Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Emily aims to send pupils wild

Local-charity Devon Wildlife Trust’s latest appointment Emily Bacon has an unusual job: to make Exeter’s school children go wild!

Emily, a 24 year old graduate who studied zoology at the University of Exeter, will work with schools throughout the city for the next 12 months inspiring children with a love of wildlife and the outdoors. Her work as an Education Assistant with Devon Wildlife Trust is being supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

One of the Emily’s first tasks will be to establish a network of Forest Schools which will offer outdoor learning to primary and secondary school students across the city.

Emily said:

“My targets are ambitious – I plan to work with 6,500 young people in Exeter during the next year. But the opportunity to engage with so many young people which is so exciting. To be able to get students out of the classroom, taking their learning outside and immersing them in nature is a wonderful privilege.

The young people who take part will develop a variety of new skills. They’ll learn how to build wild shelters and learn how to light a cooking fire. They will also gain nature detective skills, play outdoor team games and use nature to spark their creativity. These are all things that should be part of a young person’s life.”

Emily’s plans will take her beyond schools to work with local brownies, cubs and holiday clubs. In her work she’ll be using a special ‘cargo bike’ to carry all her equipment. Emily said:

“The bike is like an old-fashioned butcher’s bike with a cargo container on the front in which I’ll store my outdoor learning equipment. It should become a distinctive sight across the city as I pedal around with livery which tells people about the project, Devon Wildlife Trust and the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Look out for me as I’ll be coming to a school near you soon!”

The project was the idea of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Education Lead, Paul Martin. Paul has been working for the charity for 6 years bringing the natural world into lives of school children throughout Devon. Paul said:

“There’s a growing amount of evidence which shows that being outdoors has benefits for young people, including improvements to their health, and their social and emotional well-being. Forest School activities are especially good at encouraging individuals to build self-esteem, confidence, and resilience. Simply getting children outside in their wellies encourages a natural curiosity enabling them to experience nature first hand. Having Emily and this project will now allow us to extend these benefits to so many more youngsters.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities from People’s Postcode Lottery said:

“Our players are raising amazing amounts of money for charities such as Devon Wildlife Trust. The charity’s good work helping young people gain better access and understanding of local wildlife and wild places is just the kind of project our players love to support.”

One of Emily’s first outings will be at Devon Wildlife Trust’s half term event in Exeter’s Mincinglake Park on Thursday 1st June. The free event called ’30 Days Wild’ begins at 10am and runs until 3pm. Emily will be joined by a team of other wildlife people offering crafts, trails and fun activities aimed at families who want to go wild.

The project runs until the end of March 2018. To find out more visit or email Emily Bacon at

Emily Bacon, New Education Assistant for Devon Wildlife Trust
Emily Bacon, new Education Assistant for Devon Wildlife Trust

Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) have raised more than £197 Million for good causes. A minimum of 30% of the ticket price goes to charities and good causes. Check out PPL’s Charity Draw Calendar to see what charities are supported in different draws and see the Ambassadors who help spread the word about these good causes.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Charity encourages families to go wild during June

A wildlife charity is urging local people to go wild during the month of June.

The Wildlife Trusts are asking people to make the most of the natural world around them by taking part in ‘random acts of wildness’ each day during the month.

The campaign, called 30 Days Wild, is now in its third year and already has more than 35,000 people signed up and committed to taking part across the UK. More than 1,500 from Devon are among the nature-lovers ready to go wild.

Devon Wildlife Trust has announced that it is launching this year’s 30 Days Wild with a special half-term holiday event taking place in Exeter’s Mincinglake Valley Park, between 10am and 3pm on Thursday 1 June.

The 30 Days Wild event organiser is Anya Oliver. She said:

“We’re kicking off this year’s 30 Days Wild with a free event in one of Exeter’s best known Valley Parks: Mincinglake. The event is open to all and we’ll be offering pond dipping, wild crafts, games, nature discovery trails, plus ideas to bring wildlife into people’s gardens. We’ll also be challenging those that come along to do 10 wild things with us in just one day!

To each of the first 100 people to arrive at the event and who sign up to 30 Days Wild we’ll be giving them a free pack containing a wallchart on which they can record their wild month, stickers and much more.”

