Council’s commitment to Armed Forces Covenant

Cllr Tony Knight, Chairman of West Somerset Council, was one of 30 representatives signing up to the Somerset Armed Forces Community Covenant last week.

The Covenant aims to build stronger relations between military and civilian communities, and includes a pledge to help anyone with a connection to the military to access local services. Signatories included representatives from the army and navy, local councils, the NHS, reservist and veteran associations, businesses, charities and further education colleges.

The Covenant was signed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton near the Royal Navy Air Station, having been prepared by a partnership led by Somerset County Council.

Cllr Knight said: “I know that the men and women in our Armed Forces, veterans and their families have the full support of our communities, which they strive to safeguard. As ward member for Watchet, a former garrison town, it gave me added pleasure to be signing on behalf of the whole district.

“I am delighted to see and be a part of this commitment to help support local projects and initiatives which strengthen the ties or the mutual understanding between the Armed Forces community and the wider community in which they live.”

Cllr Knight was accompanied at the signing by Cllr Stuart Dowding, West Somerset Council’s Member Champion for the Armed Forces Covenant Partnership, and Corporate Director, Bruce Lang.

Lynton Cinema coming to the end of the reel?

Please can yet your thinking caps on!

Lynton Cinema has received a letter regarding the possible closure of the cinema because an amount of approximately £15,000 is needed to convert from film to digital projection and the film distributors have advised that in about six months time film will no longer be available.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to help raise funds for this please contact Colin Croxford either at the Tourist Office in Lynton on 01598 752225 or by email at

A Quantock Light – a talk by Peter Haggett

Barford Park by Jean Rees 1924-2004
Barford Park by Jean Rees 1924-2004

Find out about historical changes in artists’ perceptions of the Quantock landscape in a fascinating talk by Peter Haggett entitled ‘A Quantock Light’ at the Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, on Sunday 3 March. There will be plenty of stunning images of the painted Quantock landscape followed by tea and cakes. The event is run by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

All welcome, £3 suggested donation

To book please email or telephone 01823 272429

Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton TA2 6SF

Local Firm Woolly Shepherd Quizzed By Deborah Meaden on BBC’s Countryfile

Local felted wool company, The Woolly Shepherd, faced an unexpected challenge on a recent Sunday evening on the BBC’s Countryfile programme. The Dragon business expert Deborah Meaden is a champion of local wool herself and was intrigued by the Woolly Shepherd’s FELTO Acoustic Cloud – an innovative product that uses only natural materials to absorb unwanted reverberated noise.

“Countryfile called us and asked if we would be willing to ‘pitch’ our business and our FELTO Acoustic Cloud to Somerset business woman Deborah Meaden in the style of Dragon’s Den,” explains partner, Nicky Saunter. “It was quite light-hearted and aimed at giving us some feedback on what we were doing right and what we might do better.”

Made with West Country wool from the Quantocks, Blackdowns and Exmoor, FELTO acoustic clouds are shaped like fluffy clouds and appear to float in the air. Recent installations have been at Tiverton’s Heathcote Community Centre, Wiveliscombe’s Silver St Centre and award-winning Quantock restaurant, Clavelshay Barn.

“Deborah Meaden thought we had a good product,” explained Nicky. “Her advice was helpful in that it is always good to have input from people who really know what they are talking about. Deborah’s work in developing the Merchant Fox brand of local, beautifully-made products is something we really admire, and we are currently working on supplying them with material for their range.”

FELTO woolly clouds and wall panels are particularly suited for use in public buildings, schools and nurseries, where good acoustics are absolutely essential. The boards can be covered with natural calico or a fabric to match furnishings and colour schemes.

For more info: Tim Simmons or Nicky Saunter 01823 400696

£1,000 funding for Stogumber Cricket Club

Stogumber Cricket Club now has permanent cricket practice nets thanks to West Somerset Council’s allocation of £1,000 in planning obligations funding.

Cliff Matravers, the club’s treasurer, said: “The nets are good for our regular players and ideal for our young players, particularly as there are few facilities for younger people in the village.

“We have 15 – 20 regular young cricketers aged from five up to late teens and now we can have some practising in the nets and others practising on the field.”

Club Chairman, Rob Hayes, said: “These are the first permanent nets we’ve had at the club and they are a real asset. We would like to thank West Somerset Council for help with the funding.”

Cllr Dave Westcott, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Community, said: “It is really rewarding to be able to help Stogumber Cricket Club which clearly puts so much into developing cricketing talent, especially the work it is doing with young players. The club doing a brilliant job for their community.”

Milk bottles wanted!

One of our readers, Peter Hayward, has an unusual hobby and needs your help.  Since retiring from a career in distribution within the milk industry he has been researching all dairies in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and located them one by one in the hope that he can find an example of the bottles they used. He says: “My focus at present is Exmoor and surrounding towns. My collection of bottles which contains examples from approximately 350 dairies at present in the south west of England will be donated to the National Trust for them to display in suitable locations within the four counties of interest.

“My hope therefore is to prompt any reader in the area of circulation of your Magazine to contact me if they have an example of or information of these old bottles or information to enable me to find these old dairies that existed during the last century.

“I feel passionate about finding the milk bottles from this period so that they can be put on display to represent that part of our social history which has been all but forgotten.”

Peter’s contact telephone number is 01404 42642 and address is 3 Hickory Close, Honiton, Devon.EX142UN in case you can help!

