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Don't know what to believe about broadband plans for the Blackdowns?
>Click here to read  Graham Long's independent assessment

Autumn Film Nights at Clayhidon

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant kick off the autumn season of film nights at Clayhidon Parish Hall at 8pm on Friday 23 September with Florence Foster Jenkins (PG), a comedy set in 1940s New York.
Based on the true story of a tone-deaf arts benefactor who wanted to sing opera, it opened to rave reviews, with one critic summing it up as “a fizzy, funny, period dramedy with top-notch performances.”

Money Monster (15) (7.30pm Friday 21 October) is a riveting thriller directed by Jodie Foster, with George Clooney as a TV financial show host whose programme is hijacked byya gunman protesting about corruption. Also stars an on-top-form Julia Roberts as show director.

Kate Beckinsale gives a mesmerising performance as a scandalous widow in the hit British period comedy Love and Friendship (U) (7.30pm Friday 18 November). “Excellent cast, delicious, witty ­– simply great fun,” wrote one critic. “Terrifically fresh and oh-so wonderfully wicked,” wrote another.
Watch this space for more about these films including links to trailers and information on how to reserve tickets
Mid Devon votes to leave but 12,000 don't take part
People in Mid Devon voted by a majority of 3,206 that Britain should quit the European Union. More than 12,000 people (one in five electors) failed to vote.
The figures from the 23 June referendum were:
Remain, 22,400 (46.66%)
Leave, 25,606 (53.34%)
Leave majority 3,206 (6.68%)
Electorate 60,531. Turnout 48,006 (79.31%)

The Queen and I
Margaret Blackmore reflects on her 90 years - and the Queen's

My Clayhidon childhood

She went to school in Clayhidon the year the Queen was born.
Click here for Mary Ridgeway's fascinating stories of her childhood 90 years ago.

Uffculme reunion
Class of 78
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Wildlife & countryside

Lots of wildlife and countryside events on the Blackdown Hills AONB website

Other local events listings

Great Clayhidon Bake-Off is a scrumptious challenge
Clayhidon’s Nadiya Hussain wannabes are dusting off their
recipe books for the second Great Clayhidon Bake-Off, a highlight of the Clayhidon Church Fete on Saturday 27 August, 12 - 3pm. 
The challenge is to equal the scrumptiousness of the Victoria sponge made by last year’s bake-off winner, Thelma Blackmore (pictured right).
This year, to simplify things, there are fewer classes for the judges, Margaret Blackmore and Richard Kallaway, to consider:
  • Clayhidon Sponge Cake (let your creative inner self take over!) 
  • Plate of four scones 
  • Decorated cupcake 
  • Vegetable animal (one for the children) 
  • Arrangement in a beer glass (this is one for the men. The arrangement can be anything ie. animal, vegetable or mineral 
    >Click here for the entry form 
Neil Parish MP will open the fete. Once again Nicola Bendle and the Friends of St Andrew’s Church have organised a packed programme. with displays of classic cars, dogs and ducks, a dog show, cream teas, splat the rat and other diversions.
But this will be Nicola’s last fete. She is resolved not to do another, so Clayhidon needs someone else to step up to the plate and take over. All the money raised goes towards the fabric of the church, which needs £60,000 for its leaky roof. Last year’s fete raised £1,200.

Chapel and pub agree to heart machines
There’s good news for Clayhidon people at risk of heart attacks. Defibrillators are to be installed by Clayhidon Parish Council outside The Half Moon and Rosemary Lane Chapel .
Three parishes of Clayhidon, Culmstock & Hemyock have agreed a four-year lease with the SW Ambulance Trust for six defibrillator, at a cost of £1,800 for the first defibrillator and £1,000 per defibrillator thereafter. These would be fully maintained and insured and yearly training given.
The pub and the chapel have kindly given permission for the cabinets and defibrillators to be installed on an external wall.
.>Read more and see the full parish council minutes.

