Exeter Living - Issue 277

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ISSUE 277 / MARCH 2021 / £3










ISSUE 277 / MARCH 2021 / WORD UP





ABOVE: The story behind the parachute that

went to Mars: Rapid inflation testing at NASA Ames facility, on page 36; BELOW: Easter bunnies on page 24


here is always a lot of intriguing and inventive stuff going on in and around Exeter; that’s why it’s the dream job to be able to write about it all. Recently, though, this region has hit global headlines. There was the NASA space mission to Mars – the soft landing made possible by the parachute fabric created by Tiverton-based fabric manufacturers, Heathcoat Fabrics. How did the Devon firm land a job with the world’s biggest space agency? And just how nail-biting was the countdown to that landing? Read our in-depth interview with director Peter Hill on page 36 to find out. Then, more recently, we had the unearthing and the controlled explosion of the Second World War bomb in the city. JP Hedge’s – rather moving – column on page 11 gives us his take on the events of that extraordinary weekend. Not hitting international news (just yet!) but also very worthy of our attention are our cover stars Charlie and Malcolm Richards, the owners of Bookbag, the new bookshop in McCoy’s Arcade. They’ve hit the ground running with their business and are a welcome addition to Exeter’s thriving independent sector. Elsewhere in this issue we’ve got a bumper spring interiors feature; all the latest news from the property, business and education sectors; buckets of arts and culture; seriously good-looking food from the local culinary geniuses and a couple of Easter bunnies thrown in for good measure. Happy reading!

HARRIET NOBLE Follow us on Twitter @ExeterLiving

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Issue 277/March 2021 COVER Charlie and Malcolm Richards at Bookbag. Image by Killa Framez; www.killaframez.co.uk


8 SPOTLIGHT All the good stuff happening in the city 11 JP HEDGE On how the teams pulled together when the

WW2 bomb was found

66 LIVES Meet the Exeter student swimming the English

Channel this summer


18 BOOKBAG The new indie book shop in town 36 HEATHCOAT FABRICS Just how did the Tiverton-based

company end up working with NASA?

52 SPRING INTERIORS Your home will love you for this


12 ARTS The artist sketching the city 14 WHAT’S ON Festivals, literature, movies and Easter trails 17 PHOTOGRAPHY Exeter’s Instagrammers outdoing

themselves once again


23 INTRO Fashion goes mellow yellow 40 EDITOR’S CHOICE Spoiler alert...hop! Hop!



26 INTERVIEW Behind the scenes at Little

Pineapple Bakery

28 RECIPES Dee-lish dishes


32 MIND, BODY & SOUL Openings, events and goodies to

make you feel super zen


42 ROUND-UP All the latest news from the uni, local schools

and colleges


46 EXETERWORKS Growth stories, new businesses and a

birthday celebration


58 NEWS Blossoming developments in Devon 63 SHOWCASE Topsham is tempting us...


Editor Harriet Noble harriet.noble@mediaclash.co.uk Managing Editor Deri Robins deri.robins@mediaclash.co.uk Senior Art Editor Andrew Richmond Graphic Design Megan Allison Cover Design Trevor Gilham Contributors JP Hedge Advertising manager Paula Miller paula.miller@mediaclash.co.uk Production/Distribution Manager Sarah Kingston sarah.kingston@mediaclash.co.uk Deputy Production Manager Kirstie Howe kirstie.howe@mediaclash.co.uk Production Designer Gemma Scrine gemma. scrine@mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Jane Ingham jane.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Greg Ingham greg.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk Exeter Living MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 www.mediaclash.co.uk @The MediaClash © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. We’re a Bath-based publisher, creative agency and event organiser Magazines Our portfolio of regional magazines celebrates the best of local living: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter. Agency From the design and build of websites to digital marketing and creating company magazines, we can help. Events We create, market, promote and operate a wide variety of events both for MediaClash and our clients Contact: info@mediaclash.co.uk

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SPOTLIGHT from left:

Hannah Baxter-Freeman, Alistair Debling and Lucy Bell



Exeter Northcott will be showcasing brand new productions this spring from three South West artists. The digital projects will reflect on what the last year has taught us about ourselves, our society and the changes that are needed when we finally emerge from this crisis. Hannah Baxter-Freeman, who recently completed the Northcott’s Emerging Artists programme, will create a short film about the strength people have found in the face of adversity. Alistair Debling’s production will use AI generated imagery to explore the queer community’s ability to adapt, evolve and survive a pandemic and has been described as, ‘part survival guide, part disco’.

Lucy Bell will invite school-age children to interview elders towards creating two new films about resilience across the generations. Performed by pension-age actors, Grown Ups will weave together moving, poignant and humorous perspectives on this unique moment in our history. “We’re delighted to be working with three

more artists on these digital projects to help us think about the changes we’ve experienced at this time and the changes we want to make for the future,” says Helen Bovey, a producer at Exeter Northcott. Each project will be shared online and via the theatre’s social media channels over the coming months; www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

Exeter Cathedral

The explosion could be seen for miles

It’s all in the detail at Chapter House

Huge restoration projects are underway at Exeter Cathedral and its surrounding buildings following grants to make them more user-friendly and efficient. Exeter Cathedral Major improvements to the Cathedral’s ageing heating, lighting and data systems are planned, as are the conservation of its historic pavements. Work is also underway to conserve the stained-glass windows in its east end chapels. Chapter House Exeter Cathedral’s medieval Chapter House stands at the far side of the Cloisters and is set to have a new underfloor heating system installed. The project has been supported with a £50,000 grant from funding group Viridor Credits, and additional funding from Exeter-based firm Packexe.

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Church House Exeter Cathedral has been awarded a £35,000 grant to help fund investigation work at its historic Grade II listed 18th Century mansion Church House. The grant – which is funded by the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – currently provides accommodation for Exeter Cathedral’s musical scholars and meeting rooms for volunteer groups, as well as housing the Cathedral Café kitchens and visitor toilets. “Church House is a beautiful and historically important mansion, but also a crucial space for the functioning of the Cathedral and for our visitors and local community,” says the Dean of Exeter, The Very Revd Jonathan Greener. “However, it is now in urgent need of restoration and repair, and improvements to the visitor facilities are long overdue.” For more: www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk

Improvements are underway at Church House





The controlled detonation of the Second World War bomb on 27 February was a huge shock to Exeter and its residents. Councillor Philip Bialyk, leader of the Council, took the opportunity to thank the teams who helped. “I want to start by thanking all the residents, emergency services, our staff and partner agencies, for the way in which they dealt with a very difficult situation,” says Philip. “As soon as a very large Second World War bomb was unearthed in Glenthorne Road, it was clear a major evacuation operation would be needed involving dozens of properties, including people shielding and with complex needs, care home residents and 1,400 students. “Again, I want to thank the patience of everyone involved in this incident, which demonstrated once again how people come together in difficult times to help those most in need.” For more: www.news.exeter.gov.uk

Monique Roffey will be chatting about her book



Quay Words welcomes newly-announced Costa Book of the Year winner Monique Roffey to Exeter as their writer-inresidence during April. Monique’s residency will include a number of digital events throughout the month and she will close the Quay Words Spring ‘Exploration’ season at Exeter Custom House. Monique Roffey is an award- winning, Trinidadian born British writer of novels, essays, literary journalism and a memoir. Her most recent novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, (Peepal Tree Press) won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2020 and was shortlisted for both the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 and the Rathbones/Folio Award 2021. Her work has been translated into several languages. She is a co-founder of Writers Rebel within Extinction Rebellion and is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and a tutor for the National Writers Centre. For more: See page 14 for Monique’s April event at Quay Words; www.exetercustomhouse.org.uk



The defib is positioned just outside the library

A life-saving device which can restart the heart of anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest has been installed at Exeter Library – fully accessible to anyone in the community. The defibrillator (or ‘defib’) can be easily operated by anyone, with no training, and is positioned outside the building meaning it can be used 24 hours a day. The unit was funded by Exeter investment services company Brewin Dolphin, and donated by city charity Jay’s Aim. “Defibs save lives, and we’re really pleased to install one at Exeter Library,” says Callum Elliott-Archer, centre manager for Exeter Library. “Of course we hope it’s never used. But we also believe it will reassure our staff and all the people who visit our library, not only for books but clubs, groups, computers, wifi and a myriad of other reasons, that if they do have a cardiac arrest, this will substantially increase their chances of survival.” For more: www.librariesunlimited.org.uk

