GOLDEN TIMES FOR THE SWAN IN BAMPTON AS IT RECEIVES MORE ACCOLADES

The team at an award-winning Devon pub are celebrating this week (December 10, 2018) after receiving more prestigious plaudits and acknowledgements for their food and hospitality.

The Swan, Bampton, retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

Donna’s husband and co-owner of the gastropub with rooms, Paul Berry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. November was a very special month for us and these awards and accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers.

“We’re super proud of Donna, who was a finalist in not one, but two, major industry awards this autumn. She was up against some of the South West’s best chefs in the Best Chef category in the Trencherman Awards 2019 and it was amazing she was in the top three.

“The other three contenders for the title were Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant, Penzance, Jude Kereama from Kota, Porthleven, and Matthew Beardshall from Wilder in Nailsworth. Jude was crowned the overall winner, but Donna did incredibly well to be listed with these three heavyweights of the culinary world. They are no strangers to the spotlight and you may have seen Jude recently on TV when he just lost out to Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney Wick in London during the Great British Menu.

“Donna was also a finalist in Devon Life’s Best Chef of the Year and narrowly missed out on the top spot to another worthy, local contender: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms in Tiverton. So, it’s been a fabulous November for us and we couldn’t be more delighted with being finalists in these two awards.

“We’re also celebrating another major accolade, as we’ve been awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and have also retained our AA Four Star Gold Inn status, so we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Two Rosettes are awarded to restaurants that display a consistency in their approach, precision in their cooking and obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.

AA Hotel Services’ Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, James Hartley, said: “Congratulations to Paul, Donna and all the team. This is deserved success based upon commitment, consistency and quality. The Swan continues to offer an engaging combination of impressive cuisine, genuine hospitality and cosseting bedrooms, all contributing to a rewarding guest experience.”

The Swan has also received some more good news recently relating to the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards.

Paul added: “We’ve found out that we’re in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub listing for 2019 for the third year running but will not find out our actual placing until January at the official awards event. The top 50 is a big thing for us as it’s recognition on a national level from colleagues within the industry.”

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

“Once again it’s been a wonderful year for us. We’d like to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the pub, everyone is part of this.”

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.
 

SUCCESS AT WESTCOUNTRY EQUINE FAIR

The Westcountry Equine Fair held at Westpoint, Exeter, on 1 and 2 December was a great success for both exhibiting companies and the many competitors and displays taking part.

This year organisers, Contour Exhibitions, saw a fantastic increase in the number of entries to the various competitive events, highlighting the enjoyment people derive from the Fair.

Four Pony Club teams took part in the fast-paced Pony Club Horse & Hound Show Jumping Challenge, with Taunton Vale Harriers the winning team on Saturday 1st. Hattie Barnes riding Star from Tiverton Hunt Pony Club was the most stylish rider and Ruby Russo with Bess from Cotley Hunt Pony Club was the fastest runner. South Pool Pony Club were the winners on Sunday 2 December, with Poppy Burner riding Puff from South Pool Pony Club being the most stylish rider and Jasper Kolowski (Silverton Pony Club) being the fastest runner.

The unaffiliated Quadrille Competition is in its second year and the quality of performances was absolutely amazing. Cornwall Trec Group was the winning team this year with their theme Sister Act at the Moulin Rouge (see photo).

Imagine being a young rider competing in front of a large crowd. 14 youngsters did just that and they were amazing. The Junior Show Jumping Competition sees children 14 years and younger on ponies 13.2hh and under jump a course. Alfie Diaper, age 9, riding Buddy II, was first and also claimed the prize for the most stylish rider; Finlay Adams, age 13, riding Doylan Fairy Footsteps, was second and also best turned out; and Ella Stephens, age 11, riding Amees Flame, took third place.

The Best of the West theme ran through, with some amazing displays from stars from the West of England including John Chubb, Tim Cheffings and the Indoor Driving trials.

This year also saw a large number of new equestrian companies and new products at the show, as well as the old favourites. We look forward to seeing them all again in 2019.

The event is going from strength to strength and we are looking forward to more fun in 2019. The dates are Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December at Westpoint in Exeter.

Exmoor Magazine’s equine writer, Cindy Cowling, and her daughter Ellen had a great time! Cindy said, “The Westcountry Equine Fair never fails to deliver! The only equine fair in the West Country dedicated to the horse and rider, whether you go to watch one of the indoor Master Classes from some of the country’s top riders, or get up to speed with new innovations such as Husks ‘air technology’, this two-day event should be in every rider’s or equestrian enthusiast’s diary.”