Prince Philip visits Clayhidon
When the Duke of Edinburgh came to Clayhidon on 31 July he was probably the first member of royalty to visit the parish in its history of over 700 years.
He flew in by helicopter as guest of the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Fenix Carriages. It was a private visit. The media were not told he was coming and virtually no-one in the parish knew about it.
Prince Philip’s enthusiasm for competitive carriage driving prompted  Mark Broadbent of Fenix to invite him to join a Worshipful Company trip to see the work he and his colleagues are doing in designing and building carriages and restoring old coaches.
“We had a wonderful tour of the workshops,” said Mark, who has known the Prince for years and competed against him many times. “The Prince was very complimentary and it was an honour and privilege to have him visit.

Two win Landscapes for Life award
Blackdown Hills’ residents, Heather Stallard and David Allen, have been honoured with Landscapes for Life awards for long-standing service to the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The awards, presented by the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, recognise the service of those who have dedicated more than 20 years of cumulative service to AONBs.
Both Heather and David have served many years as AONB Partnership Management Group members. This is the first time Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership members have been honoured in this way. >Read more

Eerie photos of Merry Harriers
There are eerie photographs on the Western Gazette website of the smoke damaged interior of the Merry Harriers. Fire investigators believe it was deliberately set on fire (full story below on this page)>Click here for pictures

Parish bids for two defibrillators
Following a meeting with South Western Ambulance Trust the Clayhidon Parish Council has been able to negotiate a four-year deal for multiple defibrillators with Culmstock and Hemyock. 
Donna Evans, the clerk, has submitted a bid to the British Heart Foundation for a defibrillator and news is awaited on the outcome of this application. Once known, a number of defibrillators will be hired from the Ambulance Trust. 
Many thanks go to The Half Moon which raised £147.00 for the parish defibrillator fund at its recent mini festival on 1-3 July. The Violet Chapman Trust is also thanked for its generous award of funds.
It is hoped that the parish will obtain two defibrillators, located at the Half Moon and possibly Rosemary Lane Chapel. Mrs Evans is to ask permission from the Chapel.
>Parish council minutes

Fast broadband in 2017? It's up to you
Clayhidon and other Blackdowns parishes will have their own underground cable network providing ultra-fast broadband in less than a year – provided 35 per cent of householders sign up.
Upottery could be up and running by October, followed by Churchinford in November and then Clayhidon and Ford Street.
Entirely bypassing BT’s ancient copper wire network, Gigaclear’s fibre-optic system offers broadband up to a thousand times faster than many local homes currently achieve plus a low cost telephone service. 
If a survey by Rightmove is to be believed this could boost house prices, which it says can be depressed by as much as 20 per cent in slow broadband areas. >Read more.

A charabanc fit for a royal palace
It took Mark Broadbent 10 months to design and build this beautiful horse-drawn Victorian charabanc for Hampton Court - and it took 25 Clayhidon people to test it for safety and balance.
Mark, Britain's only master coach maker, who runs Fenix Carriages at Higher Hill Farm, Clayhidon with his wife Joanna, was asked by Historic Royal Palaces to build a vehicle to replace Hampton Court's horse-drawn tram. 

Harriers fire 'started deliberately'
Police believe the fire that badly damaged the Merry Harriers, Clayhidon was started deliberately.
They say fire crews discovered that the door had been forced to gain entry and a fire had been started. Police would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time or who saw anything suspicious to contact them on quoting crime log CR/046969/16.”
 after its sudden closure.
Six fire crews arrived late on Sunday night 10 July, days after the pub's sudden closure, to find the entrance porch and first floor well ablaze.
As we reported a week before the fire, the pub had mysteriously
closed and the landlord had apparently left. Security fencing barred the entrance, no-one was answering the phone and various attempts to contact  Wesley Sneijder had drawn a blank. 
"Nobody knows where he has gone or why," said a regular. "It's a great mystery."
"Unforeseen health issues" were the only reason given in a notice outside, which said the pub would not reopen "for the foreseeable future". 
Wesley  (usually known as Wayne to avoid confusion with his famous footballing namesake) became landlord in 2015, when he announced he had bought the lease from Reg and Leslie Payne and said he was trying to bring the pub back to its glory days.

