EASTER EVENTS AT ROSEMOOR

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Devon has teamed up with publisher Macmillan Children’s Books for an exciting programme of family fun during the Easter Holidays (6-22 April), based on The Rhyming Rabbit, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks.

The Rhyming Rabbit is a clever adventure from the picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, creators of What the Ladybird Heard and Sugarlump and the Unicorn. With brilliant rhyming verse, bright and distinctive illustrations, this story is a delight to read aloud.

Families can enjoy The Rhyming Rabbit Hop About Trail which will take them around the garden, meeting the Rhyming Rabbit’s animal friends along the way. Youngsters can also take part in craft activities such as the chance to make their very own rabbit headband. Other workshops will help families explore how animals live in the wild and in their gardens, how plants help to sustain them and what they can do to support wildlife of all kinds.

Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS, says: “The Rhyming Rabbit is a delightful tale of exploring the world around us and making new friends in unlikely places, and we are thrilled to be bringing the story to life in our gardens this Easter. Just like the character in the book, our visitors will discover all kinds of creatures and plants as they journey around the gardens.”

Alyx Price, Communications Director at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS again in 2019. Together we can introduce The Rhyming Rabbit and his friends to a wide audience this Easter and the activities promise to be great fun for all ages.”

Other activities taking place this Easter include: The Golden Carrot hunt when families can solve the clues leading to the location of the Golden Carrot on a map for a chance to win books and RHS prizes.

At the start of the school holidays on 6 and 7 April, Rosemoor is hosting a brand new event – Wool & Yarn Fest. This will include a wealth of traders and displays of products from talented local craftspeople as well as a number of demonstrations and workshops using these versatile materials. In addition, there will be young alpacas and spring lambs for all the family to meet.

On Tuesday 9 and 16 April, The Really Wild Learning Show with Kim Insull returns to Rosemoor with his collection of minibeasts and creatures to get up close with, some of which are laying eggs! This is a ticketed event (plus normal garden admission) and there is limited capacity of 30 children per show priced at £2.50 per child (aged 3yrs and over) and tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or phone 01805 626810.

BARNSTAPLE MAKES BID FOR HIGH STREET FUND

A new fund to revitalise High Streets across the UK opens this month and Barnstaple is making a bid for its share.

North Devon Council is working alongside Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM) to apply for the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which has been set up to regenerate high streets and make them fit for the future. The first round of applications opened on 22 March and the council will be submitting its strategic vision for the town centre, taking on board ideas put forward at the BTCM meeting earlier this month.

Councils across the country will be submitting similar bids and not everyone will be selected. However, if the initial bid is successful and Barnstaple gets through to the second stage of the process, there will be a wider consultation with local businesses and residents of the town to ensure the vision meets the needs and aspirations of the local community.

Matthew Brend, Chair of Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “We all know that our town centre is evolving. Unprecedented changes in shopping habits and the retail landscape mean that we need to think about what function we want our town centre to play in the future. Barnstaple Town Centre has traditionally been the heart of our community, the place where people come to meet and socialise but with the changes in retail and lifestyles we need to ensure that there are still reasons for people to come and spend time in the town and ensure that it remains at the heart for generations to come. BTCM look forward to playing a local leadership role in delivering real change.”

Hannah Harrington, Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, says: “The Future High Streets Fund is an exciting opportunity that could help us turn our visions into reality. This is an initial stage in a very competitive process and Barnstaple will be up against a large number of other towns, who will all produce their own proposals however we believe we have a strong vision and our own unique set of circumstances which will hopefully make our bid successful.”

North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration says: “This is an excellent opportunity for Barnstaple and any regeneration of North Devon’s largest town will also have a massive knock-on effect on the whole of the district. The High Street Fund isn’t about drawing down money to make the place look pretty, its for bold new visions, projects that will transform High Streets and make them fit for the future.”

If you would like to join Barnstaple Town Centre Management and put your forward your ideas for the town, contact Hannah Harrington (hannah@barnstaple.co.uk).

