Category Archives: Charities

TOP YEAR FOR COMMANDO ENTRIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest post from Guide Dogs

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

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

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

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

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

Brook Foods Donate £1,250 to Exmoor Pony Centre

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

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

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

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

MOTORCYCLISTS CHAMPION 14TH DEVON AIR AMBULANCE RIDE OUT

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

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

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

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

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

RNLI ILFRACOMBE RECEIVES GRANT FROM NORTH DEVON COAST AONB

Ilfracombe Lifeboat station has an area reaching from Woolacombe in the west to Foreland Point in the east with call-outs to Lundy Island where necessary. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it attracts many visitors throughout the year.

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service.  The station has initiated a project over the last 12 months to support the lifeboat station to purchase additional life-saving equipment.

Jenny Carey-Wood, AONB Manager, says: “Despite the beauty of the seas and coast of North Devon they can be a challenging environment to explore and enjoy. The improved  capability from this valuable new equipment will help to save lives and we are delighted to support the RNLI’s work.”

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe, says: “The grant of £3,500 from the North Devon Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund will be of huge benefit to the work of the RNLI Ilfracombe Lifeboat station to help us save lives at sea and will be used to purchase valuable life-saving equipment.”

PHOTO: Jenny Carey-Wood, Manager at the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), presented Chris Wallis from Ilfracombe RNLI with a cheque for £3,500 from their Sustainable Development Fund earlier this month. The presentation took place at the Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station and was attended by volunteer crew members.

WALK THE WEST SOMERSET COAST PATH IN MEMORY OF SOMEONE SPECIAL

St Margaret’s Hospice is offering the chance to remember a loved one while enjoying some stunning Somerset scenery.

Entries are now open for the charity’s Great Somerset Memory Walk, which will see participants covering 12.4 or 25 miles of the West Somerset Coast Path on Sunday 15 September.

The sponsored walk starts at Butlins in Minehead, with the choice of finishing in West Quantoxhead or completing the full route to Steart Marshes. Buses back to the start are included in the entry price of £15 for adults and £10 for children under 16.

Participants are encouraged to raise sponsorship to help St Margaret’s Hospice continue providing care and support to 3,800 people across Somerset each year who are facing a life-limiting illness.

Sonia Bateman, events fundraiser at the Somerset charity, said: “Many of our sponsored walkers will be celebrating the life of a loved one, as we will be offering everyone a Great Somerset Memory Walk bib to decorate with their own personal dedication message. People are equally welcome to take part if they just want to enjoy the coastal walk and do their bit to help us care for people in our community.”

Walkers will set off between 8am and 9am, and the last groups are expected to reach the finish line before 6pm.

To find out more and book your place, visit www.st-margarets-hospice.org.uk and search ‘Memory Walk’.

PHOTO: West Somerset coast near Kilve

GLORIOUS SOMERSET GARDENS OPEN TO HELP ST MARGARET’S HOSPICE

More than 50 beautiful gardens across the county are opening to visitors in aid of St Margaret’s Hospice.

The charity has just launched its 2019 Glorious Somerset Gardens season, which kicks off with Little Orchard in East Huntspill on Sunday 28 April, and runs until September. Last year’s programme of garden visits raised an amazing £16,600 for the hospice.

Susan Bickle, coordinator of Glorious Somerset Gardens, said: “Here at St Margaret’s Hospice we know how important our gardens are to the health and wellbeing of our patients and their families, providing places of relaxation as well as reflection.

“For years our loyal supporters have been opening their gardens to raise funds for us. This year we have more than 50 amazing gardens to visit, including village walkabouts, a school allotment, an arboretum, a private nature reserve and many stunning gardens with beautiful views. There is something to interest everyone. Many gardens will also be offering delicious cakes, scones and teas, or added extras such as children’s trails and book sales.”

Among those supporting St Margaret’s Hospice by welcoming visitors are garden owners across Mendip and Wells, South Somerset and the Blackdown Hills, Taunton, the Quantocks and Sedgemoor, West Somerset and Exmoor, Yeovil, East Somerset and West Dorset.

Full details of locations, opening dates and admission prices can be found in the Glorious Somerset Gardens 2019 brochure, available from St Margaret’s Hospice shops, selected local garden centres and tourist information centres.

