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Christmas 7,000 miles from home

Philippa Hill is spending Christmas and New Year helping children on a typhoon-wrecked island in the Philippines, 7,000 miles from her home in Clayhidon.
Philippa is a monitoring and evaluation co-ordinator with the Save the Children UK Emergency Response Team on the devastated island of Panay. >Read more
Christmas story with added Ketchup
Mary (Grace Pepperill) arrives with Joseph (Seth Redwood) on a Shetland pony called Ketchup for the annual crib service at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon on 22 December. Introduced by Maurice Bendle, church warden, children of the parish gave an entertaining updated version of the Christmas story. The service was led by the Rev David Burton. >More pictures       >Christmas and New Year services

Gatlings sell the Merry Harriers to customers

Peter and Angela Gatling have sold the Merry Harriers, Clayhidon to two of their most frequent diners.
After eight years of running one of Britain’s most successful country pubs, the Gatlings are taking a rest and looking for a new venture.
The new owners are Reg and Lesley Payne, who live in Willand. They are employing all the Gatlings’ staff, including Jamie Cox, who has been promoted to manager.
The Gatlings had never run a pub before buying the Merry Harriers. But inexperience didn’t stop them building a reputation throughout the south west and winning a string of awards.
They won the Devon Dining Pub of the Year two years on the trot and the 2013 Good Pub Guide national award for Licensee of the Year. In their previous life Peter was managing director of an IT company after years in sales and marketing and Angela was in the CCTV business.
He said selling the pub was “a mixed blessing”. “The timing was quite good for us, and it’s very good for our three children, but we miss the atmosphere, the ambience and the company.”
They plan to continue living in Wellington and may well return to the hospitality industry.
Meanwhile Reg and Lesley Payne have enlarged the car park and plan to make a few subtle changes to the menu, including greater emphasis on high quality steaks.
They already owned seven other businesses, including property and cars, so they will be leaving Jamie to manage the pub. But it’s not their first experience in hospitality – they used to own the Hartnoll Hotel, Tiverton.
Reg, who loves the Blackdown Hills, was born in Culmstock, and said buying the Merriers was “like coming home”.

Thank you ladies for 30 years of service
The Rev David Burton makes a special presentation to Margaret Blackmore and Joan Harris to mark their 30 years service as members of the Church Council.   During the annual St. Andrew's Supper in the Church Room, Clayhidon he handed them paintings by local artists Tricia Meredith and Rosemary Jones. Picture by Pam Reynolds
Call prompts swift action by roads team
Neil Carter was impressed when he dialled the Devon Highways Hotline to report that a tree had been blown down on Garlandhayes Lane, Clayhidon on 23 December. 
“I called the number, spoke to a real person, reported the problem, and not two hours later the roads people have arrived to clear the tree and unblock the two drains,” he said. “If you have similar problems I suggest you do the same.” 
Devon’s Customer Service Centre is open Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm and Saturdays 9am – 1pm. The number to call about road maintenance, traffic management and parking, streetlights and signs, and public rights of way is 0845 155 1004.
County wants to use local knowledge
 Dr Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council (pictured here with Richard Kallaway, chairman of Clayhidon Parish Council)  told Clayhidon Councillors that Devon would like to use their local knowledge. He said the county wanted to work with them on assessing the priorities for road maintenance so it could spend its limited financial resources more smartly. >Read more.
Gatlings sell the Merry Harriers 
Peter and Angela Gatling have sold the Merry Harriers, Clayhidon to two of their most frequent diners.
After eight years of running one of Britain’s most successful country pubs, the Gatlings are taking a rest and looking for a new venture.
The new owners are Reg and Lesley Payne, who live in Willand. They are employing all the Gatlings’ staff, including Jamie Cox, who has been promoted to manager. >Read more.
Tamsin's leather creations go online
Brimley Hill resident Tamsin Burt is making a name for herself on the world wide web as a creator of beautiful hand-made leather goods. She developed her skills as a leather worker travelling with horses on the lanes of Devon and Somerset. Harness repairs played a vital part in day to day life. 
Today in her workshop she creates her pieces from beautiful, high quality English and American hides, with buckles and fittings from the harness makers. All of Tamsin's work is crafted and sewn by hand, using waxed linen thread and harness stitch. Most items are made to order. 
All kinds of bespoke orders are taken, from tool pouches and sheaths, lap-top cases and satchels, to belts, hand-bags and much more. >Visit her online gallery at .

Late blaze of autumn glory
A burst of November sunshine produces a late blaze of autumn glory in the woodlands of Clayhidon.

Parish hall being refurbished
Remedial work to the exterior of Clayhidon Parish Hall  has begun to replace rotten woodwork and slipped tiles, repaint exposed surfaces and install high spec metal guttering and drainpipes. >Full story and details of 2013/14 entertainments.

