All posts by Naomi Cudmore

Editor and designer for the magazine, Naomi has lived in and around Exmoor since 1979. She spent most of her childhood in Nettlecombe parish, went to school at Minehead Middle and the West Somerset Community College and studied English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She worked in publishing for ten years after graduating in 1996, then took a break when she left her role as Commissioning Editor in 2004 to sail around the world, during which she was an on-board writer and the racing team's 'media person' for ten months. Afterwards she set up on her own (she runs www.lighthousecommunications.co.uk), before taking on the editorship of Exmoor Magazine in 2008 and buying the business with colleagues in 2010. She lives near Washford with her partner Pete and an extremely lazy 'editor's cat', Turtle, who makes guest appearances on our Facebook page from time to time. She spends most of her spare time gig rowing at Appledore.

‘THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING OUR PLACE OF WORK’ SAY EXMOOR FARMERS

Ahead of the Easter weekend, Exmoor National Park Authority along with the Exmoor Hill Farming Network is reminding people to stay close to home during the coronavirus pandemic and to take extra care when exercising on public rights of way that pass near farms or homes.

Dave Knight, Chairman of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, said: “Spring is always a busy time on the farm with lambing and calving. Farmers are literally working around the clock to help feed the nation and it’s understandable they don’t want the extra worry of contamination to gates and property. Ultimately this is our place of work so I’m pleased that most people are being respectful of that by using alternative routes where possible and sticking to government guidelines.”

Some farmers and residents have voiced concerns about increased use of public rights of way by local people following the lockdown restrictions. In response the National Park has produced an easily downloadable poster on their website that can be displayed to remind people of the Coronavirus Countryside Code:

  1. Use open spaces near where you live.
  2. Stay least 2 metres away from other people.
  3. Avoid touching shared surfaces and clean hands regularly.
  4. Leave gates as you find them.
  5. Keep dogs under close control (at heel or on a lead).

Defra advice is that risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way is very low if they follow these simple steps.

Exmoor National Park Authority Chairman, Robin Milton, farms sheep and cattle with his son near Dulverton. He said: “We ask local people to remember that many of the rights of way, paths, gates and stiles they might encounter on Exmoor are on farmers’ land and near their homes, where they are carrying out essential work.

“Whilst exercising is essential for physical and mental wellbeing, I ask everyone to respect the ban on non-essential travel and wherever possible to seek routes away from rural homes and farms when using local paths.

“By taking these simple steps, we are all doing our bit to protect our brave NHS workers and save lives.”

The law in England does not allow the National Park Authority to close any part of the public rights of way network for COVID-19 reasons. But anyone with concerns about public access can contact the National Park’s Ranger team for advice at info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or 01398 323665.

For further information about safe rights of way use or to download the poster see: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/out-and-about-essentials.

NEW GRANT SCHEME TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF NORTH DEVON COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY GROUPS DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Local councils are joining together to provide a new grant scheme to help fund the vital work of North Devon community and voluntary groups during the coronavirus outbreak.

North Devon Council is joining with Devon County Council in the new COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund providing grants of up to £500. Both councils are contributing 50% of the total of the grants awarded to each group with funding partly coming from contributions from each North Devon district councillor’s community councillor grant for the year.

The grants have been introduced to help tackle the social and economic impacts of the virus outbreak and help those who are most vulnerable in North Devon communities, they can be used towards activities including:

  • safe delivery of essential goods and services to people who are isolating, including food and medicine
  • supporting people to access online information and services
  • starting virtual support groups to help people who are isolated to stay connected and to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • transport related projects, including the use of voluntary car schemes to deliver essentials, medicine and meals

Applications are invited from established Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector groups, town and parish councils, charities or businesses, or a combination of these working together.

Groups, small local businesses and individuals without their own separate bank account may also apply, but they will need to have the support of a recognised organisation – such as town and parish council, local Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) organisation, village hall or other established local voluntary groups – acting on their behalf as guarantor or as the holder of the funding.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “I’m incredibly proud that North Devon Council has this opportunity to work alongside Devon County Council and help further support the vital work of our community and voluntary groups during this really challenging time. The work provided by these groups across the district is absolutely amazing and vitally important to helping our residents get through this difficult time. I am also extremely pleased that each district councillor, whatever their political background, has chosen to contribute financially to this scheme.”

Cabinet Member for Communities at Devon County Council, Councillor Roger Croad, says: “At extremely challenging times like this it is important that we all work together to support our residents, especially the most vulnerable.

