HALSWAY MANOR OPENS ITS DOORS FOR HERITAGE DAYS

At the foot of the Quantock hills, not far from Crowcombe, lies an extraordinary historic building many do not realise is there. Now is your chance to discover this hidden gem, as Halsway Manor will be open to the public as part of Heritage Open Days 2018, on Friday 7 and Friday 14 September.

On a day-to-day basis Halsway Manor operates as the National Centre for Folk Arts, offering residential courses in traditional music, dance, song, crafts and more, welcoming artists and guests from all over the UK, Europe and beyond.

As part of Heritage Open Days, the charity is offering members of the public the opportunity to visit this beautiful Grade 2* listed manor and access rooms normally closed to the public. Through newly installed interpretation, visitors will learn about the manor’s fascinating history from the Domesday Book, to the current building’s origins in the fifteenth century, from eccentric past residents, to its current status full of interesting creative goings on. Families are welcome and there will be special souvenir story and activity packs for children. There are six acres of beautiful gardens and grounds that visitors are also welcome to explore.

Alice Maddicott is the Creative Lead for an ongoing Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Future Halsway’ project, and has been instrumental in the creation of new interpretation materials at the Manor. She says,”We’re really excited to be able to welcome new visitors to discover Halsway and the fascinating history of this beautiful house and area. We really hope people enjoy exploring the house – including the library, great hall and grounds, plus one or two of the more interesting bedrooms too!”

The house will be open to visitors from 10.30am to 3pm, with free parking available onsite. Refreshments will not be available, but visitors are welcome to bring their own – why not bring a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn?

For more information please contact: creative@halswaymanor.org.uk Fancy making a day of it? Other Heritage Open Days properties in the Quantock / West Somerset area include: Halswell House, Dunster Castle, North Hill on the Radar, St John the Baptist church, Carhampton. For more information visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts.

THREE RECENT NEWS RELEASES FROM ILFRACOMBE RNLI

Ilfracombe RNLI has been having a busy time of it recently. Here are three stories which they have released in the last week or so…

Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat assists exhausted single-handed sailor

Ilfracombe RNLI all-weather lifeboat (ALB) launched at 3.35pm on Thursday 23 August to go to the assistance of an exhausted single-handed sailor.

The lone yachtsman was struggling to make headway towards a safe harbour in the three-metre waves and near gale-force wind. As he was suffering the effects of fatigue, he asked for assistance when the deteriorating weather halted his progress in the area of Copperas Buoy near Combe Martin.

The ALB Stormrider, on relief at Ilfracombe, immediately launched and reached the scene within ten minutes. Crew member Andy Day was placed aboard the vessel to connect a tow line. The yacht was then towed back to the safety of Ilfracombe harbour.

Andrew Bengey, volunteer RNLI coxswain at Ilfracombe, said: “This was an unfortunate position for the casualty to find themselves in. The weather had been deteriorating throughout the day and he had simply become exhausted attempting to fight through it.

“The casualty was carrying a means of calling for help which meant he could contact the Coastguard as soon as he required assistance. The RNLI always advises that you carry a VHF radio and preferably a waterproof one. We also ask that you check the weather and tide conditions before you set off and get regular updates if you’re planning to be out for any length of time.”

PHOTO: The single-handed sailor being towed to safety (courtesy RNLI).

Busy night for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboats

Just the next evening, on 24 August, the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) and inshore lifeboat (ILB) were launched to two separate incidents.

The ALB Stormrider was launched at 10.15pm on Friday evening to a 41ft-motor cruiser which had become overwhelmed by the five-metre seas and very strong wind in the area of Foreland Point near Lynmouth.

The three people on board were exhausted and suffering the effects of seasickness, so volunteer crew member Matt Glubb was placed aboard the vessel to attach a tow line. The vessel was then towed the some 16 miles back to Ilfracombe harbour and secured to a mooring in the outer harbour.