Exeter’s Mincinglake event is taking place at the Stoke Hill entrance to the Valley Park, close to its car park and Sylvania Hall. The event is being supported by Exeter City Council, South West Water and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

30 Days Wild will then continue for the whole of June. Each day participants are being asked to take part in a random act of wildness at home, in their schools and at their workplaces. The fun and quirky ideas are designed to get us all to connect with nature. This year’s random acts include star gazing, building a home for bugs in the garden, taking a lunch break out of doors, enjoying mindfulness in a park or wildflower meadow, listening to birdsong and attempting to learn to spot a new butterfly.

People can sign up to take part in 30 Days Wild by clicking on a special link at

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey said:

“We want people throughout Devon to use 30 Days Wild as an inspiration for getting to know their local wildlife better. They can spend a few minutes, or a few hours each day enjoying nature - how they do it is up to them. The important thing is to use our ideas for random acts of wildness as a starting point.

In my own case, I plan to stop on my regular commute by bike to work to check on the progress of one pair of swans and their cygnets on the River Exe. Rather than keeping my head down and getting to work as soon as I can, each day during June I’ll be taking a few minutes out to pause, look for this swan family and take in the wonderful wildlife that we have here in Devon.”

The Wildlife Trusts believe that there is a real benefit to our health and welfare from pausing to put a little bit of wildness back into our lives. A study of people taking part in last year’s 30 Days Wild campaign undertaken by researchers from University of Derby showed that a daily dose of nature, even in bite size chunks, is good for you. Their study* found that people who did something ‘wild’ each day for a month, felt happier, healthier and more connected to nature. Dr Miles Richardson, Director of Psychology led the study, said:

“The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our everyday lives. Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influence improvements in health. Our study also shows that those who benefitted most were younger adults and those who weren’t ‘nature lovers’.” 
#30DaysWild wih the Devon Wildlife Trust
Fun for all the family #30DaysWild

About 30 Days Wild: Development and Evaluation of a Large-Scale Nature Engagement Campaign to Improve Well-Being. February 18 th 2016 PLoS One. Kelly Tyler, Public Relations Officer, University of Derby on 01332 591891 / 07876 476103 or

30 Days Wild 2017 is the third year The Wildlife Trusts will run this national campaign to encourage people to love nature and deepen their relationship with wildlife. Who takes part? In 2016 nearly 30,000 people and organisations signed up to take part including over 2,000 schools. Between them, they carried out over 1.8 million Random Acts of Wildness, exploring, learning about, and acting for wildlife near them. You don’t have to be a member of a Wildlife Trust to take part

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wildlife Charities Ride into Election Debate

Devon Wildlife Trust and RSPB are today calling on voters to ask their prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) about how they plan to restore nature in the West Country.

In an unusual move the two leading nature charities will be riding into Plymouth on a special campaign bicycle carrying a billboard with a ‘unique and wild’ election message.

Nick Bruce White, RSPB Regional Director, said:

“We know that nature is close to the heart of people here in the West Country, with both our organisations having tens of thousands of supporters locally. We urge people to talk to election candidates of all parties about nature, how important it is to them and how if elected they will make sure it protected and restored.”

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust Chief Executive said:

“Wildlife and wild places are critical to the health, welfare and prosperity of people in the South West. The debate around the future of wildlife cannot be allowed to go missing from this crucial general election. Today we are asking that people don’t let their candidates forget nature.”

The campaign’s novel use of a bike-powered billboard stemmed from a passion for cycling shared by both charities’ chief officers. Harry Barton said:

“We wanted a way to reach people, and pedal power fits perfectly with the ethos of each of our organisations.”

Devon Wildlife Trust and RSPB are asking voters to raise four key specific issues with their PPCs…
  1. What will your party do to ensure our wildlife laws remain strong and that steps are taken to restore the damage we have done to nature?
  2. What will your party do to ensure that wildlife thrives in our seas once more?
  3. What will your party do to ensure we have new farming policies in each part of the UK to provide for nature’s recovery?
  4. What will your party do to make sure we move to a low carbon economy?
The bike’s campaign billboard leads with the slogan ‘The real losers in the polls’, before asking voters to ‘Let your election candidates know how much nature means to you’. The billboard also states that 56% of the UK’s wildlife is in decline, a figure that headlined the recent State of Nature report which was published in 2016.

RSPB and Devon Wildlife Trust are asking people to find out more about why this general election is so crucial to the future of the region’s wildlife by visiting a special election webpage and joining the debate on social media using the hashtag #GreenerSW.