Rockies are the new brains on the block
The new Brains of Clayhidon 2013 are The Rockies. Julie and Stephen Bullett and John and Barbara Long, who all live in the parish, won the Clayhidon quiz on 15 November, beating long established teams by a country mile. Peter Walter was the quiz master at the Parish Hall as usual. The evening was a great success and raised £199 for hall funds.
Friends event raises £400 for church
A Christmas sale and lunch for the Friends of St Andrews on Saturday, November 16, made a profit of just under £400.
The event included a sale of work by members of the Clayhidon Art group organised by Jeremy Cogswell and Bill Smith which realised some £100.
The lunch event at the parish hall was organised by the committee of Nicola Bendle, Helen Gendall, Margaret Prettejohn, Kim Burridge, Doreen Pike and Margaret Blackmore.
Parish remembers its fallen war heroes
Remebrance Sunday at St. Andrew's Church: Rev Chris Hudson reads the names of the fallen. Below: Jack Collard's cap and medals from the Arctic convoys. Bottom left: Patrick Meredith, who served as a young Royal Navy midshipman in Europe and the Far East.

Clayhidon paid tribute to its war dead on 10 November. Nearly 30 parishioners gathered for a service in St Andrew’s Church and afterwards stood in silence beside the war memorial while the Rev Chris Hudson read out the names of the fallen from two world wars.
Among the congregation was second world war veteran Patrick Meredith, of Lillycombe, Clayhidon. After joining the Royal Navy in 1941, he served as a 17 year old midshipman on motor torpedo boats in the Dover Straits, then joined the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in Durban and took part in action against the Japanese off Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
On display inside the church was a display of the late Jack Collard’s cap and medals commemorating the former St Andrew’s treasurer’s service in the Merchant Marine on the Arctic convoys. 
Forty six men from Clayhidon fought in the first world war and seven died. In the second world war 20 men and women served in the armed forces and two never returned. >Clayhidon Roll of Honour

Hickman & Cassidy 's great night out
Judging by the standing ovation at the end of the James Hickman and Dan Cassidy gig on 2 November, everyone in the audience seemed to really enjoy both their stylish performance with its rich variety of music and the amusing way in which they related to the audience, writes Bee Hill.
Their programme seemed to offer something for everyone – zingy jigs and reels, plaintive songs, lilting Irish airs, foot-tapping swing and a gorgeously romantic waltz that our favourite dancers, Jane & Steve, have decided is a “just-must-have” for their wedding celebration next year! 
It’s always gratifying to sell out of tickets and even more so when the departing audience are so radiant with appreciative smiles and comments about both the show and the hospitality they received.
The event made a profit for the Parish Hall of £700.

Bridges fixed,but parish roads still in poor condition

The state of Clayhidon's roads continued to cause concern at the parish council meeting on 7 October, writes Sue Hay.
However we all need to be aware that the County Council has very limited funds for repairs and these are mainly directed to the ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads which take the majority of the traffic.

The Highways Department has recently done considerable repair work to bridges over the Culm but there are still many sites that need further work around our Parish.
It was proposed that the Parish Council take a more proactive role in assessing and managing our roads. We intend to document and prioritise all outstanding work to enable us to negotiate more successfully with the Highways Department.
It was also suggested that the Parish should consider employing our own Lengthsman so that culverts and gullies can be cleared as and when required. A working Group will be formed to discuss this further and to gather more information.

Do you know who's who on the Clayhidon war memorial?

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War will be marked next summer in Clayhidon, Hemyock and Culmstock. 
If you can provide any information or would like to help with the research email
In particular the porject team would be very interested in any information about the soldiers named on the Clayhidon War Memorial. 
"We are building up quite a list of stories of local men who served in the trenches from their families who have letters and pictures that they have saved," said Michael Cooper, of the Blackdown Archives. "It will be a memorable project.

Water gusher
Mains water gushed above the tree tops in the river field between Gladhayes Bridge and Flashford Bridge, Clayhidon near the road into Hemyock.
Nearby residents said the leak started early in the morning on Thursday, September 12 and was reported by Highways Department staff who were mending bridges on the River Culm. 

The gusher carried on spraying thousands of gallons until late evening, when it was repaired by the water authority.

Clayhidon's horrible history
A well attended meeting of the Clayhidon Friends heard an  excellent talk by David Puglsey's on the infamous murder of William Blackmore in Clayhidon by George Sparkes in 1853. 
The tale was dramatically told, and the lifestyle of Clayhidon parishioners at that time was revealed, leaving members feeling far better off living in the 21st century. >Read more

Teenager hurt in camping accident
A 15 year old boy was airlifted to hospital with severe burns after a barbecue exploded at the Kingsmead Centre, near Clayhidon, where he was camping with his family on 21 August. >Click here for Somerset County Gazette report.

