Category Archives: Charities

Boarders cycle to raise £1,000 for Northern Devon Foodbank

£1,000 has been raised by residents of Parker’s, West Buckland School’s Sixth Form boarding house, who cycled the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for the Northern Devon Food Bank.

When James Conlon, one of the Parker’s house parents, put the idea to the boarders, they were so enthusiastic about helping local people in need and every Sixth Form boarder completed at least ten miles on the bike in a Covid-safe, socially distanced way. Most of the boarders did double, treble or in some cases four times that amount. The school would like to extend a huge thank you to all the boarders and a number of staff members, including Headmaster, Mr Stapleton, who put in time and effort pedalling to complete the target.

A special mention must go to one of the boarders, Tora, who completed 80 miles on the bike!

When the boarders decided to do this challenge, the school hoped to raise £200, so everyone is delighted to have raised over £1,000 (including Gift Aid) and money is still coming in. That means Parker’s has helped 1,000 families access much-needed food. If you wish to donate, there is still time. Please click here: tinyurl.com/y4xezsf9

West Buckland School would like to thank supporters for their generous donations and also James and the rest of the staff for organising and taking part in this event.

Children’s lockdown artwork raises Devon CPRE funds to protect countryside 

Vibrant paintings of the countryside created by Devon’s primary school children during this year’s first lockdown have provided the artwork for a new calendar produced by local countryside charity Devon CPRE.

Proceeds from the calendar will be used to fund the charity’s vital campaign work to safeguard Devon’s precious landscapes and green spaces for future generations.

Devon CPRE’s 2020 ‘My Outdoors’ Art Competition was a big hit with youngsters during this year’s spring lockdown, with more entries than ever before. Primary school pupils from across the county rose to the challenge of creating colourful images in celebration of Devon’s glorious countryside, even though many children were unable to experience the great outdoors at the time because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills says, “When we saw all the wonderful entries, we decided a calendar for 2021 would be the ideal way to showcase the children’s pictures whilst raising money for our campaign work. As you’d expect, the calendar is printed on environmentally friendly paper and includes the winning entries as well as some highly commended ones. It’s an ideal small gift to pop in the post for Christmas!”

The competition asked children to depict ‘My Outdoors’ in any medium of their choice.

  • St Peter’s Prep School at Lympstone near Exmouth won Best Overall School.
  • The individual winner in Key Stage 1 was six-year-old Betsy from St Peter’s Prep School, Lympstone, Exmouth for her seaside painting.
  • The joint winners in Key Stage 2 were 11-year-old Graciella from Pilton Bluecoat Academy, Barnstaple for her watercolour of Mannings Pit in North Devon (pictured at top) and 10-year-old Thomasin from St Peter’s Prep School, Lympstone who painted Bowerman’s Nose on Dartmoor.

The A4-size calendar costs just £7 including post & packaging. Copies are available to buy from www.cpredeon.org.uk or by calling 01392 966737.

Exmoor Hill Farming Network cake sales raise over £1,200 for Macmillan!

The Exmoor Hill Farming Network is an independent, 100% farmer-led organisation which operates as a Community Interest Company (CIC).

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had a fundamental impact on the Network’s activities, many of which have come to a halt. However, the Network has remained open, based remotely and available to members as a source of trusted information and – at the forefront –responding to the needs of the farming community here on Exmoor and in the Greater Exmoor area.

As regular readers of Exmoor Magazine will know, one of the Network’s Peer Support Groups which tackles rural isolation and mental health has continued throughout this pandemic and has met fortnightly via zoom since April. The Exmoor Women in Farming Group meet from the comfort of their own homes, engaging with over 40 individuals to date. The meetings have ranged from women’s health talks, to guest speakers from other rural parts of the UK talking about their farming opportunities and challenges and it is generally an opportunity for members to talk about their experiences too.

Network Office Katherine Williams, says, “Earlier this autumn it was suggested to support Macmillan Cancer Support as we had held a very successful coffee morning last September. After a discussion ensuring Covid measures could be observed, it was agreed to hold two cake sales at Blackmoor Gate and Cutcombe Market livestock markets during October by kind permission of Exmoor Farmers. The cake sales were overseen by myself and members of the Women in Farming Group. The cake sales were also accompanied by two prize draw meat hampers. The efforts of our farming communities raised a grand total of £1,204.80 for the charity, which works to provide specialist healthcare, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.

