DEVON AIR AMBULANCE EXPANDS SERVICE WITH CRITICAL CARE CARS

From 2 March, when poor weather or maintenance prevents Devon’s emergency aircraft from flying, two new critical care cars mean the charity’s critical care teams can still provide specialist life-saving care by road.

In the Autumn 2018 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £10 million in capital funding for air ambulance services.  Devon Air Ambulance applied for £226,061 of this fund, to purchase two critical care cars, all their medical equipment and 35 public access defibrillators.

Devon Air Ambulance state: “Proud of being 100% independent, Devon Air Ambulance have always been forward thinking, putting the patient at the heart of all that we do. Our service delivers life-saving enhanced and critical care to our patients wherever their injury or illness has occurred, whether at home, work or out and about within Devon. Our clinical teams treat the most critically ill and injured patients and then assist in conveying them to specialist treatment centres, with the aim to improve outcomes and reduce deaths.”

Nigel Hare, Operations Director, said, “The two fully-equipped Volvo XC90 Critical Care Cars (CCC) have now arrived and will shortly be going into service.  These CCCs provide resilience and capability across our geographically large county when one of our aircraft is unable to fly. This development ensures our highly skilled critical care paramedics and doctors, and their advanced life-saving equipment, mirroring the medical equipment on board our aircraft, can still be delivered to scene, improving the clinical outcomes for patients.

“The CCCs are very safe, fast, and equipped with all that’s needed for our teams to deliver life-saving treatment to a patient. They are fitted with blue lights and warning sirens and our teams have also undergone extensive enhanced emergency response ‘blue light’ driver training.”

Darren Goodwin, Operations Manager, said, “We undertook a lot of research for this project, looking at the vehicles similar services were using and what would be the best fit for Devon. The Volvo XC90, which is also used by many other emergency services, was the best fit for our service.  We would like to thank Volvo UK for their help and support with this project and of course the Department of Health for the grant given which allowed us to buy these life-saving vehicles.”

BISHOP TO VISIT ILFRACOMBE LIFEBOAT

The Right Reverend Jackie Searle, Bishop of Crediton, will be arriving in Ilfracombe on Sunday 8 March, and will visit the RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat station to meet the volunteers and bless the lifeboats.

Bishop Jackie will meet some of the volunteers who support the work of the RNLI in Ilfracombe, including those who work in fundraising, in the RNLI shop and in the boathouse and visits teams, as well as members of the crew and shore crew. After spending some time with the volunteers Bishop Jackie will tour the boathouse and will say a prayer of blessing over the lifeboats and the work of the RNLI.

The boathouse will be open to the public from 9.40am and members of the public are welcome to join the volunteers for the prayer of blessing.

It is a busy time for Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station, which has just launched a campaign to raise £12,000 to go towards a new D class inshore lifeboat, about which you can read more here.

The Revd Peter Churcher, Vicar of Pip and Jim’s Church in Ilfracombe and Chaplain to Ilfracombe RNLI, says: “It is my joy to serve the RNLI Ilfracombe as Chaplain, and I am humbled by the amazing work of the volunteers who invest so much time, in such a variety of ways, in this vital life-saving work. I am very pleased that Bishop Jackie will be visiting the RNLI and meeting the volunteers to celebrate the work they do.”

He adds: “The visit to Ilfracombe RNLI is part of JOY 2020 where Bishop Robert, Bishop Jackie and Bishop Nick will be touring the county and taking part in events in all sorts of places across Devon. These promise to be great events for those with a strong faith or none at all. They will show that Christianity isn’t about buildings, rules and rotas, but it is about people and God’s immeasurable love for every single person in Devon.”

Photo: Revd Peter Churcher Chaplain to Ilfracombe RNLI and Jo Bolton Chair of the Ilfracombe RNLI Management Group with the station’s Shannon class lifeboat.

