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Here's wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

Keep dreaming of a white Christmas because forecasters say there's no chance this year. Here's what it might have looked like. This stunning view was taken from the top of Battle Street, Clayhidon in 2011 by Kate Trewhella. You can always find an up-to-the-minute forecast for Dunkeswell Aerodrome from this Met Office link.
Ex-owner's sadness at loss

of Merry Harriers

Mervin Procter,  a former owner of the Merry Harriers, has told the Somerset County Gazette of his sadness at the destruction of the old inn, which was his family home in the 1970s and 80s.
Police are appealing for witnesses
Rise and fall of the Merry Harriers
From UK Licensees of the Year to a smouldering ruin
>Click here

to an arson attack which they believe caused the fire that destroyed the Merry Harriers on Sunday night (18 December).
Investigating officer Det Sgt Darren Lipscomb said: “We believe the fire was started deliberately at around 10pm and we are treating it as arson. The building was empty so no-one was hurt, but significant damage was caused.

“As part of our investigation we’re keen to speak to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious around the time.
“Did you drive past and perhaps see a vehicle parked next to the building or see people standing nearby? If you saw or heard anything out of the ordinary then please get in touch.” >Read more.

Carols and candles
Carols by Candlelight, which traditionally used to be organised by Clayhidon Women's Institute, was revived on 16 December for the first time in years. Around 50 people turned up and sang with gusto to the accompaniment of the Bishopwood Belles hand bell ringers and local organist Brenda Persey. The event was organised by the parish hall committee, who laid on mulled wine, mulled apple juice and mince pies and raised £111 for Save the Children. The hall had been beautifully decorated for Christmas by the Country and Western Club.

Coffee morning
Clayhidon Friends raised £171 for Macmillan with a coffee morning. >Read more.

Boardwalk saves walkers from bog

Walkers can cross a deep bog in Clayhidon now that a boardwalk has been 'floated' across the mire by the parish council.
>More details and pictures.

At last, parish has a lengthsman to keep the drains clear

Clayhidon has a parish lengthsman again after many years without anyone to carry out minor maintenance tasks on our roads, drains and ditches.
The parish council has appointed Chris Houghton, of Rosemary Lane, who will be called out when needed.
Please report any problems with ditches and drains to the parish clerk, Donna Evans, on 680968.
Chris has just completed a highways training course.  He will be clearing drainage areas, trimming hedges to gain access to drainage and other outlets, clearing debris and keeping signs maintained. >Parish Council minutes.  

Fallen heroes remembered
Clayhidon's fallen heroes in two world wars were remembered at a service at St. Andrew's Church on 13 November, followed by a minute's silence outside..
>More pictures 

Alas, they are easy winners

Alas Smith and Saunders were the runaway winners of this year's Clayhidon Quiz at the Parish Hall on 3 December. Bill and Viv Smith and Louise and Lee Saunders are pictured with quiz master Peter Walter, who devised another eclectic and entertaining  mix of themed questions. The winners finished seven points clear of their nearest rivals, the Tipton Terriers who in turn narrowly beat the Parish Council into third place. Eleven teams took part.  The event, which included a ploughman's supper, made a profit of around £350 for hall funds.

Getting in the mood for Christmas

Carols by Candlelight, which traditionally used to be organised by Clayhidon Women's Institute, was revived  on 16 December for the first time in years. Around 50 people turned up and sang with gusto to the accompaniment of the Bishopwood Belles hand bell ringers and local organist Brenda Persey. The event was organised by the parish hall committee, who laid on mulled wine, mulled apple juice and mince pies and raised £111 for Save the Children. The hall had been beautifully decorated for Christmas by the Country and Western Club.

Paper lantern wonderland

This spectacular paper train wowed the hundreds of people who turned out to watch the Hemyock Parade of Lights on 3 December. There many fine lantern designs, including a full-size cow.
Picture by Yvonne Roth.

Alas, they are easy winners

Alas Smith and Saunders were the runaway winners of this year's Clayhidon Quiz at the Parish Hall on 3 December. Bill and Viv Smith and Louise and Lee Saunders are pictured with quiz master Peter Walter, who devised another eclectic and entertaining  mix of themed questions. The winners finished seven points clear of their nearest rivals, the Tipton Terriers who in turn narrowly beat the Parish Council into third place. Eleven teams took part.  The event, which included a ploughman's supper, made a profit of around £350 for hall funds.

Carols by candlelight
The Clayhidon tradition of carols by candlelight, which the Women’s Institute used to organise every year in the parish hall, is to be revived this year on Friday 16 December at 6.30pm. Everyone is welcome to sing along to Brenda Persey's accompaniment, with mulled wine, mince pies and handbells.