“We wanted to show our support in these unusual circumstances as this charity is close to many of our hearts in one way or another. This year we had to change our direction and ensure whatever we did was Covid secure. Everyone was very generous with their donations and we are exceedingly thankful for the support the farming community gave to this worthy cause’.”

PHOTO (taken before 5 November):  Representatives from Exmoor Women in Farming Group who dedicated their time to assist with the sales. Left to right: Catherine Cowling, Lesley Nicholas and Samantha Lole.

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST EMERGENCY APPEAL

The following is a press release which has been issued by Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Somerset Wildlife Trust has launched an Emergency Appeal for Somerset’s wildlife in response to the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the charity’s ability to fundraise for its work to reverse wildlife declines, restore biodiversity and reconnect people with nature.

Already dealing with the financial challenges surrounding reductions in EU funding, and the immediate and enormous cost of the rapid onset of Ash Dieback disease on its nature reserves, now, as a result of Covid-19, the Trust is looking at a shortfall in its budgeted income for this year of at least £200,000.

At a time when the Trust should be at the peak of its fundraising activities, with membership recruitment and events happening across the county, and delivering vital habitat management programmes with the help of hundreds of volunteers, many of its staff and recruiters have been furloughed, events cancelled, and work programmes are far behind where they should be. Reserve teams are also under additional pressure to repair the physical damage on sites from anti-social behaviour that took place whilst staff was at its bare minimum.

The Trust is appealing to members, supporters and those passionate about Somerset’s nature to support the charity now, when it needs help the most. The funds raised by its emergency appeal will help bridge the significant gap in its finances this year so it can continue its work for wildlife, capitalise on the current drive towards a greener recovery, and ensure Somerset can continue to play its part in addressing the national and global ecological and climate crises.

Katie Arber, Director of Fundraising & Marketing, comments: “Along with members, supporters and volunteers, we are desperately disappointed to have had to cancel our key fundraising activities this year, particularly at a time when the environment, climate change and loss of biodiversity were at the top of the political agenda and high in public consciousness. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge and immediate impact on our income and will for years to come.

“The fact that even more people have turned to nature to help them during lockdown however is brilliant news, and we hope local wildlife will continue to be part of their lives. We now need everyone’s help to continue to do our work to support wildlife and habitats here in Somerset, and every donation will enable us to do this.”

CEO, Georgia Stokes (pictured), adds: “The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. To reverse nature’s decline we must restore and connect valuable habitats for wildlife and restore natural processes also providing essential carbon stores and helping to adapt to climate change.

Many of us have discovered during lockdown that we need nature to benefit our physical and mental health and recognised that nature really is the life support function for our lives, our communities and our businesses.

“Whilst Covid-19 has hit us at the worst possible time, we mustn’t lose the momentum that existed before lockdown for building a more environmentally sustainable, wildlife-rich county, and urge everyone who turned to or connected with the natural world for the first time to continue their support and give if they can to help us continue the work we do during what will be difficult times ahead.”

To donate to Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Emergency Appeal, visit the website here: www.somersetwildlife.org/emergencyappeal or ring 01823 652429.

Photo: Georgia Stokes by Matt Sweeting.

NEW DEVON AIR AMBULANCE HELICOPTER TOUCHES DOWN IN DEVON FOR FIRST TIME

Loud cheers went up around the Devon Air Ambulance airbase at Exeter airport earlier this month, as their new Airbus H145 helicopter flew down the runway and settled onto the helipad – it was the first time this new generation aircraft had landed in Devon.

The new helicopter arrived at Exeter as part of a training flight from the Airbus Helicopters UK facility in Oxfordshire, where the aircraft is currently based. DAA formally accepted the new H145 last month and since then its pilots have been undertaking extensive training on the new aircraft. The flight into Exeter forms part of a three-week training programme which includes classroom-based theory, ‘visual’ and ‘instrument’ flight training containing a mixture of proficiency and flight skills tests and a theory exam.

DAA Flight Operations Director Ian Payne said, “It’s fantastic to see our new H145 helicopter flying into Devon for the first time, it marks the culmination of several years of hard work and development to get the very best aircraft for the people of Devon.”

