WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS NOMINATED FOR MORE AWARDS!

Exmoor-based bespoke metalwork specialists West Country Blacksmiths have had two  separate projects shortlisted for the 2019 GAGA Construction Awards alongside projects which include Aerospace in Bristol, the London Palladium Wall of Fame Project and Crystal Palace Park Café

The two bespoke projects were fully designed and made by the highly skilled craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths who are based at the stunning stone-built Allerford Forge, which has been at heart of the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate on the edge of Exmoor in Somerset for hundreds of years.

One of the projects shortlisted was a project undertaken for the Lillycombe Estate in Porlock, Somerset. The project required the team to design, make and install three pairs of bespoke entrance gates, two pedestrian gates and large sections of estate railing. The metalwork was designed to a traditional estate metalwork style, and produced to the very highest standards with an abundance of hand-forged details.

The second project shortlisted was a project undertaken at a residential property in Bristol (pictured), where the team designed, made and installed a large variety of metalwork, which included a bespoke balcony, rooftop railings, a gate, handrails, and garden railings. The metalwork was designed to a traditional style to be in keeping with the property, and include stunning high-quality handcrafted details including organic leaf and scroll work.

Both projects were selected in the award category of detail. Iqbal Johal, one of four judges of the GAGA Awards, said, “We received a record number of nominations this year and the 2019 GAGAs had an impressive shortlist which included the Lillycombe Estate and Orchard Cottage project completed by West Country Blacksmiths. The fine craftmanship of West Country Blacksmiths made both Orchard Cottage and Lillycombe Estate easy choices as shortlisted projects for our Awards. The variety of work, detailing and quality of finish made them stand out in comparison with the competition.”

All the metalwork was finished with a galvanised and antique acid etch finish to offer the benefits of a fully rust-proof and maintenance-free finish, whilst giving the metalwork a beautiful unique rustic look.

The ceremony, which marks the 25th anniversary of the awards, will be attended by the smiths on 7 June at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. Previous winning projects of the awards will also be celebrated at the event, including the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

The award nominations come only a few months after the team were awarded the highly acclaimed Staircase of the Year Award at the Architects’ Journal Architecture Specification Award 2019. The award was given for bespoke staircase project completed for a property in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man in partnership with Foster Lomas Architects.

West Country Blacksmiths Company Director Kieren Roberts said, “We are very grateful for the recognition we have received already this year. We are privileged to have an incredibly talented team and together we work extremely hard to produce metalwork to the very best standards to suit all projects and design preferences. The support we get from the local community is incredible. By this I don’t just mean in inviting us to undertake work for them, but also by helping to share the work we produce and by recommending us to others; we rely on this support.”

Find out more on the West Country Blacksmiths website.

SEABIRDS FLOCK BACK TO LUNDY ISLAND

A new study led by the RSPB has revealed that total seabird numbers on the island of Lundy have now tripled to over 21,000 birds, and key species such as Manx shearwater have increased to more than 5,500 pairs and puffins to 375 birds.

This growth over the past 15 years resulted after the island was declared rat free in 2006.  The eradication of rats was necessary after evidence from other important seabird islands revealed that the biggest threat to burrow-nesting birds such as Manx shearwaters and puffins on Lundy was predation of the eggs and chicks by rats.

In 2002 a partnership of Natural England, the Landmark Trust, the National Trust and the RSPB was formed to eradicate the rats on Lundy, which are not native to Britain but were imported unwittingly on ships visiting the island or from shipwrecks.

Rosie Hall, Director of Science & Nature at the National Trust, said, “We were really concerned as previous records showed that puffin numbers on Lundy had plummeted from over 3,500 pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in 2000.  And although around 75% of the global population of Manx shearwaters breed on UK islands there were only 297 pairs on Lundy in 2001 – way short of its potential considering its size and available habitat.”

Helen Booker, Senior Conservation Officer for the RSPB in South West England, said: “This study clearly shows how quickly and positively seabirds respond to the removal of non-native predators. Of course, we had anticipated major population increases when the project was launched, but the scale of this recovery has far exceeded our expectations.

Dean Jones, Lundy Warden, speaking for Landmark Trust, said, “It is exciting to see this level of recovery in Manx shearwaters, one of our most important seabirds. In spring the island comes alive at night with the sound of these amazing birds. The increases in puffins, guillemots and razorbills is also very encouraging for the future of seabirds on Lundy and we are maintaining our vigilance to ensure rats cannot return to the island.”

