Category Archives: awards

HEDGELAYING SKILLS REWARDED

The important work of Exmoor’s hedgelayers has once again been recognised and rewarded through the Exmoor Hedge Competition.

Peter Smith received first place and the ‘Mary Stacey Trophy’ (locally made using beech wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by the late Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis.  As winner, Peter is also invited to join the judges in deciding the winners of next year’s competition.

Well-laid hedges store more carbon, harbour more wildlife and provide a range of environmental benefits that far outstrip any other method of boundary management. They are also key to the National Park’s landscape, wildlife and farming history and provide employment for numerous skilled craftspeople during the winter months.

In recognition of this valuable work, Exmoor National Park Authority launched the Exmoor Hedge Competition in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, together with the generous support and sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust.

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, and Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, presented the prizes of up to £200 to the winning hedgelayers. First Place in the Open Class was Peter Smith, who laid the hedge for Timothy and Sally Stevens of Summerings Farm, near Wheddon Cross. Second prize went to Gary Atkins, who laid one of the hedges belonging to Shiamala Comer at Ashott Barton Farm, Exford. In third place was a hedge belonging to Robert Kilvington of Parsonage Farm, Hawkridge, whose hedge was laid by Adam Tarr of Lower Hunstone.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Exmoor Trust and the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups for supporting this competition. This traditional skill is so important to the wildlife and landscape of the National Park and an integral part of the rural community.

“Agri-environment support for hedge management has changed dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftspeople.”

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, said: “The Exmoor Trust is very pleased to continue to sponsor the Exmoor Hedge Competition and to support this very important rural skill.  Exmoor would not look like it does today if it were not for these skilled hedge-layers. With uncertain times ahead for agriculture, management of the land and hedgerows becomes ever more important.”

Those looking to develop their hedge-laying skills may be interested in the one-day introductory courses being offered in the Quantocks this autumn, organised by Somerset Hedge Group (£25 per person). See www.fwagsw.org.uk/Pages/Events/Category/events-and-workshops.

For more information about the competition, grants for hedge management or farming and wildlife advice, contact Heather on 01398 322277 or hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

BUTTERFLY POPULATIONS BOUNCE AS LOCAL PROJECT IS CELEBRATED IN NATIONAL AWARDS

A project working across Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor has been shortlisted for a national award following exceptional work to rescue butterfly populations in the South West.

All the Moor Butterflies from Butterfly Conservation is one of six projects to be shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Park Protector Award and the very first Year of Green Action Award for National Park projects from the Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Jenny Plackett, South West Regional Manager at Butterfly Conservation, said: “Butterfly Conservation is absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this Award for our work to improve the fortunes of our declining fritillary butterflies across Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor. We have been working alongside dedicated farmers and landowners to increase the quality and extent of suitable breeding habitat, and it would be wonderful if our partnership efforts were to be recognised with this Park Protector Award.”

The project fought off stiff competition to be within touching distance of the Awards, the results of which will be announced in a parliamentary reception this month. This year saw the most applicants apply in the competition’s history!

“The projects are each making an outstanding difference in some of the most famous countryside in the world; they are more vital than ever, when the natural world is under threat like never before and in the year of the National Parks’ 70th anniversary no less!”

“From introducing asylum seekers to the Yorkshire Dales to rescuing endangered butterflies, it’s testament to the power of the National Parks that they are inspiring people to make our countryside a better place for all,” said Corinne Pluchino chief executive of Campaign for National Parks.

Launching the competition, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the Government minister for National Parks, said: “From my experience travelling the diverse and beautiful landscapes of the Parks I know that there is work to be done, whether that is work to enhance nature or introduce more people than ever to the glory of the countryside. But I also know that very challenge is being embraced by projects up and down the country.”

The six shortlisted projects are:

LOCATE – New Forest National Park

 

 

This project is mapping precious archaeological sites in the New Forest, training volunteers in the specialist skills this requires. This project has helped to map Neolithic long barrows, Iron Age hill forts and Roman pottery kiln sites!

 

People and the Dales– Yorkshire Dales National Park Enabling people from a truly diverse range of backgrounds, including asylum seekers, disabled and inner city youths, to have life changing experiences in the beautiful countryside – improving community relations and introducing thousands to the National Park.

 

SWEPT – Pembrokeshire Coast National Park This project is training citizen scientists to go out and collect vital pollution data in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This data has led to clean-up events and has shone a light on the relationship between land and marine environments.

 

 

Skill builder – Peak District National Park Skill builder is engaging offenders on probation in conservation work across the Peak District, teaching them new skills, improving the offenders’ health and wellbeing and helping their rehabilitation. They boast that no participant has re-offended with the project.

 

Carlton Marshes – Broads National Park An ambitious restoration of 1000 acre landscape for wildlife alongside Lowestoft, one of the UK’s most socially deprived towns. Carlton Marshes is proving that people and wildlife alike can benefit from conservation and has been supported by the likes of Sir David Attenborough.

