Category Archives: west somerset

PIONEERING FEMALE MATHEMATICIAN’S FORGOTTEN LEGACY AND PORLOCK’S INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ON 5 OCTOBER

It will soon be possible to walk in the footsteps of  nineteenth-century computer pioneer Ada Lovelace when visiting Exmoor National Park, as work has begun this month to restore and reveal parts of the historic carriage routes, viewpoints and other features that formed part of her former Porlock estate.

It is while walking the terraces of these once ornate gardens that Ada and the famous mathematician Charles Babbage were reputed to have come up with the principles behind the ‘Difference Engine’ – a forerunner to the computer.

The National Park Authority now plans to restore parts of the old carriage ways and other surviving features in Culbone wood, granting walkers on the South West Coast Path a taste of the sense of awe that must have been felt upon emerging from historic tunnels into breathtaking views out to sea, framed by groves of giant redwoods and firs.

The effect was created by Ada Lovelace and her husband, William King, as part of a Picturesque designed landscape inspired by the fashion at the time to try and capture the beauty of nature by design. Exmoor National Park Authority are also undertaking a detailed survey to identify if any of the original trees planted by Ada and William survive.

Graeme McVittie, Exmoor National Park’s Senior Woodland Officer, said: “Woodland walks carefully planted with native and exotic species to maximise dramatic effect, long, mysterious tunnels set to build anticipation ahead of awe-inspiring views and the remnants of meandering old carriage ways designed to show off the best of the coastal views are all part of this estate’s forgotten legacy.

“The principles of the early-nineteenth-century Picturesque movement were to create views or pictures into the natural world. And now we are simply trying to create a picture into their world, and the passions and inspirations that lay behind Ada’s genius.”

On 5 October Porlock will also be holding their annual “Cream Tea with Inspirational Women” in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, held annually in honour of the achievements of women in science all over the world. The ticketed event held at Porlock Village Hall sees five women, from the worlds of art, travel, film, education and theatre, share their passions, achievements and inspirations, with this year’s speakers billed as Molly Rooke, Hilary Bradt, Lynn Pearson, Jane Keeley and Sarah Peterkin. Information and tickets are available from Porlock Village Hall (01643 863117).

Rosalinde Haw, who is organising the event, said: “We celebrate Ada for her connection to the landscape and the inspiration she brought to all women, at a time when the very idea of a female mathematician was often viewed as distasteful. Join us this October to hear from today’s inspirational women and how their passions have helped drive them to success.”

OUR SOMERSET STORIES: HALSWAY MANOR PROJECT

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been awarded a grant of £39,000 from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund (HPC Community Fund). The grant will support ‘Our Somerset Stories’, an exciting new project to be run within four rural Somerset communities; these include Stogursey, Spaxton and Williton, with a fourth to be confirmed.

The project will see schools working with writers and artists to create new work inspired by their community – past, present and future, leading to publications, exhibitions, creative archives and new folk traditions. This will run alongside creative workshops for the wider community, and celebration events for everyone to enjoy.

Creative Lead Alice Maddicott will co-ordinate the project for Halsway Manor. She says, “We’ll be creating new opportunities for people to discover and be inspired by their folk history and heritage, and celebrate what makes their community special to them.”

Crispian Cook, Chief Executive of Halsway Manor Society, commented: “Halsway is an important resource which enriches lives of people both locally and nationally. We are grateful to HPC Community Fund for their support, which allows us to continue to develop our provision and make a difference to people living within our immediate vicinity.”

HPC Community Fund is managed by Somerset Community Foundation to help local communities mitigate the impacts of Hinkley Point C and maximise the opportunities that arise from the development for the communities (in Somerset) through schemes, measures and projects which promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of those communities and enhance their quality of life.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts provides a permanent home for the enjoyment, study and development of folk music, dance and culture in England. Established as a charity in 1966 and unique in the UK, it hosts over 340 days of residential and outreach activity every year, for all ages, and covering all facets of the folk arts from instrumental music, song and dance to traditional storytelling, crafts and instrument making. For more information visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

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.

NEW! SOMERSET COUNTY SHOW LAUNCHES THIS YEAR

Many people have asked why Somerset has no County Show, well now at last it has and in the county town of Taunton! The two-day event is now scheduled to be held at Taunton Racecourse on an annual basis, every September. Plans for the 2019 event, which takes place on 20 and 21 September, are well underway with a huge array of activities and displays already booked.

The show is designed to showcase the very best that Somerset has to offer, with the emphasis on individual and community participation. As befitting the venue, equestrian enthusiasts will be well catered for, with polo and the Pony Club all represented, along with the hugely entertaining British trials and scurry driving team event – and The Shetland Pony Grand National, to name but a few.