Half an hour after the ALB was launched, the ILB Deborah Brown II was launched to a yacht that had run aground in the outer harbour. Due to the dropping tide, the yacht was beginning to list heavily so a tow line was attached to the vessel to attempt to pull it free from its position.

However, the yacht was too far aground to be towed clear so the volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew stayed with the single-handed yachtsman over low water to ensure his safety and that his yacht refloated without damage. As soon as there was enough water, the yacht was then towed clear of the beach and safely anchored.

Chris Wallis, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Ilfracombe, said: “This was a busy night for our volunteer crew at Ilfracombe and they faced some very adverse conditions. The RNLI always advises that you check the tide times and weather conditions before setting off on any venture and always carry a means of calling for help.”

Meet the final #RNLITopDog Louie!

Louie, a collie cross, is reminding dog owners what to do if their dog does get into difficulty at the coast.

The RNLI, with Louie’s help, is asking dog owners to remember never to paddle after their dog if it swims out too far. Instead, move to a place the dog can reach safely and call them – most can and will get to safety on their own. If not, however, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Simon Hannaford, RNLI community safety officer, said: “Often when a dog does get into difficulty, the owners want to help them but, in doing so, put themselves into more danger. We ask that you never enter the water after your furry friend but instead call for help.”

In June, two visitors to Whistand Bay in Cornwall did just that after their dog Barney became cut off by the tide chasing seagulls. Barney’s owners immediately contacted the lifeguards on duty for assistance instead of attempting to reach him themselves.

Due to the weather conditions, the only way to reach Barney was by boat so RNLI lifeguards Charlie Gillett and Joe Saunders immediately launched the inshore rescue boat (IRB) to bring Barney back to safety ashore.

Charlie, RNLI lifeguard supervisor for the area, says: “Barney’s owners here acted exactly as we advise and, instead of going in after Barney, called us for assistance. This incident was a lucky escape for Barney as the tide was coming in very quickly.”

Louie’s fellow #RNLITopDog Buddy advises dog owners to always check the tide times and weather conditions before setting off to save getting caught out. The first #RNLITopDog Dash reminded dog owners to take the lead; when walking near cliff edges always keep your dog on a lead.

Simon continues: “This is the last campaign picture featuring our three #RNLITopDogs so please share their posts across your social media channels to spread these important messages throughout the south west. Please remember that, here at the RNLI, we think you’re a top dog so don’t risk your life.”

 

 

TEAM CALVERT MAKES WAVES AT SUPERHERO TRI

Three teams from Calvert Trust Exmoor participated in the Superhero Tri recently at Dorney Lake in Windsor, rubbing shoulders with the world of Paralympians and raising valuable funds for the North Devon charity that offers outdoor activity breaks for people with disabilities.

The second annual running of the event saw some 2,500 participants take to the water, wheels and heels to compete in this unique competition that focuses on disability. Each team of three must include at least one person with a disability.

Regular Wistlandpound guest Daisy Gregory, 14, who has Down syndrome, completed all parts of the Sprint section with her sidekicks as helpers. She was also chosen to be part of 2012 and 2016 Paralympics gold medalist Jonnie Peacock’s Superhero Team.

“I had an amazing time, made some lovely new friends and loved being in Jonnie Peacock’s celebrity team!” said an extremely happy Daisy following the event.

Jonnie Peacock is a huge advocate of the Superhero Tri: “What sets this event apart is the fact that it is all inclusive, absolutely everyone can take part. It’s not restrictive in any way and there are no real rules or regulations about it either.”

Calvert Trust Exmoor’s Events and Corporate Fundraiser, Daisy Hockin, expressed delight that David Fraser from Truro joined one of the teams: “David has cerebral palsy, and did a marvellous job completing the 10km cycle on a recumbent bike.”

David first visited the centre some 20 years ago on a work placement and recently got involved with the fundraising team.

