Friday, 21 October 2016

Volunteer gardeners scoop top green-fingered award

A small band of dedicated volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their green-fingered efforts with a prestigious award from Britain in Bloom.

The Cricklepit Garden Group has been working for four years with the Devon Wildlife Trust. During this time eight regular volunteers have transformed the grounds of Cricklepit Mill, the conservation charity's Exeter headquarters which sits close to the city's busy historic Quayside.

Now the beauty and inventiveness of the volunteers has been recognised. Their garden has scooped the highest level of accreditation - 'Outstanding' - in Britain in Bloom's 'It's Your Neighbourhood' awards 2016.

Judges enjoyed the garden's mix of sensory beds, small ponds, a winter heath garden, bee and butterfly borders and a culinary herb bed.

The volunteer gardeners were praised by Britain in Bloom assessors for a number of key areas:
  • The garden's innovative use of "bird boxes, bat boxes, bird feeders and planting for pollinators throughout the year".
  • Also highlighted was the volunteers' innovative use of "recycled materials and rainwater harvesting", along with the use of composted material from Devon Wildlife Trust's offices.
  • Judges also praised the volunteers' willingness to share the garden with visitors through the staging of regular open days and tours.
George Barbour is the Cricklepit Garden Group's Head Gardener and one of its founding members. George said:
"I'm delighted for all the team that our efforts have been recognised. To win in the 'It's Your Neighbourhood' category is especially pleasing because when we began our work four years ago we wanted it to be a place for local people to come and enjoy wildlife in a peaceful garden setting."

Speaking for Devon Wildlife Trust, Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that our volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their hours of labour. Staff and visitors to Cricklepit Mill have benefited from their work. The garden is now a beautiful place to be, it's full of wildflowers and wildlife. It's a garden which reflects the ethos of our charity and the history of this wonderful working watermill."

Cricklepit Mill and its garden can be found at Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4RB, close to the Bishop Blaize pub and the city's Quay. Both are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Entry is free.

Special milling days are held every month where visitors can see Exeter's only working watermill grinding wheat into flour. The next milling day will be held on Friday 11 November between 10am and 12noon.

The Cricklepit Garden Group can be found working in the garden every Wednesday afternoon. Its volunteers are just one example of the 300 people who regularly volunteer for the charity across Devon. More details about volunteering for Devon Wildlife Trust can be found at

Britain in Bloom. Members of the Cricklepit Mill Garden Group celebrate their Britain  in Bloom Award;
 Members of the Cricklepit Mill Garden Group celebrate their Britainin Bloom Award
Devon Wildlife Trust. Wildflowers in the Cricklepit Mill Garden, Exeter 
Wildflowers in the Cricklepit Mill Garden, Exeter

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Clovelly Talks. Sir Peter Bazalgette will be tackling a controversial subject: “Why Should The Public Fund The Arts?”

On the 2nd November 2016, Sir Peter Bazalgette will be tackling a controversial subject: “Why Should The Public Fund The Arts?”

Clovelly Talks welcomes Sir Peter Bazalgette, for the inaugural London Lecture of the forum Clovelly Lectures. This is a forum on World Affairs, International Relations, Security & Defence and Science & Technology. A platform for providing information for informed choices.

Now in its 6th year, Clovelly Lectures has found in Devon a responsive audience. A curiosity and interest in listening and discussing matters that affects our lives in a fast changing and confusing economic and political world. Spreading our wings east, they are taking their forum to Whitehall Place, London.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the incumbent Chair of Arts Council England is also currently the Chairman of ITV and President of the Royal Television Society. He has served as Chair of ‘English National Opera’ and Deputy Chair of ‘National Film and Television School’. He has been a non-executive director for the ‘Department for Culture Media and Sport’.

Sir Peter served on the Board of Broadcasters ITV as well as being on the Advisory Board of Advertiser BBH. Sir Peter had a huge impact on and helped create the Independent TV Production Sector in the United Kingdom, working as a successful television producer for 30 years. He was Chairman of Endemol UK and Creative Director of Endemol worldwide. Under his supervision the company grew three fold and was sold in 2007 for €3.2 billion.

