Rural Connection to bring broadband to remote not-spots

A major project to bring fast broadband to over 1,000 homes and businesses in remote parts of Devon and Somerset is under way.

The ‘Rural Connection’ will significantly improve internet services to specific areas around the Devon and Somerset border that currently do not receive broadband or where speeds are very slow.

Parts of the rural hinterlands of South Molton, Tiverton, Honiton, Cullompton and Axminster, together with Wheddon Cross on Exmoor, are covered.

The total investment of £1 million will enable free installation of the most recent satellite broadband service.

This offers speeds of up to 10 Mbps and a range of tariffs, together with a programme of free ICT training and support.

Devon and Somerset county councils won European funding for the project, which is being matched by the private sector.

The ‘Rural Connection’ will run alongside the wider Connecting Devon and Somerset programme which aims to deliver superfast connectivity to at least 85 per cent of homes and businesses and improved connectivity to all where the private sector alone will not be investing.

Read more here

Exmoor Society Continues To Support The Exmoor Curriculum

The presentation of the cheque to pupils at the Dulverton Middle School with Chris Whinney, Vice Chairman of the Exmoor Society on the left and Head Teacher Jerry Weedon on the right.

The Exmoor Society has again awarded the Dulverton Federation of Schools a cheque for £2,000 to help continue its pioneering work on the Exmoor Curriculum (as featured in summer 2011 issue of Exmoor Magazine). Started over ten years ago the special curriculum was designed to give opportunities to all pupils to learn about their environment, experience outdoor activities such as map reading and hill walking and develop skills such as team working and leadership.

The children, over a four-year course, learn about the landscape, wildlife and the historic environment of Exmoor National Park. They take part in activities such as navigation and building a shelter to survive on the moor. These skills are backed up by national qualifications including cycling, first aid and work towards a GCSE qualification. At the end of the four years, successful pupils can become Exmoor Junior Rangers, several of whom have helped the Exmoor Society in hosting big events such as its autumn Annual Meeting and more recently at a gathering of all National Park Societies held on Exmoor.

Chris Whinney, Vice Chairman of the Society said, “The Society has identified education as a key priority for further involvement and funding. We have supported the Dulverton Middle School by over £18,000 in the last few years because of this exciting and unique initiative.”

The Head Teacher of Dulverton Federation of Schools, Mr Jerry Weedon said “The contribution that the Exmoor Society makes has enabled us to broaden the learning that our pupils receive which is of enormous benefit to them all as they experience something totally different from the rest of the curriculum that sets this school apart”

The Society wishes to extend the Exmoor Curriculum to other schools in the area because it believes that the special curriculum will lead to a deeper understanding of why Exmoor is a national park and how it is managed and that the children, when adults, will support this important national designation.

If you need more information about the Exmoor Curriculum please contact the Exmoor Society to see whether we can help at Parish Rooms, Dulverton 01398 323335 or email us at info@exmoorsociety.com

Wimbleball Lake to become first Dark Skies Discovery Site on Exmoor

Wimbleball Lake has been nominated to be the first Dark Skies Discovery Site on Exmoor and to celebrate there will be a launch at Outdoor + Active Wimbleball this Friday, 25 November, to which everyone is welcome. The evening will begin at 6pm and end at 8.30pm with stargazers being given the opportunity to stay later to continue watching the heavens if the weather is right.

A number of local astronomy groups will attend and present a series of talks and there will also be telescopes available for people to see the wonders of the night sky for themselves. The event is free and people are recommended to wrap up warmly and bring a torch; refreshments will be provided by South West Lakes Trust.

Exmoor National Park has been designated an International Dark Sky Reserve, the first place in Europe to achieve this prestigious award and only the second in the world. Emma Dennis, Landscape Officer at Exmoor National Park, says: “The Dark Sky Discovery project gives us a great opportunity to involve communities in and around the National Park in promoting our award winning dark skies as well as the conservation of the resource for the benefit to local people and visitors alike.