PHOTO: The Square, Barnstaple – Nos 3-7, built in 1844 by R.D. Gould of Barnstaple; Nos 1 & 2 were added in 1887. Photo by ‘Reading Tom’.

INSPIRATIONAL EXMOOR: EXMOOR SOCIETY SPRING CONFERENCE

The Exmoor Society’s 15th annual Spring Conference, in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority, has the theme of how natural beauty positively affects people’s wellbeing and will be held on 12 April 2019 at Dunster Tithe Barn.

2019 is the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act and celebrates how they are special places where nature and people over time have produced areas of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic values. The Government’s 25-year Environment Plan states that the creation of designated landscapes has been among the most outstanding environmental achievements of the past 100 years. At the same time, it has set up the Glover Review to see what changes are needed in delivering the National Park purposes and enhancing their environments and communities.

The conference will celebrate the British approach to the National Park concept by exploring what is inspirational about them and Exmoor in particular and how they contribute to the nation’s wellbeing from local to the national and international levels. National Parks have inspired people in the past and continue to do so today, and even though they face many challenges, there is hope for a richer future.

Dame Fiona Reynolds will open the conference by speaking about her recent book Fight for Beauty. As a member of the Glover Panel, her message and thoughts will be particularly pertinent. Peter Beacham OBE was responsible for the former English Heritage’s listing programme and will describe the significance of buildings in the landscape. He will be followed by Rob Wilson-North, Exmoor National Park Authority, Head of Conservation & Access, who will explore Exmoor’s unexpected delights.

Adrian Colston, researcher at Exeter University into the management of the natural environment, will discuss hill-farming in a time of change. Interlaced throughout the proceedings will be poems celebrating Exmoor’s farming life read by poet, Adam Horovitz, whose book The Soil Never Sleeps has been widely acclaimed.

The Society Chairman, Rachel Thomas, said: “National Parks were created because of their spectacular scenery, wide open spaces, rich wildlife and biodiversity, a rural culture stretching back to prehistoric times and their suitability for outdoor recreation. There is certainly much to celebrate about them and be inspired by places like Exmoor.”  The conference will close with further information on how Exmoor will be celebrating the 1949 Act.

The Spring Conference will be held on 12 April 2019 at Dunster Tithe Barn from 10am to 3pm and will include lunch. Further details and booking can be found on www.exmoorsociety.com or by telephoning The Exmoor Society on 01398 323335.

PHOTO by Jane A. Mares, from Exmoor Magazine

LORNA DOONE ANNIVERSARY EVENTS BEGIN IN APRIL

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by Victorian author R.D. Blackmore. This classic novel, set within the atmospheric Exmoor National Park, has never been out of print. Inspired by the natural beauty of the area, Blackmore’s love story includes historic events, such as The Great Winter and the Monmouth Rebellion, within the book as well as various local legends of the notorious Doones and the highway man Tom Faggus. The vivid descriptions of the most stunning, remote and rugged parts of Exmoor still apply today.

Throughout 2019 there will be a whole host of events to celebrate Lorna Doone and the special landscapes that gave rise to this ever-popular story. The focal point of this anniversary will be the Dulverton Heritage Centre who are holding a year-long exhibition starting in April. Curator Sue Baker explains, “The exhibition is a celebration of Lorna Doone; the author, story, setting and characters of this enduring love story.” She continues, “We’ve also included a feature on how Lorna Doone has been dramatised for stage, television and cinema, with stories of how local people have been involved.”

Visitors can explore the landscape that framed the book with a series of guided walks and talks from Wild About Exmoor throughout the summer. There is a family weekend taking place in Dulverton 29/30 June, complete with dramatic re-enactments. At Valley of Rocks, the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company are putting on outdoor theatre performances of Lorna Doone between 20 and 31 August as the sun sets.