 

HELP OUT AT ILFRACOMBE’S HILLSBOROUGH HILLFORT ACTION DAYS

We have just received this press release from North Devon Council about two action days at Hillsborough Hillfort. The first one is tomorrow (sorry for the late notice!) – and there are some spaces left!

North Devon Council is calling for volunteers to help at two action days at Hillsborough Local Nature Reserve.

A new project led by the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, invites volunteers to ‘adopt a monument’ and look after our precious local heritage.

On Wednesday 12 December, AONB staff, along with North Devon Council parks team, will be carrying out hands-on conservation work on Hillsborough Hillfort, one of the many Iron-Age monuments along the AONB coastline. Volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are invited to help reveal the ancient ramparts, currently hidden beneath the vegetation cover.

A further event is also planned for the new year, on Wednesday 13 February, for finishing up on winter tasks.

Executive Member responsible for Parks and Leisure, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the local community to get involved in the care of Ilfracombe’s historic landscape. If you haven’t been to Hillsborough Hill Fort before, this would be the ideal time to discover this amazing ancient monument right on our doorstep.”

Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, says: “This is a wonderful project that will enhance the historic, as well as natural environment of an already beautiful area. It should be an enjoyable and active day out, no experience is needed as training and support are provided.”

Heritage Officer at North Devon Coast AONB, Joe Penfold, says: “The Iron-Age hillfort on Hillsborough is at least 2,000 years old. As one of best examples of an Iron-Age ‘promontory hillfort’ in the area, it has stood the test of time, but still needs active management to help preserve it. As with many ancient monuments, erosion and scrub growth can take their toll, so hands-on help from local people is very much welcome. With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund our new project, ‘Coastal Heritage,’ is for people of all ages and backgrounds who want to learn about, and to help look after heritage, both at Hillsborough and other special places along the North Devon coast.”

The events start at 10.30am and finish at 3pm. Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear. All tools and refreshments will be provided.

To book your place on the conservation task day, please contact Joe Penfold on 01271 388644, or email: joe.penfold@devon.gov.uk. For further information about other Coastal Heritage volunteering and training opportunities throughout the AONB visit www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/events or follow us @explorethecoast

UNDER-16 RUGBY SQUAD ROW FOR WALES

Members of the King’s Under-16 rugby squad completed an epic rowing challenge recently in aid of Cancer Research UK. Staff and pupils travelled a total of 274km, the entire length of Wales, on a rowing machine in just 11.5 hours.

The idea was introduced to the group by the Under-16 coach Dafydd Jones as a means of accomplishing something off the pitch to dovetail with their impressive achievements through their rugby. The boys, along with fellow Under-16 coach Tristan Stone, immediately embraced the idea, suggesting a number of charities both locally and within the UK, before Cancer Research UK was selected ‘out of the hat’.

Following an early start, the boys showed grit and determination as they undertook the lengthy workout. As a result of their hard work, the team have already raised in excess of £1,400 for the charity, with donations still pouring in.

Commenting on the event, Dafydd said: “I am immensely proud of their efforts and the way in which they continually drove each other on throughout the event – their teamwork and commitment to the cause was inspiring.”

Well done to the following pupils who were involved: Joe Wark, Ryan Phillips, Joss Chippendale, Connor Morrall, Tommy Richardson-Jones, William Hall, Tom Newman, Ethan Jordaan, Jamie Glaisher, Jack Masters, Alex Dalton, Charlie Spurr, Billy Turner, Harry Blakey, Oliver Mathew, Sonny Baker, Mr Tristan Stone, Mr Dafydd Jones.

INDUSTRY AWARD FOR ILFRACOMBE’S HARBOURMASTER

Ilfracombe’s harbourmaster has picked up an internationally recognised award for services to the port and dredging industry.

Captain Georgina Carlo-Paat received the DPC (Dredging and Port Construction) Magazine Commendation for Services to the Industry Award at a ceremony last month, an achievement which highlights an outstanding individual who has made a positive impact and contribution to the industry.

The 2018 Dredging and Port Construction Awards promote innovation, efficiency and sustainability in the dredging industry. The industry is constantly evolving to keep pace with the wider maritime sector, introducing new, more environmentally friendly means of operations, incorporating new technology such as sensors and digitalisation, and also taking on more ambitious projects.

Georgina Carlo-Paat says: “It was an honour to receive this award and it was a privilege to be able to represent Ilfracombe Harbour at the award ceremony in the company of such internationally acclaimed people.”

Chief Executive of North Devon Council, Mike Mansell, says: “George is no stranger to achievement, which is why we were so pleased to appoint her as our harbourmaster. This award is well deserved, so many congratulations.”

Georgina has been in position as Ilfracombe’s harbourmaster for six months and is one of very few women who hold that role in the UK. She was one of the first of a new wave of women in the UK to become a Class 1 Master Mariner, which means she can sail any ship, of any size, anywhere in the world.