Green-fingered Sarah



A new flooring system has been built on Topsham Allotments and Gardens to create a wheelchair accessible plot for local resident Sarah Piercy. Sarah has swapped being a record-breaking wheelchair athlete – she won the 2000 London Marathon women’s wheelchair event on her first attempt and has since completed nine further London Marathons, as well as becoming the world speed record holder for a woman in a handbike – for growing tree seedlings to plant in the local area. All the work was done by a group of allotment holders while RGB Building Supplies donated a hexagonal plastic flooring system for use across the whole plot. “I’m truly grateful for everyone’s amazing help and support,” says Sarah. “Let’s hope there will be some lovely trees to bring back some nature and beauty to our area.” “It really shows what can be achieved when local organisations and people help each other,” adds Ralph Hare, site manager at Topsham Allotments & Gardens. “As well as the flooring from RGB, Apex Scaffolding donated boards to create raised beds, local residents gave us topsoil and Exeter Council have installed a water tap, and we want to say a huge thanks to everyone involved.” For more: www.topshamags.co.uk

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Exeter Together

JP looks back on the extraordinary events surrounding the unearthing of the WW2 bomb


here are things you know about this city. Cast iron things that are without doubt. Things like on a peaceful sunny summer’s day, Exeter Quay can rival the best locations in the country. I know that Exeter is a place that works together and collaborates by default. I think businesses, institutions and our residents here are also quite modest. We are a city that gets on with stuff, often without taking the victory lap that is often rightly deserved. Exeter is a lush, green city. We have such a high proportion of green open spaces compared to so many others. But we don’t jump up and down about it. Then there are presumptions or unknowns about this city. Other things that you can’t fully understand until they are stress-tested. In the past it has taken things like the Clarence Hotel fire to really see how everyone hunkers down and responds. That incident was met with extraordinary businesses, amazing

generosity and acts of kindness, lots of prioritising others first and a heart-warming amount of seeing values in action. However, you don’t know about those things until life throws you a curve ball and you are in the moment. Evacuating thousands of people at short notice, due to a 2200lb unexploded WW2 bomb, in the middle of a pandemic, was perhaps at the higher end of life’s curve ball collection. I don’t think there will ever be a unique set of circumstances like that again. But by goodness did the whole of the Devon rally. When a major incident like this occurs, there is a formal structure. Devon and Cornwall Police lead the response that involved just about every emergency service and connected group. Exeter City Council were one of those smaller cogs in a very well-oiled larger machine. The structure is there that in the middle of complex problems lives are protected, property is protected, and then the scene is brought back to usual as quickly as possible. The bomb was discovered by workmen on Friday morning and a

“I saw extraordinary compassion for others and the kindness of strangers”

100m exclusion zone was brought. Later in the day it was clear that the bomb was so big that a 400m zone would be needed. This covered thousands of households, our main railway line, a church, a care home, a petrol station and fuel storage. It was a ridiculous spot. Quick as a flash, amazing colleagues at Devon County Council who were leading had already identified residents with complex needs and those that had been successfully shielding up until now. And, of course, Covid meant that you weren’t able to create evacuation shelters like you usually would. And most hotels were closed and staff on furlough. Yup. The plan was to use the armed forces and equipment including 400 tonnes of sand and heavy steel to create some kind of protective pyramid. That expression there is why I have nothing to do with bomb disposal. Most people know what happened next – events were covered around the world. But what I saw from the fringes was extraordinary compassion for others and the kindness of strangers. Volunteers from HM Coastguard left their families, unpaid, and spend the night door knocking under Covid conditions to explain the evacuation plan. Firefighters and Dartmoor Rescue did the same and all manner of

things to help. Emergency services and Devon County Council worked 24/7 – over a very long weekend, to try to make things a little better for others. A helpline was set up and people and pets were put in taxis and taken to hotels across the city and East Devon. The University, who had the lion’s share of people to look after, were phenomenal. ECC’s main role has been in the recovery, and helping people to rebuild their lives. And they will take rebuilding. There are things that went wrong, and completely understandable frustrations. I visited the scene and I don’t mind telling you it made me ‘totes emosh’ as the kids would say. It caught me by surprise. The extent of the damage and the impact on families can’t really be captured by the extraordinary footage of the explosions. This city doesn’t do victory laps – nor should it in this instance. I just wanted to put a marker down to thank everyone who led by example to do their very best for the people involved. I’m in awe of the response. #ExeterTogether ■ Jon-Paul Hedge is a director at Exeter City Council where he currently looks after leisure. He is a former newspaper editor and lives in the city with his wife and two young children. www.exeter.gov.uk

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Gandy Street; OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Exeter Quayside, Exeter Cathedral, Southernhay House, Iron Bridge, The Fire Trees at Exeter Quayside 12 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk


Olivia Palmer’s illustrations feature some of Exeter’s most noted landmarks, such as Gandy Street and Exeter Cathedral (as pictured here), but she also draws fictional buildings and spaces. It’s perhaps her style that draws people in; whimsical and soft, her pictures look like they have leapt out of a fairytale book. Not surprising really. When Olivia is not wandering around Exeter sketching buildings, she works as a freelance children’s illustrator with Plum Pudding Illustration agency. “I love architecture, old or modern, and this is what inspires me most of all, although I also enjoy illustrating stories, especially fairytales,” she says. “I generally carry a small sketchbook wherever I go, and will stop and draw a quick sketch when I can. I use a small watercolour set with a waterbrush, fine liner pens and sometimes crayons to sketch. At home I sometimes work on a more finished version of the sketch in acrylic paints. “I love sketching by the Quay and in the Cathedral. There are many fascinating places to sketch in this lovely city!” For more: Instagram: @oliviadrawsandpaints

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Catch poet Chris White on 14 April at Exeter Custom House

WHAT’S ON 19 March onwards


SOUTH WEST ACADEMY SPRING EXHIBITION The annual event is back, bringing a collection of dazzling works from a range of local artists. Expect everything from landscapes to ceramics, abstracts to still lifes. Brownston Gallery; www.brownstonart.com

24 March – 21 April

CREATIVE CABIN SHORTS Working with artists, rangers and practitioners from the South West, this series of short films connects to nature and the landscapes around us and highlights homegrown art. A new film is screened live every Wednesday or you can watch on the website at any time. Thelma Hulbert Gallery; www.thelmahulbert.com

26 – 28 March

DIGITAL CRAFT FESTIVAL Channel 4’s New Pottery Throwdown Judge Richard Miller, Aardman

Wallace and Gromit animator Jim Parkyn and internationally known weaver Laura Thomas are just a few of the names hosting live sessions at this year’s festival. Expect over 150 contemporary makers, many of them from Devon, plus a host of workshops and demonstrations. A must for crafters. Digital Craft Festival; www.digitalcraftfestival.co.uk


Until 31 March

IWOW: I WALK ON WATER From visionary artist and photographer Khalik Allah, this film is an intimate and visually stunning deep dive into Harlem after dark. A Q&A with the director is included in the screening. Exeter Phoenix virtual cinema; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

Until 31 March

FEMINSISTA FILM FESTIVAL Within the programme is a selection of stories that are set to inspire, empower and celebrate womanhood. From musical pursuits to outdoor challenges, to learning

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Always check COVID-19 restrictions and instructions with venues before your visit

how to be a revolutionary member of parliament, these women are change makers and trail blazers. Exeter Phoenix virtual cinema; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

remarkable women. 6.30pm-8pm, Quay Words at Exeter Custom House, live streamed on Crowdcast; www.exetercustomhouse.org.uk


DON’T BUILD FIRES ON THE BACKS OF BIG FISH: PERFORMANCE AND TALK BY SPOKEN WORD POET CHRIS WHITE Join spoken-word poet and emerging artist Chris White on this strange, soggy voyage into the heart of The Miclan Whale. Part talk and part performance, expect salacious cetaceans, live music, silly spoken-word and at this live-streamed event from Exeter Custom House. 6.30pm-8pm, live streamed on Crowdcast; www.exetercustomhouse.org.uk