The prestigious Two Moors Festival is also involved. The festival’s Artistic Director, Penny Adie, has commissioned a brand new work based on the well-loved story. The composition will be scored for solo voices, choir, instrumentalists and narrator and will be performed at All Saints Church in Dulverton on 12 October with professional musicians and students from Blundells School in Tiverton where Blackmore himself studied. Many other events are taking place.

Jennette Baxter, Marketing Manager for Visit Exmoor, welcomes the celebrations. “Many visitors are inspired to Visit Exmoor after reading Lorna Doone. This special anniversary allows us to highlight the contribution Blackmore’s novel has made to the area. We are delighted that businesses are taking the opportunity to commemorate the occasion. Visit Exmoor has produced a handy pocket guide as an introduction to some of the best places to visit to evoke those Lorna Doone moments.”

Visitors can check all event details and download a guide via www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk or pick up a leaflet at one of the three Exmoor National Park Centres in Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster.

Photo courtesy of Lycia Moore, Taunton Garrison

LYNMOUTH SINGERS PITCH IN TO HELP SAVE BRIDGE

A fundraising campaign to reinstate a much-missed footbridge in Exmoor National Park’s stunning East Lyn Valley, near Lynmouth, has soared past the £30K halfway mark following a flurry of support from local groups. This includes the all-female singing group, the LynTones, who generously donated all £680 of the proceeds from their 2018 performances.

Laura Whitfield from the LynTones said: “We’re a friendly community vocal group who just love to sing. Each year we pick a different cause to support, with the Woodside Bridge chosen last year. Many of us have grown up in the area and it’s great to be helping put back a piece of local history that means people can once again experience this lovely circular walk. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

The Lyn Community Development Trust (LCDT)’s Woodside Bridge Appeal aims to raise the £60K needed for a new bridge at Woodside, after the old one wore out and had to be removed in 2016. It will mean those out for a beautiful riverside stroll will once again be able to return to the town via a short circular route through Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of victims of the famous 1952 flood.

All donations, including any Gift Aid, are being match-funded by Exmoor National Park Authority until the end of March, with the Lyn Masonic Lodge, the Lyn Art and Craft Society, Sandra Collier and yoga group, plus many generous individuals among those to have donated recently.

The campaign has previously attracted support from Julia Bradbury, after the route featured in her hit TV series, ‘Britain’s Best Walks’ and online portal The Outdoor Guide, and also TV presenter Caroline Quentin, who took time to record a video appeal after finding out about the Bridge through her role as President of the Campaign for National Parks.

Suzette Hibbert, Director of the Lyn Community Development Trust, said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who has so far donated to our Woodside Bridge appeal, showing just how much it means to have this ancient walking route back in our community. It’s a cause that has won the backing of celebrities, locals and visitors alike and we’re proud to be helping save this unique piece of Lynmouth’s charm.”

The LCDT is arranging a series of fundraising events for 2019, including two National Trust guided walks exploring the flora and fauna of the East Lyn River on 13 April and 8 June, a joint event with the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall on 20 April to remember the historic overland launch of the Louisa lifeboat in 1899 and the flood disaster of 1952, and a Race Night at The Bath Hotel on Saturday 18 May. An event at Hunters Inn is also planned for later in the year. For more information and to book visit the Lynmouth National Park Centre, call them on 01598 752509 or email NPCLynmouth@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Building a new bridge from solid Exmoor oak would secure the future of Woodside Bridge once and for all, unlike previous softwood versions which have quickly worn out. We are delighted to help support the cause with our match-funding offer and hope it will mean thousands more can enjoy this magnificent woodland walk.”

Donate to the Woodside Bridge Appeal via CareMoor for Exmoor at  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor, in person at the National Park Centre in Lynmouth or for Gift Aid via the LCDT at wonderful.org/appeal/woodsidebridgereplacementappeal-1f70a510.

A SUMMER BREAK FROM CARE AT FREMINGTON

Rest, relax, revitalise. That’s what summer holidays are for. And Care South’s welcoming care homes are the perfect choice for respite care holidays this summer. If you provide care for a loved one it can be difficult to take a holiday, even if it’s just to stay at home and enjoy some time relaxing. Being able to do that without having to worry about the care can make all the difference.

