Category Archives: Congratulations to…


Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, is delighted to have received a grant of £387,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The National Lottery grant, along with £57,600 from the Country Houses Foundation and £100,000 from supporter donations, will allow the charity to restore the Manor and library collection, and to deliver a creative learning programme in local schools and across West Somerset.

Halsway Manor is a Grade II listed manor house situated at the foot of the Quantock Hills in West Somerset. It has a fascinating history dating back to the fifteenth century, with a mention of the Halsway Estate included in the Domesday Book. Since 1965 the Manor has operated as the National Centre for Folk Arts, providing opportunities for thousands of people to discover, learn about and enjoy traditional folk music, dance, song, folklore, crafts and more. It houses a nationally important collection of books, recordings and artefacts relating to English traditions.

After over fifty years of heavy use, there is essential work needed to preserve the buildings and valuable library collection. The project will repair and conserve the Manor’s historic building fabric, upgrade dated electrical and water systems and provide more efficient heating. This work will be carried out between April and August 2018 by Somerset firms Jonathan Rhind Architects and heritage building company Ellis and Co. Alongside the restoration will be a far-reaching creative learning programme working with local schools and communities to use the folk heritage of Halsway and the surrounding areas to stimulate creative workshops, residencies and new work.

Commenting on the award, Crispian Cook, Chief Executive, said, “We are thrilled to have received this grant thanks to National Lottery players, and a huge thank you goes out to all our supporters who have donated their own money to the project. This project will ensure the Manor – and its library collection – will be available for future generations to enjoy, providing opportunities for countless people to learn about our diverse folk heritage.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players this historic building and its fascinating collections have a secure and exciting future. Creative and community focused, this project will enable even more people to explore the centuries old story of Halsway Manor and English folklores, customs and traditions.”


Emma and David Wallace have been celebrating another success for their Anchor Herd of Exmoor ponies having been awarded the ‘Exmoor Breeder of the Year’ at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

This prestigious award is the latest in a long line of successes for the Wallace family whose Exmoor ponies have, in the past 12 months, also been awarded Foal Show Supreme Champion with Anchor Icicle; Cheshire County Show, Great Yorkshire Show Championships and Exford Show Supreme Champion with Anchor Champagne.

Commenting on the success, Emma Wallace says, “What an amazing season it has also been for Anchor Fairytale: from qualifying for The Horse of the Year Show* as a five-year-old having been bred on the hill to jumping at the Horse of the year show in the mountain and moorland working hunter class against all our other native breeds, winning at the National Pony Society Championship show and Lincoln and then getting her flat ticket at the Breed show.

“We would like to thank Pam Brown for everything and wish her the very best of luck at HOYS. Thanks also go to Kellythorpe Stud and Lisha Leeman for sponsoring such a super award.”

Emma continues: “On the moor we are preparing for the annual gather and weaning of the Anchor herd prodgeny at the end of the month and we are excited to see what foals we have.”

“We hope several will continue to promote the breed by competing nationally like Fairytale and Champagne have, before returning to the hill to breed and ensure all our rare bloodlines are carried forward to keep the genetic base of this rare and unique breed healthy into the future.”

*After Emma was interviewed it wasannounced that Fairytale was the highest placed Exmoor Pony in both classes at the Horse of the Year Show so best of breed in both classes!

2015fairy breedshow full extentionat trotPHOTO: by Tricia Gibson



A free exhibition displaying the winning pictures for the 2016 South West Coast Path Photographic competition is open for visitors to enjoy at the Dunster National Park Centre and will be on display until the end of October.

Amateur and professional photographers were encouraged to enter their best pictures of the Coast Path in this annual photo competition. The South West Coast Path is one of the world’s greatest walks. The aim of the competition is to showcase its landscape and wildlife by taking beautifully crafted photographs.

The SWCP passes through many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as Exmoor National Park. Many people enjoy completing it in sections over several visits, using taxi services to transport their luggage onto their next stop point or making use of the Moor Rover bus which can be booked in advance subject to availability, phone 01643 709701 for more details.

This year’s twelve top photos are featured in the 2016 South West Coast Path calendar, with the 1st prize winner on the front page. Each copy sold will raise a minimum of 25p for the South West Coast Path Association for path improvements

There were over 900 entries in this year’s prestigious competition which was won by keen amateur photographer, Brian Howe from Camberley, Surrey with his image of Chapman’s pool in Dorset.

The first runner-up was a picture taken at Porth Nanven by last year’s winner Peter Edwards. A stormy picture of Porthleven by Lloyd Cosway was joint third along with Richard Taylor’s picture of the Dartmouth Daymark.