25 March

Q&A WITH FELICITY ASTON MBE, BRITISH POLAR EXPLORER In 2012 British polar explorer Felicity Aston became the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone. Join her for this talk and Q&A as she shares her experiences on this landmark expedition and other ‘firsts’. 7-8.30pm, RAMM, online event; www.rammuseum.org.uk

31 March

‘TELLING OUR STORIES LIVE’ WITH TOLU AGBELUSI Nigerian British poet, playwright, educator and human rights lawyer, Tolu Agbelusi is the writerin-residence at Quay Words in March. Tolu will be introducing new voices from Exeter and emerging writers will read from their work, exploring the stories of Exeter’s

14 April

15 April

FINDING THE THREAD Woollen cloth was Exeter’s principal export for more than five centuries; join Historian Todd Gray for an illustrated lecture revealing the economic vitality of an industry on which the city’s economy was built. 1.30 - 2.30pm, RAMM, online event; www.rammuseum.org.uk

WHAT’S ON using a QR code when you get to the garden. Families will receive a Chocolate & Love goody bag on completion of the trail. RHS Rosemoor, Torrington; www.rhs.org.uk

31 March onwards

above: Tolu Agbelusi will be talking at Quay Words; below: October Blues by Ken Cosgrove at the South West Academy Spring Exhibiton

30 April

READING BY QUAY WORDS SPRING 2021 WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE, MONIQUE ROFFEY Monique Roffey is an awardwinning, Trinidadian born British writer of novels, essays, literary journalism. Her most recent novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2020. Monique is the writer-inresidence this April and this event will see her reading exerts from her award-winning book. 6.30pm-8pm, doors open at 6pm; www.exetercustomhouse.org.uk

CANONTEIGN FALLS The gardens will be open for the Easter holidays with fun Easter trails, prizes and a fancy dress competition. The snack bar and cafe will be open for takeaway refreshments. Canonteign Falls, Christow; www.canonteignfalls.co.uk

15 April

DAVID WALLIAMS BILLIONAIRE BOY: LIVE ON STAGE The bestselling children’s author David Walliams’ classic tale tells the story of Joe Spud, the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, two crocodiles as pets but not a single friend. Life becomes a rollercoaster for Joe as he tries to find out what money can’t buy. Watch this stage production with from the comfort of your car. 2pm and 5pm; Exeter Racecourse, Kennford, Exeter; www.carparkparty.com n

FAMILY FUN 29 March – 18 April

EASTER FAMILY TRAIL AT RHS ROSEMOOR A chance for families to have fun together whilst exploring the gardens in all their spring glory and solving all the clues on the trail. The trail is available to download from the Rosemoor website or

COMING UP IN 2021… MOVIES UNDER THE STARS Belmont Park will host two nights of outdoor movie magic this summer. Family favourites The Greatest Showman will be screened on 19 June, and Grease will be screened on 20 June. Not been before? Pack your picnic, pick your cosiest blankets, and watch a classic movie under the sun and the stars. There’ll be an on-site bar and hot food and snacks available. We think this will be rather popular so get booking now; www.adventurecinema.co.uk

LIBRARY LIFE EMILY MACAULAY shares the latest from Exeter Library Exeter Library (and St Thomas, Pinhoe and Topsham libraries) are back. Although we’ve been offering lifeline services throughout this most recent lockdown from 12 April (presuming the Government’s “roadmap” progresses as anticipated) our doors will once again be open and you can browse the books, DVDs, and spoken word as well as access the computers (free of charge for library members) and our work spaces with free WiFi. We can’t wait to welcome you back. We will still have all our COVID-secure working practices in place including requiring two metres distancing between all staff and customers, regular hand sanitisation, reduced building capacity numbers and test and trace processes. Events in the library are still a little further away but we’re still offering live weekly Bounce and Rhyme and Storytimes on our Facebook page and our author events programme for the coming couple of months is busy! Do check out our events page on the website www.devonlibraries.org.uk/web/arena/ exeterlibrary or our social media for more information. And one other note, Exeter Library is a nominated Census Support Centre so if you, or someone you know, needs some help completing a census return online, please do contact us and we can book a 1:1 session for you. www.exeter.ac.uk

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We are an independent, caring, family run practice providing the highest standard of medical and surgical care with multiple specialists in house. Well equipped branches and state of the art hospital. We provide our own 24hr Emergency service. Surgeries available seven days a week.

Four Branches across the City of Exeter Heavitree 01392 250066 Alphington 01392 493999 St Thomas 01392 250000 Whipton 01392 465553




Some of our favourite pics of Exeter and the surrounding areas

Sidmouth by @survivingsixtyfive

Exeter Quay by @ryan_m_chubb

Exeter Cathedral by @jrwakefieldphotography

Exeter Quay from above by @rc_dronephotography

Princesshay by @sr_travelartist

Budleigh Salterton beach by @swiftj70

Princesshay at night by @zandiethorntonfilms

Duryard Valley Park by @wearetheunknown

Exeter Quay by @thomaskavmusic

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Sitting comfortably: Charlie and Malcolm at their bookshop, Bookbag

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WORD ON THE STREET All hail the new independent bookshop that’s taking Exeter by storm Images by Killa Framez


hen a new independent business opens in Exeter we always get excited, but a new bookshop has got us feeling particularly happy. We’re not the only ones, just take a look at the chat on Bookbag’s Instagram account. And considering the doors aren’t even open at the moment, because of lockdown, owners Charlie and Malcolm Richards have certainly settled into the Exeter scene pretty quickly. They’ve launched their own bookclub online, are delivering books, offering a click and collect service, have made firm friends with their neighbours in McCoy’s Arcade and are plotting big events left, right and centre. It can’t have been easy setting up shop in these times though? “It’s an odd time to start a business and make solid plans because everything is so uncertain,” says Malcolm. “Actually, in the end it all came together quite fast – after a tough 2020, like many others, we felt like a change. “We opened quietly in midDecember, as we were determined to open before Christmas. “In the space of three weeks, we painted, ordered books, borrowed a card reader from our neighbours (shout out to Sacred Grounds) and welcomed our first customer.” “We were very glad we opened in December before having to close again for lockdown – bookshops aren’t the same without people in them,” adds Charlie. “We’ve been inspired by watching how other indie businesses responded to the last year – keeping flexible and adapting where they can. Opening a business now actually feels like a positive, hopeful thing to do.” So, what can we expect? Well, Bookbag sells a range of fiction and non-fiction writing, books and stories with a local-global feel, explains Charlie.

“Opening a business now feels like a positive, hopeful thing to do”

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INDEPENDENT SHOPS “We have sections with books on race, feminism and nature writing. We have an art books section, and books for children and young adults. “We are also really excited about growing our collection of indie publishers and zines. We hope you’ll find much loved contemporary classics alongside more unexpected books. We’re not a huge space, so books are carefully chosen, and we can order in any other books people may want that aren’t on the shelves.” For this couple, the dream of running a bookshop has been in the pipeline for some time. “Since we met we’ve talked on and off for years about what it might be like to run a bookshop – our shelves are heavy with books at home – what a shop might look like and what the music soundtrack would be!” says Charlie. The couple relocated to mid Devon from London almost five years ago. “My family on my mum’s side live, work and farm across Devon so we’ve always had a connection with Exeter,” says Charlie. “When we started a family of our own the lure of green spaces and beaches brought us here.” It’s a perfect partnership as Charlie and Malcolm both bring their own area of expertise into the mix. Charlie’s background is in marketing for and writing about the creative industries, working within music venues and for community arts projects, and Malcolm is a former teacher and now works at the University of Exeter. “He writes about language and literacy in education, and has often spoken about the impact of books and bookshops (magical, inspirational) on his life!” adds Charlie. Add to the mix their two daughters – who help them choose books – and you’ve got a proper family business. Charlie and Malcolm are keen to point out how much the community has supported their new business too. “Our team is testament, especially in these times, to the power of community and collaboration,” says Malcolm. “In a short space of time, we’ve made so many positive connections. For example, artist Emily Botterill who hand painted our shop signage. “We’ve found the business owners of McCoy’s Arcade, Fore Street and the wider Exeter business community hugely welcoming and helpful.” “And our location – sharing space with a café, specialist tea seller and vintage typewriter shop amongst others – well, there’s no better space for an independent bookshop is there?” And it’s clear the couple thought this spot in Exeter could do with a bookshop. “In such a creative, vibrant and beautiful area with so many fantastic indie shops and cultural organisations, we always wondered why there wasn’t an independent bookshop,” says Charlie. “We believe independent bookshops add cultural value to their communities, each offering a carefully chosen and unique range of books. It very much felt like it was missing. It’s great to be part of a small movement of new bookshops that opened all over the UK in 2020.” While selling books will be the nub of their business, the couple are keen to put on music, art, literary and community events in their shop, (with every event being accessible, open to all and available digitally). Collaborations with Africa Writes Exeter and UNESCO City of Literature are also in the pipeline. “We firmly believe in the power of books to positively impact lives,” says Malcolm. “Whether enjoying the pure escapism of great stories, or reading to better understand the world around us, books help us empathise, learn and grow.” n