Field sports of all disciplines are included, with a challenging open clay shoot, gun dog scurries, fly casting, falconry, archery and air rifle range, with have-a-go facilities available under expert supervision.

For dog lovers there are gun dog demonstrations and competitions, agility, exhibitions, and a fun dog show, so bring your dog on a lead with you!

Tone FM are hosting a community stage providing up and coming entertainers, bands and choirs a chance to perform in public, so if you “have got talent” get in touch to book your slot! Celebrity chef Lesley Waters is hosting cookery demonstrations throughout the weekend and creating a range of dishes using local produce available from the many artisan producers in the food and drinks hall.

There will also be plenty of street foods to enjoy, with local beer and cider provided. Classic and Vintage cars will be converging from all over the county, and no show would be complete without the smell and sounds of the steam engines. There are also plenty of activities for the children to enjoy, including a puppet show, fun fair, climbing wall, bouncy castles and ferret racing!

If you are interested in being part of this prestigious event or would like trade space or sponsorship details, contact Sharon Mitchell on 07739 964843 or by email on sharon@somersetcountyshow.co.uk.

STEAM PUNK FESTIVAL COMES TO THE REGAL THEATRE, MINEHEAD

Steam Punk is a nationwide organisation, promoting events across the UK which attract crowds of people who arrive in their steampunk gear. As part of the Minehead Early May Steampunk Festival there will be two events at the Regal Theatre on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May.

On Saturday the Steampunk Cabaret Show will stage Victor Sierra, a three-piece band from Paris featuring Commander Bob, The Legendary Converted Princess and Big Machine. They have played at steampunk festivals in Europe, the UK, and America and have produced five well-received albums of original music.

Acting as Master of Ceremonies will be Greg Chapman (pictured), magician, comedian, juggler, unicyclist, escapologist and storyteller – one can never tell what he’ll do next!  He will introduce support acts, Doctor Gray and his Orchestra of One, Kiss Like Ether, Ichabod Steam, the beautiful Lux DeLioux and Ichabod Steam performing his new Dark Side Gothic Adventure.

On Sunday at the Steampunk Variety Show, MC Greg Chapman will appear again to introduce The Wattingers who describe themselves as Slaughterhouse Steampunk Blues.  These brilliant musicians present their original songs and videos with a dark sense of humour.  Support acts include Kiss Like Ether, The Retro Clones (one-man act supported by moving images of himself playing other instruments), and the beautiful Lux DeLioux.  (Same lovely Lux, different routine!)

Both performances starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost as follows: Adults £16, Friends £15.50, students/children/ES40s £10. They are available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), which is open
10am-3pm Monday-Saturday or online at www.regaltheatre.co.uk.

MINEHEAD MUSEUM’S FIFTH BIRTHDAY

Minehead Museum celebrates its fifth birthday today and, as it enters its sixth season, can now claim to be well established.  With nearly 10,000 visitors in 2018 (plus one parrot), the museum can rightly say it is a popular destination for both tourists and residents. During the past five years, not only have the number of visitors grown steadily year by year, but so, too, has the collection.

This year the museum will have more items on display than ever before but it is always pleased to be offered additional artefacts and documents relating to the history of the town. If you think you may have something of interest, please do let them know.

Without the support of a loyal base of volunteer stewards, the museum would not be able to remain open six days a week from late March to early November. If you, or anyone you know, should happen to have a spare morning or afternoon that you could offer to the museum, they would be delighted to hear from you. Stewards are the face of the museum and if you are interested in research and local history, it could be a rewarding way to spend some time.

Find out more on the website: www.mineheadmuseum.co.uk

PHOTO: Minehead Museum’s Punch & Judy puppets:
A well-known attraction at seaside towns, Mr Punch made his first documented appearance in England on 9 May 1662.

The puppets now on show in Minehead Museum belonged to Roy Van Dyke, magician, comedian and Punch & Judy performer. Born Roy Hobbs, in Alcombe Road, Minehead, he learnt his early skills from Cecil Govitt, a conjuror lodger in the family.

Roy was a Gold Member of the Magic Circle and a regular performer in the Gaiety Theatre, which he also managed for a number of years.

His Punch & Judy puppets are Minehead Museum’s latest acquisition, having been donated by the Hobbs family this year. They can be seen in the Museum, which opens for the season on 23 March, and which is located at the Beach Hotel.