“I’m particularly pleased that North Devon Council are joining the COVID – 19 Prompt Action Fund which has received in excess of 260 applications from organisations across the county already, after opening just over two weeks ago.

“This funding will help volunteer groups in Devon continue their vital work to tackle the impacts of the coronavirus in their communities and offer support to those in need.”

More information about the fund and how to apply can be found on the North Devon Council coronavirus support for groups and volunteers web pages.

Keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news, information and support available to residents, groups and businesses on the council websites and by signing up for e bulletins

North Devon Council – coronavirus advice – newsletter sign up

Devon County Council – coronavirus advice – newsletter sign up

 

WELLINGTON SCHOOL ACT DURING THE CRISIS

Meanwhile, over at Wellington School, although the doors are closed, the school remains committed to doing everything possible to support the local community. Here are some of the steps which they have taken:

  • Car parks have been given over to overflow patients from the local hospital
  • The Headmaster, Eugene du Toit, is in communication with local hospitals to offer the school’s boarding houses to NHS staff who will be working long shifts or who need to self-isolate. There is also the possibility that certain categories of patients (e.g. those in long-term care, but who don’t have critical medical issues) could use our boarding houses if beds need to be made available to cope with COVID-19 related pressures
  • So far, 55 pairs of goggles and hundreds of surgical gloves have been donated to the procurement department of Musgrove Hospital
  • Children of key workers continue to be looked after by staff, with activity primarily based in the Prep School.

The pupils have a full remote learning programme in place. The timetable is stuck to rigidly, with skype sessions, learning platforms and resources in place to ensure lessons are delivered.

The Headmaster delivered his end-of-term assembly remotely to all the community and reminded them that, “Wellington School is not defined by whether or not we are all in one place at the same time. We are defined by our sense of community, the lengths we go to in supporting one another, our indefatigable spirit in rising to a challenge. We are in this together and we will get through this together.”

WEST BUCKLAND SCHOOL SUPPORT LOCAL MEDICS BY PRODUCING FACE PROTECTION MASKS

West Buckland School’s Design and Technology Department has responded to the urgent need for PPE (personal protection equipment) for key workers in North Devon, by starting to make plastic face masks using the school’s 3-D printer.

In addition, the science departments at the school have donated all the safety goggles and glasses that they currently have in stock, to local doctors’ surgeries in North Devon and the school’s caterers have donated fruit and veg waste to Exmoor Zoo to feed to their animals.

Initially approached by a local GP surgery, the DT team sourced a template for the PPE face masks off the internet and used PLA (polylactide), a biodegradable material which is both suitable to protect medical staff when treating potential Covid-19 patients and can also be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Production is in full swing and already the school has been able to supply protective masks to North Devon Hospice and South Molton Community Hospital who are both delighted. A spokeswoman from the hospice said: “Thank you so much. This is very thoughtful and innovative of you.”

The school are hoping to continue to produce more masks as long as there is a need. They have begun to co-ordinate a small team of individuals and local companies who own 3-D printers and there are several other companies across the region who are doing similar excellent work, ensuring that as many key workers across the region as possible can receive the vital protection they need.

ENPA SAYS, “THANK YOU FOR STAYING AT HOME”

The following is a press release issued by Exmoor National Park Authority:

Exmoor National Park was a much quieter place at the weekend following updated Government coronavirus guidelines stating that people should stay local and use green spaces near their home.

Teams from Avon & Somerset and Devon & Cornwall police backed by National Park Rangers worked together to reinforce the message that the public should stay at home and not travel to countryside beauty spots for exercise or any other non-essential reason.

The response follows extraordinarily high numbers of visitors across the UK’s 15 national parks last weekend, triggering concern that people travelling to them en masse could spread the virus.

Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager, said: “We’re extremely grateful to everyone for foregoing their visits to the National Park over the weekend and until restrictions lift. The importance of these places for people’s health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated and we fully appreciate the sacrifice many are making to protect fellow citizens.”

The Government have been clear that public rights of way should remain open for local people to exercise. Anyone accessing the countryside from their own home must keep at least 2 metres apart from other people, sanitise hands regularly and wash them on return.  Dogs should be kept under close control, on a short lead or at heel.

The law in England does not allow the National Park Authority to close any part of the public rights of way network for COVID-19 reasons. Anyone with concerns about public access can contact the National Park’s Ranger team for advice at info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or 01398 323665.