2012 William Stansell Somerset Building Preservation Trust Awards

West Somerset’s architects, building contractors and people owning or involved with projects, which have restored historic buildings or completed new developments to excellent standards, are being encouraged to enter the prestigious William Stansell Somerset Building Preservation Trust Buildings Awards 2012.

Cllr Chris Morgan, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for the Environment, said: “We know there have been some fabulous new developments and some top-class renovations of historic buildings in West Somerset, so we’d encourage people who are involved to get credit for their extra effort.

“Winning awards like these can spread the word about the quality and craftsmanship of your work to boost business. There are clearly local projects that deserve recognition.”

The awards fall into four categories, which are:

  • New building or buildings in an historic setting
  • The alteration, extension or conversion of an historic building or structure
  • The conservation or repair of an historic building or structure
  • Significant works to a public space in an historic setting

The awards were introduced by the Somerset Building Preservation Trust in 2000 to champion excellent work in historic building conservation and to raise the standard of design for new works. The awards are highly acclaimed and reflect the high standards of design and building work being achieved in Somerset.

The work must have been completed within the period from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2011, and be in the administrative area of Somerset County Council or North Somerset Council.

Entries can be submitted by anyone with an interest in the project, for example, the owner, architect or contractor. The deadline for applications is 2 April 2012. For an entry form or further information visit or email

Exmoor Inspires Creative Magic

Very talented amateur photographers are to be honoured at a ceremony to announce the winners of the prestigious Alfred Vowles Photographic Competition. Hosted by the Exmoor Society, the 2012 awards has four categories of photographs taken on Exmoor during the last year. The best Landscape photo, taken of Badgworthy Water, was won by Elizabeth Jessup. The People at Work category was won by Johanna Webb with a lively image of the Brendon Fair Sheep Auction and the Heritage title was awarded to Jenny Gibson for her photo of the entrance to the sheep stell at Three Combes Foot. New this year is the category for the Exmoor Society Christmas card 2012 which was won with an evocative photograph of snow on Porlock Common taken by Tony Gibson. The chief judge Chris Whinney said that the judges were impressed not only by the number of entries showing the increasing popularity of people taking photographs but also their technical skills and good presentation. The images presented in the photographs capture the diversity, beauty, wildness and rural nature of life on Exmoor. The overall winner of the Alfred Vowles Memorial Trophy was Jenny Gibson for her superb photo of Three Combes Foot in the landscape category.

Alfred Vowles was a well known photographer at the beginning of the twentieth century who devoted more than 40 years of his life to recording the scenery, events and people of Exmoor. His early work is said by experts to have influenced the direction of photography not only as an important record of the time but as an art form in its own right. He is regarded as synonymous with the imagery of Exmoor as R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone is to its literature.

Rachel Thomas, Chairman of the Society, said “The Vowles family kindly donated the trophy in his memory to the Exmoor Society in order to help us inspire future generations to capture the essence of Exmoor through photography. We are also fortunate to hold copies of Alfred Vowles early photographic images at our library in Dulverton. The competition lends itself to one of the aims of the Society which is to inspire people to recognise and to capture Exmoor’s special qualities”

An exhibition of the winning photographs and those commended will be displayed at the Porlock Visitor Centre from Tuesday 21 February until Tuesday 17 April 2012. Winter opening hours are Mondays to Fridays 10 – 12.30 and Saturdays 10 – 1pm. Please check with the Centre for the summer period.

Horse riders in Exmoor asked to help police

This story comes from BBC website and we thought it would be of interest to any of our readers who have not seen it already:

Equestrians in Exmoor are being asked to join a new police project which aims to reduce crime in rural areas.

The Mounted Special Constabulary will be made up of people who ride their own horses, in a scheme which is similar to Neighbourhood Watch.

PC Nick Wood said: “It’s about being visible and being a good witness and being able to record that evidence to pass on to me or the constabulary.”

Training will be given but no police powers come with the role.

“All we’re asking is to don a fluorescent jacket to say you’re a civilian volunteer, and that you’re aware of police priorities in your area.

“They can assist Exmoor Mountain Rescue by crossing terrain that would be difficult for us to cross on foot or by 4×4, equally keeping speed down; having very visible horse riders in fluorescent will help keep speed down,” said PC Wood.

Read more

Barn owl visits King’s Hall Prep

The children (and staff) at King’s Hall School were the recipients of a mid-week treat last week, when Chris Sperring MBE brought along a barn owl named Beau.

Chris is the Conservation Officer of the Hawk and Owl Trust as well as a presenter on Spring Watch and Autumn Watch, a broadcaster on Radio 4 and who featured on Chris Evens’ BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show recently with some outstanding owl impressions! Beau is a 12-year-old owl who has visited many schools in her lifetime helping children learn about owls.

Chris delivered a lively and informative talk, which included lots of interaction with the children, who impressed him greatly with their existing knowledge of habitats, food chains and general wild life knowledge.

He is currently involved in a project that aims to erect a Barn Owl Box in every parish in Somerset to try to increase the Barn Owl population, which is sadly in decline.

As they all waved farewell to Chris and Beau the children were certainly buzzing with ideas for erecting a Barn Owl Box within the school grounds and eager to make sure the edges of all of the fields are kept long in order to attract Beau’s favourite foods!

Chris was also very interested in both the extensive Forest School at King’s Hall and in their WildLife Hide and they have invited him back in the near future to get involved with this part of their curriculum.

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