Category Archives: Sport


Watchet’s ambitions to have a state-of-the-art Bowling Club are closer to being realised thanks to a £50,500 grant from a Leisure Fund secured from the Hinkley Point C project which is administered by West Somerset Council.

Watchet Bowling Club is keen to transform its facilities and provide a high-quality community venue for the area and the money will go towards the first phase of the project to replace old garages with a new indoor bowling rink.

The high-achieving club has a real track record: the women players reached the semi-finals of two trophies last season, while the men won the league and also swept the board in county competitions.

A new indoor rink will give the club the space for county-level competitions and make it possible for games to be played simultaneously, rather than have to wait for the one rink to become available.

The club has now gained planning consent for this project and is hoping the community will also support the initiative through the newly launched Somerset West Lottery. The club is one of the local good causes that will benefit from the weekly draws.

Tickets for the lottery are now available to buy and the first weekly draw takes place on 29 Jul, with a top prize of £25,000 on offer and a two-night stay in The Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes as an additional bonus prize for this first draw. The lottery is a joint West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council project to help community initiatives.

The Bowling Club started out on its journey to transform its premises four years ago and, after consulting the community, drew up plans to improve its own facilities while also providing a real community hub for educational, recreational, sporting and social activities for all age groups.

The initiative has three main strands:

  • replacement of garages with a new  indoor double rink bowling green with associated facilities
  • internal and external alterations to the existing clubhouse to provide a quality community venue able to accommodate 150 people
  • erection of an extension to provide a gym

The club is working in partnership with Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership and local providers and clubs.

The successful bid for funding from West Somerset Council will be followed by bids to other funding pots including Sport England, Power to Change and the Big Lottery.

Club treasurer, Marilyn Binding, said: “Watchet has no community venue able to accommodate large numbers. Our improved venue will fill this gap and it will provide somewhere for all sectors of the local community to take part in a wide range of activities.

“Our proposed project will act as an accessible and inviting focal point for our current population and newcomers moving here to work at Hinkley Point and join in with what is happening locally.

“The centre will make the most of the opportunity to target both workers themselves and their friends and families – encouraging them to participate together in community activities, including healthy living, educational, social and leisure activities.”

Cllr David Westcott, Lead Member for communities with West Somerset Council, said: “This is an ambitious project with a real community focus that will provide Watchet with facilities that many larger towns would envy.

“The Club has also shown the initiative to make a successful bid for funding from our Leisure Fund and to become one of the good causes supported by our local lottery.”


Local Tea & Coffee merchant Miles continues to work with Somerset CCC following a successful year.

The Miles directors have announced a commitment to another year of partnership with the Somerset County Cricket ground. This will involve sampling on selected days throughout the year, competitions and exclusivity across the tea sector. Miles award winning tea blends will be available at outlets in the ground.

This is an exciting year for the County ground, with an International game and the Women’s World cup.

Sam Burton, Marketing Manager at Miles, said, “Following continued investment in our Somerset production sites, this partnership provides us with a perfect opportunity to share our passion for quality tea and provide a future for employment in our rural area. We are all excited to be working with Somerset CCC in such an historic year and congratulate them on hosting the Women’s World Cup and an international game.

Jez Curwin, Head of Commercial Operations at Somerset County Cricket Club, said, “We are delighted to continue to work alongside Miles Tea & Coffee as a local business, a good cuppa and cricket make the perfect combination. We are looking forward to developing a long working relationship.”



King’s College, Taunton set a new record when they won the Independent Schools’ Football Association (ISFA) Girls’ Under 18 eleven-a-side cup by beating ACS International School Cobham 9-1 in the final at the home of Thame United at the end of April.

King’s became the first team in the history of the competition to retain this national title. In addition, this is the third time in the past four seasons that they have lifted the trophy, underlining  the status of King’s College, Taunton as the leading independent school in England for girls’ football.

On the first evening, King’s dominated proceedings from start to finish, and by half time led 4-0 thanks to goals from Lucie Waddon (2), Karolayne Alencar and Sarah Hill.