20 years of luncheon club support
The Blackdown Support Group cooking team were feted by their customers at the monthly Rosemary Lane Luncheon Club at the 20th anniversary on October 9. Pictured enjoying a roast beef and Yorkshire meal are (from left) John Long, Joyce Pople, Marian Redwood, Margaret Gibbings, Joy Denning, Barbara Long and Jill Glasgow.
Chairman David Corden said the club was a shining example of support in the community and the anniversary was a real achievement. It is part of the renowned Blackdown Support Group.
Instead of clearing up in the kitchen, the monthly volunteer cooks sat down to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings, strawberry tart and a birthday cake made by Alice Hodges.
A specially written poem was read by the author, Mary Hortop.
Organisers of the club had decorated the Rosemary lane Chapel in Clayhidon. The tables and many of those present wore 20 year rosettes to show they had been attending the monthly lunches or volunteering since 1993.
The club was set up by Susan Doggett, Heather Stallard and retired GP Dr Jonathan Meads two years after the start of the Blackdown Support Group charity which covers 200 sq miles, the area of the medical practice in The Blackdown Hills. Locals can call for help with all kinds of problems faced by the elderly,disadvantaged and lonely in a very rural area.
The 40 members of the club thanked everyone involved in making the club such a success, including the members and leaders of Rosemary Lane Chapel, the drivers and helpers, the kitchen team, and the organisers for speakers and entertainers.
The first meal cost £1. 40. The price now is £4.
Other groups now meet in Dunkeswell, Hemyock and Culmstock, and at Rosemary Lane there is also a fortnightly tea club.
Susan Doggett presented awards and flowers to two cooks who prepared the first meal, Margaret Gibbins and Joyce Pople, to original member Marion Hutchings, to entertainer Brenda Persey, founder members Olive Burston and Margaret Blackmore and Alice Hodges.
Susan Doggett was herself presented with a bouquet by Mrs Hodges
Chapel leader Mr David Redwood said Rosemary Lane Chapel had been very glad to take part in providing the venue and cooks for 20 years and thanked all those who participated. 
>More pictures.

Flowers and fun mark harvest festival
Nicola Bendle and her team were responsible for the lovely Harvest displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon, writes Pam Reynolds. 
After the service we all enjoyed a wonderful supper at the Parish Hall. The entertainment was shorter this year, starting with Brenda on her accordion playing tunes everybody knew. 
Next came singers performing a song which Bob Brien had written. Jenny Doble sang Amazing Grace, with three others giving backing and harmony. Ron White read an amusing Jan Stewer story. 
A treat was Peter Glasgow whom we haven't heard before, singing 'Ol' Man River'. The singers then sang 'Eight days of Harvest',  a version of 'Twelve days of Christmas'. Finally we had community singing followed by Mike with three verses of 'On Clayhidon on the Hill'.  >Click here for more pictures.

Devon's council chief to speak in parish hallDr Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council, will attend a meeting of Clayhidon Parish Council on 2 December. Among other issues, he will be answering questions about the state of Clayhidon's roads.
The meeting is in the Parish Hall, Clayhidon at 7.30pm and members of the public are invited.
A paper has been prepared for Dr Norrey by parish councillor Alex Hill, detailing all the important highways issues in the parish and making suggestions for improvement. You can read it in full on this link.

Mobile planetarium show in Hemyock
Star-gazers of all ages have a chance to explore the universe when a state-of-the-art mobile planetarium is installed in Hemyock Parish Hall for two sessions on Saturday, November 30. See for details. 

'We will remember them'

10 November 2013 11am
There will be a service in St Andrew’s Church at 10am but the congregation will come out to stand in the Church Drive facing the War Memorial to join any others who have already gathered.
The names of all the men from Clayhidon who were killed in the First and Second World War will be read out.

Plucking geniuses win standing ovation
They sing of prison, railroads and crimes of passion. They sound for all the world like a bunch of good ol’ boys singing their hearts out in the Appalachian Mountains. 
But while the music is pure top-of-the-range bluegrass, in reality the Leon Hunt n-Tet are as English as Yorkshire pudding. Their sell-out concert at Clayhidon Parish Hall on 27 September won a standing ovation. 
Leon Hunt, banjo, has been here before, but this time he brought his “n-Tet” ­– Ben Somers, bass, Jason Titley, guitar, and Joe Hymas, mandolin. 
These four plucking geniuses add up to a band of stunning talent, and their presence in little Clayhidon is another of those mysteries that are hard to explain. 
There were some great songs and plenty of humour, provided by Ben and Joe, who gave a convincing impression of a drunken hillbilly with Tourette syndrome but is actually a musical maestro from Basildon.
The show was also a financial success, making a profit of more than £700 for parish hall funds.Organiser Bee Hill has had enthusiastic feedback from people who went, and the band have asked to come back.

Fabulous Baker girls in cycle challenge
Chrissy Baker with daughters Louise and Rachel celebrate their completion of a challenging charity cycle ride in memory of Clayhidon broadcaster and education writer Mike Baker. With 11 friends and family they raised more than £5,000. Starting at Mike and Chrissy’s home at The Parlour, Clayhidon, Baker’s Bikers rode to his favourite beach, Putsborough, on the North Devon coast. 
The team found 154 sponsors to raise money for the Villiers Park Educational Trust which helps 14-18 year old disadvantaged bright students to reach their potential and go to a university of their choice. 
The charity runs challenging and fun residential courses covering all subjects. A specific memorial trust for Mike is funding a journalism course.
For more pictures click here. To find out more about the Trust click here, and to sponsor the riders click here.

Waitrose reopens after fire
The Waitrose supermarket in Wellington has reopened after closing on 21 July following a fire. A 24 year old local man has denied starting the fire. For latest news and pictures from the County Gazette website click here.

Farm extension plan for parish 
A cubicle extension and a covered yard at Callers Farm, Clayhidon is one of several planning applications recently submitted to Mid Devon planners from Clayhidon. To see more local planning applications and make comments  click here. 

Culm diverted for  bridge repair
Work is finally going ahead on repairing Gladhayes Bridge, which was so badly damaged in the flooding last November. Highways Department staff have temporarily diverted the River Culm to enable them to do the repair work. Apparently they have found some quite large fish.

