The dream of a new leisure centre for North Devon took three monumental steps closer to reality last week, with exciting news from Sport England as the icing on the cake!
The project, led by North Devon Council’s Parks, Leisure and Culture team, will see a new eight-lane swimming pool and other leisure facilities built onto the Tarka Tennis Centre at Seven Brethren, Barnstaple.
Last week a planning application was submitted and validated, with hopes that this will be determined by December. The search for an operator to design, build, operate and maintain the new leisure facilities is now live, with details of the contract online at www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk – the closing date to register an interest and submit a response is 27 October 2017 at midday.
On Thursday 14 September, Sport England confirmed that its Investment Committee is in support of the project and has formally invited the council to submit an application for funding. This means Sport England has ring-fenced £1.5m towards the project, and will work alongside the council to support its application for funding. If successful, construction of the new facilities could begin in autumn 2018 and be complete by summer 2020.
Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We may have been fairly quiet about our leisure centre project for a while, but behind the scenes a huge amount of work has been going on to drive the project forward and this is the news we’ve been waiting for from Sport England. I am so delighted by their decision to support our application and look forward to continuing to work with them to progress our funding bid.
“We also reached two key milestones last week, with the planning application lodged and the contract out to tender. I would like to congratulate the officers for what they have achieved so far and thank them for their professionalism and continuing hard work. North Devon Leisure Centre is coming to the end of its useful life and we’ve got to work hard to secure this funding to provide a new pool and leisure facilities to replace it.”
This year’s Art Trek will see artists throwing open their doors in a celebration of the visual arts across North Devon. The long-established and eagerly anticipated event runs from 15 September to 1 October.
There are participants taking part in villages and towns across North Devon, and the venues range from professional galleries to homes and artists’ studios. Visitors can find all the information they need in the Art Trek brochure which is out now or by visiting the Art Trek website at www.arttrek.co.uk.
The event boasts over 40 artists in a range of disciplines. Each venue is mapped out and visitors can create their own itinerary for the weekend, day, afternoon or even a spare hour after work! There is even the chance to enjoy a demonstration or take part in a workshop in many of the venues.
There are a huge number of art styles on including paintings of abstract forms, portraits and landscapes; there are prints using a variety of techniques including screen printing. Sculptors also feature in the event, many working in a variety of media.
The crafts are well represented including a pop-up show featuring exhibitors specialising in vintage, vintage inspired and upcycled products. This year’s Art Trek also involves the work of a number of talented ceramicists and glass artists as well as local photographers.
The full list of participating artists are:
Bideford: Eilean Eland; Pete Newell; Deborah Last; Fiona Matthews; Joanna Sellors; Hilary Paynter; Richard Strachey; Robert J Phillips; Cressida Lowery; Michael Storrs; Janis Glover; Bert Bruins; Devon Pop-Ups Weare Giffard: Claire Scott Northam: Mary Myers Braunton: Mark King; Jan Sears Ilfracombe: Francesca Owen Muddiford: Lauren Goldie Barnstaple: Robert Cordingley; Penelope Florance; Alexandra Tacey; Park School Alumni; Mike Woollacott; Grizel Lutmann-Johnson; White Moose West Buckland: Jackie Payne Swimbridge: Ruth Bateman; Danni Bradford; Ellie Miller Great Torrington: Helen Bailes; Barbara Bird; Susan Martin; Carol Rowland; Beaford Arts South Molton: Deborah Hastings; Sam Pickard; South Molton Pannier Market Grilstone: Mitch Pilkington Molland: Luna North Kings Nympton: Tony Williams Umberleigh: Colin Allbrook Atherington: Peter Stagg Burrington: Kate Burrows Chulmleigh: Robert Ennis; Gaenor Barker Bondleigh: The Sculpture School
For more information pick up a brochure which will be available from White Moose, Barnstaple, participating artists and at outlets locally or visit the Art Trek website www.arttrek.co.uk.
Join wildlife experts on a ‘Night Flight’ and find out what fascinating bats and moths live at Fremington Nature Reserve.
A special evening walk is planned at the nature reserve on Thursday 24 August starting at 8pm. During the walk participants will have the chance to find some bats using bat detectors and investigate moth traps to see what they can find.
The free event has been organised by North Devon Council, Fremington Parish Council and North Devon Biosphere Service and is suitable for all. Participants should meet at Fremington Village Green and park at Fremington Long Stay Car Park (beside the medical centre). It is recommended to wear sensible sturdy shoes and bring a torch.
Executive Member for Parks and Leisure, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The ‘Night Flight’ is a great opportunity to explore Fremington Nature Reserve at night and find out all about it from our local wildlife experts. I encourage anybody who enjoys the nature reserve by day to come along and see it differently by night, you never know what you might find.”
Local ward member and Fremington Parish Council Representative for the Fremington Environment Group, Councillor Tony Wood, says: “This is a unique experience which is very exciting, these events are always popular and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.”
Tom Hynes from the North Devon Biosphere Service, says: “The bat and moth walk is an regular fixture at the reserve but this is the first year we have tried it at Lovells Field so we are excited about what we might find.”