 

WATCHET COASTAL COMMUNITY TEAM WINS MAJOR FUNDING

Watchet Coastal Community Team is delighted that their application for £240,000 for Place Based Social Action has been successful.  The project is one of only ten places countrywide to be awarded the funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and Department of Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). They are now able to deliver six strands of community action projects that aim to work with and engage local people to help solve local problems.

The funding is to support volunteering and social action in the town over three years, and is the result of a year’s worth of work by the WCCT to establish what the local difficulties were in the town and co-design solutions as to how local people might be involved in fixing some of those problems.  Led by Watchet Coastal Community Team as a membership organisation, the WCCT are particularly pleased to have Onion Collective as the delivery partner in the scheme, making full use of their experience and expertise.

The funding will support six projects that include: young people, peer tutors and a ‘mini university’ community transport, information sharing, deliberative democracy and digital gaming. Part of the mini university project will also be to refurbish the much-loved Harbour Community Bookshop building at 7 The Esplanade, as a community volunteer build.  If anyone is interested in becoming involved with any of the projects please contact Georgie Grant, secretary of WCCT at Georgie@onioncollective.co.uk  This successful bid is a great example of collaboration between the whole Watchet community, as well as Onion Collective, Watchet Town Council, West Somerset and Taunton Deane District Council, Somerset County Council and Watchet Coastal Community Team.  The WCCT are thankful for the level of collaboration and unified desire so see the best outcome achieved for the town.

The Placed Based Social Action programme is funded using £4.5 million of Government and National Lottery funding. It aims to support communities to put social action at the heart of plans which make a positive difference in the local area. It gives people the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the design and delivery of local services by bringing together communities, local authorities, public sector organisations, service providers, civil society organisations and businesses to address local priorities.

Following the three years of delivery for this project, up to five of the ten partnerships now put through will be awarded further funding of up to £255,000 to develop and expand their plans for another three years to December 2024.

Watchet Coastal Community Team is a partnership organisation made up of 30 local organisations, businesses, community groups and Town, District and County Council. The team work collaboratively to help further initiatives that help to benefit the town both economically and socially. The Watchet CCT now want to appeal to any local people who are interested in becoming involved with any of the projects, and who would like to know more.  To find out more about the projects called Georgie Grant on 07940 950396 or email her at Georgie@onioncollective.co.uk. There will be more information about the projects available shortly at the website at www.watchetcct.co.uk

FURTHER ACCOLADES FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUTS

Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts at Dunster Beach have been recognised by Theo Paphitis, retail magnate and entrepreneur. He is best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den but also runs #SBS on Twitter to recognise small businesses with entrepreneurial spirit.

Theo says, “I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club. Like-minded individuals can share successes and learnings. This website will give a valuable profile to the winners chosen to date and should help those who have not yet won but want some tips on how to do so. You will find news about the latest winners plus events and activities of interest.

“I know I have been lucky in business and I am keen now to spread goodwill to others, of course not forgetting that, very often, you make your own luck by making use of every opportunity.”

“We are absolutely delighted being chosen from hundreds of applicants to win this accolade. Being an #SBS winner will give Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts as well as Dunster Beach unprecedented exposure nationwide,” said Brett Bates, co-owner of the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. ”With the launch of our newest beach hut Holi Moli it will only add to the incredible success of Salad Days, helping to bring many more tourists to this wonderful part of South West England.”

Find out more on the Salad Days & Holi Moli website dunsterbeachhut.com/

Salad Days & Holi Moli Facebook page

DUNSTER VILLAGE PHOTO COMPETITION

The Dunster Tourism Forum (DTF) has launched its first ever photography competition. The theme for 2019 is simply ’The Most Beautiful Photo of Dunster’, which gives a wide scope for the many talented amateur, semi-professional and professional photographers in the area to showcase their talents.

The deadline for entries is 15 June 2019. The prizes include a luxury weekend stay for two in Dunster’s 13th-century Luttrell Arms Hotel with an evening dinner and a visit to the hotel’s new Beauty Rooms, Sunday lunch for two at award-winning Reeves Restaurant and vouchers to spend in Raft Dunster boutique and Dunster Living interior shop. Each winner also receives a full-day studio photography course with Nina Dodd, a professional photographer of 25 years based in the village. 

In addition, there’s a ‘People’s Choice’ Award where followers of the competition’s Facebook page can vote for their favourites from a selection of entries.

Best entries will also be displayed in the village in a free outdoor exhibition in 2019 and in a 2020 Dunster calendar.

The photography competition is the first of several new events for Dunster in 2019 and has received great interest from the start with over 2200 Facebook page views in the first few days of the launch.

For more information on the competition and Dunster visit www.discoverdunster.info/