All the photographs are on show and canvases are available to buy through auction.

PHOTO: Great Hangman heading down to Combe Martin by Andrew Wheatley.

Congratulations Spears Cross

Spears Cross, the award-winning boutique Bed & Breakfast in Dunster, has just landed a further accolade. It has been named in the top 25 ‘Bargain Hotels’ in the 2014 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards for the second year running.

Now in its twelfth year, the annual Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice awards honour the UK and indeed the World’s best accommodation providers. The Traveller’s Choice winners are based on millions of guest reviews and opinions from travellers around the World.

Spears Cross owners Cliff and Tricia Nicholson commented: “We are really thrilled about this. When you consider the sheer number of accommodation businesses in the UK, for us to gain a small but select number of positive reviews is quite an achievement. Whilst we are too small to be officially classified as a hotel, we offer the same amenities and level of luxury as a good quality Country House hotel, hence us being placed in the ‘Bargain Hotel’ category’.”

Spears Cross has in the past won the ‘Best Bed & Breakfast in the South West’ award from South West Tourism the ‘Best Bed & Breakfast on Exmoor’ award from Visit Exmoor as well as being a ‘Gold’ award winner from Taste of the West. Its current award from Visit England is a ‘Breakfast’ award, which sits alongside the 5*, Gold grading from Visit England.

The Trip Advisor awards are based upon more than 75 million reviews and opinions from guests around the globe. This makes it the World’s largest and most respected travel site with over 60 million visitors to the website each month.

Huntsham Court wins prestigious award from Hudson’s Heritage

huntsham courtHuntsham Court, a stunning exclusive hire baronial mansion in Devon, has won the ‘Commercial Innovation’ award at this year’s Hudson’s Heritage Awards. The Awards took place on Tuesday 19 February at Goldsmiths Hall, London and was presented to owners Damian Llambias and Chris Badham, by Loyd Grossman.

This award is for a commercial idea which is unusual, original and stands out from the crowd and reflects the innovation that Llambias and Badham have shown since they took over ownership in 2012. They undertook a major refurbishment programme to restore the house to its former glory and to update it with a contemporary, eclectic twist, creating a relaxed private venue, set in beautiful gardens.

As a result, the house is now in great demand for weddings, private house parties, corporate events, special occasions and as a film location.

Hudson’s Heritage Awards celebrate the high quality of experiences enjoyed by visitors to a wide range of heritage attractions. Inaugurated in 2011, the awards recognise excellence, creativity and innovation in the UK heritage industry and attract extensive media coverage for the winning places, in local and national press. All historic houses, gardens, museums, galleries and heritage sites open to the public are eligible. The Awards are independently judged by a panel of experts.

Damian Llambias, co-owner of Huntsham Court explains their ethos for the house: “Our vision was to create a versatile venue where visitors would feel relaxed and at home, whilst making the experience as flexible as possible for clients, offering a level of choice and highly competitive price unavailable elsewhere. We are delighted to have won this award and join previous winners such as Blenheim Palace.”

The House sits in spectacular rolling Devon countryside, close to the Somerset border and Exmoor National Park. Tiverton is the closest large town, and Tiverton Parkway mainline rail station has a two-hour express service from London. Within striking distance from Exeter, Taunton and Bristol, and at just a 12-minute drive from the M5, the house offers a real country feel, whilst maintaining excellent transport links. It can also be reached by a private airstrip, just three miles away, and helicopters are able to land within the grounds.

For further information on Huntsham Court visit or call 01398 361 277.

You can read all about the restoration of the gardens in the current issue of Exmoor Magazine.

Level Spirit win in Tozers Restricted Race

Level Spirit ridden by Robert Henderson - the winner of the Tozers Solicitors LLP's restricted race.
Level Spirit ridden by Robert Henderson – the winner of the Tozers Solicitors LLP’s restricted race.

Devon solicitors, Tozers LLP, sponsored The Resticted Race at the Mid Devon Hunt Club’s Point-to-Point at Blackforest Lodge, Kenton on Sunday 2 February 2014.

Over 50 guests joined lawyers from Tozers for hospitality in their marquee and watched the nine-year-old bay gelding, Level Spirit, owned by The Otter Club from East Devon and trained by Ottery St Mary based trainer Ed Walker, win the restricted race at 10-1. Anneli Jones (solicitor in the agriculture and landed estates team at Tozers) along with partners of Tozers – Vernon Clarke, Nick Conner and Jill Headford – presented William Furnival and the other members of The Otter Club with The Martin Hawke Perpetual Memorial Cup.