“Those with a keen eye will notice the new H145, registered G-DAAS, is slightly bigger than our current EC135 aircraft which means we have a larger internal space to treat and convey patients, we can carry more emergency medical equipment and it has a longer flight time between refuelling. The advanced technology and aviation systems that are included with this aircraft really make the H145 a complete package and will ensure we have the very best airborne capability to deliver our enhanced and critical care for many years to come.”

“Despite the impact of Coronavirus, the new aircraft was delivered on time by Airbus Helicopters UK and we’d like to extend our thanks to the whole team at Airbus for their support and attention to detail throughout the project lifecycle”.

Gary Clark, Head of Civil Business, Airbus Helicopters in the UK, said: “We greatly appreciate Devon Air Ambulance’s continuing confidence in our products, and we look forward to supporting them for many years to come. The H145 provides a substantial enhancement to air ambulance operations and we are confident that it will enable DAA to offer even higher standards of service in its vitally important field of work.”

This training flight is one of a number the pilots will carry out as they gain experience of the H145’s array of advanced aviation technology and systems that deliver handling, autopilot and navigational aid functions. Once the pilot training is completed in Oxford during August the new aircraft will be permanently based here in Devon, where more crew training will be carried out before the aircraft goes into service later in the year.

Ian Payne added: “As soon as the H145 is based here in Devon we will be rolling out training across the whole of the Patient Services team. Our paramedics and doctors will not only be learning about the aircraft’s flight management and safety systems, but they will also learn how and where their medical equipment is stored and accessed so that in an emergency the new patient treatment area quickly becomes second nature.

All of this crew training will need to be delivered whilst we remain operational from 7am to 2am, 19 hours a day, so we expect it’s going to be a very busy time as we build up to the point of introducing the new aircraft into service during the autumn.”

DAA Chief Executive Heléna Holt said: “We recognise the huge responsibility we owe to our supporters to ensure we get the best possible aircraft to meet the needs of our current and future HEMS operations in Devon. We are confident the new H145 is the right aircraft and will be a huge asset in helping us to bring urgent medical care to those who need it most.

Our thanks, as ever, to all the businesses, communities and individuals who support us. We look forward to the day that we can invite you all to come and see the new aircraft which has been made possible by your generous support.”

 

RNLI TO INCREASE LIFEGUARD PROVISION IN THE SOUTH WEST THIS SUMMER

Since lockdown restrictions were eased last month, the RNLI has worked hard to roll out lifeguard patrols on 22 beaches in the South West.

Now these beaches are operational and new ways of working and equipment have been properly put to the test, the RNLI is accelerating its service roll-out and increasing the number of beaches which will have a lifeguard service. The charity is hoping to have lifeguards on around 170 beaches in the UK by early July – 70 per cent of the beaches it would patrol in a normal summer.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: “We are now confident we can provide a more comprehensive lifeguard service this summer safely, despite the continuing challenges created by the pandemic. The first few weeks having lifeguards back on beaches has helped us properly test the new ways of operating and reassured everyone that we can accelerate and expand our plans.

“Our original plan to lifeguard 70 beaches this summer was a conservative one, made when many things were still unknown. Now, though, we have a better idea of the journey out of lockdown for all parts of the UK, understand the new regulations with which we must comply as an employer and service provider and, most importantly, feel we can properly manage the risks associated with Coronavirus. So, we are revising our plans and adding to the number of beaches we can lifeguard this summer.”

There are already 22 beaches with a lifeguard service in the South West. In Cornwall, there are currently lifeguards on Constantine, Fistral, Gwithian, Hayle Towans, Mawgan Porth, Perranporth, Poldhu, Porthmeor, Porthtowan, Polzeath, Praa Sands, Sennen, Summerleaze, Watergate Bay, and Widemouth. In North Devon, Croyde and Woolacombe are currently lifeguarded, as is Weymouth in Dorset. Four beaches in Jersey – St Ouens, St Brelades, Plêmont and Greve de Lecq – have lifeguard patrols.

As of this Saturday (20 June), lifeguard patrols will start at the following beaches in Devon and Cornwall:

Exmouth, Bantham, Sedgewell Cove, Tregonhawke, Sharrow, Portreath, Chapel Porth, Holywell Bay, Treyarnon, Harlyn, Trebarwith, and Crooklets. Bringing the total number of beaches with lifeguards across the south west to operational to 34 beaches across the South West.