“I felt thrilled to be part of the team,” David said. “As a guest, I have witnessed first hand the great work that goes on at Calvert Trust Exmoor, so I’m chuffed to be able to help out. Now I’m looking forward to getting involved in other events too, like the Spooky Cycle along the Tarka Trail in October.”

Calvert’s third team came from the Stables, led by supervisor Kerri Marangone, London-based Martin Green, and long-standing Stables volunteer JoJo Charman:

“This was my second time competing for Calvert Trust Exmoor at the Superhero Tri,” JoJo said. “This year’s event was certainly a step up from last year in terms of numbers, and we’re all looking forward to bringing even more Calvert teams to Windsor in 2019.”

After successfully completing the event (some more than once), participants were presented with their Superhero medals and plenty of opportunity for photos to celebrate their achievements.

On top of the £1,000 raised by ‘Team Calvert,’ celebrity team captain and paraplegic adventurer Shaun Gash later dropped by the Calvert Trust Exmoor marquee to present a cheque for £750 following his team’s climb of Ben Nevis in the summer.

You can watch the best of the @SuperheroTri 2018, the UK’s only disability triathlon, on Saturday 1st September on Channel 4 at 11.30am.

PHOTO: Calvert Trust Exmoor Superhero Tri Team Jonnie Peacock including Daisy Gregory supported by Mum Lynn and Dad Paul.

AWARD FOR EXMOOR’S WOODLANDS

Exmoor National Park has won a prestigious Royal Forestry Society (RFS) Excellence in Forestry Award for its sustainable approach to woodland management and involvement of community groups*. It complements a new Government accord announced last week that aims to expand and enhance woodland in National Parks**.

Moor Wood near Minehead is being slowly transformed by the National Park’s woodlands team using a technique called Continuous Cover Forestry, which harnesses the ability of woodlands to naturally regenerate.

The small temporary gaps created when carefully selected trees are felled  provides a stable habitat for a variety of woodland species, such as birds, butterflies and fungi, whilst allowing commercially viable amounts of timber to be harvested sustainably. This avoids the need for large-scale felling, which takes several decades to regenerate and generally involves uniform plantations that are more vulnerable to environmental pressures.

Graeme McVittie, Senior Woodland Conservation Officer for Exmoor National Park, said: “It’s great to get this kind of recognition for the work we’re doing to make Exmoor’s woodlands more resilient in the face of modern day threats from pests, disease and climate change. We’ve witnessed the loss of elm and larch in our woodlands, and are now losing horse chestnut and ash. Storms and drought have caused further damage and other diseases threaten our oaks and sweet chestnut. So it’s vital that we do all we can to prepare these places for the future.”

The Certificate of Merit was also awarded for the National Park’s commitment to creating opportunities for local communities enjoy and benefit from Exmoor’s woodlands.

Woodcombe Community Woodland is a project initiated by Forum 21, an environmental group in West Somerset.  It leases an area of woodland from the National Park to produce seasoned firewood to help local people in fuel poverty, with the help of local volunteers.
Graham Boswell who leads the project for Forum 21, said: “It’s great to see our idea for a community woodland brought to life through our ongoing partnership with the National Park. The next few years will be crucial in terms of developing a workforce with the necessary woodland skills, but we’re all up for the challenge and excited by the potential benefits for the whole community.”

Rob Wilson-North, Head of Conservation and Access at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Exmoor’s diverse woodlands are truly special, providing a rich haven for nature, from some of the country’s rarest birds, butterflies and bats, to seldom seen lichens, liverworts and mosses. But they’re also an important part of the local economy, providing timber and recreational opportunities, along with a host of public benefits, including educational opportunities, carbon storage and flood alleviation. Balancing these priorities isn’t always easy, but this award is a sure sign we’re on the right track.”

Presenting the Awards, RFS President Andrew Woods, said: “The Excellence in Forestry Awards have once again revealed a rich seam of excellence in woodland management – from some of the most prestigious estates in the country to some of the smallest of woodlands. As landowners and woodland managers look to an uncertain future with increasing climate and environmental challenges, these are all woodlands we can learn from.