Susan added: “We are so grateful to all our garden owners and volunteers. We hope people will enjoy discovering these wonderful gardens while helping to make each day count for patients and their families facing a life-limiting illness across Somerset.”

Season tickets, priced at £25, are available for anyone who would like to explore the wide variety of participating gardens. They can be ordered from Susan Bickle on 01935 709182 or via the St Margaret’s Hospice website by searching for a season ticket.

More information can be found at www.st-margarets-hospice.org.uk/glorious-somerset-gardens.

ILFRACOMBE RNLI THANKS VOLUNTEERS FOR LONG SERVICE AT AWARDS CEREMONY

An awards ceremony has been held at the Ilfracombe RNLI annual dinner to thank 12 RNLI volunteers for their service to the station. Eight awards were given out to crew for long service and a further four service awards were given to crew standing down.

Andrew Putt, the RNLI Regional Improvement Manager, gave out the awards at the annual RNLI dinner on 12 April 2019 at Ilfracombe Golf Course. The awards included a 40-year service award to all-weather lifeboat (ALB) Coxswain Andrew Bengey and 20-year service awards to Head Launcher and Launch Vehicle Driver Gary Belgrove, Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) Helm and ALB Assistant Mechanic Stuart Carpenter, Shorecrew Mark Gammon, Assistant Coxswain, Mechanic and ILB Helm Leigh Hanks, Deputy Launching Authority Ian Meadlarkin, Second Coxswain Carl Perrin and ALB crewman Steve Ashton.

The station also presented certificates to Andy Maslen who was leaving the station after 14 years’ service, and Matt Simpson who was standing down from the Ilfracombe Station after 23 years’ service. A further Letter of Thanks was given to Mark Weeks who stood down as a Tooltrak Launch Driver but continues as ILB Helm and ALB crew. Dr Sean Ross was awarded a Letter of Thanks from the Institution for his role as Lifeboat Medical Adviser, a role from which he has recently stepped down.

Andrew Bengey, Ilfracombe RNLI Volunteer Coxswain, who received an award for 40 years of service, says, “When I first joined the RNLI the crews were mainly commercial fishermen. The RNLI has changed a lot over the last 40 years – now there is much more training available and people now come from all walks of life. I still enjoy being a volunteer with the RNLI, there is great camaraderie and teamwork, and you know someone’s always got your back. Over the years I’ve probably been out on over 800 shouts and there’s a lot of satisfaction when you know that you have helped someone. The RNLI is a great organisation and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe RNLI Lifeboat, says: “The RNLI depends on the work of volunteers to carry out many different types of roles. At Ilfracombe RNLI we are honoured and proud to give out these long-service awards to our dedicated volunteers who give up their time to help us save lives at sea.”

Photo by Jo Bolton.

RNLI APPLEDORE AND ILFRACOMBE TOW 300-TON MS OLDENBURG TO SAFETY

The volunteer crews of both the RNLI Appledore all weather Tamar class lifeboat Mollie Hunt and RNLI Ilfracombe all-weather Shannon class lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation were launched on Saturday 6 April following reports that the Lundy ferry MS Oldenburg had suffered a mechanical breakdown at Lundy Island.

The RNLI Appledore lifeboat was launched at 5.20pm, and the RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat crew launched approximately half an hour later, with both lifeboats arriving at Lundy around 6.45pm. The weather was moderate with a fresh easterly wind and small waves.

On arrival at Lundy both lifeboat Coxswains assessed the situation and discussed the appropriate course of action with the Master of the MS Oldenburg and the Coastguard agency. At this point the MS Oldenburg was secured to the jetty and the passengers had been removed from the ship and were safely ashore, leaving seven crew members on board. A commercial tug had been requested and was underway from Pembrokeshire, however this was not scheduled to arrive until around midnight. There was some concern that the weather was forecast to change over the next few hours before the tug was due to arrive, with stronger winds and tide which could potentially cause damage to the ship.

Following this consultation the Ilfracombe lifeboat crew secured a tow line, which was left slack, to the stern of the MS Oldenburg as a precaution, in case the weather worsened and both lifeboats then stood off ready to assist if necessary and to await the arrival of the tug. The tug arrived just after midnight and Ilfracombe lifeboat was stood down and returned to station at 2.15am. Appledore lifeboat remained on scene whilst the tug towed the MS Oldenburg off the jetty stern first, and then secured the tow from the front of the ferry. Once the tow was underway Appledore RNLI returned to station, arriving on their mooring at around 4am, with the crew home at 4.45am.