A respite stay at any of Care South’s homes gives complete peace of mind that you or your loved one are getting the best care in a home-from-home environment. Respite care breaks can be beneficial for older people, too. They offer a chance to enjoy a change of scenery, meet new people and try out some new activities and experiences. Changes of scene are hugely beneficial to elderly people; new environments stimulate the senses and recharge the brain. A respite break can also be a gentle introduction to more permanent care.

Respite breaks mean relatives can be occupied with fresh conversation and activities and there is always something happening. Residents often find respite breaks do wonders for loved one’s confidence and self-esteem, as they know trained staff are around in case they need support.

Care South has residential, nursing and dementia care homes across the South of England that offer respite care. Many residents join the homes for short-term respite care all year round, but the summer is particularly welcoming. The activities team organise lots of sunny day trips and activities in the gardens, and it’s a great opportunity to spend time in the company of fellow residents, as well as rid the worry of needing to cook meals, shopping and housework.

Just one of the lovely homes is Fremington Manor near Barnstaple. This home was recently awarded an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating by the national care organisation, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The inspectors highlighted the outstanding work by the care home staff in delivering the highest quality care, treatment and support tailored to all residents’ individual needs. Fremington Manor is set in beautiful grounds with lovely views, excellent facilities and quality care to make guests ‘feel at home’ for as long as they choose to stay.

For further information about respite breaks at Fremington Manor, please contact 01271 377990 or visit www.care-south.co.uk

SOMERSET RIVERS AUTHORITY TO SPEND £2.76M ON FLOOD WORKS

A new £2.76million programme of flood works across Somerset has been approved by the Board of Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).

Following the Board’s annual budget-setting meeting, 28 projects costing £1.703 million will be carried out at hundreds of sites over the coming year and beyond.

Another £1.057million is being put towards a multi-million pound scheme to improve the River Sowy (also known as the River Parrett Flood Relief Channel) and King’s Sedgemoor Drain on the Somerset Levels. This scheme will deliver greater benefits than any other single activity in Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan, which was drawn up during the devastating floods of 2013-14. Those floods submerged 150km2 of land, affected 600 homes and 7,000 businesses, closed 81 roads and cost Somerset up to £147.5milion.

There is no increase in the SRA’s council tax charge, which is still at the same level it was in 2016.

All SRA works go above and beyond the usual activities of other Flood Risk Management Authorities in Somerset, such as councils, Internal Drainage Boards and the Environment Agency.

Cllr John Osman, Chairman of Somerset Rivers Authority, said: “Every single element of the SRA’s programme of works for 2019-20 has been designed to give the people of Somerset greater flood protection and resilience.

“Various kinds of works have been approved because different parts of the county have different needs, and Somerset Rivers Authority allows local people to set their own priorities.

“In practice, that means some activities are focused on the big need for extra maintenance of watercourses, and of thousands of structures such as culverts and silt-traps and drains and gullies. Beyond that, there’s improvements, innovations, and investigations, and numerous collaborations in towns and in the countryside. Longer term, we’re helping to fund a major project that will help local people decide how they want to adapt to the effects of climate change on flooding problems in Somerset.

“I’m proud to have led Somerset Rivers Authority since it was launched just over four years ago. I’ve seen for myself what can be achieved through us all working together. We’re doing more to tackle flooding, in new and better ways, we’re doing more to make people’s lives safer and easier. That wouldn’t be happening without the SRA.”

For much fuller details of new SRA activities countywide, visit: www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk/flood-risk-work/sra-enhanced-programme-works-2019-20/

PHOTO: Carhampton stream maintenance work for the SRA.

MINEHEAD MUSEUM’S FIFTH BIRTHDAY

Minehead Museum celebrates its fifth birthday today and, as it enters its sixth season, can now claim to be well established.  With nearly 10,000 visitors in 2018 (plus one parrot), the museum can rightly say it is a popular destination for both tourists and residents. During the past five years, not only have the number of visitors grown steadily year by year, but so, too, has the collection.