Anneli Jones, a keen horsewoman herself, was delighted to present winning jockey Robert Henderson with a pair of China mugs by Virginia Pope and she comments: “I was very pleased to present the award to Robbie after a brilliantly timed run, which gave one of the best finishes of the day. Level Spirit was rested for the two last years so it was very exciting to see him back in such good form.”


Gold Green Tourism Business Scheme Award for Wimbleball Lake

Photo by Daniel Pocock
Photo by Daniel Pocock

There has been lots of news about awards this week and yet another local tourism provider, South West Lakes Trust, is proud to announce that Wimbleball Lake has been re-awarded the Green Tourism Business Scheme’s Gold Award.

The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the national sustainable tourism certification scheme for the UK. Businesses opting to join Green Tourism are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria covering a range of areas, such as energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.

Under the scheme sites are assessed every two years and in 2008 and 2010 Wimbleball Lake received Gold. The Green Tourism certification is important in today’s world as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of sustainability-related issues and tourism needs to be sustainable to ensure its future viability.

Wimbleball has done extremely well to retain this award, which reflects the strong commitment that South West Lakes Trust has to sustainable business practices. Improvements since the last audit include the installation of ‘plug in’ solar PV panels with visitor interpretation, the addition of a ‘solar charged’ Tramper, and the expansion of the cycle track system. Good plans are also in place for a community orchard on site.

Evelyn Stacey, the charity’s Chief Executive who also chairs the Exmoor Tourism Partnership, said: “We are so thrilled to have this national endorsement of our environmental practices and of Wimbleball’s status as a top visitor attraction in this very special area. It was the first attraction on Exmoor to gain a Gold GTBS in 2008, so it’s very fitting that we should have something to celebrate again in a landmark year, the 60th birthday of Exmoor National Park. The Trust is particularly pleased to be part of the network of green attractions, local food producers and excellent accommodation that define Exmoor’s high quality tourist industry.” 

The site itself continues to be extremely well managed for wildlife as part of the upland ELS, with a good range of educational and family-oriented activities to encourage people to become more involved with the outdoors.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, commented: “This is great news and our congratulations go to Wimbleball Lake and the South West Lakes Trust. We are delighted that their hard work has been recognised by this prestigious award. The improvements that have taken place at Wimbleball Lake over the last couple of years have made it a great place for visitors and locals alike to enjoy and we wish them continued success.”

More information about the Green Tourism Business Scheme can be found on their website

Calvert Trust Wins Gold

calvert trust 1Calvert Trust Exmoor are very pleased to have won two Gold awards and Winner of Winners at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013-14, which took place in Plymouth last week.

Calvert Trust Exmoor runs the only five-star activity centre in the country, and caters for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and levels of ability, together with their families, friends & carers. Activities on offer include sailing, horse riding, wheelchair abseiling, accessible cycling and archery. Over 3,700 guests had a residential break with Calvert Trust Exmoor last year.

The two Gold awards were in the “Access for All” and “Tourism Sport and Experience of the Year” categories.

Tony Potter, Chief Executive of Calvert Trust Exmoor, said: “This is fantastic news that rewards all the hard work that the Calvert Trust Exmoor team consistently put in; we are so pleased to be recognised for delivering an excellent experience for anyone and everyone, of any ability or age. Going on to win the Winner of Winners award was the icing on the cake; I was delighted to be able to accept these awards on behalf of our whole team.”

Regarding the Winner of Winners award The Judges said: “There are no criteria for this award. At the end of the judging panel meeting its members are asked to identify any entrant which, in their view, has shone out as an exemplar in its field. On this occasion the debate was short. This year’s Winner of Winners was visited independently by two mystery visitors. Both of them came away declared themselves “inspired” by a business that is doing things that others regard as impossible, or simply hadn’t thought of. It is a genuine exemplar to all tourism businesses on how to widen their audience, be accessible, and deliver excellence.”

With Gold in both the Devon and South West Awards this year Calvert Trust Exmoor are now looking forward to the prospect of represent the region in the National Visit England Awards for Excellence 2014 in May.

Mobility Scheme Wins Bronze

Left to right: Jon Avon, Stover Country Park Manager for Devon County Council, Jenifer Littman MBE from Tourism for All, Sally Shalam, Guardian Travel Writer, Ian Jubb, Countryside Mobility membership officer, Yvonne Pope, Living Options Devon Disability Champion, Nevil Salisbury-Rood, Living Options Devon trustee and access auditor,  James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility
Left to right: Jon Avon, Stover Country Park Manager for Devon County Council, Jenifer Littman MBE from Tourism for All,
Sally Shalam, Guardian Travel Writer,
Ian Jubb, Countryside Mobility membership officer, Yvonne Pope, Living Options Devon Disability Champion, Nevil Salisbury-Rood, Living Options Devon trustee and access auditor,
James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility

A charity based in the South West has been awarded bronze in the ‘Access for All’ category at this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Countryside Mobility was presented with the award at a black tie ceremony held at the Holiday Inn in Plymouth.