Old school benches for sale

Two 10ft long pine benches from the old Clayhidon Victorian school room (now the Parish Hall) have been put up for sale on eBay. They were found under the stage during a clear-out and the committee decided they were too dilapidated to keep. Hall chairman  Gareth Weekes described them as "very tatty".
"They have woodworm (we think it's long dead, but not certain) and there have been badly botched repairs. We hope someone will think they are worth restoring. Any money raised from this sale goes to hall funds."
If you would like to bid for the benches you can find them on this link.

Baby Tom steals the show as

Casey wins regional award 

Adbe Creative

A tiny Clayhidon stationery design business, Casey Blackmore’s Oyster & Pearl, is through to the national final of the Wedding Industry Awards for the second year running.
Casey took her five-month-old baby Thomas to the regional award ceremony in Bristol as she is still feeding. “He absolutely stole the show,” she said afterwards
>Read more

Four inches of rain in 48 hours
The Met Office reported that four inches of rain fell on Dunkeswell aerodrome on 20 and 21 November, and in Clayhidon it felt more like four feet. Lanes turned into raging torrents and for a few hours many were impassable to ordinary cars. The Culm did its annual impression of the Thames and then as quickly as the flood came up it subsided again. Picture by Nicola Bendle. >More pictures.

Culm's white claws face extinction
The River Culm’s native white clawed crayfish is facing extinction and a campaign has been launched to save it. 
“This charismatic species could become extinct here within only a few years because of the multiple threats of falling water quality, habitat change and the arrival in Devon of an invasive alien crayfish species,” the Blackdown Hills AONB has warned.
>Read more.  >Parish Council minutes.  

Improvements planned for parish hall
Big improvements are planned for Clayhidon Parish Hall. An architect has drawn up plans for well insulated extension behind the stage, to include new toilets, a small meeting room that would double as a changing room for performers plus a room for a parish archive. 
The existing toilets would be converted into a storage area for tables and chairs.  
The hall committee, through the parish council, will shortly submit a planning application, and if successful will then seek funds for the extension and a general enhancement of the building.
At the same time they hope to end parking problems at the hall, thanks to Russell Bendle, who has generously offered to donate a strip of his field beside the lane below the hall for use as an overflow parking space for about a dozen cars. This change will also need planning permission.

Identifying the 
unknown soldiers of WW1
Efforts to identify the remains of two soldiers killed in the First World War were the subject of a talk on 17 November to Clayhidon History Group. The men. from the Somerset Light Infantry, fell at Ypres nearly a century ago.
The speaker was Brendon Moorhouse,  a Bristol based barrister, author of a book about a Kitchener battalion at war, ‘Forged by Fire, the 7th Somersets in WW1’, which looks at the men and the changing battle tactics they used.
His talk was entitled 'Identifying the Unknown Soldiers: A perspective from 100 years'.

Gigaclear rumour quashed

A rumour that Gigaclear had run out of funding for its project to bring ultra-fast broadband cable to Clayhidon and neighbouring parishes has been flatly denied by a director.
The rumour was mentioned at the Parish Council’s planning meeting on 14 November, but afterwards council member Sue Hay called Joe Frost, Gigaclear’s business development director.

Her assured her that there is no issue with funding the current project, which is starting with Upottery, Rawridge and Yarcombe , and notices are in for work to begin in January.

Gigaclear says it has reached 73 per cent of the orders it needs before it will commit to laying an underground network of fibre optic cable. in the Clayhidon and Ford Street area.
It has signed up 116 households and businesses but needs 160, which it is apparently now confident of reaching.
Upottery, Rawridge and Yarcombe have already placed sufficient orders and the first properties are expected to be connected to the all fibre network in January, making them Devon's first Gigabit Villages. >Read more

Bollhayes attracts international press

This year’s Bollhayes Cider pressing was an international affair, when Alex Hill was helped by friends from Scotland, Norway, Germany and nearer home. They picked tons of apples, bagged them, crushed and pressed them, as they enjoyed a working holiday in Clayhidon. 

>More pictures. 

Jamie revives old Blackmore tradition

Jamie Blackmore has revived a long family tradition by becoming the fourth generation of Blackmore in 50 years to serve on the council. His great grandfather John and his grandfather Tom were both chairmen and his uncle Richard was also a member for a few years. 

Local GPs rated 'outstanding'

The Blackdown GP Practice in Hemyock has been given an overall rating of "Outstanding" by the Care Quality Commission after an inspection and a survey of patients.