Tim Frayling, Senior Specialist in Ornithology at Natural England, said, “Lundy Island is home to one of the most important seabird colonies in England and it is fantastic to see such a revival in numbers.

“The current challenges facing wildlife are huge, but this remarkable increase demonstrates that wildlife recovery can be achieved by partnerships and local communities working together, in this case by
combining their expertise to create a safer breeding environment for the fantastic diversity of breeding seabirds that help make Lundy so special.”

Ms Booker added, “The partners are grateful for all the support we’ve had over the years from a huge team of volunteers without which both the work to eradicate the rats and our knowledge of the seabirds’ recovery simply would not have been possible.”

PHOTO by Elisabeth Price

BICCLESCOMBE PARK OPEN DAY: ALL WELCOME

Enjoy a free day of family fun at Ilfracombe’s award-winning Bicclescombe Park this half term.

The open day is being held on Wednesday 29 May between 11am and 3pm, with the opportunity for residents to have their say on the future of Bicclescombe Park.

If you are free this half term, why not plan a visit? There will be lots of free activities on the day to keep the whole family amused, including:

• tennis taster sessions
• arts and crafts with Mrs Recycle
• face painting
• model boat displays
• circus and art workshops
• treasure hunt

Contracts Delivery Manager at North Devon Council, Mark Kentell, says: “Bicclescombe is a wonderful park and we look forward to seeing everyone at the open day.

“The park is continuously being improved, with the help of a very dedicated group of volunteers, and we hope to begin the final phase of the play area redevelopment very soon. So we are keen for members of the public to come forward with their ideas of what could be done to improve and enhance the park for everyone to enjoy.”

For more information, call the Parks Team on 01271 388326 or email parks@northdevon.gov.uk

TOP YEAR FOR COMMANDO ENTRIES

Do you think you could take on the Royal Marines’ own endurance training course?

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Commando? Do you think you have what it takes?  2019 is on track to become a winning year for the two charities that run the popular yet demanding Royal Marines Commando Challenge event.

Devon Air Ambulance and RMA – The Royal Marines Charity – are welcoming record sign-ups to this year’s gruelling obstacle course, which is open to civilians to enlist on either the 5k or 10k route.

The circuit features eight notoriously challenging obstacles and presents an opportunity for the untrained to take on the elite Royal Marines’ own endurance training course.

The event takes place on the weekend of 13 and 14 October this year and will be supported by an array of attractions and activities including the much-enjoyed dog show, which was a welcome fluffy addition to the end of the gritty endurance experience last year.

Entrants will take on a tough test of endurance that’s famous for rough Woodbury moorland, dark tunnels, muddy pipes and pools, and an underwater culvert. The course includes such adrenaline-inducing obstacles as the ‘Smartie Tube and the ‘Sheep Dip’.

Last year’s event raised over £67,000 as a whole in sponsorship – a significant increase on the previous year – and involved over 1,000 fearless fundraisers whose courage, determination and cheerfulness helped them tackle the world-famous commando tests.

Those who are ready to get their hands – and everything else – dirty by taking on the famously challenging obstacle course can enlist by visiting the Commando Challenge Website www.commandochallenge.co.uk

THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WOODSIDE

You might have seen a rope strung with colourfully painted walking boots across the East Lyn River on your walks recently. It is part of the bid to raise funds to replace a popular footbridge known locally as ‘Woodside Bridge’.

Over 40 boots were painted by the children of West Exmoor Federation and heaved into place across the East Lyn River by local volunteers from the Lynmouth Coastguard Search & Rescue.

Woodside Bridge once formed part of a short circular walk along the lower reaches of the river, returning to the picturesque village of Lynmouth via Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of victims of the famous 1952 flood disaster.

It’s been a feature of the area for more than a century, but it wore out and had to be removed in 2016 and the Lyn Community Development Trust (LCDT) have since been fundraising to have it reinstated. They are now three-quarters of the way towards the £60K needed for a beautiful new bridge built in solid Exmoor oak and have secured commitment from Exmoor National Park Authority to help with installation and maintenance, when the remaining funds are raised.

Dave Wilde, Chair of the LDCT, said: “We came up with the idea of the boots as a way of bringing the appeal to the attention of the many walkers and visitors to the area, as well as local residents. It was lovely to see the schoolchildren getting involved and the boots they painted look wonderful. They’re the ones who will get to walk across the new bridge in future, so it’s great they have been able to help in such an inspiring way”.

Julia Bradbury has also shown her support for the campaign after the route featured in her hit TV series Britain’s Best Walks and online portal The Outdoor Guide, along with 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.