DEFRA SEEKS NEW BOARD MEMBERS FOR EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are seeking to fill 3 vacancies on the board of Exmoor National Park Authority as part of a nationwide recruitment drive.

Of the 22 Members who make up Exmoor National Park Authority, 10 (including 5 nominated by Parish Councils) are appointed by the Secretary of State for Defra and 12 by local councils with land in the National Park. The new appointments are expected to commence in July.

Speaking about recruitment across a number of National Park Authorities in England, Defra minister Lord Gardiner said: “I am looking for a diverse group of passionate and committed individuals who want to help shape the strategic direction of our National Park Authorities. As a Secretary of State appointed Member, you will have the opportunity to help conserve and enhance our most treasured landscapes now and for future generations.

“I welcome applications from people who have a clear understanding of land management and rural communities, as well as protection and enhancement of the environment. Applications are also encouraged from people with experience in planning, commercial and business leadership, communications and stakeholder outreach.”

Committee meetings take place in Dulverton up to 12 times a year, with many opportunities for Members to further contribute to the work of the organisation according to their own interests and skill set. A basic allowance and expenses are available if needed to help cover costs.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Members play an instrumental part in shaping the future direction of the National Park, helping us fulfil our statutory purposes and achieve the delicate balance between people and nature that makes our landscapes so special. We warmly encourage anyone with the right skills and experience to apply for this hugely rewarding role.”

The closing date for applications is Friday 6 March at midday. Full details of how to apply are available on the Cabinet Office* website.

Photo: South West Coast Path Exmoor by Jim Johnston @jjohnstonphoto

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST LAUNCHES APPEAL TO PREVENT THE POSSIBLE EXTINCTION OF THE COUNTY’S DORMICE

Somerset Wildlife Trust has announced an urgent appeal for £35,000 to help secure a positive future for the county’s dormice in the face of possible extinction.

Despite once being common, in the last 100 years the native hazel dormouse has become extinct in 17 English counties, with recent UK reports showing that their numbers have declined by 51% in just 18 years. Somerset could easily be the next county to lose its dormouse populations unless positive action is taken now to make their habitats safe, and to provide the best conditions in which these vulnerable, and adorable, little mammals can thrive, now and in the future.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is urging wildlife and nature lovers in Somerset and beyond to donate what they can to support additional woodland management and monitoring programmes needed in the county, before Somerset’s dormice are lost without a trace.

Dormice declines are linked to the loss of habitat and decreasing traditional woodland management practices. Across Britain, just 3% of woodlands are today being managed using traditional management techniques such as coppicing and hedge-laying, while in the 1940s, that figure was almost 50%.

Senior Reserves Manager, Chris Eyles explains, “Dormice need well-managed, connected woodlands through which they can safely move to find food, breed and have secure places to hibernate – something that is already becoming increasingly problematic for them as we continue to see the impacts of a warming climate. Milder winters can sometimes cause dormice to waken from hibernation before adequate food sources are available. Woodland habitats are disappearing all over the country, so dormice populations are becoming fragmented and their future in Somerset looks uncertain.”

“Traditional techniques such as coppicing, thinning and hedge-laying enable us to maintain a balance of healthy habitats in our woodlands, and provide the perfect conditions within which dormice can thrive. But we have a huge amount to do.  We need your help to do more and faster.”

Monitoring their populations to keep them safe: Through regular surveying we know dormice are present on several Trust nature reserves, including Langford Heathfield and Black Rock, but there are plenty more with great potential which are currently not being surveyed! In fact, there are currently only 28 dormouse survey sites across all of Somerset, which is not sufficient to get enough baseline data to understand the true health of the county’s dormouse population. With more funds, we can install more dormouse nest boxes and train new volunteers to regularly survey these sites, so dormice have the best chance of breeding success in the years to come.

Chris continues, “Donations to the Dormouse Appeal will help us create ideal dormouse habitat, enable us to install more nest boxes and train more volunteers to carry out regular dormouse surveys to collect vital data about their health, so please do help if you can.”

