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.”

FIVE-YEAR STRATEGY TO RID NORTHERN DEVON OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

A five-year strategy and action plan to rid northern Devon of single-use plastics has been agreed by members of the Plastic Free North Devon Consortium.

The consortium, which was set up in April last year to combat the global problem of plastic pollution through local action, consists of representatives from a number of charities, voluntary groups and organisations including:

Barnstaple Town Council
Barnstaple and District Chamber of Commerce
Beaford Arts
Devon County Council
Ilfracombe Town Council
Keep Britain Tidy
National Trust
North Devon Coast AONB
North Devon Council
North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve
Plastic Free North Devon
PETROC College of Further and Higher Education
South Molton Town Council
Torridge District Council
2 Minute Beach Clean
Westward Ho! Business Association

All members have now agreed the strategy for the consortium, which will work across four key areas – communities, tourism, farming and fishing, and other businesses – with the aim of making the biggest and most immediate impacts on the plastic problem in our area.

The consortium’s strategy includes an action plan, which has a number of aims:

  • increase education about the impact of plastic waste
  • reduce plastic consumption
  • remove plastic that has entered the natural environment
  • recycle or dispose of used plastic appropriately
  • deliver projects to ensure their message is reaching the people and businesses of northern Devon

The action plan focuses not only on the shoreline, but also on the problem of plastics in the rural inland areas.

Executive Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, Councillor Rodney Cann, says: “We as a consortium have a lot of work to do over the next five years and beyond, but I’m delighted that we have been able to agree such an ambitious and rounded strategy that will help us to make a huge impact on the circulation of single-use plastics in northern Devon.”

Plastic Free North Devon coordinator, Claire Moodie says: “The consortium is one of the most exciting things to come out the ‘Plastic Free North Devon’ movement. Having a joined-up vision and strategy supported by credible and competent organisations is crucial to engaging with every aspect of our community. Our vision goes beyond reducing single-use plastic; this is about driving and supporting systematic change throughout our communities which protects and enhances the natural environment we rely on.”

For more information on how you can reduce your consumption of single-use plastics and to find out about local events, follow Plastic Free North Devon’s Facebook page.

STOGUMBER SHOP NOMINATED FOR ‘RURAL OSCAR’

A small village shop in rural West Somerset has reached the regional finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards 2019.

Central Stores Stogumber, which is run by Roger Howe, is a local village shop and Post Office in the remote village of Stogumber, which nestles between Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.

The awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, review thousands of nominations and select nine regional champions from five categories.  The winning five finalists will be given the title of national rural champions in a ceremony attended by MPs and ministers.

This photo was taken about 11 years ago when Roger and Anne took over the shop.

As well as offering Post Office services during the week, Central Stores stocks a wide selection of groceries, provisions and gifts.  The shop is an important hub for the village where people can meet others and find out about what is going on in their local community.  Roger’s additional services include selling tickets for local events, supporting charitable and environmental initiatives, delivering groceries to disabled residents and offering local businesses and craftspeople the chance to promote and sell their products and services within the shop.  Roger’s wife Anne, who is disabled, runs the store’s website and Facebook page and has a particular interest in helping to protect the local environment through recycling initiatives.

“We are so thrilled to have reached the finals of this prestigious competition,” said Roger.  “Central Stores has received nominations from people in the village as well as from those living elsewhere who have used it when on holiday or visiting family, and we are very proud to be a valued hub in the community.”

Find out more about the awards:
www.countryside-alliance.org/campaigns/caawards/

PHOTO AT TOP: Local residents celebrating the publication of Circular Walks around Stogumber, which is available to purchase in Central Stores for £3.

 

PHOTO COMPETITION TO CELEBRATE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF NATIONAL PARKS

The UK National Parks and Campaign for National Parks have launched a new photography competition to celebrate the 70th anniversary of National Parks in the UK.

Around the theme of a ‘Moment in time’, the competition comes 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that began the family of National Parks in the UK, that today includes beloved landscapes such as Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Peak District.

Pictures could explore the incredible history of world-famous heritage sites, the people, wildlife and landscapes of the UK’s 15 National Parks.

Tim Braund, Head of Communication and Information at Exmoor National Park, said: “This is a great chance for everyone to share their favourite Exmoor National Park moments in time this January. Whether it’s a spectacular dark sky or a selfie on a walk, there’s no better way of kicking those January blues than with a celebration of the UK’s beautiful National Parks.”

Andrew Hall of Campaign for National Parks, the national charity dedicated to the English and Welsh National Parks, said: “We are really looking forward to paying homage to the legacy of the men and women that fought for our access to the most beautiful countryside through this competition.

