The soldier who came back from the dead

Everyone at home at Palmers Farm, Clayhidon thought John Blackmore must be dead. His sweetheart Lucy Westlake feared she would never see him again.
He had been a machine gunner with the Devonshire Yeomanry, fighting the Turkish Army in Palestine, when he was struck down with malaria. A card to his parents, saying he was seriously ill in a British military hospital, was the last they heard of him.
Then one day in 1919, months after the First World War ended, a horse was heard in the lane leading to Lucy’s family farm, Royston House, Churchinford. Her father came out and recognised the rider picking his way carefully towards the front door. It was John Blackmore.
Lucy turned to her sister, working beside her in the barn, and exclaimed: “I am going to be married, I am going to be married after all!”
John Blackmore (pictured above) was one of more than 150 men and women from the remote Upper Culm Valley on the Devon Somerset border who served in the Great War a century ago and whose sacrifices and stories are recorded in The Upper Culm Valley Before, During and After the Great War, a 180-page book to be published on 19 August. >More stories and pictures from the book.

War drama off, but exhibition still on
The play about World War I due to be staged in Clayhidon Churchyard on 24 August has been postponed because of problems recruiting enough actors. There will be an exhibition of items from the war in the church on Saturday, Sunday and Monday 23-25 August. If you or your relatives have anything of interest for the exhibition please contact pennylawrence@live.co.uk or tel. 680595. Copies of the Upper Culm Valley book will be on sale

 200 celebrate life of Bee Hill


The Blackdown Belles singing group (above) serenade guests at a humanist ceremony on 11 July to celebrate the life of Bee Hill, of Bollhayes, Clayhidon. Around 200 family members and friends from across the UK and Europe met in  a field at Biscombe Cross in blazing sunshine to say farewell. They heard moving tributes to Bee and stories of her life and career and of how much she meant to so many individuals.
- In June members of Clayhidon Parish Hall committee stood for a minute’s silence for their vice chairman Bee Hill at the start of their annual meeting.
Mike Hudson, the outgoing chairman, said they were all “enormously grateful for her enthusiasm and energy”.

 
Join our MP at parish meeting
Neil Parish MP has agreed to attend a Parish Meeting in Clayhidon Parish Hall at 2pm on Friday 1 August, writes Sue Hay. The Parish council hopes that as many parishioners as possible will be able to attend. 
Items on the agenda will include the provision of high speed broadband to remote communities and the state of our roads. Please put this date in your diaries; it is your chance to have a say on the issues which are important to the Parish. 
At our meeting on 9 June members were told the house which had originally been designated as an ‘affordable home’ for Clayhidon has now been sold privately by the developer and not through a housing association. As has been reported previously, we are not happy with the way that Mid Devon District Council has over-ridden the wishes of the parish but we are pleased to see that its new owner was originally from Clayhidon. 
We have renewed the Scout agreement which allows the 1st Wellington Scout Group to use Gray’s Quarry for some of their activities. The Scouts very much appreciate being able to set up camp in such a lovely place. 
The next meeting of the Parish Council will be on Monday 4 August 2014 at 7.30pm in the Church Rooms.


Henry  piles on the pounds
Baby Henry Hewitt is now doing very well and his family want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and wishes.
Henry James John Hewitt was born at Musgrove Park Hospital on 15 January, two months early, and weighed just three pounds and five ounces. He came home to Battle Street, Clayhidon, in March, and now weighs more than 12 pounds. His parents David and Kate would like to thank all those who gave cards and presents to their baby.
Kate said: "It was very comforting receiving so much support from our neighbours while Henry was in the Special Care Baby Unit and we would like to thank people for their thoughts and kind wishes."


