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

SECOND CHANCE TO SEE THE ICONIC SHROUDS OF THE SOMME

The iconic installation commemorating soldiers who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which captivated millions when it was displayed in Exeter, is to be shown again.

After hundreds of requests to extend the exhibition, organisers are bringing the breathtaking display to the grounds of Bristol Cathedral where it will be on show from 11 to the 18 November this year, marking the Centenary of one of the bloodiest battles in history and remembering all 127,751 British soldiers who lost their lives.

The display was created by West Somerset Artist Rob Heard,  who wrapped and bound each figure in a hand-stitched shroud, crossing the name of every soldier who fell on that fateful first day off a list sourced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“The Shrouds, along with the Poppies at the Tower, are perhaps the most memorable WWI commemorations this country has ever seen,” said Mel Bradley MBE, Project Manager. “The public response to the shrouds from around the world has far exceeded all expectations.

“We have a visitors book from Exeter with hundreds and hundreds of personal and emotional remarks from people trying to express the impact the Shrouds has had on them.

“This is reflected on our Facebook page with thousands of comments and video clip views of more than 10 million. It had a huge impact on the City of Exeter and has the potential to be even bigger in Bristol. The personal and community impact cannot be underestimated.”

Commodore Jake Moores OBE, Chairman of the Shrouds of the Somme, added: “The exhibition was one of the most powerful Acts of Remembrance I have seen throughout my military career and subsequent time as President of the Royal British Legion for Devon.”

“The raw emotion it produced in countless numbers of people, many of whom were in tears, some kneeling and praying and others stood rigidly to attention, was extremely moving. Without doubt this exhibition touches the hearts of all those who are privileged to witness it.”

Donations from the exhibition, which will be opened on Armistice Day, will be donated to Forces charity SSAFA, specifically to their Bristol branch supporting servicemen, veterans and their families in the Bristol area in times of need.

Shrouds of the Somme has been shortlisted for a Remember WW1 award, results to be announced on 2 November.

www.thesomme19240.co.uk

The Shrouds of the Somme Project ran in Exeter from 1 July 2016 for one week. 65,000 people visited the exhibition. £38,000 was raised for charity.

The Bristol Exhibition will be open from 11 November 2016. There will be a closing ceremony, led by the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, at 6pm on Friday 18 November marking the end of the Battle of the Somme.

PHOTO: Rob Heard, by kind permission of Bowater Communications

ENHANCEMENT IN AIR AMBULANCE CRITICAL CARE CAPABILITY

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is delighted to announce that a collaboration between the Charity, Dorset County Hospital, Devon Freewheelers, the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASfT) and the Henry Surtees Foundation, has resulted in patients now being able to receive blood products at the scene of an incident.

The project came to fruition when the charity started carrying blood on 26 April 2016. An official launch took place at the Charity’s airbase on 9 June 2016, where all parties involved in the project heard how their contribution is already making a difference to so many people’s lives.

Emergency blood transfusions are usually given to patients who suffer life-threatening bleeding caused by major trauma or acute medical conditions. 40% of trauma deaths are due to bleeding, so being able to carry and administer blood products to these patients before they get to hospital could be a matter of life or death.

After months of research and a dedicated commitment to patient benefit, the charity’s Critical Care Team has worked extremely hard on identifying the best way to deliver, implement and fund this project. Special recognition should be given to the work of Critical Care Paramedic Michelle Walker and Air Ambulance Intensive Care Consultant Dr Ian Mew.

Of the 20 air ambulance charities across the UK, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance joins nine others who now carry blood products on board their aircraft and rapid response vehicles. In a bid to ensure that patients in extremis have enough blood to keep them alive until they reach hospital, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance will carry four units of O type red blood cells, unlike many others who only carry two.

A further significant development is that ‘freeze-dried plasma’ will also be carried by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance from this month.

Experience from the military suggests that if a patient is bleeding to death, they should receive both ‘packed red cells’ (which carry oxygen) and ‘plasma’ (which carries the clotting factors to help stop the bleeding). Freeze-dried plasma was selected as the preferred option to fresh-frozen plasma as it has a shelf life of approximately 18 months and can be made up when needed, unlike fresh-frozen plasma which has a five day shelf-life after being thawed. The charity will become one of four air ambulance charities in the UK to carry a combination of blood and plasma and the only air ambulance charity in the South West to do so.