In answer to the questions "are services safe and effective?" the CQC recorded a verdict of "Good". The three other questions the commission asked, whether services were caring, well led and responsive to people's needs were all answered with the mark of "Outstanding".
The inspection was carried out in June, and 27 patients took part in a survey. >Read the full report.    

Save a life - restart a heart
You could learn how to restart a heart and save a life by joining a free two-hour defibrillator training session in Hemyock. 
Defibrillators – which send an electric shock to the heart to stop an extremely rapid, irregular heartbeat, and restore the normal heart rhythm – are to be installed soon by Clayhidon Parish Council outside the Half Moon Inn and Rosemary Lane Chapel. 
As part of a deal with three local parishes the SW Ambulance Trust will provide one training session a year. The first is at Hemyock Parish Hall, EX15 3QW, between 7 and 9pm on Wednesday 30 November. All are welcome.

Bluegrass maestros
The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band found a highly appreciative audience in Clayhidon Parish Hall for their 14 October gig. It was their second visit to the hall in eight months and over 60 people turned up to hear their unique blend of Appalachian sounds and English westcountry words. Four fine musicians, four closely blending voices and 90 minutes of top class entertainment featuring their new album, Blue.

Cowboy serenade

Harvest Festival was a major community event this year, with an almost-full St Andrew’s Church service followed by a jam-packed Parish Hall for the harvest supper. The evening included a serenading cowboy from Bolham and a song about Russian rioters in Clayhidon. >Read more
Out of puff
This wonderful old traction engine got a little breathless as she puffed up Rosemary Lane on 1 October, as we all do on that hill when we reach a certain age. "They appeared to have run out of steam half way up the hill and had to restart," said Patricia Lowe, who took the picture "Everyone came out to look as it was quite noisy. Very entertaining for us!"

Parish needs more affordable homes

Another 26 affordable homes will be needed in Clayhidon and Hemyock within the next five years by people who cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market.
A further 18 “open market” homes will be needed for people who can afford it, according to a study by Devon Communities Together. 
>Read more.

Litter lout

When someone kept dumping rubbish at the layby on Clayhidon's riverside road someone else kindly placed a dustbin for their convenience. First the lid was stolen and then the bin itself, but not before the thief had emptied the contents onto the roadside.

Ten out of ten for Ninebarrow
The brilliant Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow provided a great evening's entertainment for a near-capacity audience at Clayhidon Parish Hall with a variety of the traditional and the modern. It was a financial success for the hall, too.

30 November deadline for broadband vouchers scheme
The CDS Broadband Voucher Scheme will close to new applications on 30 November.
The scheme, which provides anyone with a broadband speed of less than 2 Mbps with a voucher for £500 towards the cost of a new broadband connection, has received in excess of 3,900 applications.
Of these over 2,700 have been approved and over 300 installations have already been completed. 18 suppliers have joined the scheme and are offering solutions such as 4G, fixed wireless and satellite to bring residents at least 10Mbps and in many cases much faster speeds.
>Read more.

What do you think of local plans for health care?
Changes are being planned for this part of Devon to the way care and support is provided in people’s homes and in the community. NHS managers are thinking about where community hospital inpatient beds should be located. 
The aim is to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and support a faster return home.
The NHS wants to know what local people think about these issues. A consultation document is available on the Clinical Commissioning Group’s website
here. Responses can be completed online here.

Who am I?
Can you guess who this strange looking resident of Clayhidon is (or rather was)? For the answer Click here.

Council OK with boilers plan
A planning application to install three biomass boilers to heat the poultry units at Bolham House Farm was supported by Clayhidon Parish Council on Monday 10 October.

Christmas bazaar

St. Andrews Christmas Bazaar will be held on Saturday, 3 December in the church room. There will be coffee and mince pies, cakes, books, presents and a raffle between 10am and noon

Warm up for the quiz with 10 questions

To help you get ready for this Saturday's Clayhidon Quiz Night we have devised a 10-question warm-up (including one about Donald Trump). Test yourself on this link.



The Painkillers
Saturday 26 November from 8.30pm
Playing an eclectic  mix of covers

'A flat-out comedy masterpiece'
 Friday 18 November, 7.30pm
Film Night
Clayhidon Parish Hall
Love and Friendship
Kate Beckinsale gives a mesmerising performance as a scandalous widow in the hit British period comedy Love and Friendship (U) “Excellent cast, delicious, witty ­– simply great fun,” wrote one critic. “Terrifically fresh and oh-so wonderfully wicked,” wrote another.