Half Moon among best in the west
The Half Moon Inn, Clayhidon has won a Silver award in the dining pubs section of the Taste of the West awards scheme - to the delight of landlady and head chef Lynda and Dorian Higgins,. 
“We had a Silver award from Taste of the West in 2010 but haven’t entered for a couple of years, so it’s reassuring to know that our standards are still up there,” said Lynda. Picture courtesy of>Half Moon Inn website.

Police appeal after fatal bike crash

A motorcyclist was killed when he collided with a car near Clayhidon on 29 August. Nik A'Court-Wills, 56, from Broadway, near Illminster, ran the Nichares hairdressing salon in Taunton with his wife Diane, according to the Somerset County Gazette
The newspaper's website carries a tribute from his family, describing him “a loving son, brother and husband and devoted father to his two children”.
It happened at around 7.10 pm at Quarts Moor, near the car park opposite Somerset Stamp Auctions at Hill Farm (formerly Wallace’s). Crash investigators are appealing for witnesses to call on them on 101.
A police spokesperson said: "Two cars were travelling along the road in the direction of Hemyock. The car in front wanted to turn right into a roadside parking area.
"A motorcycle, which was following both cars, passed the second and following car and was then in collision with the car waiting to turn right. The rider was thrown from his bike.”
>Click for more.

Hemyock builders go the the wall
DW Hart and Son, the Hemyock family builders founded in 1833, have gone into administration and will cease operations at the end of July. The company is the victim of unpaid debts and a harsh economic climate, reports the 

Parish loses fight for affordable home

Sadly negotiations to secure the affordable house for Clayhidon have failed. The Upper Culm Community Land Trust was successful in finding a Housing Association which was prepared to buy and manage the house. An offer was made to the Developer, taking into consideration the valuation of the house and the sum that would need to be paid, by the Developer, to MDDC to lift the 106 agreement. This is the agreement which restricts the sale and use of the house. The offer was not accepted and the Parish Council regret that, after the long fight, there is now no prospect of securing the house for the Parish.

Footpath Review.
The Rights of Way Committee have resolved to make the modifications to Footpaths 28 (Shackles Cross to Denshayes) and 31 (at Ridgewood Farm) which will bring the map in line with the definitive statement. There will now be a consultation process before the ‘Orders’ are made.

WW1 Anniversary.
We have been asked if we would like to join Hemyock in an event to mark the Anniversary of WW1. Hopefully more details will be available by the next meeting.

County Councillor.
As there has still been no work to improve the surface of the roads in the Bolham area, Councillor Ray Radford suggested that the PC write a letter of complaint to the Chief Executive of the County Council. However Councillor Radford did remind us that the road budget is not sufficient to maintain all the roads in the County and the majority of this is spent on the major roads.

District Councillor Frank Rosamond reported that there was a shortfall in the MDDC’s budget for the first quarter of the year. This is likely to have an impact on services but the extent of this is not yet known. He also reported that MDDC were developing an action plan to support economic regeneration in Mid Devon. 

Next meeting.
The next meeting of the Parish Council will be on Monday  7 October at 7.30pm  in the Parish Hall

Alien invader colonising Culm banks
A 6ft pink alien has invaded Clayhidon and landowners are warned to uproot it before it destroys native plants. The Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a giant Busy Lizzie and the Royal Horticultural Society says it is a major weed problem, especially on river banks and waste ground but also in gardens. It spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. It has begun to colonise the Culm in the past two years. For RHS advice on removing it click here. The Blackdown Hills AONB is urging people to take action – and inviting volunteers to take part in balsam pulling sessions.

Your chance to change footpaths 
If you would like to see any public rights of way in Clayhidon changed you have until early September to submit supporting evidence  – either through the Parish Council or through the Devon County Council website.
Public Rights of Way Officer Emily Spurway explained to the parish council that the definitive map of rights of way is being reviewed. Changes can be made through the review process by, for example, adding an unrecorded route or upgrading or downgrading an existing right of way.
In addition, permission to divert a right of way can be applied for but in this instance the process is usually funded by the landowner.
These changes can only be made where there is good evidence and after following a rigorous consultation process.

David and Brenda celebrate 50 years
David and Brenda Persey have been celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary. David married Brenda Drew on 18 July 1963,   at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon, writes Pam Reynolds.
Fifty years later,  on a glorious summer day in July, they invited their many relatives and friends for a lunch party at their farm.
Congratulations to them and very best wishes for good health and happiness. >For more pictures click here.

Clayhidon date for horse trekker
Devon photographer and adventurer Tracey Elliot-Reep has ridden horses from the top of Scotland to Lands End, around Southern Ireland and Wales and from Mexico to Canada. On Saturday 14 September she will be setting out on a journey somewhat closer to home -  to Clayhidon Parish Hall, where she will be giving an illustrated talk on her adventures. For details click here.

Banjo master heads autumn shows
Master banjo player Leon Hunt returns to Clayhidon for the fourth time, with his latest band or"n-Tet", to head the line-up for an autumn of entertainment at Clayhidon Parish Hall. For the full programme and booking details click here.