“It’s great to be part of a small movement”

Bookbag, 7-10 McCoy’s Arcade; www.bookbag.shop; check out their book club at The Bookbag Bookgroup: Instagram@bookbag.shop

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Books, books and more books as far as the eye can see

QUICK-FIRE BOOKIE QUESTIONS What new-ish releases would you recommend we read? Charlie: I recently read a proof copy of novel Permafrost by Catalan poet Eva Baltasar, a book which became popular by word of mouth in Spain. Sally Rooney (Normal People) has a book coming out later this year which is highly exciting, as does Mieko Kawakami (Breasts and Eggs). Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden and Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro are also highly recommended. Malcolm: Jeffrey Boakye is going to drop Musical Truth: A Musical History of Black Britain in 25 Songs, which is going to be ... well vibes. What writer should we be taking notice of? Charlie: People are rediscovering American science fiction author Octavia E Butler (1947– 2006). We recommend reading from across Butler’s body of work, from standalone novel Kindred (1979) and the Parable series (1993 – 1998). What’s a book that makes you laugh? Charlie: Reading the 13 -Storey Treehouse with my seven year old! What’s the book that makes you cry? Charlie: Most of them. I’m terrible. I cry reading picture books. Lastly, any guilty pleasures? Charlie: When I was a teenager my nan had every Agatha Christie going. I binged. Malcolm: I want to read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity again soon! It is one of the few books (another is Mo’ Meta Blues by Questlove) that can make me remember what it was like to actually make a mixtape.


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MELLOW YELLOW After a winter that has, quite frankly, totally outstayed its welcome and pushed our hospitality to the limit, we are literally, metaphorically, and in any old way we can, basking in the warm glow of spring. This angora blend jumper in daffodil yellow is exactly what we want to slip into when we go dancing in the fresh air. Bellerose Dator Knit Sweater, £165, Lorna Ruby, 17 Catherine Street, Exeter; www.lornaruby.com

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RABBIT PRINT, SIGNED AND MOUNTED, £15 Exmouth artist Anna Fitzgerald paints animals full of colour and happiness and this golden rabbit is no exception. Brighten up your walls with this lovely creature. Anna Fitzgerald Art; annafitzgeraldart; www.etsy.com


Easter is the perfect excuse to take a moment and appreciate the gorgeousness of the bunny rabbit. Exeter’s indies have a superb selection of the fluffy variety, all available to purchase now. So, hop to it!

MAILEG MELAMINE BUNNY GREEN BOWL, £7 You’ll be wolfing down your cereal to get your view of this lovely gardening guru. Nest Living, 60 Fore Street, Topsham, Devon; www.nestliving.net

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MEN’S BAMBOO SOCKS, £7.50 Bunny rabbits racing around on bicycles? Socks to be proud of. Boko, 3 High Street, Crediton; www.bokaonline.co.uk

LOVE (BOARD BOOK), BY EMMA DODD, £6.99 Exploring the loving relationship between animal parents and their babies, this beautifully designed book is a bedtime favourite. Liz Nojan Bookshop, 26 Gold Street, Tiverton, Devon; www.liznojanbooks.co.uk

SUPER CUTE RABBIT BACKPACK, £29.95 Practical and soft, this is the perfect solution to take all your treasures with you. It’s also machine washable should the bunny get a wee bit grubby. Sashay through Exeter and watch the looks of envy come your way. Leaf Street, 53 Magdalen Road, Exeter; www.leafstreet.co.uk


FELT RABBIT ON A SWING DECORATION, £9.95 This hand crafted felt rabbit on a swing is made from super soft felt and a soft twig branch. This little dude will look a treat in any children’s bedroom. Hyde and Seek, Unit 1, Harelquins, 1 Paul Street, Exeter; www.hydeseek.co.uk

PETER RABBIT MUG, £8 Celebrity of the bunny world Peter Rabbit and his stylish blue jacket grace the cover of this pretty little mug. St Bridget Garden Centre, Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter; www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk CABBAGE PATCH RABBIT 2 PRINT, £27.50 Printed straight onto the pages of genuine antique dictionaries from the 1800s, this whimsical illustration from artist Kelly StevensMcLaughlan is sure to put a smile on your face. Insideout, 1 Bampfylde Lane, Princesshay, Exeter; www.insideouthome.co.uk

ENAMEL RABBIT BANGLE, £24 These gentle and countryside rabbits sit on rose gold-plated brass for a delicate, dainty look. Frocks in Swing Time, 151-152 Fore Street, Exeter; www.frocksinswingtime.com

MILK CHOCOLATE BUNNY IN A BOX, £8.50 This arty, angular Easter bunny is handmade using 45 per cent Venezuela origin milk chocolate and is hand-decorated with natural colours mixed with cocoa butter for a wonderfully colourful speckled and splashed look. Chococo Exeter, 22 Gandy Street, Exeter; www.chococo.co.uk

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SWEET TALK It took a national lockdown for Ashley Beth Donoghue to start her own business. Designing and baking impossibly pretty and Instagramfriendly cakes is no small feat though...

Beth’s tasty works of art

“Baking past midnight isn’t unusual”

FOOD & DRINK Tell us a bit about the journey leading up to starting Little Pineapple Bakery...

I’ve always been a chef since leaving school, had a sweet tooth and enjoyed making pretty sweet things the most. I’ve wanted to open a bakery or start one from home for years but always found a reason not to and thought I probably wouldn’t be able to... but eventually, when given the time to think in the first lockdown, thought if other people could do it, why couldn’t I! What’s your baking background?

I was pastry chef at The Magdalen Chapter for four years where I prepared the afternoon teas, macarons, desserts and fresh bread. I also worked at The Conservatory, Rendezvous and am now head chef at The Fat Pig. I’ve always liked baking a cake for friends and family when it’s a birthday. I know I am a hard worker and will put in the time and effort needed to progress my business. What are the main challenges of what you do?

Working to a deadline. Baking past midnight isn’t unusual; there’s always something to do. I’m also very shy and am used to being hidden away in a kitchen with front of house staff doing the talking, so I have to make myself be brave and chat to customers. And the rewards?

When you make someone happy with something you’ve created. Putting in the hard work when it’s your own business is worth it. You get out what you put in.

Your designs are very intricate. How long does it take to make one of your cakes?

It does require a lot of concentration to do very intricate designs, most cakes I spend three to five hours on, this is excluding taking bookings, cleaning up after, taking photos etc. What are your most in demand cakes?

My most popular flavours are chocolate fudge which is rich and moist, and vanilla with white chocolate ganache and fresh passion fruit curd. However, people often want variations of flavours which is fine. I’m open to most requests. I am constantly updating the flavours on the website to mix it up. Your cakes are bespoke. How much involvement does the customer have in how the cake will look?

The customer has as much or as little involvement as they wish in the design, often they will just leave it up to me but perhaps put in a few requests like a colour theme or some macarons on top. For anyone who wanted to have a stab at making a pretty cake like yours what advice would you give them?

My advice is just practice and practice. Find your own style and do as many trial and error tests as you can at home. And keep going. Don’t compare yourself to others. Someone is having a bad day. What cake will make them feel a bit better?

Chocolate fudge cake of course! ■

Beth delivers her cakes locally in Exeter and they are also ready for collection; www.littlepineapplebakery.co.uk

Do you find baking therapeutic?