Look out for new waste calendar
A new 2016/17 recycling and waste collection calendar will be delivered this month by Mid Devon District Council.sample-calendarAs well as giving details of your collection days, there will be information about how to separate your recycling, the subscription-based garden waste collection and how to apply. >Read more.

Quintessential quilter
The brilliance of the late Joan Harris's needlework has been on display at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon over the Bank Holiday weekend.

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.
New date for parish election
An election to choose a new Clayhidon parish councillor is to be held on Thursday 1 December following Alex Hill's resignation.
The Returning Officer has now published a formal notice of election and you can find out how and when to hand in nomination papers or register for a postal vote or late registration on this link.

Money Monster promises a thrilling night at the parish hall

Clayhidon Film Nights continue this Friday with a gripping drama starring
George Clooney and Julia Roberts.   Money Monster (certificate 15)  is about a
gunman who gets onto a live TV show about stocks and shares and puts an explosive vest on the presenter.
"I'm not the real criminal here, it's people like these guys," says the hostage taker, a disgruntled working class investor played by rising British star Jack  O'Connell. Directed by Jodie Foster, it's a real thriller which covers some big moral and political questions but also includes moments of brilliant black comedy.
The film is being screened by Moviola and as usual there will be a licensed bar with ice cream and snacks on sale.
It starts
at 7.30 pm this Friday 21 October
in Clayhidon Parish Hall
Tickets are available on the door, price £6. To reserve call Lucy Ball 01823 680607 or email .  
You can find out more and watch the trailer on this link.

After a great concert here earlier this year The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band are back by popular demand. 

Fete pulls in the crowds and finds a new bake-off champ
Clayhidon Church Fete raised a record £1,200 towards the cost of repairing the roof of St Andrew’s in a triumph for organisers Nicola and Caroline Bendle and their team of helpers.
The Great Clayhidon Bake-Off produced a new champion – Alice Manfield (pictured left), from Rosemary Lane.  >Read more.  >See all the pictures

Bangers and smashA huge crowd of all ages enjoyed an afternoon of bangers and stock car racing at Smeatharpe Stadium on August Bank Holiday Monday. Daredevil drivers risked their necks and cars in a thrilling display of crazy driving and crashes.

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.

 8 pm Friday 23 September
Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant kick off the autumn season of film nights at Clayhidon Parish Hall at with Florence Foster Jenkins (PG), a comedy set in 1940s New York.

Road closure
The road at Jennings Farm, Clayhidon will be closed between 23 and 26 September for surface patching work, South West Highways have warned. Diversion signs will be put up. Work generally will be undertaken between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00, although these times - and the dates - may vary.

Charity seeks minibus and car volunteers
Volunteer drivers are being sought by a Tiverton-based charity to help the old, disabled and lonely in the upper Culm valley and other rural areas. >Read more.
Vacancy for parish councillor after Alex Hill resigns
Alex Hill has resigned after five years as a Clayhidon Parish Councillor. This leaves a vacancy which the council could fill by co-opting a replacement. But if 10 electors demanded it there would have to be an election. He told the council at its meeting on 12 September that he was finding it increasingly difficult to attend meetings.
>Read more     >Minutes of 12 September meeting.

Half Moon Inn
8.30pm Friday 
7 October
An evening of red hot R'n'B, jump jive & Soul, provided by Big Azza & The Jukesters.

Public meeting on broadband
There's a chance on Tuesday 20 September for people to find out about  the plan to bring ultrafast broadband to Clayhidon. Gigaclear has organised a public meeting in the Parish Hall,from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
Darren Thompson, regional sales manager, will explain the project and answer questions.There will be maps showing where the fibre optic cables are planned. People will be able to check whether they pass their home and hear advice on what to do if they have been left out. 
On 12 September Gigaclear's Erica Stanford attended Clayhidon Parish Council's meeting and gave a briefing to councillors.

Uffculme reunion
Class of 78
Click on poster to enlarge

Councillors to discuss extension plans
Two new planning applications for extensions to Clayhidon properties will be discussed by the parish council at its meeting on 12 September.
One is a for a garage extension at Graddage Farm, Clayhidon.  >Read more.
The other is for alterations and erection of an extension at Higher Heazle. >Read more.
Councillors will also be updated on plans for an agricultural building at Mill View following demolition of two existing agricultural buildings.
There will also be un update from Gigaclear about progress on introducing superfast broadband here. See separate story.

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.

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.
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
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.
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.

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

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.