After the break, King’s extended their lead, with goals from substitute Lannece Hole, Beth Barzotelli, Kayane Alencar, Captain Beth Beale and Sarah Hill, before Repton pulled one back late in the game.

Chris Heayns, the Director of Football at King’s Schools, said: “This is a very special group of players who have worked hard and come together to produce some outstanding football. In doing so, they have set an excellent example to the younger players following them through school. They fully deserve this success.”

The football program at King’s has come a long way under Chris Heayns, who has been in charge for eight years. The program continues to evolve to provide the right opportunities, and to ensure the experience for each player is the best it can be.

“We want every player to achieve the very best he or she can be, at the same time getting a sound education and enjoying all of the other opportunities the school offers,” said Chris.

“Many of the girls play in women’s football leagues and there is no doubt that our links with Exeter City Ladies and other clubs has been a valuable part of their development. Three girls who were part of the winning side joined our Sixth Form on scholarships two years ago. In September will be taking up scholarships in North America.”

King’s are once again offering Sixth Form Scholarships worth up to 50% in a range of subjects for candidates who have the talent and the aspiration and show outstanding potential in their field, who would like to join Year 12 in September 2017.

As well as receiving top-class coaching to develop their particular skills, all pupils at King’s benefit from being part of an exceptionally happy and caring community. The school offers highly regarded academic subjects that universities prefer, small class sizes, and teachers who inspire pupils to reach their full academic potential. There is a range of excellent facilities, a broad offering of co-curricular activities, and opportunities to stretch pupils academically, which include visits, seminars, clubs and societies that are open to all.

Anyone who would like to find out more should make contact with the school’s Registrar, Kate Rippin, on 01823 328204 or visit



Durham rally driver Stephen Petch took a well-deserved victory at the Minehead-based Somerset Stages Rally on Saturday 8 April, but had to fight hard on all 14 stages to bring his Ford Fiesta WRC home in the top spot.

On paper, Petch looked to have dominated the dusty Exmoor forest stages but he didn’t have it all his own way during the event. Despite opening up an early event lead, Petch and co-driver Michael Wilkinson were challenged all day long by Callum Black and Elliott Edmondson in their Fiesta R5. Petch finally took the win after Black lost time in the closing loop of the day with power steering failure.  2013 rally winners Connor McCloskey and John Rowan made the worthwhile trip over from Ireland to round off the top three in their Fiesta WRC.

The seaside resort welcomed the 100 crews who started the Burnham-on-Sea Motor Club and Minehead Motor Club organised event, bolstered by crews from the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship, REIS ASWMC Loose Surface Rally Championship and FMP Rally Challenge.

The thousands of spectators that headed to Kennisham Forest to watch the action were in for a treat and number one seeds Luke Francis and John Roberts would be hoping to repeat their 2016 event win. Sadly they got off to a slow start, finding themselves languishing down in fifth place on the opening test of the day.

Ironically, the top three stage times on the opening stage would be the same order they finished, with Petch opening out a slender two-second lead over Black with McCloskey one second down. Not only that, but the top three positioned remained that way throughout the morning loop and, despite the efforts of others, no one could unseat the Fiesta trio on the gravel.

It would, however, change on the Porlock Hill stage when McCloskey lost time thanks to an ineffective handbrake and it gave others a chance to step into the frame. Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg made a brief appearance in third sport with yet another Fiesta R5 but were edged out on the second run by Francis who was attempting a comeback.

Sadly Francis retired on the very next stage, leaving the door open for McCloskey to re-join the podium positions for the remainder of the day. But up front the battle had become intense and, with Black on a charge, he and Petch were now tied on times.  They remained neck and neck through stages eight and nine, with Black only losing out by one second in the tenth.

But Black’s impressive run would be undone with power steering failure in stage 13, losing over 20 seconds in the process, leaving Petch to take the event win by 11 seconds and spray the winners champagne on Minehead Seafront.