“From a city centre location we might see about 100 stars with our naked eyes, and the further away from the streetlights you go, the better the view becomes. Under a really dark sky we can see over a thousand stars and can even see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky.”

Wimbleball Lake is a fantastic location for stargazing within the Exmoor National Park International Dark Sky Reserve. Individual or group activities can take place with level hard surfaced areas for setting up your telescope that overlook the scenic lakeside with clear big sky views far from any light pollution. South West Lakes Trust is planning to hold a Star Camp in March 2012. Please contact Wimbleball on 01398 371460 or wimbleball@swlakestrust.org.uk for more information.

If you are inspired by our Dark Skies why not enter the photography competition being run by Exmoor The Country Magazine!

Explore the North Devon Coast with the help of a new website

A new website, pioneered by the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has just been launched to promote the fantastic natural assets of the North Devon coastal area. The AONB spans from Welcombe to Combe Martin – a tall order to explore easily until now. Explore the Coast website highlights not only just how much there is to see and do, but how to do so with your own personalised itinerary, without spending a penny or getting in the car.

The website www.explorethecoast.org opens up new avenues for tourism, with easy to use facilities to discover very best spots for scenery, nature and history, all at the click of a mouse. This dedicated website aims to inspire both local residents and visitors alike to follow the road less travelled, leave the car behind and explore the coast around them.

The large majority of information is designed to be accessed via a Googlemap, with hundreds of points of interest detailing great views, historic and natural features of the landscape as well as showing cycleways, the South West Coast Path and permissive paths and Public Rights of Way. The website also includes themed interpretation guides, family-friendly resources and links to related websites and downloads. It’s something to delight all ages, interests and help people find new ways to get outside and explore our outstanding coastal landscape.

Clever free tools contained within the site allow users to create tailored itineraries to suit individual interests and preferred activities. Accommodation providers and other organisations can also use this tool to create their own tours for customers, branded with their own details.

At the launch, TDC Cllr Brian Redwood said, “This website is absolutely excellent and will be a great asset for visitors, residents and local communities to explore the North Devon Coastal area. It has great potential for visitors, residents and local business use as it pulls together so much information on the local area in a very accessible way.”

The website was pioneered as a result of focus groups with small businesses from the tourism industry held about three years ago who highlighted the need of visiting families to spend part of their holiday local to their accommodation. Whilst visitors like the beaches and theme parks, exploring the natural environment local to their accommodation was also important. There was clearly a need for activities they could do for free and without having to use their cars.

Linda Blanchard, North Devon Coast Manager, commented “This inspiring project is astonishing in its depth and breadth of information, its use of cutting edge technology whilst being very user friendly. From a ‘light touch’ information source to a detailed report on a subject of special interest, this website has incorporated it all. The website will be ideal for visitors and residents who wish to enjoy the North Devon Coast and learn more about its special qualities.”

The AONB and many of their partners had access to large amounts of research done by academic institutions and local researchers which was potentially of immense interest to visitors and the local community, but currently locked up in dry databases and reports available in a technical format. This added layer of information, previously unavailable, has been skilfully incorporated into the website.

Explore the Coast Project Officer Clare Manning said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the hidden treasures of North Devon and a great asset to the local community including schools and community groups. Both locals and visitors to the area will undoubtedly discover many things they never knew before!

Special access has also been created to allow members of the community to contribute their knowledge to the site, together with review functions for people to comment their thoughts on every location on the map.

Anne Hulbert, from Westward Ho! Community History Project commented that, “It is really excellent to have so much information finally in one place. This is something history groups like us will also be able to contribute information towards on our own areas to share with those interested in the area.”

Northam Burrows Countryside Manager, Shawn Corrin also added that, “This website is fantastic and long overdue. There is so much in this area to explore, see, enjoy and appreciate and this website pulls it all together for all interests. We have such a wealth of heritage and wildlife right here on our doorstep and I look forward to contributing information for the section on Westward Ho!”

Training events are currently being scheduled across the AONB – so if you are a community organisation or tourist provider and would like to know more about making the most of the site please contact clare.manning@devon.gov.uk or phone 01237 423655.