To read the full story follow this link to the website.

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

Photo: Representatives from DCH, DFW, SWASfT, HSF and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

SW AMBULANCE SERVICE ENDORSES DEFIBRILLATORS

Mid Devon District Council has recently acquired four defibrillators which have now been registered by the South West Ambulance Service’s accredited scheme for use in the community.

The defibrillators will be located at the offices in Phoenix House, Tiverton and at the three Council leisure centres; Exe Valley Leisure Centre, Tiverton; Culm Valley Sports Centre, Cullompton; and Lords Meadow Leisure Centre, Crediton.

Chris Crook from the Ambulance Service, who approved the equipment for registration, said: “Over 3,600 people are resuscitated by ambulance staff every year in the South West because they suffer a pre-hospital cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes once in cardiac arrest a person loses a further 10% chance of survival.  With this dramatic loss in chance of survival, there is a need for a defibrillator within every 4-5 minutes walk. Without doubt a defibrillator like the ones now available at Phoenix House and the three Leisure Centres will improve cardiac arrest survival rates throughout the South West.”

Automatic or semi-automatic defibrillators are easy and safe to use by anyone with little or no training. The device talks and displays what you need to do, with many devices also showing pictures. The best possible chance for someone’s survival is for them to receive effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation and early defibrillation. If any other business in the community has a defibrillator at their site, or would like to have one, they should contact Chris Cook at christopher.crook@swast.nhs.uk to register it on the scheme.

Two May Courses with Exmoor Photography

Jack Clegg, who we are lucky enough have as one of contributing photographers, has two course coming up – both in May.

The first is the Beach Sea Scape Special Exmoor Photography Course, which takes place on 11 May. There are three spaces still available. Jack says: “We will be visiting Saunton Sands and Croyde Beach during our trip to this simply stunning part of the North Devon Coast line.”

Find out more by clicking here!

The second course, on 18 May, is the Cuckoo Special. Participants will be visiting several areas on Exmoor where Jack has regularly seen and photographed visiting cuckoos over the years.  The locations visited are not only good areas for cuckoos but also offer some stunning landscape opportunities too.

Find out more by clicking here!

These two courses cost £175pp (including lunch). The courses are both full days, beginning with ‘meet & greet’ (at 8am for the Sea Scape Special and 7am for the Cuckoo Special) at Exmoor Photography Gallery & Camera Shop in Porlock. The Sea Scape Special returns at  5pm and the Cuckoo Special at  4pm (times are approximate).

To book a place or enquire about other courses please contact  Exmoor Photography on 01643 862026; booking is on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

 

Journalist Wins the Exmoor Society Conservation Award

The Samuel Foss Conservation Award has been won by Martin Hesp, editor at large of the Western Morning News.  In presenting it to him at the Society’s new headquarters at 34 High Street, Dulverton, Rachel Thomas, chairman, said that there could not be a more fitting recipient in the 60th anniversary year of Exmoor as a national park.

On hearing about his nomination for the award Martin said:  “I am immensely proud to have been nominated for this award and will be accepting it on behalf of the Western Morning News, which does so much to support rural life, landscape preservation and conservation across the West Country.  But this is particularly proud moment for me as I was born and bred in the Exmoor area and still live inside the National Park, which I truly believe is one of the great jewels in Britain’s landscape.”

Pinnacle Award 2014

The Exmoor Society is pleased to announce that this year’s Pinnacle Youth Award winner is Jack Croft who lives near North Molton.  Jack, aged 20, was born and bred at Twitchen and has always hoped to work and remain in the area.  After leaving school three years ago he set up a small contracting service for smallholdings and with his savings bought a second-hand tractor and an old trailer which he repaired.  

Because his business was so limited, in the summer he had to move away to work on farms in the Midlands in order to raise enough money to live on.  Now, with the money he has won from the Pinnacle Award, Jack intends to buy a set of chain harrows and a post banger and fertiliser spreader.  On receiving the award, he said:  “I am thrilled because now I can expand my business to include fencing, hedging, chain-sawing and mowing.” Christopher Whinney, vice-chairman of the Exmoor Society and one of the judges, said:  “Jack presented a viable business case to the judges which will enable him to stay on Exmoor all through the year.”