It takes two to tandem

One of the most unusual sports in the world comes to Clayhidon on Sunday 31 July when the Tandem Club holds its annual meet here.
Tandem driving involves being pulled by two horses, one in front of the other. The Tandem Club aims to maintain and promote the difficult art of tandem driving in a “coachmanlike style”. 
Membership is open to members of the British Driving Society who have demonstrated their ability to drive a tandem competently and safely in public on at least three occasions.
No more than ten entries are expected for this national event, being hosted by Fenix Carriages. 
The event starts around 10.30 am with a ride around the parish lanes, starting at intervals of a few minutes at the Fenix premises at Higher Hill Farm, going past the Half Moon Inn and the Parish Hall then turning left at the bottom of Battle Street to Church Stanton, before looping back to the start. 
Mark Broadbent,, who runs Fenix with his wife Joanna, says local people would be welcome to look around and watch competitors in the arena.

UK's fastest broadband in Clayhidon?
Believe it or not, Clayhidon is bang in the middle of a project to bring ultra-fast broadband to the Blackdown Hills.
If it goes ahead you could download a movie in less than one minute or upload 200 holiday photos in under nine seconds.
Gigaclear has announced plans to bring the best broadband speeds in the UK to local homes and businesses. If enough potential customers are willing to commit to buying their service, Gigaclear promise speeds up to 33 times faster than the UK average.
MP Neil Parish is backing the scheme and parish and district councillors and officers and broadband campaigners have been invited to a briefing in Hemyock Parish Hall on Monday 4 July. >Read more

The day I met The Queen
Have you met The Queen? A surprising number of Clayhidon people have, and their stories are to be told in an exhibition in St Andrew's Church on the weekend of 10 - 12 June to mark The Queen's 90th birthday.
If you have met her majesty and would like to share the experience call Pam Reynolds on 680481.
Is there a piece of Clayhidon history from the last 90 years lurking in your loft? If so the Local History Group would like to borrow it for the same exhibition.
Pam Reynolds is appealing for any photographs that people are willing to lend for the weekend 
"Photos of Clayhidon during the last 90 years; events which have any relevance to the Queen; changes in work, such as closure of any mills, dairy, etc. the school and its history; the men who went to war; new ‘industry’ like potteries, cider production; changes in transport and so much more." She has made out a list of topics to be included and will accept any further suggestions as people think of them.
"I’m sure there is a wealth of history lurking in people’s lofts and cupboards that they would be pleased to show and to see. I would be delighted to hear from anyone if they give me a ring," said Pam. 
>Read more about Clayhidon's royal birthday weekend

John Law dies aged 81
We are sad to announce that John Thomas Law died suddenly at his home on Friday, May 27, aged 81.
His funeral will take place at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon, on Wednesday, June 8 at 12 noon. Family flowers only, and donations, if wanted, to Parkinsons UK. Enquiries to Redwood & Sons, funeral directors, French Nut Tree, Clayhidon, EX15 3PW. 01823 680571/680268

Students missing chance for cash help
Clayhidon students are missing out on getting financial help for their studies.
The Mary Waldron Trust has not received any applications for funds this year, Clayhidon Parish Council chairman Richard Kallaway told councillors at their meeting on 11 April.
This fund assists students in higher and further education (including Richard Huish College) with purchases of books and equipment, including computer requisites. 
Applicants should normally live in Hemyock or Clayhidon and must have received full time education at one or more of: Hemyock Primary School, Uffculme School and PETROC (East Devon College). 
More details can be obtained from the Secretary, Mike Reynolds, Hidon Mill, Clayhidon, EX15 3PL. Phone 680481 email
              >Minutes in full

Brilliant Dallahan wow hall
It's hard to categorise Dallahan, who played at Clayhidon Parish Hall on 13 April. They were much more than an Irish folk band. One moment they would be playing a traditional jig, then suddenly they would slide into a divine Hungarian gypsy tune, and then before you realised what had happened they were into jazz funk. Above they were three outstanding musicians playing extraordinary ever-changing rhythms and all perfectly synchronised. 
Nearing the end of a tour that has taken in Scotland, Denmark, Germany and Nepal, Dallahan were brought to Clayhidon by Villages in Action. The near-capacity audience gave them an enthusiastic reception, and the general consensus was that it had been a great night. 

Happy 90th birthday to Miss Blackmore

Relations flocked in from far and wide for a tea at Clayhidon Parish Hall to celebrate the 90th birthday of Miss Margaret Blackmore on 2 April.

Telephone scam

If you receive a phone call to say you have paid too much council tax, be aware that it may be a scam by fraudsters, say police. >Read more.