RSPB/Devon Wildlife Trust general election poster

Monday, 22 May 2017

What's Slow Cooking at Bulworthy. Barbecue Cafe Evening in a beautiful Devon Woodland

Barbecue Café Evenings, hosted by the Bulworthy Project, are a great social event for all the family held in a beautiful Devon woodland on the last Saturday of the month from May to August.  The next event wil be on Saturday 27th May 

The menu will include slow roast mutton and barbecued free range chicken both of which are from small family farms within a few miles away. There will be falafel as a vegan option. Bulworthy can cater for gluten free and other dietary requirements, please ask when ordering. They will be serving local cider, ale and wine as well as a selection of soft drinks, hot beverages and a variety of  homemade sweet treats for desert. You can also enjoy an interactive blacksmithing demonstration from Bulworthy friends at Longdog Smithy. 

You are welcome to explore the woods whilst you are there where you can see sheep and piglets as well as enjoying the woodland environment. Overnight camping is available if you would like to stay in the woods and the café will be open for breakfast.

The Bulworthy Project Barbecue Café evenings really are unique. That's probably because they way that they came about is also quite unique. Anna and Pete Grugeon bought the woods where Bulworthy Project is based 10 years ago and a couple of years later they were living in a caravan in the woods making charcoal for a living. The next obvious step was to run charcoal making courses and they started catering for the courses. Because they were cooking on charcoal every day and they are passionate about locally produced food, they were producing really fantastic meals and people started saying that they'd be up for coming to the woods just for the food.

In May 2015 they got an events licence and put on the first Barbecue Café evening. Despite terrible weather, quite a few people came to shelter in what undercover space there was and eat delicious food. Slow roast shoulder of pork was on the menu, but was gone within minutes. There was no campfire that night due to the rain, but everyone had a fantastic time. That evening had been a real learning curve. By the end of the year, they had a full size marquee, meaning that everyone can stay warm and dry and had streamlined how the café worked so that it looked like a slick operation.

There was entertainment from the start of these evenings, with friends playing music, telling stories and doing craft demonstrations and now each café has it's own individual feel depending on what is going on. Some of it is organised and publicised in advance, some is spontaneous and just happens on the day. The food is locally produced, comes mainly from farms known to Anna and Pete and is of course still cooked on charcoal that they make themselves. This is however no normal barbecued food. The latest menu includes roast chicken, slow roast mutton and they have falafel as a vegan option. It is served as sit down meals and comes with a fine selection of locally produced ale, cider and wine as well as soft drinks and beverages. There's a blacksmithing demo booked and more entertainment expected on the day. 

Bulworthy Project Barbecue Café evenings
 A great social event for all the family
Bulworthy Project Barbecue Café evenings
  Blacksmithing demonstration with Longdog Smithy
Bulworthy Project Barbecue Café evenings happen on the last Saturday of the month from May to August 6pm-11pm
Kid Friendly. Free Admission (You just pay for food and drinks as you order)
Please car share where possible. Sorry no dogs allowed due to ground nesting birds and other environmental considerations. 
For further details and directions visit
Bulworthy Project Barbecue Café evenings
Bulworthy Project,  Hensons Wood, Rackenford, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8DL
Tel: 07594569441

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

London band Flyte are Devon bound this Summer. UK tour gigs include Exeter Student Guild and Sidmouth Fringe

London four-piece Flyte have a colossal summer ahead. Announcing their biggest headline to date at London’s Scala on September 19, the band are going on the road and bringing their renowned harmonies to towns across the UK – busking in City centres, and recalling where it all began on London’s Portobello Road. With regional dates alongside in Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham, Flyte will perform at festivals including Latitude, The Great Escape and Standon Calling.

Last year, vocalist Will Taylor and keys player Sam Berridge uploaded a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ to their Facebook page. This heart-wrenching interpretation kicked off a Flyte-movement. Racking up over 1M streams, fans wanted more sessions, and Flyte began carefully curating covers in London landmarks with towering acoustics, earning a reputation for their trademark vocal arrangements, as well as their bold live sound.