This year the museum will have more items on display than ever before but it is always pleased to be offered additional artefacts and documents relating to the history of the town. If you think you may have something of interest, please do let them know.

Without the support of a loyal base of volunteer stewards, the museum would not be able to remain open six days a week from late March to early November. If you, or anyone you know, should happen to have a spare morning or afternoon that you could offer to the museum, they would be delighted to hear from you. Stewards are the face of the museum and if you are interested in research and local history, it could be a rewarding way to spend some time.

Find out more on the website: www.mineheadmuseum.co.uk

PHOTO: Minehead Museum’s Punch & Judy puppets:
A well-known attraction at seaside towns, Mr Punch made his first documented appearance in England on 9 May 1662.

The puppets now on show in Minehead Museum belonged to Roy Van Dyke, magician, comedian and Punch & Judy performer. Born Roy Hobbs, in Alcombe Road, Minehead, he learnt his early skills from Cecil Govitt, a conjuror lodger in the family.

Roy was a Gold Member of the Magic Circle and a regular performer in the Gaiety Theatre, which he also managed for a number of years.

His Punch & Judy puppets are Minehead Museum’s latest acquisition, having been donated by the Hobbs family this year. They can be seen in the Museum, which opens for the season on 23 March, and which is located at the Beach Hotel.

 

WHITE HORSE EXFORD SHORTLISTED FOR COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AWARDS

The Exmoor White Horse Inn has been shortlisted to win a Countryside Alliance Award in the Pub category.

The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. The awards are now in their fourteenth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win.

They are set apart from other award schemes because they are driven by public nomination, offering customers the chance to say why their favourite businesses are worthy of national acclaim. The awards received over 17,000 nominations this year, so The Exmoor White Horse Inn has done extremely well to be shortlisted.

Serving the Exmoor Community for over 30 years they are now the longest serving licensees in the inn’s 500 year history. Welcoming visitors by wheel by hoof and by foot, the inn is an intrinsic part of the Exmoor National Park.

Countryside Alliance Awards Director Sarah Lee commented: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year. The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight. These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in the countryside. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”

Peter & Linda from The Exmoor White Horse Inn commented: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted as regional finalist. It is especially gratifying as we are celebrating our 30th year as custodians of The Exmoor White Horse Inn in the heart of the Exmoor National Park.

More information about the awards can be found here.

Photo by Peter Hendrie.

MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED FOR ILFRACOMBE HARBOUR

The following is a news release as issued by North Devon Council:

Major improvements are being planned for Ilfracombe Harbour to make it safer and more welcoming to its visitors.

The plans include:

  • creating an official entrance so people know they are entering the harbour
  • improving the facilities for the commercial operators with brand-new, fit-for-purpose, ticket sales kiosks that are modern, inviting and designed in cooperation with the interested boat trip operators
  • removing the 1950s booths which will open up the vista of the harbour entrance to be more welcoming for residents and visitors
  • widening the road, vastly improving the safety of pedestrians and cars
  • creating a larger trading area for the commercial boat operators along the side of the pier, alleviating the cramped and congested area occupied by the old booths, creating a more pleasant environment for all harbour users
  • enabling the underlying pipework that provides fresh water to be upgraded which is currently hard to access.

Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Geoff Fowler, says: “The current booths were never built for their current purpose and do not reflect the image of regeneration that Ilfracombe is striving for. There is now the opportunity to look to the future and bring in a new era of vitality to the harbour for the benefit of everyone.”

Deputy Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Ian Meadlarkin, says: “Ilfracombe Harbour is a wonderful facility but it needs to be made safer and more inviting. These plans are about celebrating the heritage of the harbour but also making it fit for purpose for the future.”

The new kiosks are due to be installed in April with a planning application for the road widening expected to be made later in the year.

A public consultation will take place on what the public would like to see marking the new entrance.