I don’t know if I find it therapeutic! Stressful at times, but I do like working under pressure, and happily spend whole days in the kitchen with the radio. Baking has become very popular during lockdown. What do you think the appeal is?

I think baking has become trendy over the last few years, partly because of Instagram. People want to share what they’re doing and there are so many recipes out there now.

CLOCKWISE: Cakes, cupcakes and macarons

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A taste of springtime. This tartlet recipe is full of Italian flavours which go so well with the vibrant flavour of Quicke’s Goat’s Milk Cheese. Perfect for a light and tasty lunch as we head into springtime and warmer weather. Quicke’s Farm Shop, Home Farm Cottage, Newton St Cyres, Exeter; www.quickes.co.uk Preparation time 40 minutes Cooking time 10 minutes

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Ingredients 250g shortcrust pastry 4 or 5 juicy tomatoes Olive oil A sprig of fresh rosemary A generous handful of Quicke’s Goat’s Milk Cheese 1 tsp pesto (of choice) Salt and pepper Method • Cut the tomatoes into 4 or 6 wedges depending on their size. Mix them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprig of rosemary. Roast at 180 C for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are softened.

• Roll the pastry out and cut into rounds to fit 15 cm tart cases. Place into two greased tart cases. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and cook for about 15 minutes at about 180 C. • Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans to allow the pastry to dry out little. • Once the pastry is dry, spread a little pesto on the inside of each base and line with slices of goats cheese. Place 3 or 4 segments of tomatoes covering all the cheese. • Bake for 7-8 minutes at 180 C until the tomatoes begin to brown. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes, then serve with some salad leaves.


HERBY LAMB ROAST FROM DART’S FARM Herby crown roast lamb with seasonal spring vegetables in a mint butter. Darts Farm; Dart Farm Village, Topsham, Clyst St George, Exeter; www.dartsfarm.co.uk Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 2 hours and 25 minutes INGREDIENTS • Lean leg of lamb or crown roast joint

• Large handful of freshly chopped mint, parsley, thyme and rosemary • 2 tbsp mint jelly • Salt and freshly milled black pepper • Selection of seasonal veggies such as asparagus, peas and spring onions • 25g softened butter • 1 tbsp freshly chopped mint METHOD • Preheat oven to gas mark 4-5, 180-190ºC, 350-375ºF. • Weigh the joint and calculate cooking time.

Make several deep and wide slits in the joint between the bones season and stuff with herbs. • Place onto a rack in a roasting tin and open roast in a preheated oven for the calculated cooking time. 10 minutes before the end of cooking remove the joint and brush with the mint jelly and return to the oven. • Lightly steam a selection of seasonal spring vegetables. Mix together the butter with the mint. Once the vegetables are cooked, transfer to a hot serving dish and melt over the mint butter. • Serve the lamb with the minty spring vegetables and boiled new potatoes.

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FOOD & DRINK LEMON TART WITH VANILLA BEAN MARSHMALLOW AND STRAWBERRY SORBET FROM POSH NOSH The below recipe will make 6 tarts This is a perfect, light dessert for a spring or summer dinner party. Bon appetit! Posh Nosh catering company; www.posh-nosh.co.uk

125g chilled unsalted butter 6 egg yolks 3 whole eggs

You will need 200g of strawberry sorbet and a punnet of fresh raspberries for garnish. Slices of dried orange are optional.

Method • Whisk the eggs, yolks and caster sugar together until fully mixed. • Boil the lemon juice. • Once boiled, whisk lemon juice into the egg mixture and return it all to the saucepan. • Heat the mixture up slowly until it starts to thicken. • Remove from the heat and whisk in the chilled butter until fully incorporated. • Remove from the pan as soon as fully mixed and pour on top of the biscuit bases. • Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.

Ingredients Lemon tart base ingredients 225g Digestive biscuits 60g melted unsalted butter Six tart moulds or 6 inch cake tins Method • Crush your biscuits (ideally in a food processor) but if you don’t have one place biscuits into a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. • Heat the butter up in a pan until fully melted. • Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together and whilst still warm place into your tart moulds or lined 6 inch cake tins. • Press down the base ensuring all sides are sealed and there are no gaps in the biscuit crumb base. • Refrigerate whilst you make the filling. Lemon tart filling ingredients 190g lemon juice 150g caster sugar

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Marshmallow topping ingredients 200g caster sugar 20g glucose 60g water 10g leaf gelatine 60g egg whites 3 tbsp cornflour 3 tbsp icing sugar Piping bag

Method • Soft whip your egg whites. • Boil together the caster sugar, glucose and water to 135 degrees centigrade then add the soaked leaf gelatine and stir until melted. • Pour the hot sugar mixture onto the whipped egg whites and continue to whisk until cold, while whisking add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla paste. • Separately, mix together the icing sugar and cornflour and dust this mix onto a baking tray (save a little back to dust on top of your marshmallow mixture). • Once the egg white mix is cold, pour it into a piping bag (cut the very tip of the piping bag off) and pipe the mixture onto the dusted baking tray into lines. • Dust the lines of mixture with the remaining icing sugar and cornflour. • Allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature before cutting marshmallows into 1cm pieces. When your tart is set, remove from the mould and place it just off centre on a dessert plate. Garnish the top of the tart with your marshmallow pieces and fresh raspberries. Lastly, place a small scoop of strawberry sorbet next to the tart (doing this last will prevent the sorbet from melting too quickly). Optional addition – place a thinly sliced piece of dried orange into the side of the tart, resting it partly on the sorbet. This will give your dish even more height on the plate and will certainly bring the wow factor!



Bespoke Cakes for all Occasions! Number Cakes, Macarons, Cupcakes, Treat Boxes, Brownies & More! 07306200267 • littlepineapplebakery52@gmail.com • littlepineapplebakery.co.uk


Open 8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am - 1pm Sat Also stockist for MIELE, BOSCH, HOTPOINT, LEC, ZANUSSI



The opening of Exeter’s state of the art leisure complex St Sidwell’s Point is approaching, and work is underway to complete the interiors in time for its launch in the summer. The development on Paris Street has now progressed significantly to allow the fit out internally to move forward; work on aspects such as the tiling of the swimming pool has started. The leisure centre will incorporate a range of facilities, including the following: • Swimming pool with eight lanes, a confidence pool and learner’s pool, both of which will have moveable floors. • Gym with over 100 stations, a designated free weights area plus group exercise zones – including an indoor cycling studio and two fitness studios. • Spa facilities and a health suite where treatments such as facials and massages will be available.

Designs for St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre

• Rooftop terrace, bar and café • Children’s soft play area. • 100 seat spectator seated area For more: www.exeter.gov.uk

OUR PICK OF LOCAL ONLINE CLASSES EXETER LEISURE APP: This app offers home workout programmes from local gym instructors, plus one-to-one fitness consultations and both live streamed and ‘on demand’ classes. You can access the latest news and offers from the local gyms and also book gym/swim/class sessions on it; App Store: Exeter Leisure MOVE FORWARD GYM: Accessible movements suitable for all, no kit needed. There are 45-minute workouts, six days a week: www.moveforwardgym.com

Move Forward Gym are doing classes

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JAZZERCISE: Blending dance with pilates, yoga, kickboxing and strength training, one 55-minute Jazzercise session will give you a whopping undeniable mood boost; www.jazzerciseexeter.com

WELLBEING WELLBEING TREATS FROM THE LOCAL INDIES TANAKA SOAP – THE SUPERFOODS BAR, £10.50 This soap contains avocado, spirulina, olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter to condition and moisturise the skin, promoting cell regeneration for healthier skin. Sancho’s, 117 Fore Street, Exeter; www.sanchosshop.com

Owners: Sophie Withers and Luke Fleming

100 PER CENT NATURAL SWEET ALMOND OIL, £0.79 FOR 100ML The food grade sweet almond oil is super lightweight, fast absorbing and ultra moisturising. The ultimate all round oil that can be used for massage, aromatherapy, skincare, hair conditioning, face cleaning and in your cooking. The team at my My Zer0 have a DIY beauty tip, too: apply almond oil to your makeup wand and apply to your lashes and brows to make them luscious, healthy and shiny. Zer0 Exeter,127 Fore Street, Exeter; www.myzerolifestyle.co.uk