The Pinnacle Award was set up by the Society to encourage young people to develop a business related to Exmoor and in the hope of staying in the area and to contributing to the land-based economy.

11th Annual Bolving Championship

The 11th Annual Bolving World Championship takes place on Saturday 18 October at Draydon Rails, Dulverton (TA22 9QE) in Exmoor National Park starting at 6pm.

Bolving is the name for the call that Red Deer stags make in the rutting season and the bolvers try to imitate the deer and get points for style, authenticity and how successful they are at getting a real stag to answer their roar from across the wild, deep valley. http://www.officiallouisvuittononlinestore.cc

Exmoor National Park Ranger Richard Eales says: “If you would like to join in and test your vocal chords to their limit, then just turn up on the night and enter. Entries are a minimum donation of £2 and all the money raised will go to Devon Air Ambulance Trust.nike free tennis shoes

This year the organisers have a lovely framed photograph of a stag that has been kindly donated by Mike Sherwin as well as the usual Phil Ferris Shield that will go to the winner. Mike has also donated a picture that will be presented to the best Junior Bolver, so get practising kids!”

Would-be bolvers can meet up with other competitors at The Rock House Inn, Dulverton at 5 pm or just turn up at Draydon Rails at 6 pm. After the competition it’s back to the pub for the results, presentation to the winners and the prize draw and auction – refreshments available.
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For further details please contact Richard Eales on 07772 989737.

Feature Film Crew to Come to Ilfracombe

If you see a helicopter flying around Ilfracombe Harbour next week, with a person inside carrying a gun – fear not – it’s all part of a movie being filmed!

A feature film crew is coming to town on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 September, where they will be filming two actors on Rapparee Beach. They will also be flying two helicopters, one of which will be carrying an actor pointing a rifle at the beach. No gunshots will be fired.

Harbourmaster Rob Lawson says: “The police and I have been in talks with the film crew for some time about this and we are looking forward to them showcasing the harbour in the movie. We realise that onlookers could be alarmed by the sight of the helicopters and so we want to reassure the public that it’s not real, it’s just part of the act and therefore, there’s no need to call the emergency services.”

As part of the filming, Rapparee Beach will also be closed to the public for short periods during the two days.

The movie itself is called Monochrome and has been written and directed by award winning film-maker Tom Lawes.

Lundy Celebrates its Celestial Stars

Until now, there was a magnificent sight known only to those who stay overnight on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

Those in the know have come from far and wide to enjoy the spectacular array of celestial bodies that adorn the night sky over Lundy and now the island is celebrating the announcement that the quality of their dark sky has been recognised through the Dark Sky Discovery Site.

“It was the most wonderful news”, says Beccy MacDonald, the Warden on Lundy, “and quite fitting as I’d spent the previous night enjoying a spectacular night sky whilst ringing our Manx Shearwater chicks, who were outside their burrows familiarising themselves with the constellations which they use to navigate to their winter home near Chile!”

The remote location of Lundy Island, ten miles off the North Devon coast, makes it an ideal location to observe the night sky and one of the most awe-inspiring sights is the Milky Way Galaxy which extends across the length of the island.

Generating its own power which is turned off nightly at midnight, and with minimal street lighting, the island suffers no light pollution from the mainland and, as the majority of the island’s properties are located in the small village, you only need to walk for a few minutes to immerse yourself in utter darkness.

The location nominated for the Dark Sky Discovery Site is the island’s airstrip which is a short northerly walk from the village. Beccy says: “It’s incredible how many stars there are out there. Once you turn your torch off and give your eyes time to adjust, the stars emerge one by one and those constellations that we are familiar with, such as the plough, become lost in a sea of stars divided by the breathtaking Milky Way. It’s simply beautiful.”

Dan Hillier, leader of the Dark Sky Discovery partnership, a national network of astronomy and open space organisations, says: “It’s a lovely coincidence that the Lundy Shearwaters spend their winter near Chile! Chile is also home to some of the world’s most powerful ground-based telescopes, designed and used by UK engineers and astronomers. Bust for most of us, Lundy Island is an easier place to visit for an amazing night sky.”

If you would like to discover more about Lundy and its outstanding night skies, visit www.lundyisland.co.uk and for Dark Sky Discovery visit www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk

PHOTO by Joshua Day.