Merry Harriers wins UK award for Licensees of the Year
(Pictures by Keith Wheatley)

Peter and Angela Gatling, who run the Merry Harriers, Clayhidon, are Britain's Licensees of the Year, according to the new edition of the Good Pub Guide, writes Keith Wheatley.
It puts the pretty ivy-clad pub in Britain’s top ten inns, with huge praise for the owners. "Peter and Angela Gatling are the absolute aristocrats of the pub world, showing extra-special commitment and care for both their pub and their customers – and it shows,” says the GPG. 
"Always deservedly busy, this is a particularly well run and friendly pub and our readers love it. The hands-on, hard-working licensees and their staff will always make you welcome – even when rushed off their feet."
Peter – he hasn’t chosen a title yet, Count of Clayhidon perhaps? – was understandably thrilled by the award. ”These are the Oscars of the pub food trade, so it’s pretty special,” he said. “Last year we were given Best Dining Pub for Devon, so we’ve moved up from regional to national level.”
Angela emphasised how much of a team effort lies behind the Merry Harriers success. “Staff continuity can be a real problem in pubs but our kitchen team have been with us five or six years and even the youngsters waiting on tables and behind the bar tend to stay with us,” she said.
In fact, husband-and-wife chefs Ben and Amy met at the Merry Harriers, became a couple and married last year. The whole place has a family-friendly feel. The Gatlings have three daughters at school in Wellington and the eldest now works occasionally at the Harriers.
According to Peter good value is the reason why the pub is so popular as a place to eat out – they often serve over 600 meals in a week.“Seven years ago when we first took over a main course had been £18,” he said. “It was special occasions only. Now nothing is more than £13. Beer is£2.60 a pint whereas it’s well over £3.00 in most pubs.
“It’s absolutely essential to get the value right. Pubs win awards, jack the prices up, and forget what made them successful in the first place.”
It’s all a far cry from their previous life in Berkshire, where Peter commuted to London for a job in corporate IT and Angela ran the home. “Peter just announced one day that he’d always wanted to run a pub,” remembered Angela. “It was a complete surprise to me, but we began planning and six months later moved into the Harriers. It was a huge change, but for the better and we love it.”
If you want to see what it was about the Merry Harriers that so impressed the GPG judges don’t forget to book – especially at weekends. Tel: 421270.
> Pictures and story reproduced by kind permission of the Around Wellington website.
>Click here for The Good Pub Guide national awards.
>Click here for the Merry Harriers website.

Farewell barbecue for the Essenhighs
Clayhidon is saying goodbye to two of its best known and best loved residents, Sir Nigel and Lady  Essenhigh. Nigel and Susie are leaving Cordwents after 14 years to be nearer their family in Hampshire. John and Nicola Bendle organised a barbecue in their honour on 16 June and around 30 parishioners turned out to see them off. The Essehighs also arranged farewell drinks at the Half Moon Inn.  Sir Nigel is Deputy Lieutenant of Devon and is a former First Sea  Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.
200 guests raise £6,000 in charity ball
Clayhidon held its third successful charity ball on Bank Holiday Monday, May 27,  raising around £6,363 profits to be divided equally between the Children's Hospice South West, Cancer Research UK and Devon Air Ambulance.
The event was held in the marquee erected for the wedding of Jamie and Casey Blackmore two days earlier on Strawberry Field, owned by Phil and Thelma Blackmore.
This generosity enabled a small committee of volunteers led by John and Nicola Bendle to arrange the event. Two hundred tickets were sold very quickly and the evening included a raffle, an auction of gifts and promises, music from Ian Richardson and energetic dancing to a band called Over the Hill.

Auctioneer Philip Kerr of Harcourt Kerr provided a brisk and entertaining auction of 12 lots including a helicopter ride, two holidays and paintings.
Catering was by Knapp Creation with meat for the meal donated by Chrissie Baker, John and Nicola Bendle,Nigel and Susie Essenhigh, and Patrick and Tricia Meredith. Puddings were donated by the Ministry of Cake.
MC for the evening was Nigel Essenhigh, who thanked all those who had donated promises and gifts and helped make the evening such a success.

Peter Gregory dies aged 89
Clayhidon residents turned out in force to attend the funeral of Peter Stanley Gregory on 29 May at All Saints Church, Nynehead.
Peter, who lived at Applehayes, Clayhidon, for 42 years, died on May 17. He was 89.
His son Chris said his father had been very specific and was adamant his funeral should be a celebration because he believed he had had a very good life. He did not want a eulogy, so instead Chris spoke about his father's life and the recurrent themes of the sea, the land and baler twine.

Ray Radford sees off UKIP challenge 
Clayhidon’s Conservative county councillor Ray Radford headed off a storming challenge by UKIP to retain his Willand and Uffculme seat in the Devon County Council Elections on 2 May.
He polled 1,243 votes, while the UKIP candidate David Graham polled 759, pushing the Independent, David Pugsley, into third place with 499. The Green Party, in bottom position with 168, was only four votes behind the Liberal Democrat. 
The turnout was 30.7%. 
The full result was: 

FOORD, Richard John, Liberal Democrat, 172 
GRAHAM, David Ewart, UKIP, 759 
MELLER, Hugh, The Green Party, 168 
PRITCHARD, Jocelyn Anne, Labour Party Candidate, 325
PUGSLEY, David Follett, Independent, 499 
RADFORD, Raymond Francis, The Conservative Party Candidate, 1243. The Conservatives retained overall control of Devon County Council despite the loss of three seats. UKIP gained four seats, Labour gained three and Lib Democrats lost five.