 

All the Moor Butterflies – Exmoor & Dartmoor National Parks. This project by Butterfly Conservation is rescuing butterfly populations from collapse in South-West England. Through working with farmers and other organisations the project aims to save six threatened species of butterfly and moth.

 

Stephen Ross, of the Ramblers Holiday’s Charitable Trust, which sponsor the Park Protector Award, said: “This year we’ve had an unprecedented number of high quality applicants, judging has been exceptionally tough and because of that I know what we have here are some of the very best projects run by the most passionate people. I wish there was a way to award every project. “

The winning projects will be announced at a parliamentary reception on 10 July 10. The winner of the Park Protector Award will receive a £2,000 grant towards their work, while the winner of the Year of Green Action Award will receive £1,500.

The annual Award is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.

Additionally, supported by Breedon Group.

PHOTO: A marsh fritillary, one of the species at the centre of conservation efforts. Photo credit: Tom Cox

JUST THIS WEEK LEFT TO APPLY FOR PINNACLE AWARD

The 2019 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is open to young people aged between 18 and 27 years who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area.  It offers up to £3,000 to an individual or group with an idea for a business venture based on Exmoor, for example in agriculture, forestry, food and drink, conservation, horticulture, craft or tourism.  The Award, now in its eighth year, was set up by The Exmoor Society to help young entrepreneurs live and work on Exmoor. As a conservation body, the Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to continue to live in the area by encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  The award also helps to promote the idea that livelihoods and beautiful landscapes in a National Park do go together.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle.  The award so far has helped fund young people either to set up or take forward businesses such as agricultural contracting, country clothing, arboriculture, metalworking and woodland management.  There were three successful applicants in 2018: Polly Goodman, Philip Stephens and Camilla Waterer, who were developing respectively goat meat from local herds, vehicle canopies from lightweight material and horse-drawn carriage rides over the moor for celebrations and special picnics.  All three applicants impressed the judges so much that Trustees decided to offer the full award to each one in celebration of the Society’s 60th anniversary.

The application process is designed to be accessible to all with a basic form to complete and a reference provided by a mentor or sponsor.  Applicants will be invited to an informal interview where judges will be looking for business ventures related to Exmoor’s rural character and likely to provide a sustainable living, with perhaps the potential in the future to offer further employment.

Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said: “There is a great deal of concern that young people have to leave Exmoor because of the lack of employment.  By providing seed core money through the Pinnacle Award, the Society hopes to enable them to stay in the area and keep the moor alive and thriving.”

The Society hopes to attract even more entries for the award this year which is open for applications with the closing date being 30 June 2019.  Forms are available on the Society’s website at www.exmoorsociety.com or by contacting its Dulverton office on 01398 323335, info@exmoorsociety.com.

Image: Tom Lile, blacksmith and metalworker.

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.

MINISTER SEEKS OUT PROJECTS CHANGING NATIONAL PARKS FOR THE BETTER

National Parks charity, Campaign for National Parks, has joined forces with the Government’s Year of Green Action to seek out the very best projects making a difference in the National Parks.

Winning projects will receive either a £1,500 or £2,000 boost in recognition of their work safeguarding the most beloved landscapes in the country in the first ever joint Park Protector and Year of Green Action Awards.

Minister for National Parks, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, said: “National Parks are incredibly important and it is essential that we celebrate the people who work hard to protect these special landscapes for all of us, and future generations, to enjoy.

“These awards are open to anyone making a difference to the future of these fantastic natural spaces.”

Nominations are open until Friday 31 May. Nominated projects must be seeking to connect people with the environment, conserve or enhance the biodiversity or a heritage site, improve access to the Parks, or protect an area in a National Park. Nominate here.

A project restoring a bog habitat for rare wetland species won last year’s Award. They were presented with their award by actress Caroline Quentin and journalist Julian Glover at a Parliamentary reception. This year Campaign for National Parks will also be celebrating 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament established the National Parks – something the organisation has led the fight for.

Andrew Hall of Campaign for National Parks said: “In past years we’ve had projects applying that cover everything from teaching kids salmon fishing in the North York Moors, mass volunteering in Snowdonia and using traditional skills to conserve the New Forest. This is a fantastic opportunity and we are delighted to work with Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust and DEFRA to make this happen this year.”

“If you are dedicated to connecting people and nature and caring for our cherished National Parks, then I urge you to apply. You have nothing to lose but the National Parks that you love have everything to gain,” commented Lord Gardiner.

The annual Award is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust and is also supported by Breedon Group.

PHOTO by Andrew Wheatley from our forthcoming summer issue of Exmoor Magazine, which is out mid May.

EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK SUCCESS AT GEOGRAPHY AWARDS

A resource to teach A-level students about coastal management in Exmoor National Park received a Silver Award at the annual Geographic Association Publishers’ Awards ceremony held at Manchester University recently (9-11 April).

