Pollution alert as fire wrecks farm buildings

Fears that the River Culm was badly polluted after a fire at a Clayhidon farm have been allayed by the Environment Agency.
A barn full of hay and a workshop at Palmers were lost to a severe fire in the early hours of 2 September. Diesel from a 2,000-litre tank spilled across the road and some found its way into the River Culm, where the Environment Agency placed a boom to stop it spreading downstream. 
Thirty five firemen attended after Thelma and Phil Blackmore awoke at 4am to the sound of popping and saw their outbuildings ablaze. They moved their cows and calves to safety before the fire brigade arrived. Hours later the hay barn was still burning and all the tools in the workshop had been lost. 
The Environment Agency told BBC Radio Devon it had removed the trapped fuel and the environmental impact seemed "minimal". It did not anticipate any long-term impacts" and no fish had been reported dead.

Where to buy the local history book everyone is talking about
This beautifully produced book records the lives of people in the Upper Culm valley before, during and after the Great War. 
Every soldier, sailor and airman who served is here, along with many touching stories. After months of intensive research by a team of volunteers  it is now on sale, price £10, at Hemyock Post Office and the Strand Stores, Culmstock.

Sun shines for church fete revival
The sun shone, the cold wind abated and hundreds turned up for Clayhidon's Church Fete, which was revived on 23 August after a four year gap. Highlights included a classic car rally, which attracted 12 entrants, and a sheepdog display by Freddie Parker. There were more stalls than ever, plus skittles and a coconut shy and other more bizarre games, including a human fruit machine and a Mad Hatter. The cream teas tent did a roaring trade. The Friends of St Andrew's organised the event, led by Kim Burridge and Caroline Bendle and helped by a squad of volunteers. >More pictures.
Exhibition honours parish war heroes
Clayhidon’s heroes from World War I were honoured in an exhibition over the August Bank Holiday weekend by the Local History Group.
Fifty two men from the parish served in the armed services and seven never returned. Their names are recorded on the Roll of Honour, which normally hangs in the Parish Hall but was moved to the St Andrew’s Church, where the exhibition was staged.
The stories of several of these men were on display, with photographs, medals and letters home.
One man not included in the roll was Travers Edwards Clarke, son of a rector of Clayhidon, who spent part of his childhood here. He reached the rank of Quartermaster General, General Headquarters.
Two Blackmores survived the war, and Local History Group member Margaret Blackmore provided fascinating material about her father.
Other records were of men who had no connection with Clayhidon but whose descendants now live here.
The exhibition was organised by Pam Reynolds.
The Great War centenary coincided with a significant anniversary in the history of St Andrew’s Church, and an adjoining exhibition contained a display about 740 years of Christianity in Clayhidon.>Clayhidon’s Roll of Honour.

Riverside farewell to Gary Williams
In a unique and moving ceremony beside the River Culm on 15 August family and friends said goodbye to Gary Williams, who has died at the age of 62.
Born in Connecticut, USA, Gary had a passion for music and in his 30-year career in the record business worked with many of the biggest names in entertainment, from Leonard Cohen to Celine Dion and Bruce Springsteen.
After leaving college he talked his way into a job in the mail room at Columbia records, New York and then systematically worked his way up through the ranks of Columbia and Sony. His job took him all over the world. He moved to Denmark, then Holland, where he met Yvonne Roth, and then London.
When he retired at 50 he and Yvonne moved to the Water Mill, Clayhidon. In the beautiful garden Yvonne created beside the river, celebrant Trudy Farmer conducted a farewell ceremony, praising this “patient, dignified and very gracious man” who had fought an unrelenting battle against cancer.
>Read more.
Parish seeks alternatives to broadband
Neil Parish MP (right) at the public meeting, with Clayhidon Parish Council chairman Richard Kallaway.

The news that Clayhidon has been dropped from the current roll-out of superfast broadband has prompted a search for alternative options by the parish council.
At its meeting on 4 August the council decided to explore other options and asked: "Are there any members of the Parish who have expertise in this area who would be prepared to give us advice?"
This appeal follows a 'meet your MP' public meeting in Clayhidon Parish Hall on 1 August, where it was stated that property prices could fall in areas excluded from superfast broadband.
It was revealed that Clayhidon’s chances of getting fast internet access within this decade had shrunk to zero after the parish and four other villages were reclassified as “Out of programme”.
“These villages are not even going to be surveyed to find out how difficult it is to get fibre broadband to us,” broadband campaigner Graham Long told the meeting, at which Neil parish MP answered questions from the public. 
>Read more on superfast broadband.

Tractors and potholes worry residents
Tractors speeding through Clayhidon and the growing menace of potholes were among the issues which drew complaints from residents attending a public meeting with local MP Neil Parish on 1 August.
Lynda Higgins, landlady of the Half Moon Inn, said she was concerned about the safety of her young son caused by farm vehicles roaring past her pub. She had asked the police to take action. Other speakers agreed that some tractor drivers were going “way too fast”.
Mr Parish pointed out that lots of silage work was done by contractors. He suggested a polite letter from the parish council to all local farmers, an idea supported by the vice chairman, Sue Hay
>Read more.

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      Singing their own beautiful songs
      Audiences all over the country have raved about singer-songwriters howdenjones (Kate Howden and Paul Jones). On 26 September their 'beautiful music in beautiful places' tour comes to Clayhidon Parish Hall.


      Terror stalked our ghostly old roads
      The ghosts of hanged rebel soldiers and “Spunkies” or "Will-o’-the-Wisps" (unbaptized children) were widely believed to haunt the wastes and moors of Clayhidon and other remote parts of the Blackdown Hills, according to an academic study.
      Stories of lost souls wandering the hills were common and bandits and thieves traded on local superstition and fear to move through the landscape unchallenged, says Lucy Ryder.

      Fire damages Clayhidon home
      A house at Blackdown Court, Clayhidon was badly damaged by fire on 16 August while the occupants were out, the Mid Devon Gazette reports. >Read more.

      Four bridleways being considered
      for Clayhidon
      Four new bridleways could be created in Clayhidon under proposals being considered by Devon County Council.
      Two proposals are for routes along Routy Lane, near Newcot Cross, and Nick Read’s Lane.
      The other two would involve upgrading footpaths to bridleways – number 31, part of Ridgewood Lane, together with number 40 Hemyock Lemons Hill, plus another route southwards from near Kingsmead Caravan Site via Ringdown Cottage and Garlandhayes.
      A fifth proposal is to downgrade bridleway number 38 at Gotleigh Moor to a footpath.
      The council is also considering the creation of a new footpath as a continuation to join Bakers Farm footpath in Somerset.
      These suggestions are open for public consultation until 10 September. 
      >Find out more about the precise locations of the paths by clicking on this link.

      On the trail of the slimy blighters
      “Slimy blighters” lurking in a Clayhidon postbox have hit the headlines in a classic Silly Season story about snail mail. >Read more.

      Did you see the Vulcan flypast?
      Clayhidon was treated to a low level flypast of Britain's iconic Vulcan nuclear bomber on 31 August. 
      No-one knew it was coming and only those who heard the deafening roar of its engines and rushed outside would have seen it disappearing westward along the Culm. 
      The 54-year-old aircraft, the world's oldest complete Vulcan, was on its way from its base in Doncaster to the Culdrose Air Show in Cornwall.


      Planning applications
      Plans for a new agricultural livestock building at Hidewood Farm, Clayhidon are among the latest applications submitted to Mid Devon District Council. >Read more.

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