The countdown to Simonsbath Festival 2014 has begun: the website is live, tickets are on sale and the printed colour programme is on its way.
May Day celebrations on Bank Holiday Monday May 5 will launch this year’s festival with traditional music and maypole dancing by local children. And top brass ensemble Westcombe Brass will carry out a series of workshops in local schools during the first week, working towards a concert with the children on May 9.
This year’s festival programme includes the premiere of a film by Chris Chapman; a concert of sacred and operatic songs by vocal trio Alaudiae; a virtuoso violin performance by top British artist Tamsin Waley-Cohen; world music from a 10-piece Cuban band and Gypsy Swing ensemble; a high-energy and fun-filled drumming workshop; a poetry evening; a talk by Lord Douglas Hurd. And larger than life actor and baritone opera singer Karl Daymond will be resolutely Lowering the Tone.
There will also be some very Exmoor focused events such as a presentation by popular children’s author Victoria Eveleigh; Tom and Barbara’s ‘An Exmoor Garland’ and ‘Voices from the Moor’ featuring interviews of local people presented by John Burgess.
During the six-week festival period there will be lots more on, including an art exhibition, a jazz concert, guided walks and family activities, ending on Friday June 20 with a family and community concert at St Luke’s featuring top folk musician James Findlay, the La-La Voices Community Choir of Ilfracombe and local children.
Full details of the programme are available on the website www.simonsbathfestival.co.uk and you can follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to receive a free copy of the 32-page full colour printed programme, please contact Victoria Thomas on 01643 831343.
Well done to Janet Dixon and the Somerset Wildlife Trust volunteer team who were part of the team who supported over 120 people to take part in vital conservation work over half term at the ‘Bonfires, Baked Potatoes and Butterflies’ event at Hopcott. Just one of the many practical events lined up for 2014.
Janet Dixon and the Somerset Wildlife Trust volunteers.
Taking a well-earned break: Jenny Placket of Butterfly Conservation, Barny Simmons of Mosaic, and Patrick Watts-Mabbot of Exmoor National Park Authority.
Over 120 people took part in the removal and burning of the invasive birch trees. This work is vital for the conservation of the Heath Fritilary butterflies. Regular volunteers, family groups and a number of youth groups took part in the event, including; South Molton Scouts Group, Cheeky Cherubs Nursery, Langport Youth Club and Exmoor Cub Group. Experts there on the day included Jenny Placket, Butterfly Conservation, Barny Simmons, Mosaic and Pat Watts-Mabbott, Exmoor National Park Authority.
A great day was had by all! A big thank you on again to all who take part, including our dedicated team of volunteers, the Crown Estate team and the National Trust team.
David Rolls, Education and Outreach Officer for the Heart of Exmoor, with volunteers Brian and Caroline Seward and a family group.
Head-chef Pat Watts-Mabbott adding baked potatoes to the bonfire.
photo by Aggz Waywell
South Molton Scouts looking for a pot a gold whilst lopping invasive birch trees.
Some of the 120 people who turned up at the ‘Bonfires, Baked Potatoes and Butterflies’ event.
We’ve heard news of a new post on Exmoor with a great hill farming / moorland connection - Sustainable Farming Officer. Closing date: midday 24th March 2014.
Call for North Devon Plus for an application form 01237 426 426 or visit: www.northdevonplus.com/jobs
Here’s the ad > Sustainable Farming Officer – Advert
Exmoor ponies from Scotland are to be brought over to join Exmoor National Park’s free-roaming herds. The first three ponies – two mares and a stallion - will soon be reintroduced to the moor in carefully controlled and monitored situations with the assistance of moorland breeders.
An independent report recently commissioned through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme highlighted the importance of genetic diversity in the Exmoor Pony moorland herds, and the Exmoor Pony Society has responded by seeking to bring bloodlines back to the moor.
Sandra Mansell, Treasurer and Project Officer for the Society and a member of the Exmoor National Park Authority’s Pony Panel, commented, ‘The work of the Society in the field of genetics has been well recorded and we have a number of members who have taken a special interest in this field amongst them Debbie Davy who was awarded the ‘Marsh Award for Conservation in Bio-genetic Diversity’ in 2001. The genetic work carried out has allowed the Society to highlight bloodlines at risk and advise the moorland breeders of ponies who progeny should remain on the moor rather than be sold to up-country buyers.”
We’ve heard this news from the sawmill volunteers at Simonsbath:
The Sawmill will be open to the public as usual on the third Monday of each month throughout the year and we’re also opening it on a couple of extra days during the Simonsbath Festival period – the May Day Bank Holiday and the 2 June. We showed nearly 1,000 people around the mill during these Open Days last year.
National Mills Week 2014 (10/11 May)
The sawmill will be open both days – and they hope to book a live band for one of the days!
The Exmoor Society’s Spring Conference 2014
‘Discovering Exmoor : People and Place’
Dulverton Town Hall, Friday 11 April 2014, 10am to 3pm.
SPRING CONFERENCE BOOKING FORM 2014.
Sixty years ago Exmoor was designated a national park because of its dramatic coastline, extensive tracts of moorland inter-mixed with ancient woodland and upland farmland, the whole establishing a mosaic of contrasts providing recreational opportunities for walking and riding in particular. The Hobhouse Report stated that “here is a potential national park which is happily free from problems”. This statement could not have been further from the truth. From the beginning there was fierce opposition to the designation and robust debate over loss of moorland, afforestation proposals, changing hill farming practices, dealing with extreme weather conditions, and with little known about the archaeology, other local businesses, and an only embryo tourist industry. These issues are very relevant today in different ways, and underline the need to discover more about Exmoor, its people and the place.
As a special Conference to celebrate the 60th anniversary, the Exmoor Society in partnership with the Exmoor National Park Authority has teamed up with Exeter University and the Centre for Rural Policy Research to raise some of these important issues, to discover what has been found out about them, and to influence the debate on how to manage this complex landscape.
· Dr Matt Lobley – Exmoor farming in a changing policy environment.
· Professor Richard Brazier – Can we create resilient landscapes? Understanding the effects of moorland restoration on the Exmoor Mires project.
· Dr Lee Bray – New archaeological discoveries on Exmoor.
· Dr Stewart Barr – Flooding and Communities.
· Professor Michael Winter – will conclude on the day’s presentations and debate.
Places are limited – booking is essential. The deadline for bookings is 4th April 2014. SPRING CONFERENCE BOOKING FORM 2014.