Catering crew, from left: Maureen Bendle, Alison Weekes, Doreen Pike, Judy Hutt and Nicola Bendle.
Soggy cyclists aid Parkinson's
Feeding wet and hungry cyclists and joggers proved a profitable first fundraising challenge for Clayhidon supporters of Parkinson's UK on 24 May. They laid on morning refreshments, hot soup, a buffet lunch and cream teas for members of the Wellington Wheelers and Cycle Somerset, who used the parish hall as the base for a 50-kilometre ride around the Blackdown Hills.
David Fleming, the cycle event organiser, also arranged a family cycle ride, jog and walk, but heavy rain deterred all but the hardiest. Sixteen cyclists braved the rain. Richard rode up from Exeter, completed the 50km circuit via Hemyock, Sheldon, Dunkeswell, Luppitt, Willand, Churchstanton and Clayhidon, and then rode home again.
Several Cycle Somerset Club riders rode up from Taunton to complete the course, together with cyclists from Wellington Wheelers. “ We must do this again on a sunny day” said Ross. “The scenery was great, despite the conditions. But frankly, I'd ride up again just for the food!”.
Alison Weekes, who organised the catering, said the event had raised £270 for Parkinson's UK: "We are very grateful for the support given by local helpers and by the generosity of the cyclists, who made this a worthwhile venture despite the dreadful weather.
"I would like to thank everyone who made cakes for us, especially Di Kelly and Doreen Pike'a granddaughter Charlotte for the lovely scones."

Smashing time was had by all

A crowd of several thousand spectators, one of the biggest for years, squeezed into Smeatharpe Stadium on 26 May for Crasharama, a festival of outrageous driving, multiple collisions and twisted metal.
Around 100 cars took part, including national bangers (most of which had been smashed beyond recognition even before the start), F2 stock cars and  saloon stock cars.  >Read more.

Turbary to be fenced and grazed in biodiversity plan

Clayhidon Turbary is to be fenced and grazed under a Devon Wildlife Trust biodiversity plan supported by the parish council, writes Sue Hay.
Edric Hopkinson from the trust gave the council an interesting presentation on the history and current management plan.
Devon Wildlife Trust has a lease from The Clayhidon Charity to manage the Turbary which is a County Wildlife Site and also designated by the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre in recognition of its significant nature conservation interest.
Over recent years the habitat has deteriorated due to the accumulation of vegetation litter and scrub. It is hoped to reverse this with various management strategies including grazing with ponies at a very low stocking density.
To enable this, the trust applied for permission to fence the Turbary. At present this is a public consultation exercise. As part of the work they propose to put kissing gates at all access points and to re-instate the footpath which crosses the Turbary.
Parish councillors agreed that fencing and grazing the Turbary would help to preserve it for the future.
>Read more from Clayhidon Parish Council.

MP to present petition on Blackdowns slow broadband
Clayhidon’s poor broadband service was raised in the House of Commons on 1 May by local MP Neil Parish. He has been promised a meeting with the new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) to discuss improvements and and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and Communications, when he intends to present a petition signed by hundreds of local people.
Mr Parish told MPs: “The Blackdown hills and villages such as Upottery, Clayhidon and Rousdon are finding it difficult to get broadband. We welcome the Government’s money, but BT is finding things difficult and there is secrecy about where the broadband will be delivered throughout the constituency. 
“Will the Secretary of State meet me and local representatives to discuss the way in which we can roll out this broadband in a much better way?”
He was answered by the Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, who said: “Absolutely. It is important to point out that the progress of rural broadband is really picking up pace, with 20,000 homes passed every week, but we must get out the information to local residents.
Mr Vaizey said he was sure Mr Javid would meet him “at the earliest opportunity” to discuss his points.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition organised by Upottery councillor Graham Long on Change.org calling for faster fibre optic broadband cabinets in all Devon and Somerset villages, not just larger villages and towns. "

Old Dance School enthrall



The Old Dance School, a seven-piece band from Birmingham, chalked up another resounding success for Villages in Action on April 4, when they played to a packed Clayhidon parish Hall.  

Reviewers fall for Rita's charms
“Is it always like this in Clayhidon?” asks Brian Lewis one of our reviewers of Educating Rita, performed by the Uncommon Players at the Parish Halll on 8 March.
“The audience were totally swept along during this production, and showed it, with the end coming to rapturous and well deserved applause. Furthermore, even the interval catering was fantastic.”
Diana Speiaght calls it an entertaining evening and days “The Uncommon Players produced an admirable performance full of humour and wit. “
You can read both reviews in full on this link.