He developed the hit UK blockbuster version of ‘Big Brother’ and is credited with popularising this format as a phenomenal global brand. He created many British TV hits including “Ready Steady Cook”, “Changing Rooms” and produced BBC’s “Food and Drink” and “Celebrity Chef”.

Sir Peter has written many books including ‘Billion Dollar Game’ a study of the international TV formats business.
Sir Peter Bazalgette
Sir Peter Bazalgette
    “Most influential man in British Television” 
Chair of Arts Council England 
Chairman ITV
Speaker:  Sir Peter Bazalgette
Wednesday 2nd November, 2016 
at Liberal Club, Whitehall. SW1A 2HE.
For tickets and further information please contact via 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Volunteers make the difference at Dartmoor wildlife haven

Six months hard work by volunteers has made a crucial difference for wildlife and people at one of Dartmoor's premier nature reserves. Volunteers and staff of Devon Wildlife Trust have together undertaken 110 days of labour during the past spring and summer at the charity's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, which sits between Widecombe-in-the-Moor and Manaton. Together they have worked to increase public access and improve the reserve's mix of wildlife-rich mires, wet-woodlands and riverbanks.

The work has been made possible by funding of £14,640 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company through the Landfill Communities Fund, together with a contribution from the Parishscapes project, part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Moor Than Meets The Eye scheme led by Dartmoor National Park Authority.   ¾ of a mile of new fencing will allow the charity to control the
numbers of grazing animals entering the reserve's mires, thus protecting their delicate communities of plants which include butterwort, cotton-grass and the insect-eating sundew.

Nine new gates were also installed, while paths have been cut through previously impenetrable gorse and scrub. The gates and paths now provide walks to parts of the reserve and along sections of its riverbank which were once off-limits to visitors. Boardwalks and way markers have also been added so that nearly 4 miles of trails now explore the reserve's 110 hectares of beautiful Dartmoor valley.

Andrew Taylor is one of 50 local volunteers who have worked hard to make the improvements. The Manaton man, who is also Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteer nature reserve warden for Emsworthy Mire, said:
"Emsworthy Mire is a big and very varied nature reserve with spectacular views of the surrounding Dartmoor tors. For four years I had it pretty much to myself as nobody else could find their way in, out or around it. This project has struck the right balance - the funders and Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteers have made it possible and enjoyable for people to explore Emsworthy and its amazing wildlife,but a visit here will always be an adventure".

Gareth Williams, Funded Projects Manager at Viridor Credits said:
"I am delighted to work again with our partners at Devon Wildlife Trust to not only enhance the wildlife value at Emsworthy but to also ensure that the access improvements mean it is accessible to as many people as possible to enjoy."

Community Heritage Officer Emma Stockley, who runs Parishscapes said:
"Parishscapes helps support local communities to run heritage projects and this has been a great opportunity to use a Parishscapes grant to help DWT and local volunteers make fantastic improvements to the Emsworthy site".

Like most of Devon Wildlife Trust's 49 nature reserves around the county, Emsworthy Mire is open 365 days a year and is free to enter. The charity recommends that visitors be prepared for some wet and muddy sections when going to Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, especially during autumn and winter.
Local volunteers laying boardwalks through Devon  Wildlife Trust's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, Dartmoor
Local volunteers laying boardwalks through Devon Wildlife Trust's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, Dartmoor
Emsworthy Mire nature reserve. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)
Emsworthy Mire nature reserve. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)

Visiting Emsworthy Mire Nature Reserve
To explore the reserve you can start at grid reference SX 748 761, Saddle Tor car park (head down into the network of stone-walled fields); or at SX 739 779, the layby at Holwell Lawn (look out for the new five-bar gate with Devon Wildlife Trust signs). Both of these entrances are on the seasonal Haytor Hoppa bus route. Mounted maps by the gateways show a network of paths which you can follow using arrowed marker posts and a series of boardwalks.
To plan a visit to this and other Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserves go to