“It is also uplifting to see the fantastic work that is being carried out among communities to encourage forestry and woodland skills. These projects tap into the enthusiasm of those who will be planning, planting and managing our woodlands in the future as well as looking at how timber can be used in construction for generations to come and deserve the recognition they receive.”

CAN YOU HELP GIVE WATCHET THE RECOGNITION IT DESERVES

A new survey asking the Watchet residents to ‘Help get Watchet’s amazing community spirit recognised’ is being run by Watchet’s Coastal Community Team. They will be bidding to take part in the second round of the government’s Place-Based Social Action programme, and, if successful, will be able to apply for funding to deliver community projects. To understand what problems people would like to address, and ideas they might have in solving these difficulties, the survey will be distributed to every household in Watchet over August asking the following questions:

  1. What do you think the main difficulties here are?
  2. What ideas do you have for local people getting together to help make life better or easier here?
  3. Tell us the ways in which people and the community already help each other?

The survey can also be accessed online by following this link: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CCTSocialAction

As a thank you for contributing, the CCT are offering a prize draw of £100 to a community group or organisation, nominated by those who complete the survey.

Watchet Coastal Community Team is one of only 20 partnerships countrywide to be selected for the Place-Based Social Action programme. The project aims to show how strong community action can help solve the kinds of difficulties in the town that prevent it from flourishing as it should. These difficulties might range from isolation in older people, to a lack of opportunities for young people, or even more day-to-day issues such as dog mess and littering. Ideas for how people can get together to help solve these difficulties as a strong community can then be put forward in a bid in October 2018, and, if successful, could win funding to help deliver those ideas. The initiative is funded by Big Lottery Fund and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Watchet CCT chairman, Cllr Peter Murphy says: “Our community spirit here in Watchet is something to be really proud of, and we intend to celebrate it at a national level. In this project we also plan to make the most of that energy by directing it towards helping to solve some of the more serious problems here. We believe that the combination of community action and local services working in collaboration has potential to achieve great things and we are excited to see how this project develops. Please do take part in the survey and help make this project a success.”

Watchet Coastal Community Team is a partnership organisation made up of 30 local organisations, businesses, community groups and Town, District and County Council. The team work collaboratively to help further initiatives that help to benefit the town both economically and socially. To find out more visit: www.watchetcct.co.uk.

Or for more information contact Georgie Grant: Secretary, Watchet Coastal Community Team Georgie@onioncollective.co.uk/ 07940 950396.

MAN FINED FOR TOMBSTONING FROM ILFRACOMBE HARBOUR

This is a press release issue by North Devon Council

North Devon Council has successfully prosecuted a man for ‘tombstoning’ from Ilfracombe Harbour.

 On 31 July magistrates at Barnstaple heard that Luke Harris, aged 24 of Oliver Road, Barnstaple, had been seen naked and in full view of families and children on South Quay on Sunday 8 July. He ignored requests by the Deputy Harbourmaster to get dressed, and instead jumped into the water five metres below. Two other young men were also swimming in the harbour, and all were shouting and swearing.

As a result of his actions, which were in contravention of the swimming byelaw that exists at the harbour, Mr Harris was fined £250 and ordered to pay the victim’s surcharge of £30 and £60 costs.

Ilfracombe Harbourmaster, Georgina Carlo-Paat, says: “Not only is tombstoning in the harbour extremely dangerous, it is also against the law. Jumping from the harbour walls may seem like good fun, but people who do this are risking their own lives. The harbour structures themselves can be dangerous, with chains and protrusions that can cause injury before someone has even hit the water. The water depth alters with the tide and water may be shallower than it seems, with submerged objects like rocks beneath the water. Boats and ships come in and out of the harbour all the time, and currents can be strong, even when the water appears calm.