Accomplished songwriters Will, Sam, Nick, and Jon have released a flurry of alternative-indie anthems including ‘We Are The Rain’, ‘Closer Together,’ and ‘Light Me Up’ over the past few years and have amassed over 1.5M Spotify streams. ‘Victoria Falls’ spells a fresh dawn for Flyte as the band put the finishing touches on their debut album with Burke Reid in Australia.
Watch the remarkable Church session for new single Victoria Falls here

Live dates
26/04 Oslo, London - Alexandra Saviour support
28/04 Moth Club, London
29/04 Live at Leeds, Leeds
11/05 Busking in Nottingham
12/05 Busking in Birmingham
13/05 Busking in Liverpool
14/05 Busking in Sheffield
18/05 The Great Escape, Brighton
19/05 The Railway Inn, Winchester
20/05 Moles Club, Bath
21/05 The Crofters Rights, Bristol
24/05 The Rocking Chair, Sheffield
25/05 Fallow Café, Manchester
26/05 Chameleon Arts Café, Nottingham
27/05 Surf Café, Tynemouth
28/05 The Garage, Glasgow
30/05 Scala, London Alexandra Saviour support
31/05 The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
02/06 The Magnet, Liverpool
04/06 Exeter Student Guild, Exeter
24/06 Midsommar Festival, Sweden
02/07 Barn on the Farm, Gloucester
09/07 Smoked & Uncut, Somerset
15/07 Latitude - DIY stage
30/07 Standon Calling - Laundry Meadows Stage
09/08 Sidmouth Fringe, Devon
09/09 Moira Calling, Northern Island
19/09 Scala, London

Flyte UK Summer Tour
Connect with Flyte

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Wurzels are heading to The Factory, Barnstaple for a Bank Holiday Special

Scrumpy and Western legends The Wurzels are heading to The Factory on Saturday 27th May for a bank holiday weekend special with Thatchers Cider.

Westcountry cider-supping legends The Wurzels will be celebrating the May bank holiday weekend at The Factory along with some additions from our mates at Thatchers Cider!

🍏We have teamed up with Thatchers to bring you a Pop up Thatchers Haze Bar, serving cloudy cider!

🍏Thatchers 'Cider Drinker Raffle' with prizes up for grabs on the night! 1 raffle ticket for every pint of Thatchers Gold or Thatchers Haze bought!

The Wurzels formed in 1966 by Adge Cutler, this bunch of haystack-headed, cider-soaked and dung-booted, not-quite-so-young Avonside lads play good-time traditional Zummerzet Scrumpy 'n' Western music.

Best known for their number one hit The Combine Harvester and number three hit I Am A Cider Drinker

LOCAL SUPPORT: Bicycle Repair Man, James Spencer & Matthew Warren,  a Devon based acoustic duo, playing covers & original material.

Scrumpy and Western legends The Wurzels are heading to The Factory, Barnstaple
The Wurzels Saturday 27th May for a bank holiday weekend special.
Local support comes from Bicycle Repair Man. 
 Minimum age recommendation 16+
The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus, Oakwood Close, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 3NJ
M +44 (0)7446 692751

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Nature and people benefit from improvements to Dartmoor haven

Visitors and wildlife at a Dartmoor nature reserve have been the beneficiaries of a generous funder.

Help from the SUEZ Communities Trust has enabled Devon Wildlife Trust to make some significant improvement to its Bellever Moor and Meadows nature reserve. The reserve covers 72 hectares of mainly wildflower-rich hay meadows and moorland near Postbrige on Dartmoor. It became one of Devon Wildlife Trust’s 50 nature reserves as recently as 2015.

A funding grant of £13,340 from SUEZ Communities Trust, which supports community and environmental improvement projects through the Landfill Communities Fund, has allowed the conservation charity to install nearly a mile of new fencing and replace eight dilapidated field gates. The grant also provided the resources with which local volunteers were able to repair traditional stone walls.

Steve Hussey of Devon Wildlife Trust said:

“Fencing and the repair of stone walls doesn’t sound the most glamorous types of conservation work, yet they are vital if we are going to properly manage Bellever Moor and Meadows for wildlife. Stock proof fields allow us to introduce grazing livestock which then control grasses and allow wildflowers and other wildlife to flourish.”

“We also think the repaired traditional stone walls look magnificent in this moorland setting. They were the work of local volunteers, all trained in the skills needed through financial help from the SUEZ Communities Trust.”

Support from SUEZ Communities Trust has also allowed Devon Wildlife Trust to improve public access to the reserve. Two new kissing gates have been built on main routes, while discrete signage now welcomes and directs visitors.

The charity’s Steve Hussey said:

“We’re especially proud of a new bench which gives visitors a place to pause and enjoy local nature and some stunning moorland views. Subtle illustrations on the bench let visitors know about the wildlife they can hope to see.     

Support from the SUEZ Communities Trust has helped us improve this wonderful part of Dartmoor for people and wildlife. We’ve been able to make it easier for locals and visitors to the area to access Bellever Moor and Meadows and when they do visit they will find the nature reserve in better shape than it has been for a generation.”