The resource challenges students to reflect on how interaction between the landscape and humans has shaped the coastline over millennia. Its focus is Porlock Bay, where 20 years ago hurricane Lili breached the 8,000 year old shingle ridge, triggering its rapid evolution into a tidal salt marsh.

The site has since become a hub for research all over the world as one of the best examples in the UK of how re-establishing natural processes can help build resilience to flooding from rising sea levels, making it an ideal project for the next generation of geographers.

Education consultant David Weatherly, who was commissioned to help develop the resource, said: “This award shows that Exmoor National Park is at the forefront of efforts to inspire the next generation about the spirit, purpose and importance of our National Parks. As the future guardians of these special landscapes, I hope it’s a lesson young people will take forward into their future lives and careers and it’s been a real privilege to be involved.”

Ben Totterdell, Education and Interpretation Manager at Exmoor National Park, said: “We welcome more than 8,000 young people a year to Exmoor for day visits and residential stays at our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning, and many thousands more benefit from our free online teaching resources. So we know first hand the power of the outdoors to nurture a love for learning, while also building children’s confidence and ability to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life. It’s an honour to receive this award and we hope it will mean many more schools visit the National Park and are inspired to learn through its special environment.”

The award-winning resources were developed by the ‘Porlock Marsh Vision Steering Group’ formed of the two main landowners – Porlock Manor Estate and the National Trust – Porlock Parish Council, Exmoor National Park (who also funded the project) and Natural England. See: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/porlock-marsh-vision

WHITE HORSE EXFORD SHORTLISTED FOR COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AWARDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about the awards can be found here.

Photo by Peter Hendrie.

APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED NOW FOR THE 2019 PINNACLE AWARD

The 2019 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is now open to young people aged between 18 and 27 years who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area.  It offers up to £3,000 to an individual or group who have an idea for a business venture based on Exmoor, for example in agriculture, forestry, food and drink, conservation, horticulture, craft, tourism, or any outdoor land-based activity. 

The Award, now in its eighth year, was set up by The Exmoor Society to help young entrepreneurs live and work on Exmoor. As a conservation body, the Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to continue to live in the area by encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  The award also helps to promote the idea that beautiful landscapes and livelihoods in a National Park do go together.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle.  The award so far has helped fund young people either to set up or take forward businesses such as agricultural contracting, country clothing and woodland management.  There were three successful applicants in 2018: Polly Goodman, Philip Stephens and Camilla Waterer, who were developing goat meat from local herds, vehicle canopies from lightweight material and horse-drawn carriage rides over the moor for celebrations and special picnics.  All three applicants impressed the judges so much that Trustees decided to offer the full award to each one.

The application process is designed to be accessible to all, with a basic form to complete and a reference provided by a mentor or sponsor.  Applicants will be invited to an informal interview where judges will be looking for business ventures related to Exmoor’s rural character and likely to provide a sustainable living, with perhaps the potential in the future to offer further employment. Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said: “There is a great deal of concern that young people have to leave Exmoor because of the lack of employment.  By providing seed core money through the Pinnacle Award, the Society hopes to enable them to stay in the area and keep the moor alive and thriving.”

The Society hopes to attract even more entries for the award this year which is now open for applications with the closing date being 30 June 2019.  Forms are available on the Society’s website at www.exmoorsociety.com or by contacting its Dulverton office on 01398 323335, info@exmoorsociety.com.

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/.

STOGUMBER SHOP NOMINATED FOR ‘RURAL OSCAR’

A small village shop in rural West Somerset has reached the regional finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards 2019.

Central Stores Stogumber, which is run by Roger Howe, is a local village shop and Post Office in the remote village of Stogumber, which nestles between Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.

The awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, review thousands of nominations and select nine regional champions from five categories.  The winning five finalists will be given the title of national rural champions in a ceremony attended by MPs and ministers.

This photo was taken about 11 years ago when Roger and Anne took over the shop.

As well as offering Post Office services during the week, Central Stores stocks a wide selection of groceries, provisions and gifts.  The shop is an important hub for the village where people can meet others and find out about what is going on in their local community.  Roger’s additional services include selling tickets for local events, supporting charitable and environmental initiatives, delivering groceries to disabled residents and offering local businesses and craftspeople the chance to promote and sell their products and services within the shop.  Roger’s wife Anne, who is disabled, runs the store’s website and Facebook page and has a particular interest in helping to protect the local environment through recycling initiatives.

“We are so thrilled to have reached the finals of this prestigious competition,” said Roger.  “Central Stores has received nominations from people in the village as well as from those living elsewhere who have used it when on holiday or visiting family, and we are very proud to be a valued hub in the community.”

Find out more about the awards:
www.countryside-alliance.org/campaigns/caawards/

PHOTO AT TOP: Local residents celebrating the publication of Circular Walks around Stogumber, which is available to purchase in Central Stores for £3.