“We are so lucky to have some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes on our doorstep. Whether it is the rugged coast of Pembrokeshire or morning mist in Exmoor, we can’t wait to see what you can do with a camera!”

The winner will receive a feature spread in Campaign for National Parks’ membership magazine, Viewpoint.

To enter, participants simply have to read the terms and conditions and tag their images on social media with the hashtag #NP70Moments

For terms and conditions and further details go to: www.cnp.org.uk/photography-competition

Photo: Towards Lynmouth where Exmoor meets the sea, ©Julia Amies Green, runner-up in 2018 Campaign for National Parks summer photo competition.

MINEHEAD LITERARY FESTIVAL AND SHORT STORY COMPETITION

Minehead’s first literary festival will take place on Saturday 27 April at the Methodist Hall, Minehead, featuring presentations by four leading writers with ties to the area who will explore the importance of place in their writing. An art exhibition will also run from April 1 to May 6 at the Regal Theatre and Toucan Wholefoods to celebrate Minehead Literary Festival, with work by local artists which will also focus on the theme of the  importance of place.

Speaking at the literary festival will be one of the country’s foremost writers of novels and short stories, Tessa Hadley. Winner of the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize and author of critically-acclaimed novels Clever Girl, The London Train and The Past, Tessa Hadley has a special connection with the area which shines through her work.
BBC radio producer, writer and bird watcher Tim Dee (pictured) will also share his knowledge of the area and particularly his insights into the natural world. Author of titles including Four Fields and The Running Sky – A Birdwatching Life, Tim is an exceptionally original storyteller, mixing autobiography with nature writing to captivating effect. His most recently published book, Ground Work – Writings on People and Places, is an anthology of new work by some of the most exciting authors writing about the natural world today, and was described in a Guardian review as “an extraordinary and life-affirming book”.

Best-selling author of first novel The Huntingfield Paintress and winner of the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014, Pamela Holmes has been fascinated by the area since she lived and worked on a farm on Exmoor in the 1970s (see Exmoor Magazine, Issue 85, Winter 2018, page 92).

For the younger audience, popular local writer Victoria Eveleigh will be giving a special illustrated presentation about her much-loved series of books Katy’s Exmoor Ponies and The Horseshoe Trilogy. Billed as ‘Tea Time with Tortie’, this event promises to be a highlight of the festival and offers a chance to meet the best contemporary writer of pony stories around.

A writing competition, with separate classes for adults and
children, will be organised in the run up to the festival, details of which can be found below. Catering for the Festival will be provided by Toucan Wholefoods.

For more information and details about how to book:
W: www.mineheadliteraryfestival.org
E: mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com
T: Janet Styles on 01643 822097.

Minehead Literary Festival: Short Story Competition

Children aged 5 to 9 years old are invited to submit an illustrated story or poem, up to 250 words, using the theme ‘The Magic Train’.

10- to 15-year-olds should compose a short story or poem, up to 500 words, on the theme ‘The Day all the Teachers Disappeared’.

The children’s competition is facilitated by West Somerset Academies Trust and Cafe Write. Please post entries to WSAT, Minehead Middle School, Ponsford Road, Minehead TA24 5RH or email them to mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com, to arrive before 31 March 2019, with the competitor’s name, age and contact details.

For adults (16+), the theme is ‘Minehead: Gateway to Exmoor’. Typed entries of up to 500 words, prose or poetry, should be submitted to mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com or posted to Literary Festival Comp. 2 Hillview Road, Minehead TA24 8EG, arriving before 31 March 2019; all entries must include the competitor’s name and contact details.

Winners will be announced at Minehead Literary Festival on 27 April.

 Photo by Claire Spottiswoode

NEW SUBSCRIPTION GARDEN PLANT SERVICE ON EXMOOR

GardeningBoxes.co.uk are a new company based on the edge of Exmoor providing subscription deliveries of garden plants. Customers can tailor the subscriptions to suit their outdoor space, with options to select plants for sun or shaded areas, and can pause and restart subscriptions at any time. The GardeningBox option is designed to provide high-quality repeating (perennial) planting for a bed 3m2 over the course of a year subscription, whilst the ContainerBox subscription comprises 3 deliveries of plants to provide year-round colour in a large (45cm) container.

Director Matt Healey says, “As a professional gardener for the past 20 years, friends told me that they struggled to select appropriate plants for their gardens and found it difficult to know how best to maintain them. We established GardeningBoxes to give people confidence and enjoyment in their gardens, by providing high-quality plant deliveries matched with easy-to-follow online advice, videos and articles which are free to subscribers. We are confident that we can provide excellent value to our customers and help them achieve a garden to be proud of.”

GardeningBox deliveries are free to UK addresses (excluding Highlands and Islands). The GardeningBox option is priced at £33 (monthly subscription), whilst the ContainerBox refreshes at £45 every four months. Gift options are also available. For more information visit the website at www.gardeningboxes.co.uk.