“Every donation, whatever the size, will make a real difference. To donate to the Dormouse Appeal, please visit the Somerset Wildlife Trust website at www.somersetwildlife.org/dormouse-appeal or telephone 01823 652429.”

 

EXMOOR HILL FARMING NETWORK CIC IS LAUNCHED

The Exmoor Hill Farming Network has established itself as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and has been running as an independent, 100% farmer-led organisation since 1 February this year. The move  means greater independence for the Network, which already works with around 318 farming businesses, with opportunities to reinvest assets in the community and attract new sources of funding.

The newly appointed board consists of 11 directors and 4 advisory board members, led by Dave Knight, who has been Chair of the Network since its establishment 5 years ago.

Until now, the Network has been hosted and supported by North Devon +, an economic delivery agency for North Devon and Torridge, which runs a number of rural development programmes in the area.

Dave Knight said, “We are immensely proud of the progress the Network has made under the auspices of North Devon + so that it is trusted by farmers and other land-manging businesses in the Greater Exmoor areas as a source of valuable advice, training and support in these uncertain times. North Devon + has played a key role in this success and we hope to continue a close working relationship going forward.’’

The Network was established in early 2014 to improve the viability and sustainability of Exmoor farming businesses.  It does this through knowledge transfer, peer-group support, training, and co-operation to safeguard upland farming, rural employment and landscape management.  It has become one of the most sought-after initiatives on Exmoor, providing the ‘go-to hub’ of information and contacts for land-based businesses, overseen by its highly regarded Network Officer, Katherine Williams.

The majority of the costs of running the Network are met by funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority and North Devon Council, due to run until 31 January 2021. Other key partners and sponsors include Masons Kings, NFU, Dunster Show Society, Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctions, Baldwins and Towergate Insurance. During the past 18 months, the Network steering group has undertaken a Governance Review set out by the Exmoor National Park Authority. The Group took advice from other organisations such as Farm Cornwall and The Cumbria Farmer Network, who operate a similar structure, to build confidence that a fully-fledged independent route was in the best interest of Exmoor’s farming communities.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said,It’s been a pleasure to see the Exmoor Hill Farming Network grow from strength to strength and we’re pleased to see them complete their independence through this next step. Having a strong voice for the farming community on Exmoor is vital to sustaining the traditional farming practices and ways of life that make our landscapes special. We look forward to continuing to support them in this next venture.”

Ken Miles and Jenny Wallace, Joint CEO’s, North Devon +, said, “The Exmoor Hill Farming Network has been a wonderful and truly innovative project that North Devon + has been involved with from the start.  It provides vital resources and support for the farming community and is a model for community involvement that others have followed.  We at North Devon + are really pleased to see it now flourishing and becoming independent and are proud of our role in the Network’s development.  We look forward to seeing how the Network develops further and to working with the Network in the future.”

The Network hub will remain at Cutcombe Market by kind permission of Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctioneers and will continue to aid farmers with its flagship Exmoor’s Ambition project feeding into DEFRA’s Test and Trials of its new Environmental Land Management Scheme.

PHOTO: Representatives of EHFN CIC Board

RHS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH STUDIOCANAL FOR THE SECRET GARDEN

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a major collaboration with STUDIOCANAL to celebrate the forthcoming family film The Secret Garden. Set for release in April 2020, the film will be brought to life by the world’s leading gardening charity across its famed Gardens, Flower Shows and nationwide initiatives including the Campaign for School Gardening.