PHOTO: Georgina Carlo-Paat (centre) receiving her award (courtesy DPC Awards).

DARK SKIES POETRY COMPETITION WINNERS

Winners were announced last week of Exmoor National Park Authority’s Dark Skies Poetry competition. The poetry competition, which attracted over 300 entries, was part of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, which ran for two weeks at the end of October. Events including night walks, family discovery events and planetarium sessions, were attended by over 3,000 people.

Katrina Munro at Exmoor National Park Authority, who coordinated the festival, said: “We were delighted that so many people took the time to write and submit a poem. The tranquillity of the darkness, and the stars, moon and planets are such a source of inspiration for all ages. It’s important that people appreciate the significance of dark skies to our understanding of our place in the universe, as well as for our night-time creatures.”

Exmoor National Park is a designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Planning restrictions and lighting recommendations are used to help protect the area from any increases in light pollution, which can have an adverse effect on the environment and wildlife.

The entries were judged by poet Mark Totterdell, whose latest book of poems, Mapping, is available from www.indigodreams.co.uk. Mark said: “I enjoyed having the opportunity to read all these poems, and it was very hard to pick the winners from over 300 entries. Many of the poems contained striking images and memorable phrases that stuck in my mind and vividly transported me to the moor at night.”
There were ten winners spread over three age categories. As well as having their entries placed on public display in the National Park Centres at Lynmouth, Dulverton and Dunster, the poets will also receive a dark skies goody bag including a Glow in the Dark beanie hat from competition sponsors Sunday Afternoons UK and astronomy prizes from Astronomy Now magazine.

Winners in the under 11 category will also receive a signed copy of the newly published book Jacob Starke Loves The Dark, by Peta Rainford, who used to live on Exmoor. The book is on sale at the National Park Centres.

Rachel Rudd, who won a prize in the adult category, along with one of her pupils at Bampton School, where she teaches, said: “I’m really pleased to win a prize, it was great fun doing poetry with the children and watching their ideas blossom. They created some really inspiring poetry and I never thought in a light year that I’d win! It’s wonderful to share the applause with Jonah as he wrote such a great poem.”

The winners are:
·        Under 11s category – James Allenby from St Dubricius School, Porlock, Jonah Kettleborough from Bampton School, and Lyla Poole from Williton.
·        11-15s category – Zach Spelman and Beth Melton-Baguley, from Ilfracombe Academy, and Henry Earp, from Kings Hall Taunton.
·        Adult category – Angie Butler, from Penzance, David Tilley, from Withypool and Rachel Rudd, from Barnstaple.

PHOTO: Jonah Kettleborough, Bampton School, with Katrina Munro

THE EXMOOR SOCIETY CELEBRATES ITS FOUNDATION

The Exmoor Society, celebrating its 60th anniversary, recently returned to its roots at Simonsbath House Hotel, as it was here that the Society was formally founded, on 28 November 1958.

Simonsbath Lodge, as it was then called, was the home of John Coleman Cooke, the first Chairman of the Society. Trustees and members were entertained by a dramatic dialogue, written by Trustee Roger Watts, that brought alive the reasons for the formation of the charity. The President, Sir Antony Acland, proposed a toast to the Society, followed by a convivial and delicious buffet lunch.

In 1958, proposals to afforest The Chains, the central moorland area, were made public. The National Park had only just been designated, mainly because of its wild and remote moorland. Local people from the Barnstaple area and the Dunkery side of Exmoor and coastal communities were horrified at this idea. They decided to start a petition, backed by the North Devon Journal, which collected over 3,000 signatures and was successful in persuading the Forestry Commission to withdraw their plans. Dated 28 November 1958, The Sunday Times ran an article headlined ‘No Conifers for Exmoor’ and reported that an Exmoor Preservation Society was formed on 28 November 1958. A Society that could present alternative views to public bodies and encourage activities beneficial to Exmoor was the core purpose of the founding fathers.

Steven Pugsley, local District Councillor and member of the ENPA, outlined what he considered to be The Exmoor Society’s achievements today. He mentioned the series of studies which the Society has commissioned in relation to moorland, landscape, upland farming and natural capital all providing evidence to influence National Park policy. He emphasised the development of the new and prestigious Exmoor Resource Centre and the Exmoor Review, now in its 60th edition. He also referred to the Society’s Pinnacle Award for young entrepreneurs, encouraging new generations of young people to live and work on Exmoor, keeping it vibrant and alive. He described The Exmoor Society in 2018 as supportive, active, professional, visible and enjoyable, adding: “Today it is widely respected and in vigorous health.”

Find out more about the Exmoor Society on their website.