation, remembrance and personal introspection. As each figure is wrapped they take on their own form, twisting and bending into their own unique shape.

Chairman of The Shrouds of the Somme Committee, Commodore Jake Moores, said: “Rob’s work is one of the most powerful acts of Remembrance I have seen throughout my military career. This exhibition touches the hearts of all those who are privileged to witness it.”

We need the public’s help to bring this important installation to London for the Centenary of the end of the war so that the nation can experience, unflinchingly, the true scale of the losses in an extraordinary display of remembrance. The Shrouds team have chosen to raise the money through crowdfunding because it is a communal effort towards a common aim. The money raised will pay for the figures, the calico shrouds and associated costs with the project. By raising funds in this way, we will collectively honour the men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our shared freedom.

Help make this vision a reality and be part of this incredible act of remembrance, find out more at: www.shroudsofthesomme.com

The short launch film is at: https://vimeo.com/214206396/7606127165

* This number includes 829 South African infantrymen

PHOTO: Rob Heard, by kind permission of Bowater Communications

ALISTAIR ANDERSON AT HALSWAY MANOR

Alistair Anderson – internationally acknowledged as the master of the English Concertina and a fine exponent of the Northumbrian Pipes – will be performing an intimate gig at Halsway Manor on Saturday 13 May at 8pm.

Alistair delights audiences with traditional music from Northumberland and beyond, as well as his own music, which has grown out of his love of these traditions. As a touring soloist, he has no less than 37 tours of the USA, 5 trips to Australia and countless European tours to his credit.

“Anderson is a treat to watch, as well; his own involvement and delight in the music are infectious. Beautiful music, played with skill, taste and affection. His own tunes are particularly welcome; recognisably working from traditional styles he nevertheless introduces quirky personal touches which give them a real charm and individuality. My only complaint is that the slow airs never last quite as long as I want them to.” fRoots

Alistair has a very wide range of experience as a musical catalyst and educator. He is visiting Halsway for this weekend to lead a concertina master class; inspiring a whole new generation of musicians. Be sure to experience the energy and skill of this master musician at work and expect a thrilling and memorable evening in picturesque and historical surroundings.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for the gig are priced £10 / £4 for anyone in full-time education. To book, call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

AIR AMBULANCE COAST TO COAST CYCLISTS RARING TO GO!

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.

LESS THAN A FORTNIGHT TO GO: ANTIQUES ROADSHOW COMES TO MINEHEAD!

It’s time to dust off your treasures for a great, free day out as BBC One’s ever-popular Sunday evening programme, Antiques Roadshow, comes to the West Somerset Railway at Minehead Railway Station on Wednesday 17 May.

Antiques Roadshow celebrates a special anniversary this year and its visit to the West Somerset Railway at Minehead Railway Station will take place exactly 40 years to the day since the very first recording. On 17 May 1977, the cameras rolled at Hereford Town Hall, as presenter Bruce Parker and expert Arthur Negus welcomed the first visitors.

Many of Britain’s leading antiques and fine arts specialists will be on hand to offer free advice and valuations to visitors, who are invited to raid their attics and bring along their family heirlooms, household treasures and car-boot-sale bargains for inspection by the experts.

Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, who marks her tenth year presenting the programme, said: “The best part of working on Antiques Roadshow is that we never know who or what is going to turn up on the day. The visitors, the objects they bring, their stories and the location all combine to make a fabulous experience that we aim to capture for the viewers. If you are a fan of Antiques Roadshow, curious to see behind the scenes, or just fancy a day out, I would urge you to dig out your treasures and come along – we’d love to see you.”

It is not the first time the Antiques Roadshow has visited the local area and it was during a visit to Barnstable in 1986 that one of the most exciting discoveries in the programme’s history was made was made – a lost painting by nineteenth-century artist Richard Dadd.

‘Halt in the Desert’ had been missing since 1857 and was valued by expert Peter Nahum at £100,000 – the highest valuation given on the show to that point.

Owned by a local couple, the painting had languished in the loft of their family home for years before they took it to the Antiques Roadshow on the off-chance. The watercolour was later sold to the British Museum.

Antiques Roadshow has filmed in Somerset over the past 40 years and this will be the second time the event has visited Minehead Railway Station.

In 1997 they discovered an eclectic mix of treasures and collectables. Among some of the items brought along were a pair of stuffed and mounted fish from the 1920s, estimated to be worth around £1,500; a tiny, rare Beatrix Potter pottery figure of the ‘Duchess of Flowers’ which ceramics expert John Sandon thought was worth £1,600; a Tunbridge Ware workbox bought for £125 which turned out to be worth between £6-8,000; and a ‘drawing’ of the Mask of Cupid by Sir Edward Burne-Jones which art expert Rupert Maas revealed to be a “brilliantly done” copy of the original which was still worth around £1,200.

Antiques Roadshow Executive Editor, Simon Shaw, said: “Our Antiques Roadshow at Minehead Railway Station on Wednesday 17 May marks the start of our 40th anniversary filming, and we feel the locations this year are some of our most beautiful and historic yet.