A new take on the much-loved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, THE SECRET GARDEN tells the story of Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx – Genius, The Little Stranger and A Royal Winter), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they die unexpectedly, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Academy Award® and BAFTA-winner Colin Firth – A Single Man, The King’s Speech, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Bridget Jones’s Baby) on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors, under the watchful eye of Mrs Medlock (BAFTA-winner Julie Walters – Mary Poppins Returns, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia) and with only  the household maid, Martha (Isis Davis – Guilt, Electric Dreams) for company. Mary begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst – Genius, There She Goes), who has been shut away in a wing of the house, and through her discovery of a wondrous garden, locked away and lost within the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor. While searching for Hector, the stray dog who had led Mary to the garden walls, she befriends local boy Dickon (Amir Wilson – His Dark Materials, The Kid Who Would Be King) who, through the garden’s restorative powers, helps her to fix Hector’s injured leg. Together, these three damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other as they delve deeper into the mysteries of the garden – a magical place of adventure that will change their lives forever.

Inspired by the film’s key themes of friendship, wonder, magic and healing, the collaboration between the RHS and STUDIOCANAL will give people of all ages an opportunity to explore the many ways in which gardens and gardening can help us connect with each other, and improve our physical and mental wellbeing through the magic of growing.

Young gardeners across the nation will be encouraged to unlock their imagination and try their hand at designing their own Secret Garden for the chance to have elements of their design recreated in their school or community. Details of how to enter will be available on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website, at RHS Gardens and selected RHS Partner Gardens.

From 21 March to 3 May at RHS Garden Rosemoor, families can discover areas of the gardens they may never have visited before on the trail of six hidden keys. A range of inspiring workshops (30 March – 10 April) will encourage both adults and children to try out gardening tasks, arts and crafts and other creative activities and a range of branded books will be available to buy from the Gift Shop.

Families will also have the opportunity to discover the magic of gardening with The Secret Garden-themed workshops at RHS Flower Show Cardiff (17-19 April), RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (11-14 June), RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (6-12 July) and RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (22-26 July).

Wild About Gardens, the joint campaign by the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts aiming to raise awareness of how to support garden-dwelling creatures, is also inspired by The Secret Garden for 2020. The focus will be on helping people learn about butterflies, with a booklet and online experience demonstrating how to attract these valuable pollinators to the garden by creating a butterfly box or border.

The Secret Garden is a wonderful story about the power of gardens to heal and bring people together – something all of us at the RHS truly believe in,” says Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS. “When STUDIOCANAL approached us about this collaboration we knew immediately that it would resonate with our members and visitors, and we are delighted to be bringing the movie to life through our Gardens, Shows and campaigns. This biggest-ever brand partnership for the RHS will reach thousands of people and we hope that it will inspire them to discover a secret garden of their own.”

Stuart Henderson, Head of UK Marketing for STUDIOCANAL, adds: “We are delighted to be working with The Royal Horticultural Society on this far-reaching partnership. The young characters in The Secret Garden find their lives transformed when they engage with the natural world around them, demonstrating how outdoor spaces can help all of us improve our wellbeing – all of which makes the RHS the perfect partner for the new film. We are excited to work with them on this partnership, promoting the positive benefits of engagement with gardens and bringing this timeless story to the big screen for a new generation.”

The Secret Garden will be in cinemas nationwide from 13 April 2020.

LAUNCH OF COUNTRYMEN UK CLUBS, SUPPORTING MEN WITH HEALTH ISSUES TO ACCESS SUPPORT

A care farm in North Devon is among the first to become part of Countrymen UK.

Futures Farm in Woolacombe is looking for members to join a brand-new venture designed to allow men with health issues to access support services in an environment they understand and can relate to.

The farm has become part of Countrymen UK, a registered charity with an exciting new nationwide initiative providing a unique solution designed to support the increasing isolation of men who find themselves unable to access outdoor work and leisure environments because of their deteriorating physical or mental health or changing social conditions.

The countrywide launch of Countrymen Clubs aims to help men become more resilient to the life changes they experience as a result of rural isolation and ageing. The Clubs are particularly keen to recruit older men who have long-term health conditions including Dementia, Parkinson’s and other limiting long-term illnesses, but are open to men of all ages who experience rural isolation and deteriorating physical or mental health. Typically the men will have an affinity with the outdoors and may have worked in farming, horticulture or in other outdoor environments.