The Explore the Coast project is funded through the Leader4 programme and delivered with Defra as the Managing Authority. The Project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas.

Ken Hildrew Launches ‘An Artist on Exmoor’

Dunkery Beacon by Ken Hildrew

Internationally renowned artist Ken Hildrew will be launching an exhibition of his latest work on Friday 2 December, at Photoscene, The Square, South Molton, as part of the town’s annual late night shopping Winter Wonderland event. From 6-9pm, as well as enjoying a welcoming glass of wine on arrival, the public will be able to appreciate Ken Hildrew’s latest Exmoor-inspired collection.

Ken is a major artist who has won accolades and prizes internationally, in Europe, America and Japan, so it is quite an honour to have him exhibiting his work in South Molton.

The timeless popularity of his canvases is easy to appreciate. Ken’s almost impressionistic style allows him to imbue landscapes with an ethereal quality, while his special passion for barn owls led to a collection which feature these haunting birds exclusively.

For those who would like to own a Ken Hildrew, both original works and signed, limited edition prints – framed and unframed – will be available. Ken will also be raising money for his chosen charity Devon Air Ambulance Appeal, by offering nine different Art Cards, illustrating views of Exmoor. These will be free to anyone making a donation to the charity on the evening.

North Molton resident Ken says:

“I never tire of the beauty of the Exmoor, where the wildlife and colours of countryside continue to inspire me. I moved here in 1984 and since have been fortunate to have developed a reputation as one of the artists best able to portray the Moor in its variety of moods, seasonal colours and subtle light.

“This has obviously caught the imagination of others, as over my lengthy career as an artist my work has been commissioned by such diverse people as Noel Edmonds, The Bishop of Bath and Wells and Nigel Mansell, while corporate clients have included The Hilton, Sheraton and Intercontinental Hotel groups, The Orient Express, and Nat West Bank amongst many others.

“With the new exhibition – which runs until Saturday 17 December – I will be presenting my latest works to the public whilst also raising money for a very worthy local charity.”

To contact Ken, please ring 01769 57982.

North Devon+ expands to take on Business Link role to mentor small businesses and unemployed

The economic development agency, North Devon+ is to play a leading role in business enterprise support for unemployed people and small businesses in the South West.

This follows the Government announcement earlier this year to down size the role of Business Link by closing its advice centres and replacing it with online services and a network of mentors and a contact centre.

North Devon+ is to deliver the regional elements of the Business Link enterprise support service in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset offering practical free advice to the unemployed, start-ups and existing businesses.

North Devon+ is working in partnership with other regional development agencies and local authorities to secure funding for business enterprise support and mentoring schemes.

Small businesses play a major role in the economy of North Devon as they account for 25% of the economic output of the area compared to the national average of 12%. The Commercial Director of North Devon+ Robin Makeig-Jones says that securing the best business advice and support is vital if the local community is to thrive; ” The main Business Link website was re launched as a much improved online service in April. However experience dictates that for success, businesses need to be able to discuss their options, plan for the future, access training and receive face- to- face support. So we have expanded our suite of services to support local businesses from start up to growth.”

Graduate Success for West Somerset

Three local graduates and two Somerset firms have benefited from funding from West Somerset Council, with new funding for graduate internships up for grabs from today. The council works with the University of Exeter, which has a long history of effectively managing internship schemes and producing world-class graduates.

One firm to benefit from the 12-week long placement scheme is photo frame firm, Phlib Ltd, based at Roadwater near Watchet. The company selected Mat Dusting as their new Production and Design Assistant.

Mat said: “This internship is not like a normal job. I have been employed for my entrepreneurialism and as a result I am being given the chance to be part of all areas of the business, including sales and marketing. I couldn’t ask for more. I am so happy with this opportunity. It has given me the belief that my future career has unlimited scope.”

Two other lucky local interns were taken on by Highbridge-based business, Jo Bird and Co Ltd, which designs and manufactures storage cabinets for fire fighting, fire safety, lifesaving and emergency equipment for use in demanding locations from offshore and marine applications to onshore industrial uses.