Marianne Ivin of SUEZ Communities Trust added:
“This is another wonderful project funded through our Accessing Nature fund. Being able to open up new areas of the site to allow the public to gain access to some beautiful wildflower meadows is very exciting for us to be part of. SUEZ Communities Trust provides grants through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.4 billion.”

People can plan their visit to Devon Wildlife Trust’s Bellever Moor and Meadows at

Bellever Moor and Meadows Nature Reserve Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)
Bellever Moor and Meadows Nature Reserve Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)
New bench at Laughter Hole, Bellever Moor and Meadows. Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)
New bench at Laughter Hole, Bellever Moor and Meadows. Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)

About SUEZ Communities Trust (formerly SITA Trust)
SUEZ Communities Trust is an independent funding body set up in 1997 to provide funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. To date SUEZ Communities Trust has supported more than 3,900 projects to a combined value of over £110 million using tax credits donated by SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK (formerly SITA UK).
SUEZ Communities Trust funds improve vital public recreation facilities such as village halls, community centres, sport, heritage, green spaces and play areas.
For information on how to apply for funding from SUEZ Communities Trust call (01454) 262910 or visit

About Landfill Tax and the Landfill Communities Fund
The Landfill Communities Fund is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling Landfill Operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with the scheme regulator, ENTRUST, as Environmental Bodies (EBs) EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 5.7%) against the landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make.
Since its inception, in 1996, over £1.4 billion has been spent on more than 53,000 projects across the UK. For more information please visit

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Charity and fire service team warn of wild fire threat

The threat of wild fires may seem like a long way off after a typically wet Bank  Holiday weekend but a leading wildlife charity is now joining forces with an emergency fire service to warn of the rising risks that fire is posing to some of the region's most treasured landscapes.

Despite rain over the Bank Holiday the South West still finds itself in the middle of a prolonged dry spell which has left parts of the countryside vulnerable to wild fires. With the long range weather forecast predicting little prospect of rain Devon
Wildlife Trust has become concerned enough about the risk affecting its nature reserves that it has now teamed up with Devon & Somerset Fire Rescue Service to promote a message about safe and responsible use of rural areas.
The warning comes after a devastating fire struck East Devon's Woodbury Common on 23 April. 120 acres of the heathland beauty-spot owned by Clinton Devon Estates were badly burned in a fire which began on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Steve Hussey from Devon Wildlife Trust said:
"Wild fires can be devastating for wildlife, as well as potentially dangerous for people and damaging to farmland. Heathlands, with their coverings of gorse and grasses, are particularly vulnerable when the weather remains dry for several weeks. Having experienced a couple of months without significant rainfall, even though the weather has been cold, parts of our countryside are now at risk."

Devon Wildlife Trust is asking people to take care on all its 50 nature reserves but especially on its heathland sites which include Chudleigh Knighton Heath and Bovey Heathfield nature reserves near Bovey Tracey, and Venn Ottery and Bystock nature reserves in East Devon.
The charity is now working with Devon & Somerset Fire Service to promote a message which asks people to use the countryside responsibly while also being vigilant.

Joe Hassell, Area Manager of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: "We want people to be able to enjoy the countryside, but ask them to be vigilant during drier weather to help prevent more gorse fires in the future. A change in wind direction can cause the fire to spread rapidly, putting fire fighters at risk as well as nearby people and property."
The fire service is advising people to some simple advice:
  • extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly;
  • never throw cigarette ends out of car windows;
  • don't leave bottles or glass in the countryside - sunlight shining through glass can start fires; take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin;
  • avoid using open fires (including barbeques) in the countryside;
  • if you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately;
  • don't attempt to tackle fires that can't be put out with a bucket of water - leave the area as quickly as possible and call 999.
Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey concluded:
"We are doing our bit to protect our wonderful countryside from the risk of fire. Our staff and volunteers are remaining vigilant and cutting fire breaks, especially on vulnerable grassland, heathland and moorland sites. But with 50 nature reserves in Devon we have a lot of ground to cover. That's why the public's help is so important. What we're asking people to do is follow the good advice of the Devon &

Somerset Fire Rescue Service."
In 2011, a large wild fire destroyed a third of Dorset Wildlife Trust's Upton Heath nature reserve near Wareham killing many rare plants and animals. It's estimated that it can take up to ten years before habitats and their wildlife are able to recover.

A  small heathland fire in Devon. Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust
A small heathland fire in Devon - Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)