“Our team of experts and Fiona love nothing better than hearing people’s stories and seeing what items they bring, so we hope as many people as possible come to Minehead Railway Station and enjoy what our visitors consistently tell us is a fantastic day out. Even after 40 years, the magic formula of surprising some lucky guests with exciting news about their treasures is still a thrill for us, the visitors and the viewers.”

The doors open at 9.30am and close at 4.30pm. Entry to the show is free, everyone is welcome, and no tickets or pre-registration are required.

For visitors coming from the Taunton / Bridgwater area, West Somerset Railway is running a very special train service from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead Railway Station. Visit the Antiques Roadshow website to book a free ticket.

Visitors who are driving are asked to use a temporary Park & Ride service which will be operating to and from the fields just off Seaward Way and Coach Park next to Minehead Railway Station. A vintage bus will run to the venue every 15-20 minutes.

Visitors are welcome to just turn up on the day, but if they have an item with a particularly unusual story attached, or perhaps an interesting collection, or large items of furniture, they can let the team know in advance via the Share Your Story link on www.bbc.co.uk/antiquesroadshow

Alternatively, email: antiques.roadshow@bbc.co.uk or write to Antiques Roadshow, BBC, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2LR.

Please note this is an outdoor event, so all visitors are advised to dress appropriately and protect their objects accordingly. More information on planning your visit, frequently asked questions, and parking information, can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/antiquesroadshow

Highlights of our 2016 Roadshows included a ‘lost’ masterpiece by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, worth £200,000-£300,000, an eighteenth-century doll’s house of national importance worth £150,000-£200,000, and the moment the team reunited the belongings of a World War Two air ace with members of his family.

 

 

BE A QUANTOCK EXPLORER

The Quantocks Events Programme starts this weekend with a woodland spring flowers walk from Aisholt so we thought this would be a good time to share a post from the team at the Quantock Hills AONB…

Grab your rucksack and flask of sugary tea and come and join the Quantock Rangers as the Quantock Hills AONB Service launches its Events Programme for 2017.

Explore the Quantock Hills with our Rangers and Specialists in a series of guided walks throughout the year. Walks include hunting for fossils on our Jurassic Coast Walk, a Wellbeing Walk to help celebrate ‘Naturally Healthy Month’ in May, a Family Bushcraft Day, an evening Bats and Owls Walk and even a Quantock Quiz Walk for the walker who enjoys solving puzzles!

The programme also includes a set of special walks run by the Quantock Volunteer Rangers called Quantock Explorer Walks. These are specially designed to introduce you to different parts of the Quantock Hills and to find out more about the wildlife, plantlife and history of that part of the hills. From Fyne Court to Cothelstone, the Bicknoller loop and a Hill Fort Walk too.

We are also helping to promote others running guided walks on the Quantocks, including a series of walks at Durbourgh Farm including a Dawn Chorus Walk, a Spring Flowers Walk and in the autumn a Fungi Walk. Also, June brings the Quantock Walking Festival run by the Sedgemoor Ramblers.

Quantock AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “These events are about experiencing the very best of the Quantock Hills, from the 200-million-year-old fossils on the Quantock coastline, to finding out more about how prehistoric people used and changed this landscape. It’s about enjoying the outstanding nature of this important and nationally recognised landscape.”

To book onto an event and to see the programme go to the Quantock Hills AONB website at www.quantockhills.com/events/view you can also find us on Facebook at /Quantock.hills or on Twitter @quantockhills

EASTER AT HESTERCOMBE

With the spring blooms looking lovely and spring finally in the air, Hestercombe has plenty on offer for families looking to enjoy the outdoors this Easter.

Join in the fun with the children as they complete Hestercombe’s special Easter garden trail to find the contents of the Easter Bunny’s basket. When they’ve completed the trail, they can claim a delicious hand-crafted chocolate bunny, made locally by Cocoa’s. The trail runs until 17 April and includes an egg for the children to decorate themselves and costs just £1.50 to take part.

Grown-ups can enjoy something a little more refined for their Easter treat in the Column Room Restaurant, where Hestercombe is offering delicious triple chocolate scones, mini Easter biscuits and dark chocolate truffles with a decadent Easter afternoon tea. Views over the stunning Edwardian Garden and the Blackdown Hills will make your Easter extra special.

Don’t forget to visit the Hestercombe Gallery this Easter, where Hestercombe’s latest exhibition “Regions of Light” is being held, showcasing the work of Jem Southam, Rebecca Chesney, the Revd John Eagles and Paul Desborough.

BIG ADVENTURE DAY AT HADDON HILL THIS WEDNESDAY

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome,  the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit:  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

PHOTO by Steve Guscott

EXCITEMENT BUILDS FOR SOMERSET STAGES

Just a quick post to wish all entrants the best of luck tomorrow!! Hope you have a fantastic day here in West Somerset.

Over 100 crews from across the UK will head to Minehead this weekend as the Somerset Stages Rally returns to the seaside resort for its annual event on Saturday 8 April.