The Half Moon keeps on shining
Lynda, Dorian and Ryland Higgins celebrated ten years at the Half Moon Inn, Clayhidon with a mini festival. 
 On Saturday July 2 there was  a barbecue and mini beer festival in The Half Moon’s beautiful beer garden, which enjoys the best view for miles around. 
A jazz trio, the Charlie Earnshaw Trio followed Sunday lunch on July 3, with Devon cream teas available all afternoon..
How did the Half Moon survive one of the toughest decades in UK pub history? >Read more.

Cardboard Queen at parish weekend
Clayhidon farmers Richard Kallaway and Phil Blackmore apparently chatting to the Queen when she visited Clayhidon to celebrate her 90th birthday on 11 June.
Nearly 100 parishioners turned up at a parish hall festooned with union jacks for a royal tea party, and because her real majesty was busy elsewhere a life-size cardboard cut-out was recruited to welcome well-wishers.
The party at the parish hall was part of a weekend of events in Clayhidon. It was followed on Sunday by a special service in St. Andrew's Church. There was also an exhibition of events in the parish over the past 90 years including the recollections of local people who had met the Queen.

Big turnout for  John Law's funeral
There was a big turnout for the funeral of John Law at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon on 8 June, when family mourners, led by his wife Judy, neighbours and friends from all over the country came to celebrate the life of a much respected and warmly loved man.
Tributes were paid by Richard Dimbleby, his friend and former colleague at SCAT, where John had been vice principal,  and by his stepson Jamie. Ginny Hutt read a variation of David Harkins' moving poem She Is Gone. 
The service, conducted by the Rev David Burton, opened and closed with jazz records - Glenn Miller's In the Mood and Acker Bilk's Coming For To Carry Me Home. Brenda Persey was organist.
A collection was made in aid of Parkinson's UK.
A reception at the Half Moon Inn was followed by a private cremation.
John, who had been suffering from Parkinson's, died suddenly  on May 27, aged 81, after a fall at his home, Bridge House, Clayhidon.
Another triumph for satnav
It's wonderful where your satellite navigation system can take you if you let it. Who would have thought you could bring a 44 tonne lorry all the way down Rosemary Lane, for instance? This driver did on 8 June, apparently knocking bits off walls and buildings as he drove deeper into trouble. Did he not see the signs warning HGV drivers to keep out? 
And although he didn't manage to get beyond the bridge below Gladhayes, where the turning proved too tight, he did manage to reverse out of his difficulties. This is more than most juggernaut drivers do when they enter the deadly web of narrow lanes that make up Clayhidon. What comes down doesn't usually go back up in one piece. Later police appealed for information about the incident.

Pony power brings new life to Turbary

This tawny owl chick got a surprise when it peeped out of its nest box on the Clayhidon Turbary and found itself facing the lens of Edric Hopkinson. 
The Turbary was once the place where the poor of the parish would cut peat and gorse for their fires, and the way they used the land created ideal conditions for a huge variety of wildlife, Edric told the parish meeting on 18 April. 
But over recent decades this unique 13.7 hectare area of heath and bog was overwhelmed by purple moor-grass, bracken and encroaching woodland and this perfect habitat for many unusual species began to disappear.
After a deal with the parish council Edric and a team of helpers from Devon Wildlife Trust have been putting that right by harnessing the chomping power of four Exmoor ponies.
One recent study of invertebrates found 298 species on the site, including a terrifyingly weird looking species of jumping spider and several insect-eating plants. 
>Minutes of annual parish meeting.
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Click poster to enlarge

Click poster to enlarge

To Casey and Jamie - a son!
Many congratulations to Casey and Jamie Blackmore of Palmers, Clayhidon on the birth in Exeter of their first child, Thomas Alan, on Saturday, July 9.
Thomas was 6lbs 11oz and is a sixth grandchild for Thelma and Phil Blackmore.