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.

 

GOLDEN TIMES FOR THE SWAN IN BAMPTON AS IT RECEIVES MORE ACCOLADES

The team at an award-winning Devon pub are celebrating this week (December 10, 2018) after receiving more prestigious plaudits and acknowledgements for their food and hospitality.

The Swan, Bampton, retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

Donna’s husband and co-owner of the gastropub with rooms, Paul Berry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. November was a very special month for us and these awards and accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers.

“We’re super proud of Donna, who was a finalist in not one, but two, major industry awards this autumn. She was up against some of the South West’s best chefs in the Best Chef category in the Trencherman Awards 2019 and it was amazing she was in the top three.

“The other three contenders for the title were Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant, Penzance, Jude Kereama from Kota, Porthleven, and Matthew Beardshall from Wilder in Nailsworth. Jude was crowned the overall winner, but Donna did incredibly well to be listed with these three heavyweights of the culinary world. They are no strangers to the spotlight and you may have seen Jude recently on TV when he just lost out to Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney Wick in London during the Great British Menu.

“Donna was also a finalist in Devon Life’s Best Chef of the Year and narrowly missed out on the top spot to another worthy, local contender: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms in Tiverton. So, it’s been a fabulous November for us and we couldn’t be more delighted with being finalists in these two awards.

“We’re also celebrating another major accolade, as we’ve been awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and have also retained our AA Four Star Gold Inn status, so we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Two Rosettes are awarded to restaurants that display a consistency in their approach, precision in their cooking and obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.

AA Hotel Services’ Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, James Hartley, said: “Congratulations to Paul, Donna and all the team. This is deserved success based upon commitment, consistency and quality. The Swan continues to offer an engaging combination of impressive cuisine, genuine hospitality and cosseting bedrooms, all contributing to a rewarding guest experience.”

The Swan has also received some more good news recently relating to the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards.

Paul added: “We’ve found out that we’re in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub listing for 2019 for the third year running but will not find out our actual placing until January at the official awards event. The top 50 is a big thing for us as it’s recognition on a national level from colleagues within the industry.”

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

“Once again it’s been a wonderful year for us. We’d like to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the pub, everyone is part of this.”

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.
 

SUCCESS AT WESTCOUNTRY EQUINE FAIR

The Westcountry Equine Fair held at Westpoint, Exeter, on 1 and 2 December was a great success for both exhibiting companies and the many competitors and displays taking part.

This year organisers, Contour Exhibitions, saw a fantastic increase in the number of entries to the various competitive events, highlighting the enjoyment people derive from the Fair.

Four Pony Club teams took part in the fast-paced Pony Club Horse & Hound Show Jumping Challenge, with Taunton Vale Harriers the winning team on Saturday 1st. Hattie Barnes riding Star from Tiverton Hunt Pony Club was the most stylish rider and Ruby Russo with Bess from Cotley Hunt Pony Club was the fastest runner. South Pool Pony Club were the winners on Sunday 2 December, with Poppy Burner riding Puff from South Pool Pony Club being the most stylish rider and Jasper Kolowski (Silverton Pony Club) being the fastest runner.

The unaffiliated Quadrille Competition is in its second year and the quality of performances was absolutely amazing. Cornwall Trec Group was the winning team this year with their theme Sister Act at the Moulin Rouge (see photo).

Imagine being a young rider competing in front of a large crowd. 14 youngsters did just that and they were amazing. The Junior Show Jumping Competition sees children 14 years and younger on ponies 13.2hh and under jump a course. Alfie Diaper, age 9, riding Buddy II, was first and also claimed the prize for the most stylish rider; Finlay Adams, age 13, riding Doylan Fairy Footsteps, was second and also best turned out; and Ella Stephens, age 11, riding Amees Flame, took third place.

The Best of the West theme ran through, with some amazing displays from stars from the West of England including John Chubb, Tim Cheffings and the Indoor Driving trials.

This year also saw a large number of new equestrian companies and new products at the show, as well as the old favourites. We look forward to seeing them all again in 2019.

The event is going from strength to strength and we are looking forward to more fun in 2019. The dates are Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December at Westpoint in Exeter.

Exmoor Magazine’s equine writer, Cindy Cowling, and her daughter Ellen had a great time! Cindy said, “The Westcountry Equine Fair never fails to deliver! The only equine fair in the West Country dedicated to the horse and rider, whether you go to watch one of the indoor Master Classes from some of the country’s top riders, or get up to speed with new innovations such as Husks ‘air technology’, this two-day event should be in every rider’s or equestrian enthusiast’s diary.”

 

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