Organised by Burnham-on-Sea Motor Club and Minehead Motor Club, the event forms the second round of the RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series and the opening round of the Maxxis Tyres MSA English Rally Championship which once again brings some of the best rally drivers to the region.

Crews from the national championships are joined by contenders in the Reis Motorsport Insurance ASWMC Loose Surface Rally Championship and FMP Rally Challenge; ensuring spectators are in for a real treat during the day in the Exmoor forests.

Wearing the coveted number one on the door this year will be 2016 event winners Luke Francis and co-driver John H Roberts from North Wales who bring their potent Mitsubishi E9 to the South West.

The duo will be hoping to repeat their dominant performance from last year and boost their BTRDA title chances.  Northumberland’s Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson follow at number two in their Ford Fiesta WRC. Petch admits to be still getting used to the powerful machine but will certainly be looking for outright victory in Minehead.

Callum Black and Elliott Edmondson start the event at number three seed in their Fiesta R5. The newly formed duo have impressed so far this season and will be looking for a podium spot at the weekend.

Karl and Guy Simmons have swapped their Citroen DS3 R5 for a WRC for the event and start the event at four. David Wright and Steve Pugh lead a duo of crowd-pleasing Ford Focus WRCs and are seeded at five with Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg just behind at six in a similar machine.

2013 event winner Connor McCloskey and John Rowan will return to the event at seven and make the trip over from Northern Ireland in their Fiesta WRC. Scotsman Fred Milne makes the long drive south to Somerset in his Mitsubishi E9 to start at car eight with co-driver Jamie Edwards alongside.

Tom Preston starts at nine in his Skoda Fabia R5 with co-driver Andrew Roughead; the Somerset Stages saw the debut of the car last year.

Rounding off the top ten are local crew Martyn and Dawn England from Illminster. The husband and wife team were another to debut their Ford Fiesta R5+ on the event last year and recorded an impressive set of times, finishing fourth overall in the process.

Other local entries include Michael Threlfall and Mulberry Threlfall-Eyres from Taunton who will compete in their Mitsubishi Evo X. Threlfall last contested the Somerset Stages in 2013 and will be looking to go one better than the retirement sustained that year. They start the event at car 22.

Look a little further down the list and you will see another Threlfall name, this time sons Harry and Alfie in a Renault Twingo R1. Harry was once a regular in the British Rally Championship, but returns to the sport after two years away to complete his University degree.

The event also plays host to the Army Land Rover team who bring six of the impressive machines to Somerset.  A favorite with spectators, the crews often put other more suitable cars to shame and are worth staying to the end of the field to watch.

The bulk of the event mileage takes place in the Exmoor forests and The Beach Hotel will house Rally Headquarters during the event. Teams will base themselves along the Minehead seafront for the scheduled services throughout the day.

The field will be flagged away from the ceremonial start on Warren Road Seafront bright and early at 8am on Saturday.

For something a bit more fast paced, the spectator stage in the Kennisham forest complex is the place to go, offering the chance to see the action twice during the day. The first run through the stage kicks off at around 9.45am and provides around an hour and a half of action with the second run of the stage at 2pm.

Those fortunate enough to complete the event will get the chance to celebrate at 3.45pm with the ceremonial finish on the Minehead Seafront (Warren Road), with the winning crews spraying champagne to celebrate victory.

More information is available at www.somersetstagesrally.com and you can keep up to date with all the latest news on the event Facebook and Twitter feeds.

www.facebook.com/thesomersetstages
www.twitter.com/somersetstages

Good luck everyone!

PHOTO: The 2016 event winner Luke Francis / John H Roberts in their Evo9 – courtesy Gasmark Media.

 

BIG ADVENTURE DAY COMING UP!

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome – the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

COMING UP AT REGAL THEATRE MINEHEAD

The Regal Theatre, Minehead have been very lucky to book the  European Union Chamber Orchestra for Wednesday 5 April.  Directed by Eva Stegemann, the programme will comprise three Mozart works:– Serenade in D K.185, Oboe Concerto K.314, and Adagio for Cor Anglais, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

Soloist Nicholas Daniel (Oboe And Cor Anglais) has played on every continent  and appeared  with leading orchestras across the globe and in the BBC Proms.

EUCO has performed in 73 countries  in major concert halls and Festivals, broadcast on television and radio across  Europe and the USA and had several UK concerts broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £18 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm Saturday.

Also coming up:

Friday 31 March at 7.30pm
THE DEANE BIG BAND

On Friday 31 March the ever popular Deane Big Band returns to the Regal Theatre with a good time for all as they bring in some toe-tapping big band classics from the swing era. The band will be playing lots of Glenn Miller hits, as well as some by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich and Duke Ellington.

Chris Franks will sing songs like ‘Come fly with me’ and ‘ Let’s face the music and dance’; Chris does not have blue eyes like Mr Sinatra – but he does sound just like him!

Hannah Deason-Barrow will sing about that ‘Old Devil Called Love’ but don’t worry – everyone will end up ‘Feeling Good’.

With two great singers as well as a full 17 piece big band – it will be a big sound and joyful evening.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £9 are now available from the Regal Box Office.