“The risk is even higher when the participants have been drinking heavily. I hope that this prosecution sends out a clear message to the public that tombstoning will not be tolerated at the harbour; together with the police and CCTV evidence, we will continue to monitor this behaviour and tackle it before somebody gets seriously hurt, or worse.”

The penalty for jumping off the harbour can be up to a £1,000 fine upon prosecution.

CHASING THE GHOST BY PETER MARREN

We are proud to have Peter Marren among our expert panel of writers. Here is a little review of his latest book – as featured recently on Radio 4 – which his friend and fellow contributor to our mag, Rosemary FitzGerald, penned for us. The book is available locally in Number Seven Dulverton and from Brendon Books in Taunton. If you, too, are a local bookseller and you stock this title please let us know and we will mantion you also, as we struggled to obtain a list of local sellers.

Peter Marren, Chasing the Ghost (2018). Square Peg. 286pp. £16.99.

Most of us who love the countryside have this strongly grounded in
childhood memories, and many, like me, retain a gently competitive
collector’s instinct about nature. Special sightings of bird or animal, the earliest date for catkins or frogspawn, seeing a new species of wild flower – all these are notable, small treasures added to a lifetime store, and it’s a wild flower quest which inspired this delightful book.

Readers will remember Peter Marren’s ‘Fungi at Your Fingertips’ (Exmoor Magazine, Autumn 2017). An admired and respected natural history writer, he is a good friend of many places and people in Somerset. His fascinating memoir (Where the Wild Thyme Blew) showed the sometimes hard road to becoming a dedicated naturalist. Chasing the Ghost shows his deep knowledge and love of plants, and a great capacity for fun! A lucid style and a quirky, entertaining viewpoint make it a great adventure story. Imagine The Famous Five Go Botanising and you’ll get the mood of this most original quest.

However, the subtitle may mislead at first glance. In fact, the author has already seen almost all of them, but decided to challenge himself to finish ticking off his final 50 never-seen species in one year. The framework of that bold decision comes from a significant West Country connection. Probably the most influential popular flora publication ever, The Concise British Flora in Colour, was by a Devon vicar, W. Keble Martin, and was illustrated with his exquisite watercolours. First published in 1965, it was a best seller, and drew countless people to wild flowers. The British flora has around 1,500 species, and ‘Keble Martin’, as the book is affectionately known, deals with a solid core of them, excluding the more difficult reaches of subspecies and varieties. Peter always used his copy to tick off plants new to him, youthful family holiday finds progressing to the wide range seen when working in plant conservation. Feeling he had time to spend on an extended adventure, he decided to hunt down the final tantalising rarities shown in this seminal book. This challenge gives the structure for this charming story.

Each plant has its own section, with an elegant line drawing and gripping account of each particular search. Some days were easy and sunny with good company and the plant located and looking perfect. Others involved terrible times, in frightening thunder on a mountain, being stuck on a Hebridean island through the pain of family bereavement, a diagnosis of serious illness – but the author’s good humour and spirit, and the wonderful nature of the quest, make this book both exciting and inspirational as one follows Peter’s every step, willing the target plant to be in flower for him that day!

Among the adventures there are some powerful conservation messages. Our threatened flora needs informed supporters, and Chasing the Ghost seems a wonderful way of encouraging serious thought in the guise of a perfect holiday or bedtime read. It’s a delightful book.

Rosemary FitzGerald

PHOTO: Editor’s own.

KINGS HALL FAMILY TACKLE THREE PEAKS FOR CANCER

A family from King’s Hall School recently completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge for Cancer Research UK.

Former King’s Hall pupils Harriet and Tom Kittow, along with their younger sister Anna, a current Year 4 pupil at the school, tackled the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, all in under 12 hours.

Diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012, thirteen-year-old Harriet wished to raise money for those suffering from the disease.

Joined by family and friends, the trio completed the challenge in 11 hours 17 minutes, raising a fantastic £1,700 for the deserving charity.