The idea behind Countrymen UK is for all men, regardless of their mobility or cognitive levels, to have the opportunity to participate in healthy, active and social activities in a safe and supported countryside or farm environment to the benefit of their physical and mental wellbeing.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, more than a dozen Care Farms and Gardens across the UK have signed up to become Countrymen UK Social Franchises and are aiming to recruit members, together with volunteers, to their newly formed Countrymen UK Clubs.

The Countrymen UK Clubs were developed as a result of an initiative by Future Roots – an organisation which runs programmes in Dorset for both young people and adults. It is part of the ‘care farming’ movement, which aims to harness the therapeutic potential of farming practices.

Future Roots and Countrymen UK founder Julie Plumley explains, “The unique combination of activities taking place outdoors reflects our belief, underpinned by recent research*, that getting back to farm and countryside environments and green spaces, overcomes isolation and has a positive impact on physical health and mental wellbeing.”

The Clubs also help the wives and carers of the members, providing an opportunity for respite as well as the chance to socialise and gain mutual support from one another.

One Countryman, Dan Hodgeson, commented, “I was depressed and isolated. I missed the life I once had in the countryside and had little contact with people outside my family. That’s all changed now. I love being outside again. It brings back memories. It’s become a new adventure for me – a healthy adventure. And I’m surrounded by people who share my interests.”

Countrymen UK Clubs run several sessions every month throughout the year. Some members attend only one session, while others attend multiple sessions – it’s entirely up to them and a small charge is made for each session.

For more information about Countrymen UK go to www.countrymenuk.org or email: admin@countrymenuk.org or tel: 01963 210789.

LOTTERY FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR COMMUNITY GROUPS IN WEST SOMERSET

Grants of up to £1,000 are available for local charities, voluntary or community groups, sports clubs, or social enterprises based within the area covered by Somerset West and Taunton Council and the deadline to apply is Friday 20 March.

The Local Community Fund, administered by Somerset Community Foundation on behalf of Somerset West and Taunton Council, was set up in 2017 to support community projects in the local area by distributing money from the Somerset West Lottery (www.somersetwestlottery.co.uk). The Lottery raises money within the community for the community, enabling people to support the causes they care most about, while also helping good causes to connect with their supporters.

A ticket for the Somerset West Lottery costs £1 per week, 60p of which goes directly to good causes – more than double what the National Lottery gives. Players can choose to support a named local good cause, or they can decide to award their contribution to the Local Community Fund. Grants are awarded from the fund by a panel of District Councillors.

The Local Community Fund awarded 14 grants, totalling £12,000 to community groups and sports clubs across Somerset West and Taunton over the last year. The groups to receive grants were:

  • 1st Wellington Scouts – £1,000 towards new energy-efficient lighting for their hall
  • Blackbrook Friendship Club – £500 for outings for isolated older people
  • Carry Me Kate – £1,000 for parenting advice sessions
  • Kingston St Mary Youth Group – £1,000 towards the ongoing costs of a youth club
  • Minehead Eye – £1,000 for family activity sessions
  • North Taunton Partnership – £850 towards the ongoing costs of Priorswood Community Centre
  • Positive Aims – £1,000 for community activities for adults with learning disabilities
  • Reminiscence Learning – £1,000 to provide support for family carers of people with dementia.
  • Somerset Wyverns American Football Club – £1,000 for coaching qualifications
  • St Petrock’s Timberscombe – £1000 towards an accessible toilet and servery
  • Taunton Welcomes Refugees – £300 for arts and crafts materials for children of recently arrived Syrian families
  • Bluebirds Theatre Company – £1,000 towards pop-up opera performances
  • The West Somerset Intercultural Friendship Group – £500 for a community event in Watchet
  • West Buckland Friendship Club – £850 for activities for isolated older people

Groups wishing to apply for funding should visit: www.somersetcf.org.uk/somersetwestlottery or call Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 for more information.