Local trials for Devon Youth Games
Devon Rotary Youth Games 2016 are fast approaching and the organisers are now holding their Mid Devon trials for a range of sports which cover a wide age group and the whole district. Participants must not have competed at County, Regional or National level for the sport. Other eligibility criteria will apply and differ for each sport. Please ask the relevant Team Manager for details. 
Competitors will be chosen from children attending a school within the Mid Devon area or who live in Mid Devon.

Don't know what the police and crime election is all about?
Most people seem to be unaware that they are expected to vote in an election to choose a Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, this Thursday 5 May. We have a choice of six candidates and you can find out who they are and what they are saying on this link. The polling station in Clayhidon Parish Hall is open for voting from 7am to 10pm.

Big cats in the Black Downs?
Rick Minter, big cats author and researcher, is to give an illustrated talk on local big cats - the evidence and the implications followed by witness reports and discussion.
The venue is the Half Moon Inn, Clayhidon on Wednesday 27 April at 7.30pm. 
A pre-talk supper will be available from 6pm. To book, call 680291.

Update on Clayhidon Turbary
Ed Hopkinson, of Devon Wildlife Trust, will give a progress report on the work at the Clayhidon Turbary when he addresses the Annual Parish Meeting on Monday 18 April. The public are invited to listen and ask questions. 
There will also be reports by Richard Kallaway, chairman of the parish council, and representatives of other local organisations. The Clayhidon Friends have been asked to provide tea and cake. The meeting starts at 7.30pm in the Parish Hall.

AONB planner talks to parish council
Lisa Turner, planning officer for the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is coming to Clayhidon on Monday 11 April to give a presentation to the parish council on the role of the AONB in the planning process. Everyone is welcome at the meeting, which starts in the parish hall at 7.30pm.
Among planning issues to be discussed relate to Hill Farm, Wiltown Mobile Home,   Smeatharpe, and Gladhayes Farm.
PLEASE NOTE THE TIME - 7.30 NOT 1.30pm. >Full agenda.

Chilly start to Easter Sunday
These hardy souls rose early on a chilly Easter Sunday morning 2016 to sing hymns as the sun rose over Gollick Park, Clayhidon and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

'Little lady with a big personality'
Tributes were paid at St Andrew’s Church, Clayhidon on 19 March to “a little lady with a tremendous personality” when the parish bade farewell to Joan Harris.  
She didn’t want a funeral service so this was a service of Thanksgiving for her life. 
Her daughter Brenda  had emailed a tribute to her mother from Australia and this was read by Brenda Persey..
Pam Reynolds spoke of her being a little lady with a tremendous personality.  >Read more.

Parish supports Rosemary Lane plan
A planning application to build a rural worker’s dwelling at Cornerways at the top of Rosemary Lane was supported by Clayhidon Parish Council after a full discussion at its meeting on 14 March.
Comments made included:
    - There was no design & access statement and agricultural appraisal on the MDDC website
    - There is no mains sewer, it will be a septic tank
    - This is an existing viable business in the parish
   - There is no impact on the skyline with the development
    - It may be difficult to support the application as the applicants live approximately 100 metres away
    - There are security issues and a need to be on site.
Eventually the council voted to fully support the application as it was a well-established growing agricultural business in the parish and there was a need for housing on site. >Minutes.  >Planning application.

Friends greet round-the-world cyclist 

Jude Zebedee gave an illustrated talk to the Clayhidon Friends on the completion of her round the world journey on a bicycle. Her first trip in 2012 took her from her home in Culmstock across Europe and Asia, then after a flight to Anchorage, down through the USA and two thirds of South America.
Jude's second leg began in Santiago, and with knowledge of some Spanish, sallied forth on her trusty bicycle, Norma, for Cape Horn.  >Clayhidon Friends report     >Jude's blog.

Volunteers bag a big load of rubbish
Just a few of Clayhidon's clean-up volunteers . . . and just a small sample of what they have picked up from parish lanes, roadside ditches and hedges over a week.
Vast amounts of rubbish tossed out of car windows have been recovered.

>Read more

Big Breakfast carries on without Joan
A familiar face was missing from this year's Big Breakfast at Clayhidon Parish Hall on 12 March. Joan Harris had manned the ticket desk for many years, helping to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK. She lost her own personal battle with the disease on 19 February (see below) but even without her the 2016 event was a major success raising around £1,000. The hall was packed with supporters who enjoyed a delicious breakfast of bacon, sausages and eggs, cooked and served by a squad of hard-working volunteers. 