LOOK HEAR! Exeter has welcomed a new business to its High Street. Acuitis Opticians and Hearing Care arrived in early December of last year. Heading up the business are Luke Fleming and Sophie Withers, who offer designer eye wear as well as offering advanced eye testing. So, what can we expect to see in the store? “While the world has been a bit gloomy, we have had lots of requests for something a bit brighter in terms of eyewear,” says Luke. “We believe glasses should not only be a necessity but a fashion accessory and our team like to have fun with our frames and

stylings in store. “The collection ranges from traditional styles to those in bright colours and less conventional materials. Our creative team take influences from pop culture across the decades, creating limited edition styles inspired by iconic spectacle wearers such as John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe. “With the expansion of the city and introduction of new names across the high street, now seemed like a great time to bring the Acuitis brand to Exeter,” adds Luke. For more: Acuitis Opticians & Hearing Care, 193 High Street, Exeter; www.acuitis.uk

CHOCOLATE & LOVE ORGANIC MINT CHOCOLATE BAR Made with ethically sourced cocoa from co-operatives in Peru and the Dominican Republic, this vegan chocolate is free from palm oil, and made with natural peppermint oil for a fresh yet mild flavour, along with peppermint pieces for a crunchy texture. The Real Food Store, 3 The Crescent, Exeter Central Station, Queen Street, Exeter; www.realfoodexeter.co.uk

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IT’S A KIND OF FABRIC On Thursday 18 February of this year, millions of people around the world held their breath waiting for news of a successful landing on planet Mars for NASA’S Perseverance rover. None more so than the Tiverton-based team at Heathcoat Fabrics who made the all-important fabric for the parachute. Peter Hill, director at Heathcoat Fabrics Limited talks us through the nail-biting mission...

Rapid inflation testing at NASA Ames Facility

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or space enthusiasts everywhere, the Mars 2020 mission is a biggie. The aim is to discover more about the geology of Mars and specifically to seek out signs of ancient life. This mission carries more cameras than any interplanetary mission in history, with 19 cameras on the rover itself and four on other parts of the spacecraft involved in entry, descent, and landing. This means we, the spectator, get to ‘go on the ride’, watching high definition videos and images every step of the way. One such momentous step was the landing, of course. Because of the distance between Earth and Mars, there is an 11-minute delay in any communications. As a result, Perseverance rover hit the planet’s atmosphere without any outside guidance, relying only on autonomous systems. And because the planet’s atmosphere is incredibly thin, it does not offer much resistance, barely slowing down the rover travelling within its protective shell. Therefore, a world-record breaking parachute was needed to ‘slam on the brakes’, as it were, and ensure a soft landing. Step forward Heathcoat Fabrics, who designed and made the fabric for the parachute. So, how did the Tiverton-based textile manufacturers become a supplier to the world’s biggest space agency? And how on earth do you go about making fabric for a parachute that’s headed to Mars? We caught up with director Peter Hill to find out...

Congratulations on your recent success, Peter! The team at Heathcoat Fabrics must be delighted…

Yes, we are all thrilled that the mission was successful and our parachute fabric performed its part perfectly. There is an immense sense of satisfaction that we did our job well. Tell us about the moment you watched the Mars landing on TV...

“When Perseverance rover landed, I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy. It was a lot more emotional than I expected”


Unfortunately, due to Covid we couldn’t get together as a team to watch the landing but we were all keeping in touch by text, phone and email including to the US. A lot of the chat during the evening was about the next NASA projects which kept us all calm until the final 7 minutes of terror between entry into the atmosphere and the actual landing. In fact, until the last seven minutes I was feeling very cool and confident due to the rigorous testing that all of the partners in the mission, especially NASA, had carried out. However, I still ended up on my knees in front of the TV hardly able to look. When the parachute deployed, I relaxed a little and then when Perseverance rover landed, I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy. It was a lot more emotional than I expected. I know my colleagues felt the same. At the time I wasn’t that concerned about the rest of the world watching,

Perseverance’s first fullcolour look at Mars

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clockwise: Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton; Peter Hill, director at Heathcoat Fabrics; a team member setting up one of the high speed looms

it was more about the team of people that had worked on the project at Heathcoat, Airborne Systems and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory over the past five years finally seeing their efforts rewarded with a successful parachute deployment and landing. It was only afterwards when the messages of congratulation started to come in that the level of worldwide attention hit home.

Most of the team that designed and made the fabric were educated at Tiverton High School which shows what can be achieved by local people. I hope that our participation in the Mars2020 mission will inspire local children to study science and technology subjects and go on to higher education. Also, we expect the success of this mission to help our recruitment locally and nationally.

Have you and the team gained celebrity status in Tiverton and worldwide?

Tell us a bit about the process of making the fabric…

The amount of media interest was amazing and far above what we expected. BBC Spotlight first showcased the project in 2017 when we were designing and making the fabric for MARS2020. Eleanor Newsome was interviewed at that time as she was the textile engineer on the project before being promoted into a new role working on other fabric types. For the landing we expected local interest and BBC Spotlight contacted us for an interview a week before the landing. However, on the day of the landing there was an explosion of media interest and as the person leading the project from the start it fell to me to handle the media. I ended up doing eight TV, one radio and multiple newspaper interviews. I am still doing a few interviews for various management and technical textile organisations that are going out as podcasts and on YouTube. The Science Museum has asked Heathcoat to participate in a Mars exhibition that they intend to put on after the pandemic and I have also been invited to give a talk at the City of London Livery Club in October. The reach of the media interest has been truly global and, as a result, we have received congratulations from a large number of private individuals, customers, suppliers, old friends and former employees from as far away as New Zealand, India and the US. Did you feel assured everything would go to plan?

Up until the final seven minutes I felt supremely confident in success as we knew that our fabric had met all of NASA’s requirements. However, when NASA representatives started talking about how much they could learn even if the landing went wrong on the live broadcast as the descent started, I began to feel more tense. That certainly added to the sense of relief when the rover landed safely. Has being in the spotlight brought any special benefits?

The media recognition has created a sense of pride in the company and the town and I expect longer term benefits for both the company and Tiverton in general. Several customers have said that they feel proud to have us as a supplier which can only be good for business.

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From the start of the project NASA made us aware of the unique challenges of landing an object as big as the Perseverance Rover successfully on Mars. We had to develop a new type of parachute fabric with high strength to weight ratio, high resistance to heat treatment and a tightly defined air permeability window. The experience we gained from our high-performance canopy fabric project gave us the confidence to take on this project. After a lot of hard work, we met and exceeded NASA’s performance requirements. You were making the parachute fabric to endure in space. So how do you test that here on earth?

We carried out extensive laboratory tests at Heathcoat including tensile strength before and after heat ageing, tear strength, air permeability, mass and thickness.

THE MISSION: FACTS AND FIGURES • Perseverance was sent to Mars with lots of cameras, seven of which were dedicated to recording the landing. The aim of the mission is to to seek signs of past microbial life on the Red planet. • Seventh-grader Alex Mather from Springfield, Virginia chose the name ‘Perseverance’. He submitted the winning essay, which was selected by NASA from a field of over 28,000 entries. • The mission launched on 30 July (from Florida) and launded 18 February 2021 (in Mars). • 293 million miles: Spacecraft’s distance to travel, Earth to Mars • One Mars year (about 687 Earth days): Planned mission duration.

SPACE NASA then carried out wind tunnel tests, mortar deployments and ASPIRE rocket launched test deployments in high in earth’s atmosphere to replicate conditions close to those found on Mars. You were working with NASA but you’re based in Tiverton. How does that business relationship work?

We worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory based at Caltech in Pasadena. We visited them twice and they also visited Tiverton to approve us as a supplier to NASA. We also had many conference calls. Tell us a bit about how you hooked up with NASA…

We joined the Parachute Industry Association and started to meet people involved in the parachute industry globally rather than simply focusing on the UK market. This required investment in visiting potential export customers, participating in trade shows, reading the relevant literature and a Heathcoat Parachute Team skydive raising over £8,000 for charities including the Devon Air Ambulance and Help for Heroes. In 2015 we launched our new range of Superlight canopy fabrics at the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Daytona beach which was held at the same time as the Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Conference. We also visited the major US parachute manufacturers during the same trip. The fabrics were a big hit with many people stating that these fabrics had been available in the past for projects already in motion. Several Jet Propulsion Lab / NASA employees visited our stand and we built up a good relationship. NASA discovered that none of the parachute fabrics available in the US could meet their needs and that the US manufacturers did not have the required design capability or technical know-how.

