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.

CELEBRATION TO MARK OPENING OF TEMPLETON COMMUNITY LANDING SITE

Mr Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, joined local residents and Devon Air Ambulance Community Landing Sites Development Officer, Toby Russell, earlier this month to celebrate the opening of a Community Landing Site at Templeton Village Hall.

The idea to establish a landing site to support Devon Air Ambulance’s night operations was first raised by Sue Squire, Clerk to Templeton Parish Council, and the use of the land by the Village Hall was then explored. The Parish Council approved the idea and Parish Councillor, David Leeming, liaised with DAA, Devon County and Mid Devon District Council so a new lighting column could be provided at the Village Hall, an important requirement for a community landing site.

A landing site on the edge of the car park was selected by DAA, and the Village Hall Committee gave permission for DAA to use the land. The lighting column has two remotely operated lights that are switched on before the helicopter lands in the event of an emergency during the hours of darkness.

Toby Russell, Community Landing Sites Development Officer at DAA, said, “We were delighted to have the support of so many people who facilitated this landing site and to welcome Neil Parish to its opening. In addition to the grant given through the Bank LIBOR fines towards the project, we would like to thank Investing In Devon (for a grant towards the project), Sarah Coffin, Templeton Parish Council Chair, Parish Councillors (the Parish Council gave a grant towards the project) and Reg Coffin, Templeton Village Hall Committee Chair and Committee.

“Thank you to everyone involved for their time and support and for coming along to celebrate the opening.”

FURTHER ACCOLADES FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUTS

Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts at Dunster Beach have been recognised by Theo Paphitis, retail magnate and entrepreneur. He is best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den but also runs #SBS on Twitter to recognise small businesses with entrepreneurial spirit.

Theo says, “I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club. Like-minded individuals can share successes and learnings. This website will give a valuable profile to the winners chosen to date and should help those who have not yet won but want some tips on how to do so. You will find news about the latest winners plus events and activities of interest.

“I know I have been lucky in business and I am keen now to spread goodwill to others, of course not forgetting that, very often, you make your own luck by making use of every opportunity.”

“We are absolutely delighted being chosen from hundreds of applicants to win this accolade. Being an #SBS winner will give Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts as well as Dunster Beach unprecedented exposure nationwide,” said Brett Bates, co-owner of the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. ”With the launch of our newest beach hut Holi Moli it will only add to the incredible success of Salad Days, helping to bring many more tourists to this wonderful part of South West England.”

Find out more on the Salad Days & Holi Moli website dunsterbeachhut.com/

Salad Days & Holi Moli Facebook page

SWAN IN GASTROPUB TOP 20!

The Swan at Bampton is celebrating after being named for the third year running as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in Maidenhead recently (January 28 2019).

The multi-award-winning pub has polled in at number 20 this year. It received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018 when it was rated 28th and in 2017 it was positioned just inside the chart at 50.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “We’re absolutely delighted! It’s a testament to our team, our customers and our suppliers. They are wonderful people and each one of them has a share in this.

“Last year we were ranked as number 28 and the year before we just made it into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game, so we couldn’t have been happier. But now to be into the top 20, it’s just amazing. We’re in such great company, with the likes of Tom Kerridge’s pub the Hand and Flowers in the top 20 too, it’s just a wonderful feeling and we’re speechless!

“The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards again this year.”

The ceremony is organised by the publican’s publication, The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, said in The Morning Advertiser: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing.”

No stranger to accolades, The Swan scooped a plethora of other awards last year, including being named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

The Swan also retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence in 2018, for the fourth-year-running, and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

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

DUNSTER VILLAGE PHOTO COMPETITION

The Dunster Tourism Forum (DTF) has launched its first ever photography competition. The theme for 2019 is simply ’The Most Beautiful Photo of Dunster’, which gives a wide scope for the many talented amateur, semi-professional and professional photographers in the area to showcase their talents.

The deadline for entries is 15 June 2019. The prizes include a luxury weekend stay for two in Dunster’s 13th-century Luttrell Arms Hotel with an evening dinner and a visit to the hotel’s new Beauty Rooms, Sunday lunch for two at award-winning Reeves Restaurant and vouchers to spend in Raft Dunster boutique and Dunster Living interior shop. Each winner also receives a full-day studio photography course with Nina Dodd, a professional photographer of 25 years based in the village. 

In addition, there’s a ‘People’s Choice’ Award where followers of the competition’s Facebook page can vote for their favourites from a selection of entries.

Best entries will also be displayed in the village in a free outdoor exhibition in 2019 and in a 2020 Dunster calendar.