The family are particularly thankful to the King’s Hall community, who have shown their support over the past six years.

In 2013, a number of King’s Hall parents undertook the National Three Peaks Challenge, raising money for CLIC Sargent, a leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families.

Victoria Kittow, Harriet’s mother and Year 2 teacher at King’s Hall, said: “Harriet was diagnosed when she was in Year 2. She faced all of her treatment at King’s Hall and everyone was kind and supportive during those years.”

She added: “We are extremely proud of Harriet, Tom and Anna, and hope that their determination and spirit will influence others to get involved in similar life-changing challenges.”

 

WANTED: 100 PEOPLE, 100 STORIES

To celebrate the new Long Bridge Extension and complement the museum’s current project ‘North Devon in 100 objects’, the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is setting a challenge to find 100 local people to contribute their stories of life in North Devon to be preserved in 100 one-minute documentary films.

The extension, which is currently being built, will house a new social history gallery.  An exciting feature of the gallery will be the installation of a campervan cinema.  This micro cinema will be created from a vintage VW campervan and will house an interactive screen and comfortable seating where visitors can select and view short films mirroring the themes of the social history gallery.

The 100 mini documentaries will be created by staff and volunteers at the Museum but first they need… YOU!

Amanda McCormack from North Devon Moving Image, the project partner, says “People often think that their stories are insignificant.  They think they would not be interesting to others, but think of all the stories you might have heard your grandparents and parents tell you about their earlier lives.  Those gems of stories could be lost in the passage of time but these short snapshot films will create a valuable and entertaining archive.”

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says:  “Creating a social history of North Devon and its residents is a wonderful way to preserve memories.  This project is similar to a visual time capsule which can be enjoyed for many years to come.  Please do get in touch with the museum if you would like to share your stories and pass them down to future generations to help them understand what living in North Devon was like in the earl-twenty-first century.”

What the Museum is looking for are anecdotes about life in North Devon and because these will be told on film they need a visual element to the story.  So, do you know a local ‘character’ who might like to be interviewed, who represents life in North Devon?  Do you have memories you would like to share or stories passed down through generations?  Have you kept your old school reports and maybe your school uniform?  Do you have a collection of artefacts you can show to the camera and talk about – maybe locally made toys, clothing, machinery or household objects?

If you or someone you know would be ideal for the 100 mini documentaries please get in touch with the museum team on 01271 346747 or email museum@northdevon.gov.uk.

PHOTO: Daisy Tucker of Combrew Farm, Bickington, delivering milk in Draceana Avenue, Sticklepath, to Mrs Teape and her daughter Sandra in 1946. This image was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Exmoor Magazine, in an article about memories of milk rounds in and around Barnstaple, written by Avril Stone.

DARK SKY DESTINATIONS RELEASES SHORT FILM EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF EXMOOR STARGAZING

Budding stargazers and astrophotographers can learn about the magic of Exmoor’s night skies thanks to a new short film released by West Country course provider, Dark Sky Destinations.

The five-minute film has been produced to give visitors to Exmoor, and potential course attendees, an idea of why the region is so special for astronomy.

To watch the film you can visit the Dark Sky Destinations website www.darkskydestinations.com/ or view it on Vimeo at vimeo.com/283467668.

On 8 September, Dark Sky Destinations will be holding its first astrophotography course on Exmoor.

Led by astronomer Will Gater, the evening course – entitled “An introduction to nightscape astrophotography” – will explore the art and science of how to capture beautiful nightscape photos with a DSLR camera. If the weather is good, the course will finish with a guided practical workshop under Exmoor’s exquisitely dark night skies where delegates will have a chance to put what they’ve learnt into practice with their own equipment.

A small number of spaces are left on the September course, so if you don’t want to miss out book your place via www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-nightscape-astrophotography-tickets-44449838664 (booking in advance is required).

Photo by Will Gator.