Run by charity Living Options Devon, the Countryside Mobility scheme helps to make some of the South West’s top tourist attractions and countryside locations accessible to people with limited mobility.

The scheme has already successfully sited all-terrain mobility scooters known as ‘Trampers’ and wheelchair accessible ‘Wheelyboats’ at more than 30 countryside locations across the South West for hire by members.

James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility, was thrilled with the result saying: “2013 was a great year for the scheme with a growth in the number of partner sites involved and record numbers of people benefiting from the service. Winning this prestigious award is a real stamp of approval from the tourism industry and the icing on the cake at the end of a bumper year. We are delighted to have received this recognition but even more pleased to be able to open up various locations to people with limited mobility.”

Tracy Higgins from Bristol is an active user of Countryside Mobility’s Trampers and was delighted with the win, commenting: “I am thrilled to hear that the scheme has been recognised with this award. The positive impact it has on those struggling to access the countryside is considerable. As a member of the scheme and a regular user of the Trampers I have now been able to enjoy beautiful parts of the South West which before would have been completely out of bounds for me, whilst providing me with a new sense of adventure and independence.”

The South West Tourism Awards are hotly contested each year and this year was no exception with a total of 350 entries.

Small B&Bs through to large tourist attractions were put through their paces as the judges spent a total of 20 hours whittling down the entries to just 63 finalists over 16 categories.

Each finalist received either a Gold, Silver or Bronze award and 53 will now go forward to the Visit England Awards in May, including Countryside Mobility.

James added: “We have now submitted our entry into the 2014 Visit England Awards and would like to thank everyone that has helped to make our application as strong as possible, highlighting the important work that is taking place.”

For further information about The Countryside Mobility Scheme please visit

Local Retailer Johns of Instow Wins ‘Local Shop Of The Year’ in the Farm Shop & Deli Awards

Johns of Instow  Appledore - Local Shop of the YearFrom nearly 300 entries nationwide, local retailer Johns of Instow wins ‘Local Shop Of The Year’ sponsored by Pidy/Hider Foods in the Farm Shop & Deli Awards.

Sue Johns, Owner said: “We are all absolutely thrilled to win this award. Thank you to all our valued customers that voted for us and helped us to win! We are lucky to be able to deliver our quality produce and services to both the local community and visitors to the area. We have always tried to engage our customers with our developments in person and now via social media too so this accolade means so much to us as it is comes from our customers.

“Johns of Instow are very proud to support a wide range of local producers in our delis, café & butchery which compliments our off licence and grocery produce. Our friendly and knowledgeable team looks forward to serving our current and new customers in 2014!” 

The Farm Shop & Deli Awards, in partnership with Olives Et Al, recognise the very best standards in speciality retail and to celebrate the highest levels of service, product knowledge, initiative, innovation and community involvement. The Awards celebrate the unsung heroes of the high street and speciality retail scene with categories ranging from butchers, bakers, farm shops and delis through to garden centres, food halls and online businesses.

Judge Neil Nugent, Executive Chef and Head of Product Development at Morrison’s, said “The Awards are a brilliant opportunity for the UK’s small independent businesses like Johns of Instow to get recognition nationally and enable them to become a destination.”

The Farm Shop & Deli Awards received a record number of entrants from nearly 300 businesses across the UK, along with thousands of public votes from consumers supporting their favourite speciality retailers.

Johns of Instow was one of twelve category winners and twenty five commended and were chosen following a day of intensive judging by leading speciality retailers and key industry figures along with mystery visits conducted throughout December by BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Barden, Chair of Judges.

Nigel Barden said “It’s gratifying to know that there are so many excellent purveyors of food & drink in Britain, like Johns of Instow. During the mystery visits I have been delighted, moved & inspired by the people I’ve met and it’s marvellous to find local retailers like Johns of Instow, are so much at the heart of their community. “

The scores will now be counted and judged within the ten UK regions, announcing the Regional Champions in February – these winners will go through to the final with the chance to win Retailer of the Year. The overall winner will be announced at the Farm Shop & Deli Show on 24 March 2014 at Birmingham’s NEC.

For more information visit:

Exmoor Magazine can, we are delighted to say, be found at Johns of Instow.