The photography competition is the first of several new events for Dunster in 2019 and has received great interest from the start with over 2200 Facebook page views in the first few days of the launch.

For more information on the competition and Dunster visit www.discoverdunster.info/

WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS SHORTLISTED FOR AWARD

A bespoke staircase project made in Somerset by Exmoor-based West Country Blacksmiths has been shortlisted for the Architects’ Journal Architecture specification award 2019 in the category of ‘Stairs and Lifts’. The staircase was created for a property in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man.

The project is a real Somerset-based collaboration. The house was designed by Foster Lomas, a London-based architects practice which was originally founded by friends Greg Lomas and Will Foster who both grew up in Somerset and visit family in Somerset regularly. The metalwork design concept was developed between architects, CAD Designer John Hesp of Porlock and West Country Blacksmiths based near Minehead.

The central feature of the property is eight tons’ worth of bespoke metalwork all made by West Country Blacksmiths at their historic National Trust Forge on the Holnicote Estate near Minehead. The metalwork includes two staircases and walkways made from steel and perforated stainless steel and also incorporates steel bookshelves which span over two floors.

The metalwork has been finished with a unique antiquing acid etch treatment with a protective lacquered finish with exception of the handrail which has been hand polished prior to the protective lacquer finishing. The treads and walkways have been made from perforated stainless steel which has been grain polished.

The team took over seven months to develop the design and produce metalwork which was sent from Somerset to the Isle of Man on two lorries with the team’s tools. The craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths flew out to meet and carry out the installation of their metalwork which took over seven days to complete.

West Country Blacksmiths co-founder said, “We were privileged to be given the opportunity to work on this project and we’re extremely proud of what the team involved in the project have produced. We are so proud that the quality of design and execution of this metalwork has been recognised by industry experts and shortlisted as one of the six best ‘Stairs and Lifts’ projects in the country.”

The awards will take place on 15 February in Manchester and will be attended by the team involved in the project.

The building was also shortlisted in the AJ Architects ‘House of the Year’ category for 2018.

PHOTO: by Edmund Sumner.

SPONSORED SILENCE FOR WALLACE AND GROMIT APPEAL

Proving that actions speak louder than words, pupils at King’s Hall School organised a major fundraising campaign recently in aid of sick and vulnerable children in the South West.

As part of their fundraising initiatives for the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal, a charity that raises funds for paediatric medical equipment at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Pupil Council took part in a sponsored silence, using only their facial expressions and body language to communicate with staff and pupils. They also arranged a non-uniform day in which the whole school adopted their brightest and most colourful clothes. Through these events, the children raised an impressive £2,240.

Karen Foster, Pupil Council Co-ordinator at King’s Hall, said: “It was great to see so many pupils eagerly accepting the challenge of a sponsored silence, which is a very difficult task, especially for children! We are all so proud of the pupils’ efforts and look forward to more fundraising events in the future.”

HILLSBOROUGH NATURE RESERVE ACTION DAY: CAN YOU HELP?

Do you have some time to spare to help out at an action day at Hillsborough Local Nature Reserve?

Following on from a successful task day in December last year, North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and North Devon Council will be carrying out another day of hands-on conservation work at Hillsborough’s Iron-Age hillfort in Ilfracombe. The team needs help to cut back overgrown shrubs on Wednesday 13 February, with the aim of revealing the Iron-Age earthworks currently hidden beneath vegetation.

Once the earthworks have been revealed, further funding has been provided by Historic England which it is hoped will shed new light on the archaeology of the hillfort through an innovative aerial survey. High-resolution images of the monument will be captured by a professional drone pilot at a later date, which will be shared through the AONB website and digital platforms.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to get involved in the care of the historic Hillsborough hillfort, which will enhance the historic, as well as the natural environment of an already beautiful area.”

Heritage Officer at North Devon Coast AONB, Joe Penfold, says: “The Iron-Age hillfort on Hillsborough is at least 2000 years old. As one of best examples of an Iron-Age ‘promontory hillfort’ in the area it has stood the test of time, but still needs active management to help preserve it. So hands-on help from local people is very welcome.”

Volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are invited to get involved. The events start at 10.30am and finishes at 3pm. Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear. All tools and light refreshments will be provided.

A limited number of places are available to assist with the aerial survey too.

For further information about the Coastal Heritage Project and to book your place on either the conservation task day or survey project, please contact Joe Penfold on 01271 388644, or email: joe.penfold@devon.gov.uk, visit their website – www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/ – or follow them on Twitter @explorethecoast

PHOTO: The last Hillsborough Volunteer Task Day on 12 December 2018.

NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON WALKING BOOK CLUB

Number Seven Dulverton’s first walk of 2019 is going to be a little bit different from the norm as they are delighted to say that the author, Tom Cox, will be joining them.

21st-Century Yokel explores the way we can be tied inescapably to landscape, whether we like it or not, often through our family and our past. It’s not quite a nature book, not quite a humour book, not quite a family memoir, not quite folklore, not quite social history, not quite a collection of essays, but a bit of all six.

It contains owls, badgers, ponies, beavers, otters, bats, bees, scarecrows, dogs, ghosts, Tom’s loud and excitable dad and, yes, even a few cats. It’s full of Devon’s local folklore – the ancient kind, and the everyday kind – and provincial places and small things. But what emerges from this focus on the small are themes that are broader and bigger and more definitive.

The book’s language is colloquial and easy and its eleven chapters are discursive and wide-ranging, rambling even. The feel of the book has a lot in common with the country walks Tom Cox was on when he composed much of it: it’s bewitched by fresh air, intrepid in minor ways, haunted by weather and old stories and the spooky edges of the outdoors, restless, sometimes foolish, and prone to a few detours… but it always reaches its intended destination.

‘A hybrid of nature writing, memoir, and social history, it rambles, leisurely, through the English countryside, often pausing to ponder the relationship between people and place.’ Observer

‘A rich, strange, oddly glorious brew… Cox’s writing is loose-limbed, engaging and extremely funny, and time spent in his company is time very pleasantly spent.’ Guardian

If you wish to join the March walk and talk booking is essential.

‘Tickets’ are priced at £17 which includes a hardback copy of 21st-Century Yokel, which Tom will sign for you on the day. For anyone who already owns a copy, the ticket price is £10.

If you are based further afield but would like to attend, Number Seven Dulverton can pop a copy in the post, postage within the UK costs just £3; simply contact the Number Seven to make arrangements.

Happy sociable dogs welcome, cats optional…

Find out more at www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk/marchwalktomcox

MOOR TO ENJOY PROJECT

Syrian refugees were among those to benefit from a ground-breaking five-year project to boost people’s health and wellbeing, by breaking down barriers to them enjoying time outdoors in National Parks. Research shows that spending time in green spaces can measurably improve people’s mental and physical health, raising the prospect that so-called ‘green prescribing’ could one day become part of mainstream medicine.

Khaled and Duaa recently moved near Exmoor National Park with their three children, having previously lived in Jordan and, before that, Syria. They visited Exmoor National Park for the first time through the Moor to Enjoy Project*, a five-year collaboration between Exmoor National Park Authority and Somerset and Devon Public Health, to help connect local groups with nature.

Carol Bryant from Taunton Welcomes Refugees, who have been supporting the family since their move, translated what the trip to Exmoor meant to them. She said: “What stood out for them was the sea – the children were seeing it for the first time having previously been in landlocked Jordan – and the animals. They saw cows, sheep and Exmoor ponies. Khaled was a farmer in Syria and loves the countryside. He said the scenery was lovely. They also visited the mill at Dunster and Khaled said how much he’d like to return with the whole family and visit the castle, so the trip triggered an interest in returning to the area.”

Lucy McQuillan, Exmoor National Park project coordinator for Moor to Enjoy, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to lead this project and see first-hand the amazing impact that time outdoors in the company of others can have for people going through some truly difficult times.

“It may seem like a small thing, but these kinds of connections can make a huge difference to people’s lives. Through Moor to Enjoy, I’m pleased to say we’ve helped over 1,000 people from 40 different groups with different challenges, spanning homelessness, drug and alcohol problems, visual impairment, mental health issues and dementia. It’s been truly humbling.”

*Funding for the Moor to Enjoy project ended in 2018, but the National Park are always happy to advise groups and there may still be opportunities to access support and funding through other programmes. Contact Tim Braund tbraund@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk for information.

PHOTO: The Abdulnabi family at a Taunton Welcomes Refugees event, where the Moor to Enjoy project was recognised for its outstanding contribution to refugee resettlement.

MAGNUS JOINS LIONS

West Buckland School’s Magnus Carter-Burns, in Year 13, has been selected to join the Independent Schools RFC Lions U18s National squad on their rugby tour to South Africa in April this year.

Players for the squad are selected from independent schools throughout the country and are notorious for their high level of play.

West Buckland School has a history of producing players who have represented the Lions at South West and national level.

Headmaster, Mr Phillip Stapleton, is delighted for him. “I am so excited for Magnus, who has shown so much commitment and hard work to get to this stage. Touring South Africa will be something he will never forget, and we send him with our best wishes.”