Guy Atkins, Managing Director, commented: “We had a piece of work we did not have the time or resource to undertake so we decided to employ interns. We were clear about what we wanted them to do, so with basic guidance and training they were able to produce excellent work that helped us to make good business decisions.

“The recruitment process was straight forward and I would recommend this scheme to other local businesses. It worked out so well for us that we decided to offer one of our interns a full-time permanent post.”

Cllr David Sanders, Lead Member for Economic Regeneration at West Somerset Council, said: “We are committed to supporting young people to gain confidence and skills in the workplace for the benefit of the business and the graduate. We’ve made the application process as easy as possible so I urge people who think this may work for them to find out more.”

Jo McCreedie, Employer Liaison Officer for the University of Exeter, said: “A Graduate Business Partnership provides Somerset businesses with local graduates to undertake specific projects or assist with management tasks. The university advertises the role, sources candidates for interview and provides contracts, training and mentoring throughout the placement.”

For details on whether your Somerset-based business is eligible or if you are a local graduate and wish to know how to register for the scheme, please contact Jo on 01392 722617.

Enchanting trail comes to Arlington Court

An exciting new trail will be found at National Trust’s Arlington Court this winter. Every weekend in November and December, inquisitive visitors will be able to explore the grounds of the Regency House near Barnstaple by following the plot of a well-known novel by C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Arlington will be the setting for several vignettes taken from the book, from going through the wardrobe doors to discovering the White Witch in her snowy kingdom. The trail booklet (disguised as a ration book) will be full of clues to help adventurers follow the story line.

There will be stickers and rubbings to collect, as well as a secret code to unlock the treasure chest for a special prize. Children will also be able to decorate their own crowns to become king or queen of Narnia.

On 18, 19 and 20 December a very special guest will arrive with an extra sticker to complete the trail booklet; Father Christmas will be visiting Arlington Court and bringing gifts for all good girls and boys.

The trial will cost £1.50 per child and children of any age are encouraged to participate. To launch the event, anyone who arrives as a character from Narnia on 5 or 6 November can participate free of charge.

Want to know Who’s Who in The Archers?

 

Are you one of the five million listeners who tunes in regularly each week to The Archers?  Then Number Seven would like to invite you to a very special event; a first for them in fact.

On Saturday 12 November you will find Graham Harvey warming himself by the fire in the Number Seven kitchen. Number Seven’s Davina Jelley says: “We are very honoured to have his company and you are welcome to meet and greet him in person. He will also be happy to sign copies of Who’s Who in the Archers 2012; which is due for publication this month. Quiz him on how much is based on our local area! Copies will be available for you to buy from Number Seven and a signed copy would make an excellent Christmas gift for fans of this popular Radio 4 broadcast.”

Now in it’s sixtieth year, this long-running drama is a part of British life and the theme tune itself takes many of it’s listeners to secure and fond memories from their own lives, whilst listening to the ongoing antics of theAmbridge residents. Whether you’re a newcomer to the village or you’ve been visiting for years, this handy-sized reference guide is certain to help you enjoy Ambridge life to the full.

Graham is best known as the show’s agricultural story editor and has contributed to over 500 episodes of The Archers since joining the team in the mid 1980s. As a freelance journalist his specialism is  in the countryside, food and environmental issues, and he has written for a wide range of publications including The Sunday Times, the Daily Mail,New Scientist, and Country Life. It was Graham’s doing that fictional Ambridge Farmers, Pat and Tony, converted Bridge Farm to organic methods. Graham is passionate about real food and real farming and you can discover more about this passion on his website www.grahamsquest.co.uk

Number Seven look forward to you joining them at on Saturday 12 November.
Graham will be in residence  between
11am and 4pm so do pop in to say hello.
What The Critic’s Say About Who’s Who in the Archers 2012 –

‘Invaluable’ – The Guardian 

‘An essential guide to the lives of the characters’ – Birmingham Evening Mail 

0345 224 1203