Class act from a genuine folk star
We have had some class acts at Clayhidon, courtesy of Villages in Action, and some fine folksy performers, but no-one to match Jim Causley for wit, local relevance and variety. A parish hall audience of 50 on 9 March gave him an enthusiastic reception.

AONB planner talks to parish council

Lisa Turner, planning officer for the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is coming to Clayhidon on Monday 11 April to give a presentation to the parish council on the role of the AONB in the planning process. Everyone is welcome at the meeting, which starts in the parish hall at 7.30pm. 
Among planning issues to be discussed relate to Hill Farm, Wiltown Mobile Home, Smeatharpe, and Gladhayes Farm.


  >Full agenda.

Joan Harris, history group founder
Many people will be sad to hear that Joan Harris died on Friday evening (19 February) aged 89, writes Pam Reynolds 
She lived in Clayhidon for more than 30 years and became well known for the quality of her patchwork, but also as one of the founders of the Clayhidon Local History Group. 
Over the years she has done an incredible amount of research about Clayhidon and its families. People used to contact her from all over this country and also from abroad to discover details about their ancestors, often information which could not be found online.
Joan was always the first person to greet people when they arrived for the annual ‘Big Breakfast’ held annually in March, for Cancer Research UK. >Read more.

Council to discuss farm buildings plan
The next Clayhidon Parish Council meeting will be held on Monday 14 March at 1.30pm, when the main items on the agenda will be a planning application for the erection of a rural worker's dwelling and livestock building and a decision on whether to give financial support to a street party to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.
>Agenda for 14 March     >Planning applications

Will you join the great Clayhidon clean-up?
Is anyone interested in helping to tidy up our large parish, writes Clayhidon Parish Councillor Alison Weekes.
I am looking for volunteers to join me in having a go, and perhaps in an ongoing effort. We could start by joining the Clean for the Queen campaign in March.
We can try and get some help from the county council with bags and grabbers and maybe gloves, tho' I feel these might be in short supply.
Perhaps you may have an idea of the best way to be effective in a clean up. We have to do it before spring growth starts hiding the odd can and sweet wrapper.
Unfortunately we can't really do much about the obvious, large eyesores there are around the area - the Battle Street skip for example -how many years has it been there?
But we can tackle small scruffy areas either as a group, or in pairs, or even by allocating a particular lane to someone.
What do you think??
Please come and have a go, I don't think I'll achieve much on my own. Ring me on 01823 681093 - please leave a message if I don't answer - or email me on

Seven object to farm building plans
Seven people have objected to plans to build an agricultural worker's house and livestock building at Ten Oaks Farm, Clayhidon. Parish councillors received an update on the controversial plans at their meeting on Monday 8 February.
Power tools stolen    from outbuildings
Cullompton police are warning Clayhidon residents not to leave high value power tools in outbuildings following two break-ins in the parish.
A police message posted on Facebook reads: "Overnight between Thursday 7th January and Friday 8th January two outbuildings were broken into close to the Somerset border. Please avoid leaving high value power tools in outbuildings at this time! 
"One of the properties broken into was insecure please review your security and locks on your buildings.
"If you see anyone or a vehicle acting suspiciously please call 999 immediately and where possible please record the registration of any such vehicle."

Juggernaut takes the scenic route
The driver of this 44-tonne lorry en route from Hull to Hemyock lost his way and ended up in one of Clayhidon's narrowest lanes. 
The lorry, loaded with wood for Brookridge Timber, overturned on 15 January at Cordet Smart's horse menage  on the river road. A wheel caught on  an ancient oak tree and flipped the vehicle. The driver was unhurt. 
 It was the tree's second victim in five years. The driver of a lorry load of chickens hit the same tree after becoming confused by sat nav in 2011, and two cranes were needed to extricate it from a field at nearby Mill View. 
Trish Andrews, who lives at Mill View, has called for signs to make it clear that the route is unsuitable for big lorries, which are causing serious damage to banks and covering the lanes with mud.

Drama as cars run into Culm flood

Two fire engines and a paramedic were sent to Clayhidon when two cars became stuck at night in floodwater at the Hidewood Lane ford on 30 December.
Fire crews from Taunton and Wellington made sure everyone was safe and called paramedics to check them over.The occupants, including a child, stayed in the cars as the flood water receded before they abandoned them for the night.
The incident brought a frightening end to a day dominated by Storm Frank. It began with a two hour power cut in the Willtown area of Clayhidon  and saw the River Culm transformed into a raging torrent.
The river swept across Battle Street, squeezing under the Mill bridge with only inches to spare, and roared under the bridge in Callers Lane (left). In places it was nearly ten times its normal width.
A postman was forced to abandon his van when he drove into another flood near Bellett's Farm.
While Storm Frank wreaked long term havoc in Scotland and the North of England, power was quickly restored to Clayhidon and the Culm soon subsided. >Flood pictures.