It’s also being backed by Exmoor National Park Authority through its CareMoor for Exmoor scheme, run by Philip Kiberd. He said: “What a brilliant idea, West Exmoor Federation have done a great job. I might ask them to paint my boots next. It’s amazing how everyone has got behind this campaign and LCDT, the schools, the coastguard and the National Trust all deserve praise for arranging it and allowing it to go ahead. Let’s hope it encourages lots of donations to the appeal and helps get the bridge back soon.”

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

COULD YOU LOOK AFTER A LIFE-CHANGING PUPPY FOR A YEAR?

Guest post from Guide Dogs

You may well have heard of Guide Dogs, we’re a national charity working to ensure that people with a visual impairment do not lose their independence. There are around two million people in the UK living with sight loss, and all experience a different level of vision and mobility. We offer a range of mobility services to help people keep their independence, and have an amazing number of dedicated staff, volunteers, and of course, dogs who support the Guide Dogs mission.

Guide Dogs needs volunteers who can help look after and support the training of our guide dog puppies! This is a full-time volunteering role as the puppy would live with you, and you would be providing the puppy with a vital foundation for its future role as a guide dog for someone living with sight loss. Training and ongoing support is provided by Guide Dogs and your Puppy Training Supervisor, and all food and vets bills are paid for.

Puppy Training Supervisor, Leah, says, “Puppy walking is a vital role in a guide dog’s development. If you have the time, enthusiasm, love of dogs and a positive outlook, this volunteer role is for you. Puppies are placed at 7 weeks old and will stay with you until approximately 12-16 months of age. In this time, you will expose the puppy to everyday life. You will receive regular visits and be encouraged to attend one of our local puppy classes. We couldn’t deliver our services without our brilliant volunteers!”

Puppy Walking Volunteer, Chris, says, “Every day is different – I could be taking the dog out on a walk, getting it used to trains, buses or the seaside! It’s great to be with a dog knowing you are giving something back… When a guide dog owner gets in touch with me to say thank you for puppy walking their life-changing dog, it really feels so rewarding and it’s lovely to get their feedback.”

To find out more about puppy walking with Guide Dogs or any other volunteering opportunities, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer or give the volunteering office a call on 0345 143 0191.

SIMONSBATH FESTIVAL EVENTS THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT WEEK

Simonsbath Festival continues this weekend and next week with three events:

Friday 24 May, 10am at Brendon Two Gates – a walk arranged by the Exmoor Society – To Badgworthy and Doone Country. Join Archaeologist Rob Wilson-North for a four-mile walk over rough moorland in the footsteps of Lorna Doone author R.D. Blackmore. An exploration of one of Exmoor’s most remote places, see Blackmore’s memorial stone and the remains of a medieval village. Dogs welcome on leads. Free entry but donations to Exmoor Society are welcome.

Saturday 25 May, 7.30pm at St Luke’s Church – A night at the Opera. Opera singers Isobel Hughes and Tom Asher (pictured). Isobel is about to finish her studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and is a soprano with a warm-mezzo like quality. Tom is a baritone, a recent alumni of English National Opera who studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. There will be a programme of opera arias. Tickets are £15 reserved seating or £10 unreserved seating, with a light supper available for £5 booked in advance.

Wednesday 29 May, 7.30pm at St Luke’s Church – a talk by Tim Bonner (Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance) – From Hunting to Post Offices. Tim talks about how the Countryside Alliance continues to be the voice of Rural Britain by actively promoting and defending farming, rural services, small businesses and country sports. Tickets are £10 reserved seating or £5 unreserved seating, with a light supper available for £5 booked in advance.

Information, tickets and food bookings available by phone 01643 831451 or via the festival website at www.simonsbathfestival.org.uk

FUNDING BOOST FOR URBAN SCHOOLS VISITING EXMOOR

Three urban schools will receive fully funded residential trips to Exmoor National Park as part of a new programme by UK National Parks and Forest Holidays that will help connect over 20,000 young people nationally with nature.

Over the next five years, ‘National Parks Futures’ aims to help tackle one of the major barriers to many schools visiting National Parks – the cost of travel.

To launch the new programme, Forest Holiday’s Projects Director, Dan Parish, joined Exmoor National Park staff at the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning last month, along with 30 students from Yeo Valley Primary School, on their first ever National Park experience. The year-5s enjoyed a day out in the sunshine exploring the high moors to collect minibeasts and rocks for further investigation under the microscope, as well as honing their team-building skills through an orienteering challenge.