After researching available options NASA discovered that all roads of enquiry lead to Heathcoat Fabrics and contacted us. It was a great experience working with NASA. They were very quick to understand the challenges with producing high performance textiles and together we were able to explore all options. You were picked out of all the fabric manufacturers to make this world-class parachute fabric. That must feel pretty good…

Yes, it does feel great and is a reward for the 16 years of work we have done since the start of the high-performance parachute canopy fabric project which itself built on the generations that worked on parachute fabrics before us at Heathcoat Fabrics.

“Most of the team that designed and made the fabric were educated at Tiverton High School”

What are the advantages of being in Tiverton?

The business is well established in Tiverton and has built a loyal workforce with in-depth technical textile expertise that would be impossible to find anywhere is in the world. I am a Tivertonian, born in Tiverton hospital and educated at Tiverton High School so I am biased. I went to Birmingham University, worked for a year in Long Eaton and have travelled the world extensively on business but I always celebrate every time I pass the Devon sign in to the county on my way home down the M5. We are so fortunate in Devon with the fantastic countryside, two moors, two coastlines and some of the best food and drink in the UK including of course our fantastic cider. Always remembering ‘cream on first’! The benefits of living in Devon have become clearer during the pandemic.

Tell us a bit about the team and what kind of skills they have…

Most of our employees are local but we also have many employees from the


And in the US: Cheers for a successful Mars landing

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RIGHT: Extreme testing in Earth’s upper atmosphere from an ASPIRE_rocket; below: Heathcoat Fabrics charity skydive team

rest of the UK and EU plus people from India, Africa and South America. This reflects the global nature of our business as the majority of our sales are in to the export markets of the EU, the Americas, the middle East, Africa and increasingly Asia. Due to our diverse pool of employees, we can usually speak to our customers in their native languages if required. To make our high-tech fabric we need people with all kinds of skills including graduates with textile, chemistry, language and most STEM degrees (some with PhDs) engineers, highly trained technicians, multilingual sales staff and people with hands-on machine operation skills. Tiverton High School is probably the best represented educational establishment amongst our workforce.

parachutes, geotextiles, green energy, food production and warehouses plus fabric used in protective clothing for our armed forces, police and firefighters. We still make bridal veiling and other nets but even in these markets our fabrics are high tech as they are flame retardant unlike cheap versions from overseas that are unbelievably still allowed to be used in children’s costumes and bridesmaids’ dresses etc.

“NASA discovered that none of the parachute fabrics available in the US could meet their needs”

You make a whole host of other fabric-specific products...

Mainly high-performance technical fabrics for aerospace, automotive,

LOOKING BACK… • Heathcoat Fabrics was started by John Heathcoat, who invented the bobbinet lace making machine and started the business in the midlands in 1808. • The story goes that John Heathcoat moved to Tiverton in 1816 with many of his employees when former luddites in the pay of his competitors smashed up his equipment in Loughborough. • The site in Tiverton used to be the home of a producer of woven fabrics for the military that suffered from a decline in demand following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.

How has Covid changed what you do?

The pandemic has had a big impact on the way we work and the products we supply. We have implemented social distancing, one way flow systems, mask wearing, working from home, Teams calls instead of meetings and have funded our own Covid test programme for employees and contractors. We made and supplied masks to care homes free of charge during the PPE crisis at the start of the pandemic. We also supplied fabrics for scrubs free of charge. We are now working to produce re-usable PPE for the NHS.

What’s in the pipeline for 2021?

We have an exceptionally busy development programme and a strong order book for 2021 including supplying the fabric for the ExoMars mission, two major development projects for NASA, protective clothing developments for our armed forces to reduce the risks from chemical weapons and amputation due to infections caused by fragments from IEDs etc. We will be installing over £4 million worth of new equipment during spring and summer of 2021 to expand our capacity and range of products and are recruiting more staff at the moment. It is going to be an exceptionally busy year at Heathcoat Fabrics. n For more: www.heathcoatfabrics.co.uk

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Reach the best in the west Affluent, active and influential and just a call away...

Contact Paula 07563 529772


AND THE AWARDS GO TO… Exeter College students were awarded and recognised for their hard work, passion and commitment at the first ‘virtual’ Exeter College Awards recently. Awards were handed out to twenty inspirational learners, with categories spreading across the college’s broad range of subjects and levels, including apprentice of the year, adult learner of the year, vocational awards and academic awards. “It was great to see the fantastic achievements of our truly exceptional students with the continuation of the landmark Exeter College Awards,” says John Laramy CBE, Exeter College principal and chief executive. “The Awards are a hallmark event in our calendar, and it was of upmost importance to us to continue to make time to celebrate our students virtually, even with so much going on in the world right now. I’m always in absolute awe of the achievements of our learners, and this year was no different as they’ve all continued to excel in their chosen fields, despite the challenges of the past year. “As we look ahead to June 2021, we’ll be opening our new Digital and Data Centre as part of the South West Institute of Technology which will help put Exeter on the map for higher technical skills.” For more: www.exe-coll.ac.uk

All smiles at Colyton Grammar School

TOP STATUS Colyton Grammar School has been awarded the status of Teaching School Hub by the Department for Education. Colyton is one of 87 schools nationally that have achieved this award, which is granted to schools with a track record of exceptional pupil performance and leading training in other schools. The school will receive funding (£170,000 a year for three years) to become a centre of excellence for teacher training and development, covering 194 schools in the four Devon districts of East Devon, Mid-Devon, North Devon and Torridge. The funding will be used to deliver national and local training programmes. In doing this, Colyton will draw on its strengths in curriculum, leadership and STEM, as well as a partnership of schools, trusts and training providers, including Kingsbridge Community College which leads the adjacent hub area. “Colyton’s new status as a Teaching School Hub puts us at the heart of supporting all schools and all pupils in Devon,” says headteacher Tim Harris. “This now gives us the opportunity to share our successes on a wider scale, support improvement for all pupils, and continue to develop as a school alongside the partners we work with.“

For more: www.colytongrammar.com

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The University of Exeter collaborates with Exmouth Community College

PERFECT PARTNERSHIP The Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC), an internationally recognised paediatric research department at the University of Exeter, is celebrating seven years of collaboration with Exmouth Community College. The partnership has enabled pupils to be engaged in a wide variety of research, meaning they learn first-hand about healthy living, while the research team at CHERC have been able to better understand how physical activity and diet can influence

Breakfast is served


Exeter Cathedral School and their catering partners, Thomas Franks, are providing breakfast to their neighbour and local charity, St Petrock’s. Supporting the Thomas Franks Feeding Communities initiative, which aims to help eradicate food poverty, chef Adrian Kirby and the team at ECS have volunteered to provide 100 breakfasts a week. “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Thomas Franks to support our neighbours and the local community,” says Mr James Featherstone, headmaster of ECS. We’re known as a school where ‘people matter’, and that extends of course beyond the school walls. “We encourage our children to be aware of, and grateful for, those around them – and joining forces with Thomas Franks Ltd to support the most vulnerable in our community at this cold time of year is entirely the right thing to do.” For more: www.exetercathedralschool.co.uk

health in youth. During the seven-year relationship, CHERC have furthered scientific understanding across a range of important areas by publishing 21 experimental research papers in peer-reviewed journals. The research has included studies which are trying to understand what type of exercise is best for metabolic, cardiovascular and bone health. “As a college we are extremely lucky to be part of cutting edge science, inspiring our young people and also giving opportunities for students to use laboratory equipment,” says Mrs Rachel Wright, head of Post 16 at Exmouth Community College. For more: www.exeter.ac.uk




Designs for the new nursery at Trinity School; The swimming pool facilities will be getting an update