'Pollution threat' to Bolham Water
These huge machines on Smeatharpe Airfield are putting Bolham Water in danger of “an environmental disaster”, campaigners are warning. They are being used by Keily Bros to  sieve stones swept up from roads all over Devon, which include oil, tar and rubber. What appears to be washing equipment has also been brought onto the site.
Graham Long, of Action Against Noise and Nuisance in the Blackdowns, says the Gotleigh Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is in danger of contamination if waste  from washing the stone sweepings enters the water table on the airfield. 
“The runway drains have not been maintained since 1948, but only take surface water into the Bolham River anyway.” 
A map on his campaign website shows how near springs on the Gotleigh Moor SSSI are to where Kiely Bros are operating their machines. The company says it does not need planning permission, but Mr Long believes it needs a licence from the Environment Department.
All the land to the north of the runway slopes down to the Bolham River, which rises in Smeatharpe and flows along the boundary between the two SSSI's, Gotheigh and Southey Moors.
Kiely Bros resumed stone sieving at Smeatharpe on 22 April in defiance of Mid Devon District Council. Now Graham Long is urging Devon County Council to act. The owner of Gotleigh Moor has alerted Natural England. >Read more.

How the valley looked 100 years ago
This famous painting of Clayhidon is part of an exhibition in Exeter commemorating the centenary of the Camden Town Artists Group’s highly productive visit to the parish. 
A century ago in 1913, Applehayes Farm belonged to Harold Harrison, a retired rancher from Argentina. While studying art in London Harrison became friends with the group and from 1910 onwards he invited the members to visit his farm. 
Among them were Spencer Gore, Charles Ginner and Robert Bevan. Bevan, in particular, was inspired by the East Devon landscape and returned regularly until 1920. 
The Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter is commemorating this centenary with a display of its important 1913 paintings by both Bevan and Ginner from now until 24 November.
You can buy a copy of this picture, Robert Bevan’s Devonshire Valley No 1, and others at the gallery and online. 
>Read more.
Boardwalk reopens footpath over bog
One of Clayhidon's loveliest walks, between Bellets and Lillycombe, has for years been virtually impassible because of a bog. Now a boardwalk has been built across the mire by Devon County Council following pressure from the parish council. Walkers who had been avoiding this path have rediscovered an enchanting route across the River Culm and the Stapley stream through woods and drifts of wild flowers. >MORE CLAYHIDON FOOTPATH NEWS.

Parish Hall is spellbound by Talking Heads 
The title put a few people off. 'Talking Heads' hardly promises action. And the format – three plays, three monologues ­– sounds iffy. But the author’s name should have been enough to fill the last four seats in an almost packed Clayhidon Parish hall on 17 May. 
Alan Bennett’s plays are sad, funny and wise, and the Northcott Theatre’s Uncommon Players fielded three remarkable actresses who made the very best of a wonderful script. 
First Imogen Smith, as the alcoholic wife of a vicar, then Jenny Start, as the new widow cheated into penury by her own son, and finally Janet Hookway, as the little old lady determined to live to the end in her own home. 
Each chattered away to herself, revealing great truths about their lives and ours. These plays, first written for television in 1988 and now classics on the English Literature syllabus, have proved a challenge to some of the finest performers of our age. I doubt if any of them could have held a Devon village audience more spellbound than the Uncommon Players.
Their next production is Educating Rita – and Clayhidon made it clear it wants them back.  - Gareth Weekes.
Bodie is back ... thin and dirty but safe
The week-long search search for Bodie the missing mongrel ended happily on 24 March when he turned up at his home, Shepherds Halt, Clayhidon. 
"Bodie has returned home this morning. Very thin and dirty but we are just so thankful," said Helen Gendall, who had put up posters all over the area. 
Bodie had gone missing on 17 March while on a walk in the woods between Cordwents and Shepherds Halt.

Public meeting on changes to parish footpaths 
public meeting to discuss footpath changes in Clayhidon is being held at the Parish Hall on Wednesday 5 June.
Emily Spurway, a Devon County Council footpaths officer, will be present to explain possible changes to the definitive map of public rights of way in the parish.
Parish Councillor Sue Hay says these could include:
  • Footpath 28. The section from Shackles Cross south is described in the definitive statement but is not on the map. 
  • Footpath 31. At Ridgewood Farm. The northern section is described in the statement but is missing from the map. 
  • Bakers Farm in Somerset west to the county road in Clayhidon. The Devon portion is not on the map or statement. 
  • There is an application to downgrade the public bridleway to a public footpath from Bloomers Farm via Gotleigh Moor and valentines Farm to Middleton Barton. 
  • The possible extension of Footpath 7 across the Turbary to Hidon Wood. 
  • The Status of Nick Reed’s lane. This is not recorded.
The public meeting starts at 7.30pm and will be followed by a regular meeting of the parish council.

