Category Archives: Charities

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.

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.”

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.”

SPREAD SOME WARMTH THIS WINTER BY DONATING YOUR WINTER FUEL PAYMENT

Thank you to Somerset Community Foundation for sending us this information…

Somerset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign, which encourages people to join the growing number of contributors who donate some or all of their Winter Fuel Payment to help local people living in fuel poverty, was launched before Christmas but there is still more that can be done to help.

Last year, over 500 older people living in fuel poverty in Somerset were helped to keep warm and better connected through the winter months, thanks to pensioners and other local donors who gave to Surviving Winter.

A Surviving Winter grant doesn’t just go towards paying the heating bill. It is also the first step towards connecting the recipient to a local Surviving Winter delivery partner; this can become the foundation for a new relationship that can help to overcome the isolation and loneliness many older people experience.

Last winter a single older lady, who already experienced mental health problems and severe anxiety, found a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia almost too much to bear. The condition had a rapid effect on her mobility and ability to work and before long she found herself in debt. She became extremely depressed and isolated, spending most of her time fully dressed and in bed. It was the only way to keep warm as she could no longer afford to buy fuel for her open fire.

One of SCF’s delivery partners visited her at home. They filled in a Surviving Winter application form and organised a delivery of subsidised firewood to her house. With fuel to heat her home, she felt able to invite people in without feeling ashamed that her house was cold, and she didn’t have to go to bed to keep warm. Her Surviving Winter grant helped alleviate the loneliness she was experiencing and made paying the bills easier. This would not have happened if Surviving Winter did not exist.

Somerset ‘celebrities’ who have donated their Winter Fuel Payment to the campaign include Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis MBE, the Rt Rev’d Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath & Wells, West Country Master Baker Robert Burns MBE of Burns the Bread and Westcountryman Les Davies MBE.

Help Somerset Community Foundation to continue to help more isolated and vulnerable older people this year.

To make a donation to Surviving Winter, visit www.somersetcf.org.uk/winter or call 01749 344949. Gift Aid forms are also available to download from the Somerset Community Foundation website or you can fill in the Surviving Winter Gift Aid Declaration Form when you send your cheque.

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

A similar scheme is run in Devon (more to follow soon): mydonate.bt.com/events/devonsurvivingwinter/449732

DEVON AIR AMBULANCE SET TO FLY UNTIL 2AM EVERY DAY

Devon Air Ambulance (DAA) has announced another extension of the operational hours of its emergency service which will now fly until 2am every day of the week with immediate effect.

DAA’s Chief Executive, Heléna Holt, said, “This landmark is another step towards our goal of eventually providing Devon with a 24-hour emergency Air Ambulance service. There isn’t a timescale yet for when this will be, but it remains one of our key objectives.”

Heléna Holt was at pains to thank the charity’s “amazing fundraisers and supporters” who have made this significant development possible.

Since the extension of flying time to midnight in 2016, DAA has assisted 118 patients during the hours of darkness.

Nigel Hare, DAA’s Operations Director, said: “Flying into the hours of darkness isn’t necessarily about flying the patient to hospital. It’s also about getting the right specialist care to the patient, quickly.

“Our community landing sites across the county allow us to land at a pre-surveyed site, with lighting that we can turn on and off by using just a mobile phone, saving vital minutes. Our doctors and specialist paramedics can administer essential treatment.”

Heléna Holt added: “A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes with parish councils and communities to create a network of community landing sites. It truly is a testament to our amazing supporters that what seemed a dream just a few years ago has now become reality.”

RNLI IN SEARCH OF NEW RECRUITS

It may be deepest January, but the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is in search of new recruits to spend the summer working as fundraisers on some of the South West’s most popular beaches, as applications open for 2019.

An essential role in inspiring support for the RNLI’s lifesaving work, each year around 150 fundraisers spend the summer on the beach and at some of the UK’s top summer events, encouraging visitors to become supporters of the charity while also providing essential local safety advice to thousands of holidaymakers.

Annabelle Hobson, Senior Face-to-Face Fundraising Manager, said: “Our fundraisers are vital to the charity over the summer, working with lifeguards to provide beach visitors to the South West with important safety advice as well as encouraging them to support our lifesaving work. We’re looking for outgoing and passionate people to join the team and support our cause.

“A summer job fundraising with the RNLI will help develop valuable skills for a host of future careers, and those who have joined us in the past say the experience is life-changing. So, along with good rates of pay, being part of a lifesaving team working on the beach and at some of the country’s most popular events for a national charity, it really has to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs!”

Full training is provided to all successful candidates, to ensure they feel confident and capable in the role. Applications are now open and will remain so until Sunday 20 January 2019.

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply to be part of the RNLI’s amazing lifesaving teams at rnli.org/bestsummerjob or search for #BestSummerJob on Facebook and Twitter.

 

UNDER-16 RUGBY SQUAD ROW FOR WALES

Members of the King’s Under-16 rugby squad completed an epic rowing challenge recently in aid of Cancer Research UK. Staff and pupils travelled a total of 274km, the entire length of Wales, on a rowing machine in just 11.5 hours.

The idea was introduced to the group by the Under-16 coach Dafydd Jones as a means of accomplishing something off the pitch to dovetail with their impressive achievements through their rugby. The boys, along with fellow Under-16 coach Tristan Stone, immediately embraced the idea, suggesting a number of charities both locally and within the UK, before Cancer Research UK was selected ‘out of the hat’.

Following an early start, the boys showed grit and determination as they undertook the lengthy workout. As a result of their hard work, the team have already raised in excess of £1,400 for the charity, with donations still pouring in.

Commenting on the event, Dafydd said: “I am immensely proud of their efforts and the way in which they continually drove each other on throughout the event – their teamwork and commitment to the cause was inspiring.”

Well done to the following pupils who were involved: Joe Wark, Ryan Phillips, Joss Chippendale, Connor Morrall, Tommy Richardson-Jones, William Hall, Tom Newman, Ethan Jordaan, Jamie Glaisher, Jack Masters, Alex Dalton, Charlie Spurr, Billy Turner, Harry Blakey, Oliver Mathew, Sonny Baker, Mr Tristan Stone, Mr Dafydd Jones.