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.




Local people who are considering a career working with young people are being given a special opportunity to volunteer at YHA ‘s Summer Camps in 2017 to gain vital experience and boost their CV.

Youth Hostelling charity YHA (England and Wales) is calling on people to volunteer at its popular week-long GoXtreme and Action Adventure residential Summer Camps which are held during July and August.

As well as the opportunity to work with 10-16 year olds, YHA will provide training in safeguarding and behaviour management as well as food, accommodation and travel expenses throughout the volunteering experience.

The volunteering opportunity is open to anyone who is 18 and has had any previous experience working with children. They must be available to have a DBS check as well as be available for a week or preferably two weeks in July and August. Volunteers must also be available to undergo a residential training course on the 14 and 15 July.

YHA Summer Camps give young people the chance to be independent, try outdoor experiences, grow in confidence and make new friends. Each year hundreds of young people attend YHA Summer Camps at Youth Hostels in Edale and Ravenstor in Derbyshire, St Briavels in Gloucestershire, Okehampton in Devon and the South Downs in Sussex. The Summer Camps are an action-packed five days, featuring activities such as rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, weaselling, archery and quad biking.

Crewenna Dymond, Head of Volunteering at YHA (England and Wales), commented: “As YHA is a charity, volunteers are essential to enable us to create these unique and memorable experiences. Volunteering to help at YHA Summer Camps is a uniquely rewarding experience for anyone, but particularly people who are considering a career that involves working with young people. However, the camps are as fun-packed for the volunteers as they are for the children and we always get great feedback.”

The closing date for applications to become a YHA Summer Camps volunteer is 22 May 2017. To find out more about volunteering, visit jobs.yha.org.uk/volunteer/   or apply here jobs.yha.org.uk/volunteering-form .


Devon Air Ambulance is passionate about investing in its staff.  They believe that the team can only be as good as its skill sets, so actively encourages all staff to undertake training and development to help them carry out their roles to the best of their ability.

Recently the charity was nominated for the Education and Training Skills Employer of the Year Award by Catherine Walker, Fundraising Administration Assistant.  The Annual Apprentice and Employer of the Year Awards ceremony is held during National Apprenticeships Week, which was also celebrating ten years of the National Apprenticeships Scheme.

Catherine said, “I joined Devon Air Ambulance in November 2015, as a temp.  My role was made permanent in March 2016.  I’m privileged to be part of such an amazing dedicated team and forward-thinking charity.”

She added, “The charity has helped me in so many ways, from helping me to gain confidence on the phone, to helping me improve and update my knowledge and encouraging me to push myself to succeed in things that I am less confident in.”

Caroline Creer, Fundraising Director of Devon Air Ambulance, said “Investing in the training and development of our team is extremely important to us.  It’s essential whatever your business that your team has the right skills to be able to do their job.  When Cat asked if she could further her knowledge, by undertaking the Advanced Apprenticeship in Business Administration, we were delighted. This apprenticeship includes the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration, and Functional Skills Level 2 in English, Maths and ICT. Cat has recently passed her ICT exam.”

Caroline added, “We were delighted that Cat decided to nominate us for this award and honoured to be highly commended in the Employer of the Year category, which recognises the charity as supporting lifelong learning within the workplace.”




Some of Somerset’s most dazzling and inspiring wildlife gardens are opening to the public this summer to fundraise for Somerset Wildlife Trust, and inspire us to use our own gardens to help wildlife on our own doorstep

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wildlife Gardens’ is an initiative that will see a selection of Somerset’s finest examples of gardens specifically designed to support our wildlife opening their gates to the public.

The gardens, spread across the county, as well as being stunning in their own right, each showcase unique features that provide special homes for our best-loved species – from small mammals and pollinators, to birds and pond-dwellers. The Trust hopes to inspire visitors to take away ideas for things they can do in their own gardens, school playgrounds, or office gardens to provide a secure home for wildlife.

Whilst all of the participating gardens are very different, they each have one thing in common – owners who are passionate about their gardens and happy to open them in order to inspire others and to support the Trust’s work.  They will be on site, alongside Somerset Wildlife Trust staff, to offer advice and tips as well as delicious tea and cakes for visitors.  The entry fee is £4 per adult, (free for children aged 16 and under), and all hosts will donate the proceeds to Somerset Wildlife Trust to support its work across the county.

Emma Jones, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Community Fundraiser, explains, “56% of the UK’s species are in decline.  Our wildlife need pathways upon which to travel to and through the county in order to feed, breed and find new homes.  Our own gardens, whether large or small, in the town or in the country literally act as safe, green stepping stones for this to happen.  It’s the little things we do on our own doorsteps that can have a collective impact for wildlife and, whilst the Somerset Wildlife Gardens initiative showcase the very finest examples of wildlife friendly gardening, in each of them there are things that we can replicate in our own  space.

“Even if you are not a gardener at all, getting outside and connecting with nature is good for our health and well-being and the gardens are absolutely fabulous places to spend an enjoyable afternoon and a great way to get to know your local area, so please do come along to one near you.”

Here are the participating gardens (not in date order):

1. Sherborne Garden, Litton, Radstock, BA3 4PP
Host Pamela Southwell
May 21st 2017 at 10:30-17:00
Sherborne Garden is a romantic and enchanting garden, with a peaceful and timeless feel.  Created from agricultural land, and spreading over four acres, it’s a true labour of love. Come along to wander across the striking bridge and explore the winding paths – perfect for children to scamper along and to find secret hideaways in unusual trees.