Carl Perrin, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, says, “The lifeboats stood by prepared to act if required if the weather had deteriorated. However, fortunately the wind did not increase as forecast. Before the tug arrived the sea conditions around the jetty due to the tidal state were starting to worsen as the depth of water under the vessels was reducing on the ebb tide. The RNLI Appledore and Ilfracombe lifeboat volunteer teams worked together to provide assistance the MS Oldenburg.”

The RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat was launched again at 7.25am on Sunday 7 April to assist the MS Oldenburg into port at Ilfracombe. The two all weather lifeboats currently at station, The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and the relief Shannon class Stormrider were launched to help the tug bring the MS Oldenburg safely into the harbour. The lifeboats secured lines to the stern of the MS Oldenburg and helped slow and control the vessel as she came into the harbour. RNLI Ilfracombe volunteer shore crew helped to secure the MS Oldenburg into her berth.

RNLI Coxswain Leigh Hanks says, “This was a big team effort from the station. Some of the crew had only returned to station at 2.15am and had only got to bed at 3.45am before they were paged again to assist at 7.25am. Conditions for bringing the MS Oldenburg back into port were testing with a fresh easterly wind and the fact that the ship weighs almost 300 tons. The crew train extensively for situations like this and we do take part in joint training with the MS Oldenburg in case of emergencies as we are her home port.”

Later the same day RNLI Ilfracombe were requested to launch to Lundy Island again, to evacuate an individual who required medication who had been stranded on the island overnight. The Ilfracombe lifeboat launched at 3.45pm and arrived at the Island at 4.30pm. The lifeboat returned to station at 6pm, bringing back the individual for whom the evacuation was requested and a further five people including two individuals who were scheduled for surgery in the next 48 hours and a surgeon from a local hospital. Arrangements are being made by the owners of the MS Oldenburg to bring back the remaining passengers.

PHOTO: The MS Oldenburg being towed into Ilfracombe harbour with Ilfracombe lifeboats assisting.

RNLI ILFRACOMBE LAUNCHED TO ASSIST WITH SEARCH FOLLOWING CAR CLIFF FALL

Volunteer RNLI crew launched relief all-weather lifeboat, Stormrider, to assist the emergency services in the search for possible casualties following an incident where a vehicle fell from steep cliffs onto the beach at Sillery Sands, near Lynmouth.

The call was received at 9.05am on Saturday 9 March and the volunteer crew quickly mobilised and launched the relief Shannon class all-weather lifeboat Stormrider. Sea conditions were rough, with a near gale force 7-8 westerly wind and strong tides with four-metre swells. In these challenging conditions the journey out to Sillery Sands took 35 minutes and the RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene at 9.40am.

Once on scene, volunteer crew could see the badly damaged car at the foot of the steep cliff at the water line. The Ilfracombe Coastguard Rescue Team, Lynmouth Coastguard Rescue Team and the police were in attendance at the scene. At this point RNLI crew were informed that the driver had managed to escape from the car, but it was unclear whether there was anyone else in the vehicle at the time  it went over the cliff.  Lynmouth Fire Service and Barnstaple Fire Specialist Rescue team also attended the scene and were able to search the wreckage of the car and confirm that no-one was inside.

The RNLI lifeboat crew were tasked by the coastguard and police with searching the cliffside and shoreline to check whether there were any other casualties. Using their knowledge of the conditions and tides, the crew searched the shoreline and cliff area, and identified a number of objects for investigation by the coastguard team. No casualties were found. The coastguard sent a cliff technician down the cliff and all of the objects were retrieved. The RNLI crew searched the area for an hour and half before before being stood down at 11.10am by the emergency services. The lifeboat then returned to the station by 11.40am.

Carl Perrin, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, who led the search says: “Our volunteer crew performed well to assist the police and coastguard in the search for casualties. The team have trained extensively to carry out this kind of task and today they used their training and local knowledge to carry out this search with strong winds and a heavy seas making conditions challenging.

“There were a number of people gathered around the rocks at the shoreline to observe the rescue. In such rough and unpredictable sea conditions, we would remind people to take extra care and to respect the water.”

PHOTO at top of story: Stormrider by Neil Perrin.