Follow North Devon Council on Facebook to keep up to date with news and other upcoming events.
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.
RHS Garden Rosemoor goes back in time during the weekend 22 – 23 July with two days packed with all things retro, vintage and antique.
Visitors to the stunning 65-acre gardens in Devon, with its formal gardens, woodland walks, stream and lake, walled fruit and vegetable garden, and fully licensed restaurant, will also be in for a real treat with a display of vintage vehicles, motorbikes from North Devon British Motorcycle Owners Club and vintage caravans.
New for 2017, Rosemoor will have a World War II re-enactment from the 4th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry including: Queen Alexander nursing, an air raid precaution, The Land Army, The Home Guard, The Auxillary Territorial Service and paratroopers. Continuing the 1940s theme on Saturday afternoon, there is a special guest Sandy Sparkle from Torquay doing a series of 30-minute sets of typical songs from the era.
The Vintage Horticultural & Garden Machinery Club will once again have a presence. This national organisation with over 900 members was formed to promote an active interest in the preservation, exhibiting and operation of vintage equipment used in horticulture, allotment keeping and home gardening. Some of their vintage farm and horticultural equipment will be shown operating during the weekend.
In addition, in the new Garden Room, Rosemoor’s permanent events building, there will be an Antique and Collectors Fair, organised by Devon County Antiques Fairs with stalls and sellers from across the South West featuring an eclectic selection of quality antiques and collectables of all sorts – vintage fabrics, ceramics, furniture and perfume bottles as well as silver and glass.
Keep your children entertained for free this summer, with a host of events at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.
There will be free craft sessions from 10.30am to 3.30pm every Wednesday during the school holidays, all inspired by the ‘Hatched, Matched and Dispatched’ exhibition on display at the museum this summer:
26 July – Design and decorate a colourful egg to take home
2 August – Design your own peg doll or spinning top toy
9 August – Create your own photobooth props and pose for a photo in the museum’s pop-up frame
16 August – Design and colour your own mini-lantern house
23 August – Bring your family along for a giant ‘Book of the Dead’ colouring event on the Square
30 August – create your own skull mask, get your face painted ‘Day of the Dead’ style or create some amazing colourful jewellery
Meanwhile, on Saturday 29 July, you can bring along any interesting objects you may have found to a free Finds Identification Day at the museum. Share your finds with Will Partridge from the South West Heritage Trust, who will help reveal the history behind your discoveries.
Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture at North Devon Council, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We are very pleased the museum continues to offer a great range of free events for local families and visitors throughout the holidays. These fun activities are all linked to the fascinating new exhibition that will soon be on display in the museum, so there will be lots to see and do while the children play. There is also a lovely cafe to enjoy at the end of your visit.”
The ‘Hatched, Matched and Dispatched’ exhibition runs from 22 July to 9 September, telling the history of North Devonians through their life stages, with stories and objects collected from local people.
The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is open from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday, admission is free. Check out the museum’s Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest news and events.
North Devon’s biggest celebration of local food and drink is back and exhibitors are being urged to get in quick to secure their place at the event.
Online bookings are now being accepted for Foodfest 2017, which takes place on Sunday 22 October at Barnstaple Pannier Market and will feature over 100 local food and drink exhibitors.
Now in its tenth year, event organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management and North Devon Council have seen the event increase in popularity and success since it first launched in 2008. With over 10,000 visitors, 100 exhibitors and top chefs from some of North Devon’s best local restaurants at Foodfest last year, the annual event is now a firm favourite in the foodie calendar.
Hannah Harrington from Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “This year’s event will be as busy and popular as ever, showcasing and celebrating the best of our local food and drink and will, as it always does, helping promote our area and support our suppliers, growers and traders.”
Executive Member for economic development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “Foodfest is always a massive boost for the town’s economy, with thousands of visitors enjoying some of the best food and drink our wonderful district has to offer. Foodfest is a great opportunity for local food producers to showcase their business with a guaranteed audience of about 10,000 – get your applications in quick!”
This year’s Fringe TheatreFest is back in Barnstaple from Thursday 29 June, animating venues across the town in a riot of theatre, dance and live performance.
Featuring over 60 shows from across the UK from Thursday 29th June until Sunday 2nd July, TheatreFest is building on ten years of experience and has added a whole raft of outdoor shows and shows in informal spaces to the long established venue programme: Shakespeare on the grass, hi-jinx in the high street, magic in cafes, dancing on benches and much, much more.
Some old favourites returning to TheatreFest include Monday Collective with A Trip Down Theatre Lane – a journey back to the roots of theatre in Barnstaple, told by minstrels, jugglers and buffoons; Multi Story Theatre Company with Fit for Purpose – a story without words; and Rob Gee with Fruitcake – Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward.
When you hear laughter resounding around the town head down to The Square where you’ll discover The Tent, the venue for family shows. Audiences lucky enough to get a ticket will be able to catch Fractured Theatre with Clowns of the Baskervilles; Lucky Dog Theatre Productions with Hats off to Laurel & Hardy; Seska with Seska Fruit Salad; Wild Toy Theatre with The Fisher-Knight’s Tale and Autojeu Theatre with The Organised Chaos.