Buddhafield is back for a four-day Camp
The Buddhafield returns to Clayhidon on 24 May for a four-day Green Earth Awakening Camp. 
Up to 500 people are expected to take part in the event at The Gallops, on the old Buddhafield festival site on the Wellington road. 
The programme promises “a chance to connect with the land, re-learn forgotten skills and live communally for a while, exploring pathways towards a sustainable future”. 
Workshops include a Really Wild Forest School for children, solar energy, spinning, tuffet making, blacksmithing and copper bowl making, working with leather, spoon carving, tanning fish skins and soulful singing. Talks include one on the Tinkers Bubble commune in Somerset.
There will also be a space for “massage swaps and other healing”, a kids area with activities, storytelling, poetry and acoustic music around the camp-fires at night.
For more information and booking
 >click here.

To Fudge and Eeyore, an Easter baby
This little donkey star was born in Clayhidon the Sunday before Easter and quickly found the strength to dash about enjoying the pending spring. Owners Helen Hutchings and Andy Curtis haven't named her yet, but mum is called Fudge and dad is Eeyore. We'll let you know when they decide.

Clayhidon walking route features in The Times   
The footpaths and lanes of Clayhidon featured in The Times on 9 March when the newspaper devoted nearly a page to “A Good Walk: Clayhidon and Culm Valley, Devon.”
Christopher Somerville and his companion dressed “like lifeboatmen” when they braved rainy winter weather to explore “this beautiful green corner of the mist-shrouded East Devon countryside”. 
Their four-mile walk began and ended at the Half Moon Inn – an “excellent village pub” concluded the writer as he peeled off his muddy clothes and steaming boots.
>You can read the full walk and many others and see his photographs here. 

Parish presses county for action on potholes
The state of Clayhidon's roads and drains was discussed at the parish council meeting in February.
Much of the work to repair our roads and unblock drains is still outstanding. 
The council is continuing to seek a meeting with the Devon Highways department to show them the specific problems around the Parish. 
If you would like to report any potholes or similar damage please email Devon County on
The annual parish meeting is being held on Monday 11 March at 7.30pm in the parish hall.

Road to close for water infrastructure work
Contractor May Gurney has been granted a temporary Road closure at Graddage Farm. Clayhidon ( EX15 3TP) to undertake "essential water infrastructure works".
The work will last for five days between 13 and 17 May. The firm says all efforts will be made to maintain access to properties and minimise disruption, but there may be delays and it advises people to avoid the area if possible.
For more information call 01726 224400 between 9am and 5pm (Mon-Fri) or contact the South West Water Helpline on 0800 169 1144 at all other times

Thieves break into Clayhidon garages
Two garages in Clayhidon have been broken into. Various pieces of equipment, including chainsaws,were stolen, police reported on 5 February. If you saw anything suspicious or know anything about this please call  Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 and quote crime numbers KU/13/75 and KU/13/77.

Braving a bone-chilling start to Easter 
It was 31 March, Easter Morning, when a group of people gathered in
the intense cold in a field at the top of Grays Lane, Clayhidon,writes Pam Reynolds. The clocks had just been put forward an hour but nevertheless they wanted to be there at 7am to join together in a Sunrise Service on the day of the Resurrection. About 30 men and women were there from the churches and chapels of Clayhidon, Hemyock and Culmstock and as they waited for the start, the sun rose behind the trees reminding them of that first Easter Day. The sheep and lambs bleating through the singing added to the atmosphere of the occasion. Everyone was warm in clothing and in spirit as they stood round a blazing brazier.
Afterwards many of them made their way down to Hemyock Church Room where a wonderful breakfast had been prepared.
Artisans open their studio doors

Clayhidon potter Nicola Werner will be among skilled craftsmen and women from all over the Blackdown Hills opening their studio doors to the public as part of the Artisans Trail this Friday and Saturday (11 and 12 May)
Her hand-thrown pots and tiles painted with colourful birds and leaves on a white tin glaze in her Bolham Valley pottery.
Others taking part in the Trail include Ellises Farm (makers of pork products, including salamis and bacon) and the Common Loaf Bakery (makers of hand crafted speciality breads). >Read more.

Femmes Fatales wow parish hall crowd

Femmes Fatales promoter Bee Hill, with Sarah Moule and keyboard accompanist Jenny Carr

What magic makes it possible for world class performers to appear in a tiny Devon parish hall? People were asking this question in February when Opera Dudes came to Clayhidon, and they were asking it again three weeks later when jazz singer Sarah Moule wowed locals with her brilliant show, Femmes Fatales.The answer is Villages in Action, the Crediton-based rural touring scheme, which finds the best little shows and then invites village promoters like Bee Hill to take their pick.
Quite why so few people outside Ronnie Scott’s have heard of this wonderful singer is a mystery. Her voice has an extraordinary range of tones, her delivery is impeccable, her spoken introductions witty and intelligent. And she looks wonderful, perched on a barstool in her sexy long dress.
Sarah Moule was not the only great discovery of the evening.  Many of the songs were utterly unknown and utterly superb, with lyrics by the late Fran Landesman and music by Sarah’s husband Simon Wallace. 
Femme Fatales is a cleverly themed show, and part of the point of this tour of Devon village halls was to see if it “had legs” and might be worth trying in larger venues.  The Clayhidon audience, lounging around tables in a hall arranged café-style, gave a clear and enthusiastic verdict.  GARETH WEEKES.