Friendly fund-raising fry-up 
Big breakfast smiles: part of the kitchen team at Clayhidon Parish hall on 1 March, when Cancer Research UK volunteers cooked a delicious fry-up for dozens of local people. They raised over £1,160.
St Andrew's marks 740 years
St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon, celebrated 740 years of existence on 27 February, with a dedication festival eucharist.
A cloth of former ministers attended the special communion service and a lunch later in the church room. >Read more.

At the centre of local life for more than 740 years
>Read Rev David Burton's fascinating anniversary sermon



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      Church fete revived after   four-year gap
      Roll up, roll up! Clayhidon is to have a church fete and dog show again this year after a gap of four years.
      So please support the Friends of St Andrews in Garlands Bower, the church field, on Saturday, August 23, between 2 and 4pm.
      The event is being organised by Kim Burridge with the support of the committee which is chaired by Nicola Bendle.
      The 14 stalls will include a coconut shy and other games, jewellery, Phoenix Cards, Usborne Books and skittles are being organised by the Bendle brothers.
      Cream teas will be on offer and entertainment will include a dog and duck demo by Freddie and Julian Day. The afternoon will be opened by the Rev David Burton.
      The organisers also hope to have some classic cars on show so bring yours along - it's only £1 per entry.
      The August Bank Holiday weekend includes a commemorative tribute to the First World War in Clayhidon on the 100th anniversary with an exhibition at the church. On the Sunday there will be a WW1 play from Hemyock during the afternoon.

      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.

      Banned farmer 'refusing to

      give up his dogs'
      A Clayhidon farmer banned by a judge from keeping animals has told the Somerset County Gazette he will refuse to give up his dogs.
      The judge  at Exeter Crown Court ruled Philip Govier, 68, of Willtown Farm, was no longer capable of looking after animals without causing them suffering.
      The Express and Echo has reported that vets and welfare officials repeatedly found sheep, horses and cattle kept in muddy fields or barns without any dry areas where they could lie down and dead livestock left to rot or be eaten by other animals.
      Mr Govier was banned from keeping any animals, including his pet dogs, and warned that he would be sent to prison if he did not comply. 
      >Express and Echo trial report.

      >Mr Govier's interview with Gazette


      Hall committee's tribute to Bee
      The parish hall committee are still stunned by the death of Bee Hill who was such a force behind all that we have done over the past few years, writes Caroline Bendle. 
      She fought tooth and nail for the continuation of Villages in Action which brings such wonderful quality professional performances to rural communities such as ourselves and which Mid Devon in their wisdom, and poverty, continually try to axe. 
      We shall continue her work and to that cause we have just sent off our bid for this year's choice of acts. Hopefully it will be a wonderful range of talks, theatre and music, something for everyone. More will follow when we know how we have fared.
      We have a quiet few months ahead until the Autumn programme kicks in on 26th September with 'Howdenjones' a couple who 'play contemporary acoustic music at its best'. Watch this space, all the reviews are excellent.
      The Country and Western Club meet on every third Saturday in the month , so on 21st June, Hombre and on 19th July, West Country will be performing. Did you know that this small group have raised an amazing £2,050 for the Children's Hospice South West this last year and do so most years? A very big pat on the back for the whole club.
      Clayhidon Friends meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month. Contact Anne Langford for more details...680086
      Clayhidon Hall AGM will be at the Parish Hall on 4 June at 7.30. Members of the public are cordially invited to attend.

      A career working for the Queen
      The Queen's former correspondence secretary, Deborah Bean, spoke to Clayhidon Friends about her career in royal service.
      In a fascinating talk she described the Queen's dedication to her daily routine, the royals' yearly programme and the enormous size of the royal "machine". >Read more.

      Drivers stopped in police clampdown
      Police and excise officers stopped dozens of vehicles at Smeatharpe and 20 drivers face prosecution for a range of offences. >Read more. 

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      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 websiteclayhidon@gmail.com   or call Gareth or Alison on 681093.