Thanks to Forest Holiday’s involvement, the school did not have to pay for travel and they are set to return for a fully funded residential stay later in the year.

Exmoor National Park is one of three of the UK’s 15 National Parks awarded a £5,000 grant this year, along with the Cairngorms and South Downs National Parks. Overall, the scheme will deliver at least 15 flagship education projects, reaching 5,000 young people, as well as covering the travel costs of an estimated 15,000 National Park visits for young people.

The aim is to inspire the next generation to care for and protect our precious National Parks, as well as improving their well-being through time spent in nature.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive Officer of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re delighted that Forest Holidays is supporting our work providing opportunities for young people from a wide range of backgrounds to visit Exmoor, be inspired by, and learn about its amazing landscapes, wildlife and heritage. This funding will enable us to offer a full residential experience at our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning to young people from schools from more urban settings who have not visited before, and we are really looking forward to welcoming them.”

Dan Parish, Projects Director of Forest Holidays, said: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the UK National Parks to help more young people experience and enjoy the UK’s special landscapes. We work in rural communities and understand one of the main barriers for schools is the cost of travel. Through this project we hope to open up opportunities for young people to spend time in nature and experience the benefits of outdoor learning.”

Cat Hawkins, Chair of National Parks Partnerships, said: “Connecting young people with nature takes time, expertise and funding. Forest Holidays’ long-term commitment to ‘National Parks Futures’ will enable thousands of young people to experience learning in amazing natural settings. Forest Holidays share our ambition to improve lives through connecting to nature, and thanks to them, ‘National Parks Futures’ will help to inspire the next generation to love and care for our precious landscapes.”

Brook Foods Donate £1,250 to Exmoor Pony Centre

Throughout Brook Foods’ Silver Anniversary year, the company has been choosing charities to support  on a monthly basis  – donating £25 for every customer order valued at £1,000 and more. Last month saw the Williton-based company’s donations so far soar to over £5,000.

Raising £1,250 throughout April, Samia Sanders of Brook Foods was delighted to present a cheque to The Exmoor Pony Centre  – a small charity-run business, owned by the Moorland Mousie Trust, which works to both promote and protect the endangered rare breed Exmoor pony. Their main work focuses on providing a future for the excess foals that are removed from the moor each year during the annual gathering.

Presenting the cheque to Kirsty Urion from the Centre in early May, Samia had the chance to meet Almond (pictured) and Tom, who are regular visitors to local schools and care homes.  She said, “Exmoor ponies provide locals and visitors to the area with a unique sight and experience; these beautiful animals graciously welcome us onto their moorland home. We haven’t donated to an animal charity yet but felt it was important to recognise the work the Exmoor Pony Centre carries out.”

Kirsty said, “Thank you so much, this is a really unexpected and wonderful amount and will go a long way to help us here at the centre with feeds and fencing and looking after the ponies.”

MOTORCYCLISTS CHAMPION 14TH DEVON AIR AMBULANCE RIDE OUT

Keen bikers are circling Sunday 14 July in their diaries – this year’s date for the 14th Devon Air Ambulance Motorcycle Ride Out. Starting points for the popular event are once more at Trago Mills in Newton Abbot, or Evans Transport in Bideford, with the Ride Out finishing at The Den in Teignmouth.

Bikers will travel approximately 80 miles through beautiful Devon countryside and can look forward to stalls, refreshments and live music at the Teignmouth destination. Family, friends and non-bikers are welcome to join riders at The Den to enjoy an afternoon of family-friendly stands, including from Bridge Motorcycles – which is once more sponsoring the event – as well as a bouncy castle and ice-cream for little ones.

“We’re looking forward to inviting our motorcycling supporters to enjoy the stunning Devon scenery once again this year,” says Fundraising and Communications Director at Devon Air Ambulance, Caroline Creer. “We would like to thank our headline sponsor, Bridge Motorcycles, for their continued support.

“Our Ride Out is all about promoting safe riding to the growing motorcycle community. It’s not a race, but a fun ride out and a chance to enjoy the beautiful Devon countryside. We receive such amazing support from the motorcycle community.”

Pre-entry is still available via the Charity’s website at just £5 per entry, which includes a limited-edition event t-shirt. Entrants can still sign up on the day for £5, but entry won’t include a t-shirt, which will instead be available for £5 each at The Den subject to availability. Limited edition pin badges at just £1 will also be available on the day. Sign up here: bit.ly/MCRideOut2019