“This win could have gone in anyone’s favour today and it’s been a really close fought battle with Callum,” said Petch at the finish. “It’s great to finally win here and at one point I thought Callum and I would be equal coming back to the finish. He was really unlucky this afternoon. I’m no stranger to tie-breaks on the Somerset Stages though, losing out to Steve Perez on the countback rule in 2013 so it’s fantastic to finally get the win. It’s actually been a really tough rally so I’m glad we have come out on top.”

Hugh Hunter began to pick up the pace after the asphalt tests at Porlock and brought his Fiesta R5 home in a worthy fourth spot as the Ruthin driver continues to get to grips with the new car.

Taunton’s Martyn and Dawn England had the honour of being first local home on the event, finishing in fifth spot in their Fiesta R5+. England was happy with his progress through the day and, despite a “scrappy” opening few stages, settled down in the afternoon to climb the leader board from 16th spot after stage three.

The Production Cup battle for “showroom specification” models has always been impressive and this year’s Somerset Stages was no exception. Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence took the spoils in sixth overall, leading the trio of Mitsubishi E9’s of Russ Thompson / Andy Murphy and Richard Hill / Steffan Evans in eighth.

Tom Preston and Andrew Roughead took ninth overall in their Skoda Fabia R5 with Sacha Kakad and James Aldridge rounding out the top ten in their Mitsubishi E10.

In a rally of attrition, only 60 of the 100 starters made it back to Minehead and the tough Exmoor forests proved to be hard on cars and crews during the event.

More information on the event and full results will be available at

PHOTO: 2017 Somerset Stages winners in action – Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson in their Fiesta WRC. Courtesy of Gasmark Media.


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 and you can keep up to date with all the latest news on the event Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Good luck everyone!

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



Minehead will once again play host to the only loose surface stage rally in the South of the UK as the Somerset Stages Rally returns to the town for its eighth April event.

As the competition released its regulations last week, organisers confirmed their offering of 42 competitive stage miles in the Brendon Hills and Exmoor National Park. The event will welcome competitors from the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, MAXXIS Tyres MSA English Rally Championship and REIS Motorsport Insurance ASWMC Loose Surface Rally Championship.

Comprising familiar forest roads on Exmoor, the 2017 Somerset Stages Rally will also consist of the unique 3.73 mile test along the all-asphalt Porlock Toll Road (run twice) which inevitably provides a challenge for the predominately loose surface contenders. Once again The Beach Hotel will play host to Rally Headquarters during the event and rally teams will base themselves along the Minehead seafront for the scheduled services throughout the day.

Over 100 of the UK’s best rally drivers will head to the West Country to tackle the rally which was named as the best ASWMC event in 2016 and event organisers Burnham-on-Sea Motor Club and Minehead Motor Club believe they have all the ingredients for a great rally for both competitors and fans alike.

“We have a fantastic base for the rally thanks to West Somerset District Council, Somerset County Council, Minehead Town Council and the Minehead Events Group,” says Jason Hayes Clerk of the Course. “The town provides an excellent backdrop to host the rally and certainly creates a fantastic atmosphere during the weekend.  Competitors and fans love it as well with spectators being able to get up close to the teams at the seafront service area as well as the start and finish celebrations along the seafront.”

And the stages are promising to provide crews with a challenge on all of the events 14 stages. “We have tried to provide a bit of variety again this year and have come up with a format that means we can have a few longer stages.  Add to that the challenging Porlock Toll Road stages and the event should provide both seasoned competitors and newcomers to the sport a thrilling day’s motor sport.”

There will be plenty of opportunities for fans to get a slice of the action with a Spectator Stage in the Kennisham forest complex, offering the chance to see the action twice during the day.

More information is available at and you can keep up to date with all the latest news on the event Facebook and Twitter feeds.
PHOTO: The 2016 event winner Luke Francis / John H Roberts in their Evo9 – please credit to Gasmark Media.


North Devon Council would like to know what local people think of plans to extend the Tarka Tennis Centre to include a new eight-lane 25m pool, learner pool and fitness gym, exercise studios, sports hall and a full-size 3G artificial grass pitch.