Call for signs to keep HGVs away
Heavy lorries should be deterred from using Clayhidon’s narrow lanes by signs warning that they are “unsuitable for HGVs”, says the parish council. The clerk, Donna Evans, is to write to Devon County Council asking for signs to be displayed at the Broad Street junctions with Lillycombe Hill and French Nut Tree and at the top of Rosemary Lane/Callers Lane. In the latest incident the two large recovery cranes were need to free a 44-tonne timber lorry which had become stuck near Cordet Smart’s horse menage when the driver lost his way. Another topic raised at the council’s February meeting was the parking problem caused by successful events at the Parish Hall. It was suggested that hard core could be put down at the gateway and verge adjacent to the hall to help with parking. 
Maurice Bendle is to check on ownership of the ground and, subject to permission, the clerk will contact Highways to see if some planings could be put down. 
The annual parish meeting has been agreed for Monday 18 April at 7.30pm in the parish hall. 
>Minutes of February meeting.

Bluegrass band a storming success
An audience of over 80 at Clayhidon on 5 February enjoyed a demonstration of just how beautiful bluegrass music can be.
The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band may not be from the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky, where this kind of music originates, but they sounded wonderful in the Blackdown Hills of Devon. 

The river runs wild (again)
Clayhidon's mill stream burst its banks and set off down the hillside a quarter of a mile from its normal route. Ditches became fast-flowing brooks. Livestock had to be rescued as the Culm rose up quickly, overwhelming meadows and creating new rivers and islands. There was even a brief power cut which plunged much of the parish into darkness, It all happened within a few hours on 6 February as yet another fierce depression battered the south west,

Soccer star's namesake has EX-appeal
A famous footballer’s namesake is bringing EX appeal to an ancient Devon pub.
Wesley Sniejder, new landlord of the Merry Harriers, Clayhidon , can’t match the £2m a year Dutch superstar for riches or footballing genius, but he is almost certainly a better cook.
Wesley – usually known as Wayne to avoid confusion – is buying as much of his produce as possible from the EX postcode area and other parts of Devon.
>Read more.

Grants available to help Clayhidon students
Students living in Clayhidon and Hemyock, who attended local schools and are now in further or higher education, can apply for grants from the Mary Waldron Trust to help pay for books and equipment.
>Read more.

Councillors say no to living in mobile home
Clayhidon Parish Councillors gave three reasons for opposing a planning application to allow Mrs G. Board to live in a mobile home at Willtown. 
They said that five years ago a planning inspector had allowed her late husband to remain because his agricultural work required him to live locally, but this permission had been personal and the inspector expressly forbade the caravan becoming a permanent feature.
Councillors were also worried about setting a precedent, after being told there were four sites which could take full advantage of any decision to allow Mrs Board’s application.
Thirdly, the parish council, in concert with the AONB team, are trying to bring publicly owned spaces back into full use. The Wiltown Green area, albeit a small plot, is one of these areas.
>The minutes in full.

Please support cancer fundraiser at Parish Hall
Thursday 4 February has been designated World Cancer Day. Pam Reynolds has been sent a box of items by Cancer Research UK, in the hope that the Clayhidon Cancer Group can fundraise by asking the community to support the occasion. 
The hope is that people may be prepared to donate £2, in return for a ‘Unity Band’. The band is simply a coloured band to represent Cancer Research UK, Movember Foundation, Anthony Nolan and Breast Cancer Care who have joined together to try and triumph over cancer.
"Our intention is to be available to receive donations at Clayhidon Village Hall on that morning between 9am and 12.00," said Pam. "Alternatively, we can be available to receive at the Post Office Square in Hemyock in the afternoon.
"If you feel that you would like to contribute with time or donation, we will be very pleased and thank you in anticipation."

 Parish council to discuss three plans applications
Clayhidon Parish Council is to discuss three planning applications at its meeting on Monday 11 January. 
They are:
1. Mrs G Board. Wiltown Mobile Home Clayhidon allow occupation of the caravan by Mrions.
2. Erection of single storey extension and dormer window extension to dwelling, conversion and extension of garage to annex. Shalom, Clayhidon
 3. Erection of cabinet to house observation borehole measuring groundwater levels, and surrounding fence. Smeatharpe, Clayhidon.