145 turn up  for biggest-ever breakfast
Clayhidon volunteers organised the parish's biggest ever Big Breakfast  on 9 March, raising an estimated £1,230 for Cancer Research UK. Organiser Pam Reynolds said 145 breakfasts were served,  excluding helpers.
She added: "116 were booked in but many others came so we ran out of hash-browns but just survived on all other foods, though we were on our last litre of milk.
"Three people were cooking with one putting out food; four were taking orders; one on coffee'; one taking money; one on toast; raffle. It was quite hectic and people lingered on to talk.Supermarkets gave vouchers for food - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Coop, Dairy Crest gave the milk; Spar the bread; Bollhayes the apple juice, Boots gave  some raffle prizes and local people gave the eggs.
"People have been very kind and realise the opportunity to support not just a local event but an extremely important charity. It looks as if we have made £1,230 which is wonderful. My thanks to everyone for their help and support."
Come in, number 44 ...
Newborn lamb number 44 looks lively as Clayhidon's bleak and soggy winter gives way at last to spring. 

Six candidates stand for county council seat
Clayhidon voters have a choice of six candidates in the Devon County Council election on 2 May.
They are:
  • Liberal Democrat: Richard John Foord, 6 Wellands Close, Uffculme.
  • UKIP: David Ewart Graham, Radford House,Culmstock.
  • Green Party: Hugh Meller, Lewdon Farm, Black Dog, Crediton.
  • Labour Party: Jocelyn Anne Pritchard, 6 Higher Mead, Hemyock.
  • Independent:David Follett Pugsley, Rockhaven, St.George's Well, Cullompton.
  • Conservative Party: Ray Radford, 1 Townsend Gardens, Halberton.
Clayhidon is part of the Willand & Uffculme division, one of six county council seats up for election  in Mid Devon.Further details can be found on this link.

In the bleak midwinter
Snow returned to the Blackdowns in January, testing the resilience of livestock and wildife and bringing a bleak beauty to the Culm Valley. >Click here for slideshow of Clayhidon snow pictures.

Council bans stones business on runway
East Devon District Council has placed a stop order on the storage and sieving of stones  on Smeatharpe Airfield, pending a planning application for change of use. The activity had attracted between 10 and 20 lorries a day. >Full story.

Silver Surfers learn to shop safely online
One of the wettest years on record and communities being cut off can be bad news for people who need to get to the shops or pay bills. Shopping online can reduce the number of journeys you make and even save you money by widening your choices.
Over the next few weeks, Hemyock's Silver Surfers Café will be focusing on safe and secure, online shopping. 
Sessions are very casual and there is no need to book a place or commit to coming every week.
Learn how to:
  • keep your personal information safe
  • avoid scams, and
  • protect your credit card details.

From Desert Island Discs to Clayhidon
When asked recently to choose the eight records she would want to play if stranded on Radio 4's Desert Island, writer and columnist Julie Burchill named a song by the star of Clayhidon Parish Hall's next show, the highly acclaimed jazz singer Sarah Moule.
Julie Burchill co-wrote A Lazy Kind of Love with Fran Landesman and Simon Wallace and it's the title number of Sarah's latest album. It's likely to feature in her travelling show, "Femmes Fatales” with Songs for the Fallen, Wild and Wicked" , which comes to Clayhidon on Friday 15 March at 7.30pm. 
This new show, in which Sarah is accompanied by pianist Jenny Carr, combines music with theatre and celebrates the Femme Fatale in all her feisty glory as heroine, heartbreaker, rule-breaker and role model from Cleopatra and Mata Hari to the Film Noir and the Suffragettes.
Although it apparently contains "nothing dangerously saucy", it is aimed at adult audiences who have variously described it as “compelling”, “empowering” and “highly original”. 
Visit to sample some of Sarah’s superb singing. 
For tickets contact Bee Hill on 01823 680 347 or email . Adults - £8; Concs - £6; Family (2+2) £24; Interval Refreshments. Doors & Licensed Bar open @ 6.45pm. Raffle in aid of hall funds.
Tickets still available for parish hall Opera Dudes
You can still get tickets for Opera Dudes – Licensed to Trill, the Villages in Action show booked for Clayhidon Parish Hall on Thursday 21 February.
Described as two modern day Mario Lanzas, the Dudes perform some of the world's most romantic music,  from opera and swing to show stoppers.
For tickets call Bee Hill on 01823 680 347 or email
Carers and volunteers invited to Hemyock meeting
We have arranged to hold a short drop-in meeting from 5pm on Tuesday 12th February 2013 in the Forbes Room at Hemyock Parish Hall, EX15 3QW with short presentations at 5.15pm and 6pm. 
We are hoping to meet informally with community groups & leaders, parish councils, local businesses and interested members of the public to explain the Age UK and Unite Carers project to start addressing Rural Isolation through establishing awareness of the services available for carers of all ages and older people.
This will lead on to further local events to make contact with individuals needing support and find local volunteers able to provide such support in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.
Please pass the word about this event to anyone who may wish to find out more. If at all possible please display posters locally. The overall plan for our campaign is below (although our dates may drift slightly).
I hope you will be able to drop-in and see us for a chat and a tea or coffee on Tuesday.
Phil Lloyd
Unite Carers in Mid Devon
Office: 01884 257511

Parish council meeting
A meeting of Clayhidon Parish Council will be held on Monday 11 February 2013 at the Parish Hall, Clayhidon at 7.30pm. >Click here for Agenda.

Clayhidon news archives