The council is holding a public consultation event at North Devon Leisure Centre from 10am-9pm on Wednesday 22 February, to find out how local people use their leisure facilities and what they will need within the new facilities to make their experiences better. The architects, leisure consultant and council staff will be on hand to discuss the project and record public opinion.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “Our plans for a new leisure centre are picking up pace. In January we appointed a leisure consultant and architect and we now wish to consult the public on our design concepts before we move forward. We want to make sure we’re including the right mix of leisure facilities and to do so we need to hear from the people who plan to use the centre.

“North Devon Leisure Centre is coming to the end of its life and we have a great opportunity now to deliver a replacement facility that meets the needs of as many people as possible. Realistically, we won’t be able to meet everyone’s aspirations – we know we can’t afford to replace everything we have in the existing leisure centre and building a 50m pool, for example, is just too expensive to deliver. Please pop down to the leisure centre on 22 February to let us know what you think.”

If the council is successful in its bids for Sport England funding and can obtain planning consent, construction of the new pool and leisure facilities at Tarka Tennis Centre could begin in Autumn 2018 and be complete by Summer 2020.

If you can’t make it to the event but would like to comment on the new facilities, you will be able to fill in an online form at from Wednesday 22 February.



Since December last year, Mid Devon District Council has invested £45,000 in the swimming pool changing facilities at Exe Valley Leisure Centre in Tiverton and Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in Crediton. Investment includes new flooring, application of vinyl to all lockers, changing cubicles and toilets to give a bright and fresh feel to the area, and upgrades to the vanity area.  Also, new lock mechanisms have been installed to the lockers in readiness for the release of the new £1 coin in March.

As of 19 January, Exe Valley Leisure Centre has introduced a ‘No Shoes’ policy in the swimming pool changing rooms and the same change is expected at Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in February.  When visiting the swimming facilities at the leisure centres, customers, staff and contractors will be required to remove all outdoor footwear or use the blue overshoes provided.  Alternatively, customers will be able to purchase flip flops from reception.

Mid Devon District Council is committed to investing in its facilities for the benefit of all visitors. With an average of 22,000 visitors a month to their swimming pools, outdoor footwear brings a large amount of dirt and contamination into the changing areas and toilets.  As customer feedback rates housekeeping standards as one of the most important factors when visiting the facilities, the introduction of the new policy will improve the customer experience; excelling in the day to day standards and enhancing the overall experience.

Councillor Colin Slade, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, said, “This is a positive and exciting move forward for the leisure centres and a welcome improvement to the customer experience when using the swimming pool facilities. I hope our customers will agree with and embrace our new policy.”

With the flexible timetable of early morning, late night and weekend swimming, Mid Devon Leisure is ready to welcome everyone to their pools, regardless of swimming ability or age. For further details please visit their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.


A boxing club based in Barnstaple has recently been awarded two grants to help provide essential start up equipment.

Barum Boxing Club received £550 as a Community Councillor Grant from North Devon Council.  Councillors Frank Biederman, Adam Bradford, Des Brailey, Joy Cann, David Luggar, John Mathews, Joe Tucker and David Worden each contributed from their Community Grant funds. This helped to pay for a new punch bag, suspension springs and head guards.

In addition, the club was awarded £5,000 from the Town and Parish (TAP) Fund. The council worked with Devon County Council to provide this funding which helps to ‘kick-start’ local projects.

Executive Member responsible for leisure and culture at North Devon Council, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The council is proud that every year our community councillor grants and the TAP fund both help to support local clubs and organisations that benefit the people and environment of the North Devon Council area.  They help to continue the valuable community work that is already being done and also to ‘kick start’ other projects such as this one.  We were happy to have the opportunity to help Barum Boxing Club get the equipment they needed and wish them every success in their future. I would also like to thank the councillors who have contributed from their community grants.”