2. Ball Copse Hall, Brent Knoll, Highbridge, TA9 4DF
Host Sue Boss
July 2nd 2017 at 12:00-17:00
Ball Copse Hall boasts one of the most breath-taking views of the Quantock and Polden Hills in the County. It is easy to understand why it was chosen as a military hospital in the war, as the hope was that the views would heal all. Thanks to the rare ‘crinkle-crankle’ walled garden which provides a warmer temperature, there are some unusual plants to be found, such as a huge kiwi tree from New Zealand. You’ll also find a wildlife pond, home to great-crested newts, and beehives nestled under the beech trees.

3. Broomclose, Porlock, Minehead, TA24 8NU
Hosts David and Nicky Ramsay
17th and 18th June at 13:00-17:00
Broomclose is a stunning Arts and Craft house with a garden classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is divided into idyllic pockets, from the Camelia Walk to the vegetable garden, and has a stunning view over the Vale of Porlock. As there is a milder eco-climate here you will also find unusual sub-tropical trees and plants.  It has been described as “bee heaven” by local beekeepers due to the huge array of bee-friendly plants, and you will be able to see the bees and their hives in the garden.  David, garden host and passionate beekeeper, will be around to answer your questions on this incredibly important aspect of conservation.

4. Model Farm, Perry Green, Wembdon, Bridgwater TA5 2BA
Hosts Dave and Roz Young
9th July at 13:00-17:00
Model Farm is a beautiful four-acre garden that has been lovingly created in the last seven years.  You can explore the wonderful wild flower meadow, stunning flower beds and the incredible 700 trees, which  have all been planted  by the owners on what was once agricultural land.  Don’t forget to find the fabulous wildlife pond too. On the day there won’t only be the chance to wander through this amazing garden, but you can explore the plant sale, display of vintage engines and  local cider makers, as well as  get involved in croquet on the lawn.

5. The Miller’s House, Nunney, Nr Frome, BA11 4NP
Host Caroline Toll
May 27th at 11:00 to 16:00
If you would like to see a beautiful wildlife pond then don’t miss the chance to come to the tranquil garden at Miller’s House, where you will find an atmospheric mill pond which is often visited by  dragonflies. The Miller’s House is set in a small valley near the fabulous Nunney Castle.  You can take a wander along the wild paddock at the bottom of the garden next to the river, from the leat to Nunney Brook, where you can find a perfect paddling spot and a ‘Butterfly bank’ – an amazing bank on the river covered in wildflowers and grasses.

6. Vellacott Cottage Garden, Lawford, Crowcombe, TA4 4AL
Hosts Kevin and Pat Chittenden
June 4th at 13:00-16:00

see photo at top

As featured in the summer 2017 issue of Exmoor Magazine, out mid-May

Vellacott is the archetypal Cottage Garden. The surrounding Quantocks and Brendon Hills make Vellacott feel like a floral oasis, a paradise for all wildlife.  Paths lead you through abundant plants, up to the top where you can find peep holes in the hedges to enjoy the spectacular views – and along the way find the very contented chickens too. Around the garden you will discover many salvaged, historic gardening relics including a Shepherd’s hut that Kevin and Pat are renovating.  Vellacott is a peaceful, joyous space.

7. Hillcrest Garden, Curload, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton TA3 6LA
Hosts Charlotte and Charles Sundquist
June 24th and 25th at 14:00 to 17:00
Hillcrest is a five-acre garden with so many special places within it that everyone can find a perfect spot to sit and contemplate, although the lawn is said to be perfect for cartwheels! It has incredible far reaching views overlooking the Somerset Levels, where you will spot Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump – although Hillcrest has its own standing stone that you can get up close to. Don’t miss the chance to visit the very large wild flower meadow leading down to an enormous wildlife pond, full of dragonflies and beehives – with a bee expert on hand to answer any questions you may have about the essential garden visitors.

8. Bracondale Garden, Staplehay, Trull, TA3 7HB
Host – Richard & Jackie Denton-Cox
May 14th at 12:00-17:00
Bracondale is a wildlife haven in Staplehay with a wonderful pond full of frogs, and a meadow that will be in full bloom in time for your visit. You will also find an array of stunning trees including, Persian Ironwood, Redwood, Chinese Tulip tree and Blackgum.

9. Badbury Flowers, Badbury Dairy House, Isle Abbots, TA3 6RS
Host Helen Toon
11th June at 11:00 to 15:00
Badbury Dairy House is a Flower Farm, and Helen the host, is a flower farmer. Helen supplies brides to country markets with stunning floral displays created from her own flowers grown from seed. Come along and be inspired by beautiful home grown flowers – and there’s also the chance to take away your own posy!


Following the recent request for wildlife sightings, there have been more than 60 recorded on the Exmoor National Park’s Wild Watch pages.

Ali Hawkins from Exmoor National Park says: “Many thanks to everyone who has joined in with Exmoor Wild Watch and recorded their findings so far. The earliest cuckoo recorded this year was on 11 April, one day earlier than last year, so please let us know if and when you hear one as they should be calling for a few more weeks yet.

“Places to hear cuckoos on Exmoor usually include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post, but wherever you hear or see one, please record your sightings.

“Also spotted for the first time on Exmoor was a tree bumblebee, so please keep an eye out and let us know if you see one of these and where you saw it. As it gets warmer, another species to look out for is the beautiful gold-ringed dragonfly, the largest insect in the country.”

The place to record any sightings of these species and more is by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch where you can also get involved by joining a Wild Watch training event.”

Spotter guides and a family wildlife leaflet can be picked up at National Park Centres at Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster.

PHOTO: Golden-ringed dragonfly by Nigel Stone.