Menage light pollution threat to our dark skies
Another unexpected light pollution threat to the dark night sky above Clayhidon was identified by parish councillors when they discussed plans for a horse ménage opposite Heazle Farm.
The applicant had previously assured the parish council that he did not intend to light the ménage. But members had since learned that he had been in correspondence with a Mid Devon District planning officer about the possibility of adding lights.
The parish has instructed the clerk, Donna Evans, to let the planners know about this apparent contradiction and give examples of other ménages in the parish.
These include two commercial ménages with lights ­- Heazle Riding Centre, which is indoors, and Hidonfields – and five without lighting, Cordwents Farm, Lillycombe Farm, Hidonfields Farm (next to the lit ménage), Barley Meade and Ringdown House.
Mrs Evans was asked to copy the Blackdown Hills AONB Planning Officer in on correspondence. The AONB Partnership is running a campaign to protect the hills’ natural, starry skies and offers advice to landowners. >Read more.
Other matters discussed by the council included:

‘Unsuitable for HGV’ signs 
The clerk has requested new signs from Highways at several locations in the parish. Willy Pike, Neighbourhood Highways Officer, confirmed that Highways do not like to erect new signs and will need to survey the particular locations. His report is awaited.
The council discussed the lorry that recently came down Rosemary Lane, damaging houses and banks on its way, before finally becoming stuck at Gladhayes Bridge.
The clerk, Donna Evans, is to write to the Highways bridge team to ascertain the weight limit of Gladhayes Bridge and to ask for improved signage around the parish and approaching roads. Clerk to write also to the Blackdown Hills Parish Network and the AONB for help and support.

Extra parking space for hall
Russell Bendle has kindly agreed to allow the parish council to use his land to form additional car parking spaces adjacent to the Parish Hall. The parish council will need to resolve any planning, Highway and drainage issues; manage the removal and reinstatement of a hedgerow and pay any legal fees.
The estimated cost is £2,000. Richard Kallaway, parish council chairman, will lead the project and arrange for plans and costings to be prepared. Sue Hay suggested her husband may help with plans. The clerk is to investigate planning issues. Richard Drew offered to help with obtaining estimates for materials etc.

Parish accounts online
For the first time ever the annual accounts of Clayhidon Parish Council are published online and you can find them and various associated documents on this link.

One of the busiest years ever for hall
Adding monthly Film Nights to a full programme of live events made 2015/16 one of the busiest years ever for Clayhidon Parish Hall.
The hall committee’s “highly committed” members were thanked at their AGM for all their hard work in ensuring the success of a packed schedule.

A thousand pages on parish web
There are now more than a thousand pages on the Clayhidon parish website. In the past year the site, which was founded in 2011, was visited more frequently than in previous years and people spent much more time reading it, according to Google Analytics.
Virtually all the parish council minutes dating back to 2002 have been added. The latest minutes from parish clerk Donna Evans are added within days of a meeting. This makes it an increasingly useful archive from which information can be recovered easily by using the Search box at the top of each page. >Read more.

Who stole the
Half Moon signs?
Someone is stealing pub signs advertising the Half Moon Inn, Clayhidon and police are appealing for information.
Three signs have gone missing and landlady Lynda Higgins says the thefts are damaging business. Neighbourhood beat manager PC Johnny Haynes asks anyone with information to contact Cullompton police on 101 quoting CR/24082/16 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Have you got news?
If you have news of a Clayhidon event and would like to use this website to publicise it, or if you have any local information or pictures worth sharing, email   or call Gareth or Alison on 681093.


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