Devon County Council Leader, Councillor John Hart, says: “This is great news for the boxing club and for people in the local community.  We’re continuing to make funds available to communities to use how they see best. This money is available to parish and town councils to spend in ways that will benefit their communities. I firmly believe decisions should be made as locally as possible to encourage local accountability and I have always advocated more partnership with our district, town and parish colleagues. If we believe in the ‘resilience’ of our smaller communities, then this is one way of pump-priming activity.”

Gavin Lane, Chairperson of Barum Boxing Club and Sports Centre, says: “The support from North Devon Council and Devon County Council has been essential for our new club. As a partnership of Barnstaple Kick Boxing, Barnstaple Combat Sport MMA and Barum Boxing Club, we have been able to buy some initial equipment and stabilise our finances for our first year. This help has given us the chance to look to the future and focus on high quality training and coaching for our rapidly growing membership. Our venue is also available for use by other clubs and activities.”

Through the Community Councillor Grant Scheme, each North Devon councillor has £1,000 to support projects and services run by community or voluntary groups and not for profit organisations each year. Youth clubs, toddler groups, sports clubs, museums, village halls and environmental groups have all benefited from grants in the past for running costs, start-up costs, costs towards a new facility or refurbishing an existing one, towards an event or equipment for a new project or service.

Grants from the TAP fund can be used to help with start up and running costs for projects and services at a community level.

For further information regarding Barum Boxing Club, please contact Gavin Lane on 07901 654999 or Rick Huxtable on  07855824317.  Alternatively you can visit their Facebook page.

For further details about community grants and support available
from the council or to make an application visit The office council can also be contacted on 01271 388327.

Photo shows from left to right in the middle row:
Cllr Adam Bradford, Cllr David Luggar, Cllr Joy Cann, Gavin Lane (club Chairman), Rick Huxtable (club treasurer), Michelle Forrest (club secretary), Des Brailey (NDC Council Leader) Brian Mulholland (boxing official) and Phil Waites (club committee member) along with members of the club in the back and front rows.


Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is once again encouraging supporters to sign up early for their Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2017 after another overwhelming response last year.

The event, which is not designed as a race, involves cycling through some of Dorset and Somerset’s most beautiful countryside and takes place on Sunday 14 May 2017.

Last year’s event sold out within three days of online registration being open and demand is expected to be even higher this year. The event saw cyclists of all ages and abilities take part raising over £70,000 for the life-saving charity.

Online registration will open at 9.30am on Tuesday 13 December, via the charity’s website: and, with only 600 places available, those wishing to take part will need to be quick to avoid disappointment. So why not set yourself a reminder now. We will also put one on our social media pages the day before. Participants can enter as an individual or as a team.

The Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge offers two different routes and distances. For those who like a challenge, the brilliant 54-mile cycle which starts in the Somerset port of Watchet and finishes at West Bay near Bridport will not disappoint.

With a mixture of quiet back roads, interspersed with some very demanding climbs and equally hairy descents, the event has something to offer for everyone! 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.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are thrilled to be able to announce the date for our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2017. This will be our seventh year in the saddle and every year the event seems to get better and better. I believe one of the main reasons for this is the feedback we get from those who take part and the stories of courage and determination along the way.

“We always strive to build on the success of the previous year and with this in mind we are once again restricting our numbers to 600 cyclists. We are also continuing with a staggered start time in order to keep the event as safe as possible and to encourage all standards of cyclists to take part without fear of being overcrowded.

“With such a demand, there will undoubtedly be those who are disappointed not to gain a place which is why I cannot stress enough, how important it is to register early! We are really looking forward to this years’ event and hope that everyone that enters will once again encourage their family and friends to sponsor them in a bid to make 2017 the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet.”

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has flown more than 11,500 missions since its launch in March 2000, saving many lives and aiding recovery with outstanding immediate care and rapid delivery to the hospital best suited to meet the patient’s needs. With no direct Government or National Lottery funding, we rely on the generosity of the public and events like Coast to Coast for support.

To register online, visit the charity’s website: or for more information call: 01823 669604. Alternatively you can email:

Entrance fees are: Adults (£20) & Under 16′s (£10).