Dan Barnett added: “Public rights of way that cross working farms or are close to people’s homes can cause concern for those self-isolating there due to age or ill-health. This is understandable and we ask that people are extra vigilant with their hygiene in these areas. As always spring is lambing time for many of our farmers, so please take care to close gates behind you and always keep dogs on a lead near livestock or moorland where birds may be nesting.”

The National Park Authority are only available to inspect rights of way where there are emergency or safety issues at this time.  Issues can be logged online at Explore Somerset (roam.somerset.gov.uk/roam/map) or by contacting the National Park’s Ranger team. For up-to-date Rights of Way advice see: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/out-and-about-essentials.

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST LAUNCHES #WILDLIFEWINDOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO LET WILDLIFE HELP OUR WELLBEING DURING SELF ISOLATION AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

Somerset Wildlife Trust has launched a social media campaign called #wildlifewindow across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to encourage people in Somerset to share the wildlife they see outside their windows and in their gardens, as well as share positive actions they are taking for nature while at home during the covid-19 outbreak.

With so many people now working from home, self-isolating or social distancing, the campaign #wildlifewindow aims to continue to get people to connect with nature and wildlife, even though it is currently more difficult to go outside, and demonstrate that their spaces, large or small, are homes to wildlife where they can make a difference. Somerset Wildlife Trust hopes this will help keep morale high, reduce feelings of isolation by allowing people to communicate with a community of other wildlife-lovers, and reduce the feelings of being ‘trapped’, bored or like they can’t do anything to help wildlife when indoors.

They want you use the hashtag #wildlifewindow across the social media channels in order to share what wildlife you can see out of your window whilst in isolation, or what you are doing for wildlife while at home or in your garden – whether that’s getting around to making that hole in your fence for hedgehogs or putting water out for the birds.

Head of Communications, Kirby Everett said, “Evidence shows that connecting with nature helps people feel happier and healthier, improving both physical and mental wellbeing. We hope that by encouraging people to enjoy and value the wildlife on their doorstep and through their window, the current distancing or isolation measures will be easier to withstand and may even create a great sense of community online in a difficult time. We also hope that it might lead to positive changes in terms of how people value of nature after isolation ends, and also drive more people to act for it at a time it needs us the most.”

As at 18th March (please check the Trust’s website for latest info) Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves currently remain free and open to all and are excellent places to unwind with wildlife, get fresh air, clear your head and exercise away from any crowd, if you are not in government advised self-isolation. However, they do recommend you take sensible precautions, taking into account the health and safety of yourself and others if you do choose to enjoy the reserves during this time.

Somerset Wildlife Trust will be sharing the #wildlifewindow images and posts they receive, as well as hoping to share short videos, images and interesting wildlife facts to keep us all entertained. You can follow them on Facebook on Somerset Wildlife Trust, Twitter on @SomersetWT and Instagram on @somersetwt.

Photo by Ben Hall.

NEW SOLAR LITTER BIN TRIAL FOR NORTH DEVON

A smart bin is being trialled in North Devon in a bid to reduce littering in the district.

Barnstaple High Street is the first location for the solar-powered bin, which can take up to seven times more rubbish than a standard bin as the waste gets crushed and compacted several times a day, using only energy from the sun.

Even when it’s not a sunny day, infrared technology means that energy can be collected without direct sunlight so the bin will still work. The units are sealed to stop birds and vermin getting in and can be opened using a foot pedal or by the handle on the pull-down door. When the bin is full a sensor sends out an email, so that it can be emptied before it overflows.

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Environment, Councillor Netti Pearson, says, “This trial is at a fairly low level with just one bin at present, but we will be monitoring its progress to see what difference it makes. We will place the bin in busy areas, and position it in tourist hotspots over Easter, to see how well it works.

“Smart bins bring many benefits, such as lower carbon emissions as they need to be emptied less often, so refuse collection trucks make fewer journeys. The advantages are clear – they cut down on littering, save time and money on collections, deter vermin and best of all they use renewable solar energy.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple Centre, Councillor Robbie Mack, says, “Barnstaple High Street gets a lot of traffic – and therefore a lot of rubbish! Currently, the bins here are emptied daily. A bin like this should mean less risk of overflowing and littering in the High Street, and we all want to see less litter. I’ll be interested to see the results of the trial.”

The bin will also be trialled in other locations in North Devon during the six-week trial, and if it proves successful more of them may be rolled out across the district.

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