Fringe TheatreFest was founded back in 2007 by Bill Buffery & Gill Nathanson of Multi Story Theatre Company. Bill is confident that the 2017 event is the biggest and best that it’s ever been. He says “2017 is going to be huge with double the number of shows! We’ll be in some of our usual places – St Anne’s Arts Centre, The Baptist Hall and back in The Golden Lion Tap where we were for a number of years. And then we’ve got new venues – The Guildhall, an extra space at The Baptist Hall and a big Tent on the Square. Added to that, we’ve got a large programme of work in outside spaces and town centre cafes.
“With The Queen’s Theatre unavailable this year we’re going to miss the support of the Queen’s staff, but we’re thrilled that many of them are volunteering with us to make sure that Barnstaple gets its annual blast of small-scale theatre fun.”
The growth of this year’s Fringe has also meant that more volunteers than ever before are involved in getting the show, literally on the road. Gill is thrilled by the unstinting enthusiasm of this large volunteer force. She says: “Our volunteers are Fringe TheatreFest. And this year there’s a bigger volunteer force than ever – which is just as well because Fringe TheatreFest is bigger than ever. It’s great to have such a big team and this year we’re able to work with younger people too.
“We’re also incredibly grateful to our partners and supporters including Barnstaple Town Centre Management, Barnstaple Town Council, The Bridge Trust, Samuels Solicitors, Smiths Solicitors, Rosie Bracher Solicitors, Barnstaple Museum, Golden Lion Tap, Park School, Barnstaple Coffee Shop, The Bike Shed and St John’s Garden Centre. We were also fortunate enough to secure a grant from the Celebrate England Big Lottery Fund which has allowed us to present so much outside work.” The full line-up for Fringe TheatreFest 2017 can be viewed online at www.theatrefest.co.uk.
Tickets and Frequent Fringer Vouchers for cash or cheque are available from Re:Store in Boutport Street, Barnstaple
and from Fringe TheatreFest venues from the opening day of the festival – Thursday 29th June.
Back in 2003, a small group of artists across the area decided to throw open the doors to their homes and studios as part of the North Devon Festival. 14 years on and this successful, established open studios event will showcase work from some of the best artists and makers in the area as they again open their homes, studios, gardens and shared venues.
The call is now out for artists and makers to take part in the September 2017 Art Trek. Last year over 50 artists were featured, exhibiting their work, offering insights into their working practice and discussing the techniques used in their creative processes. Bideford based artist and ceramicist, Michael Storrs, took part in Art Trek for the first time in 2016.
Michael says, “I was amazed how many people came to see my work and it was interesting to get people’s comments and take on things. I found that overall it was a very positive experience and I also sold some work! Plus, to my great delight, I have been offered an exhibition of my work in Paris at the end of this year.”
Barnstaple-based artist Mike Woollacott has participated in Art Trek since 2007. He says, “I have taken part in North Devon Art Trek for nine years and have always enjoyed the experience. Over the years I have found it very rewarding to meet lots of interesting people, whether they are local, or, in many cases, have travelled considerable distances. Obviously selling my art is a bonus, but I have found the contacts I make are extremely beneficial, in that people may purchase at a later date or even recommend me to friends and family.”
Yet another artist who opened her studio last year was ceramicist Fiona Matthews. Fiona’s comment on taking part: “A great experience – you never know who will walk through the door and where a conversation might lead. Not to be missed!”
For the first time in 2017, Art Trek will be produced by White Moose Projects CIC, formed to offer free and accessible opportunities for people from all backgrounds to engage with visual arts. One of its founders, Stella Levy, has been involved with Art Trek since its inception. Stella is confident that Art Trek has a bright future under White Moose Projects: “This North Devon open studios event is much loved in the area, both by the artists taking part and visitors to the event and with White Moose now supporting the annual Art Trek, it will ensure the open studios goes forward with a renewed vitality, but not losing the trust in the event, developed over the last 14 years.”
Artists and Makers wanting more information and to take part in the September 2017 Art Trek, please apply for an Entry Form to firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for completed forms is 1 June 2017.
Top: The River Taw at Chapleton by Mike Woollacott.
Plans are on the table to regenerate one of Barnstaple’s most iconic streets.
North Devon Council is setting aside some of its planned maintenance budget to spruce up Butchers Row in the coming months. It is also in talks with Barnstaple Town Centre Management to understand customer needs and changing shopping habits and to discuss plans to regenerate the historic street.
Last year the council refurbished Barnstaple Pannier Market, which runs the length of Butchers Row. Attention is now being turned to the historic units that the council lets to local businesses and work is likely to begin in the next couple of months.
Head of Resources at North Devon Council, Jon Triggs, says: “Butchers Row is probably one of the most photographed streets in Barnstaple and is an important historical feature of the town. Over the next couple of months we will be looking in detail at what can be done to improve and regenerate the Row, which is Grade II listed and, as such, needs extra care.”
There are currently some vacant units along the Row available to let. Contact Wright Commercial for more information on 01271 377333 or www.thewrightproperty.co.uk.