If you run a local community project and would like to find out about other funding opportunities, please call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949, email: info@somersetcf.org.uk or visit: www.somersetcf.org.uk

LADY MAISERY BRINGING CREATIVITY TO TRADITIONAL SONG

Vocal folk trio Lady Maisery (Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans) will be performing at Halsway Manor on Thursday 20 February at 8pm. They are rising stars on the folk and acoustic music scene. With modern and intelligent arrangements of traditional songs sitting comfortably alongside original compositions, the trio show how skilled they are at bringing ballads and folk tales to vivid life.

The artists are also accomplished instrumentalists and many songs are expertly accompanied by a rich tapestry of Rowan’s fiddle, banjo and bansitar, Hazel’s harp and concertina and Hannah’s accordion and foot percussion. The use of distinctive harmony which underpins their performances will be a particular theme at this performance which is part of the band’s popular Creative Singing Week at Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts near Taunton.

The trio have toured widely, over the last five years, performing sell-out shows across the UK and Europe. With three albums under their belt and what The Guardian have called “some of the most exquisite, thrilling vocal harmony work in the English folk scene” they are back to the West Country to share their knowledge with budding singers and musicians at Halsway Manor who will perform alongside them at this intimate Thursday-evening performance which is open to all.

Tickets are recommended in advance priced £10 adult and £4 student. Book online at halswaymanor.org.uk

 

NEW SCHEME URGES SHOPPERS TO BUY LOCAL

A new initiative to highlight the merits of buying local has been launched in Exmoor National Park. The National Park Authority and Visit Exmoor are working together to support local producers and promote how the fine produce sustainably grown, reared and prepared within Greater Exmoor benefits the landscape and its communities.

Signs making it easier for shoppers to identify local produce are being proudly displayed in stores to shine a light on the region’s producers and how buying local benefits the environment, while delivering food that is more tasty, nutritious and sustainable.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Despite their wild appearance, Exmoor’s landscapes have been shaped by human interaction with nature over thousands of years. Many local producers here are small-scale farmers championing low-impact approaches that work with, not against nature. Much of the livestock is grass-fed, making our local lamb and beef tastier and healthier, as well as more sustainable. With fewer food miles and in turn less packaging, switching to local produce can help reduce your carbon and plastic footprint, whilst supporting our rural communities.”

The Exmoor Hill Farming Network, Edible Exmoor (www.edibleexmoor.co.uk) plus numerous local shops and retailers have already got behind the campaign, with Wheddon Cross Central Convenience Store and Roadwater Community Shop among the first to display the new branding.

Tony Howard, proprietor of The Village Shop and Tea Rooms at Withypool, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this initiative by the National Park. As well as selling to those visiting the area, we have a strong and loyal customer base who are always pleased to support local producers, but more can be done, and highlighting Exmoor produce in this way is a step in the right direction.”

Sarah Campbell at Timberscombe Post Office and Store (pictured) said: “There’s already been a really positive response to the new promotional material in our shop. I’m sure it will make our customers think carefully and more likely to choose local produce.”

In December, grass-fed Exmoor lamb was the winner at blind-tasting event at Woods restaurant in Dulverton. Emma Thomasson from Visit Exmoor, who supported the event, said: “When visitors come to the area, experiencing the finest seasonal food and drink can be a big part of their cultural adventure, connecting them with the landscape they see around them and helping create memorable experiences.

“Joining the dots of where our food comes from is an important way of deepening people’s understanding and kindling a life-long love of the area sure to keep them returning. With locally-produced meats, fresh, seasonal fruit and veg, artisan breads, sweet treat confectionery and award-winning gin and cider all on offer, it’s not hard to see why!”

The ‘Produced in Exmoor’ campaign is part of the wider #EatExmoor project, which aims to support producers, build strong commercial relationships between producers and local businesses and help boost Exmoor’s reputation as a great food destination. Find out more at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/eat-exmoor