The RNLI is continuing to talk to its 55 partner local authorities and beach owners about which additional beaches might be lifeguarded this summer, seeking to align with the proposed early-July lifting of restrictions on the tourism and hospitality industries. The RNLI will announce this information as soon as possible.

Mark Dowie added: “With schools closed and restrictions on foreign travel, we know that lots of people will be heading to UK beaches – this could be the busiest summer ever for both our lifeguards and our lifeboat crews.  I’m very grateful to all those lifeguards who have already started their patrols or are now preparing to get back on the beach – they know this will be a challenging summer and are doing a brilliant job helping to keep the public safe during this pandemic.

“We must all continue to be aware that the risks from the pandemic have not gone away, but if people work with us and the other emergency services by following social distancing and other Government guidance relevant to their home country, we hope to be able to continue to provide lifeguard services this season. We’d like to thank all our partners – from Her Majesty’s Coastguard, to local councils and landowners – who are also working hard to help us patrol as many beaches as possible.”

New measures to deal with the Coronavirus mean the RNLI lifeguard service will look a little different this year. Lifeguards will wear PPE like ambulance crews in some situations. New protocols for all first responders mean the lifeguards may not deal with some minor first aid cases but will support people to treat themselves. They will also try to keep socially distant from beach goers, and may need to adopt different patrol methods at times, such as not using the red and yellow flags and asking people to keep apart but close to shore, to help keep people safe while maintaining social distancing.

The charity is also continuing to urge anyone planning to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice. Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember to:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • Don’t use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
  • In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard

PHOTO: RNLI lifeguards patrolling Perranporth Beach at a socially distanced 2m in June 2020 @triggerleephotography

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.

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.

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST LAUNCHES APPEAL TO PREVENT THE POSSIBLE EXTINCTION OF THE COUNTY’S DORMICE

Somerset Wildlife Trust has announced an urgent appeal for £35,000 to help secure a positive future for the county’s dormice in the face of possible extinction.

Despite once being common, in the last 100 years the native hazel dormouse has become extinct in 17 English counties, with recent UK reports showing that their numbers have declined by 51% in just 18 years. Somerset could easily be the next county to lose its dormouse populations unless positive action is taken now to make their habitats safe, and to provide the best conditions in which these vulnerable, and adorable, little mammals can thrive, now and in the future.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is urging wildlife and nature lovers in Somerset and beyond to donate what they can to support additional woodland management and monitoring programmes needed in the county, before Somerset’s dormice are lost without a trace.

Dormice declines are linked to the loss of habitat and decreasing traditional woodland management practices. Across Britain, just 3% of woodlands are today being managed using traditional management techniques such as coppicing and hedge-laying, while in the 1940s, that figure was almost 50%.

Senior Reserves Manager, Chris Eyles explains, “Dormice need well-managed, connected woodlands through which they can safely move to find food, breed and have secure places to hibernate – something that is already becoming increasingly problematic for them as we continue to see the impacts of a warming climate. Milder winters can sometimes cause dormice to waken from hibernation before adequate food sources are available. Woodland habitats are disappearing all over the country, so dormice populations are becoming fragmented and their future in Somerset looks uncertain.”

“Traditional techniques such as coppicing, thinning and hedge-laying enable us to maintain a balance of healthy habitats in our woodlands, and provide the perfect conditions within which dormice can thrive. But we have a huge amount to do.  We need your help to do more and faster.”

Monitoring their populations to keep them safe: Through regular surveying we know dormice are present on several Trust nature reserves, including Langford Heathfield and Black Rock, but there are plenty more with great potential which are currently not being surveyed! In fact, there are currently only 28 dormouse survey sites across all of Somerset, which is not sufficient to get enough baseline data to understand the true health of the county’s dormouse population. With more funds, we can install more dormouse nest boxes and train new volunteers to regularly survey these sites, so dormice have the best chance of breeding success in the years to come.

Chris continues, “Donations to the Dormouse Appeal will help us create ideal dormouse habitat, enable us to install more nest boxes and train more volunteers to carry out regular dormouse surveys to collect vital data about their health, so please do help if you can.”

“Every donation, whatever the size, will make a real difference. To donate to the Dormouse Appeal, please visit the Somerset Wildlife Trust website at www.somersetwildlife.org/dormouse-appeal or telephone 01823 652429.”