Trinity School in Teignmouth is building on its current facilities with plans to construct a new nursery which will launch in the summer term and be for children aged between 2-4 years old. The building will have large bi-fold doors opening onto expansive decking, with clean Scandinavian style space, although we suspect it will be the slide that exits the top floor that the children enjoy the most. The development is designed to give children an outdoor learning space, and to inspire confidence at the start of their educational journey whilst still having fun. Other facility updates include that of the on-site swimming pool which will be getting new changing rooms and a fitness suite. This will benefit the students but also the local community – particularly Dawlish Swimming Club who have recently made Trinity School their base. Elsewhere, Trinity has recently launched a limited number of boarding bursaries for UK-based students resulting in up to 50 per cent off the fees. For more: www.trinityschool.co.uk

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Pension schemes explained


Steve Woodham of OLD MILL tells us what to consider when buying commercial property through your pension scheme

f your firm already owns a commercial property, selling it to your pension scheme could provide that cash injection you’re looking for. You can purchase a commercial property either with a SSAS (Small Self-Administered Scheme) or a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension). The pension can either buy the property outright, or if funds are insufficient, can take out a mortgage to facilitate the purchase and let the property back to the business. The rent will help pay off the mortgage, or if the pension scheme bought the property outright, will provide further cash and growth to the pension fund. Because it’s a pension, and therefore taxefficient, the rent paid into the fund is not subject to tax and the business won’t pay tax

on any increase in the value of the property either. But, if you are letting the property back to your own business, the rent is still a taxdeductible expense. Even if the price of the property you want to buy is higher than the value of the pension, it may still be possible to purchase it with the pension, either by getting a mortgage, combining pension schemes together, contributing to the pension so it has the funds, or a combination of all three. A business buying its own premises obviously offers a way of relieving cash flow issues, but SIPPs and SSAS can buy any commercial property, it doesn’t have to belong to your own business; whichever business uses the property pays rent into the pension. Buying property with a pension has its

advantages and it’s a complex area and there are risks to consider. For example, if the only asset in the pension is a property, and you’re near retirement, it will be difficult to create liquidity to pay out an income or the tax-free lump sum, so it’s generally advisable to have a diversified portfolio. n

If you are considering buying a commercial property with your pension, you should seek financial advice. Contact Steve Woodham on 07825 620043 or email steve.woodham@om.uk

It’s the city’s business

EXETERWORKS CLOCKWISE: Tracy Andrews, Sharon Mitchell, Jo Holden, Sam Sunshine, Ingrid Rees; Sharon’s handcrafted soaps

Happy Birthday!

Soap Daze celebrates a decade in business this year. Owner Sharon Mitchell tells us about her journey, from working in a chemistry lab to making soap at the kitchen table – and finally getting her own shop premises on Fore Street last year I’ve always used natural beauty products, and been conscious of the impact the beauty industry has on ourselves and the planet.

I found soap fascinating as you start with two basic ingredients and end up with two different ingredients due to the chemistry involved. My background of working in a chemistry lab really helped to understand this! So in early 2010 I really didn’t know where my initial soapmaking would lead, but after giving away lots to family and friends I decided to have the products safety assessed so I could legally sell, and Soap Daze was born. Over the following five years, I went from making soap in our kitchen, wrapping and hand writing labels, to converting our garage to a workshop and getting my first employee. It felt

like such a big risk at the time, but my business was growing steadily and more people were recognising the benefits of natural skincare, the awareness of the environmental impact of plastics, and more people

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were looking for vegan products. I started to be more picky over which craft events I attended (I used to accept literally every invite) and I had a much clearer understanding of what Soap Daze was, as I have no business background. Also, I was approached by many more stockists due to the rise of the zero waste movement. At the beginning of 2020 came a make or break time. I’d employed more people by this

time, and my husband often came downstairs to find us all frantically wrapping soap at the kitchen table! I had actually reduced the number of shops I stocked, as I’d reached capacity in my home workshop, which made me a bit sad. So when a shop came up on Fore Street in the independent quarter I went for it! It was perfect, half workshop half retail. Just don’t mention the lockdown! Not the best time to rent a shop. Luckily our website and wholesale orders pulled us through this really expensive period.

The best advice I would give to anyone starting up a business is to be resilient, just keep going!

In the early days when I did a lot of markets, I might only sell one soap, it was so disheartening, people used to walk past my stall and say within earshot that bar soap was disgusting. It would have been easy to give up at the point, but what I’ve learned is, if you want to build a brand you have to keep coming back. Also, I would say to surround yourself with people who understand your business and brand, who are enthusiastic and pull in the same direction. The team and I will be going out for a celebration when we can, and we’re also planning

a party in the shop. It will be a dual shop launch / 10 year anniversary in one, with a VIP early entry! Goody bags, fizz, and canapes!

For more: Soap Daze, 126 Fore Street; www.soapdaze.com


JUST LAUNCHED... Solicitor Kate Torney

MOVERS, SHAKERS ETC The Family Law Company welcomes three new starters to its Exeter offices. Solicitor Hannah Duddridge and paralegal Victoria Power have joined the busy Children and Domestic Abuse Response team, whilst Solicitor Kate Torney joins the specialist Child Abduction team, which has seen increasing demand for complex cases. www.thefamilylawco.co.uk

A new company has been set up in Exeter to provide solutions for small to medium sized companies looking to grow in the South West. Tribus, which has been launched by recruitment and business experts Sarah Knight and David Chamberlain, will help companies with executive recruitment, people and culture development as well as organisational design and employer branding. “Having worked in and built my own businesses both locally and internationally, I saw a real opportunity to partner with local SME’s and share my experience and expertise,” says David.

“Instead of the traditional siloed approach to attraction, recruitment, retention and development we’ve created a connected, collaborative and practical service to help our clients realise their potential.” “I’ve spent over 20 years helping companies to create high performing teams but recruitment is only part of the puzzle – being able to identify and address what’s holding a team, leader or company back, and help them turn that around, is so rewarding,” adds Sarah. For more: www.tribuspeople.co.uk

Sarah Knight

Sidmouth’s longest established estate agency, Harrison-Lavers & Potbury’s is delighted to announce the expansion of its board of directors, with Tony Sutherland being appointed sales director. Tony has been at the firm for over 10 years. www.harrisonlavers.com

Exeter-based IMP Software is one of eight finalists in the running for the BETT Awards 2021 Leadership and Management Solutions category. The awards celebrate creativity and innovation throughout technology for education. The winners will be announced on 16 June. www.impsoftware.co.uk David Chamberlain


Virtual one hour sessions, all free to attend Search Exeter Living on LinkedIn for upcoming dates and registration If you would like to get involved, please email events@mediaclash.co.uk


Robert Chalk and the team are celebrating new clients

BUSINESS MATTERS DIARY From networking breakfasts to invaluable evening courses, make a note of the courses and classes that will help your business flourish EVERY FRIDAY MORNING (ONGOING) EXETER BUSINESS NETWORKING BRUNCH (ONLINE) This regular, and informal, networking meeting will provide information and discussion on new businesses, provide business advice and act as a support network. The meeting fee is £10 to pay on arrival. No fee to visit whilst on Zoom; www.eventbrite.co.uk

CHALK IT UP Exeter marketing agency Chalk + Ward are celebrating after winning several prestigious clients. Over the course of the past year the company, which has offices in Exeter and in London, has acquired a total of 23 new clients, most recently Exeter Cathedral, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. “We are delighted to be working with two of Exeter’s most iconic institutions and are heartened that during the toughest year imaginable, businesses and public organisations are looking

to the future,” says managing director of Chalk + Ward, Robert Chalk. Other wins include Suttons Seeds, The Wild Beer Co, Libraries Unlimited, the prestigious Marine Biological Association and Pan-European work for packaging giant, Zeus. “In a normal year, we would expect to win an average of six new clients, so this is exceptional, and we believe it’s a positive sign that the economy both locally and nationally, will start to bounce back once the worst of the pandemic is behind us.” For more: www.chalkward.com

SIGNED AND DELIVERED Due to the continued surge in online shopping across Exeter (notably in the premium food and drink sector), local delivery firm APC Exeter, has announced 57 per cent yearon-year growth, as well as reporting a staggering 192 per cent average growth among its top SME customers (all local businesses). One example of this is local business Sandford Orchards, who quickly adapted their product offering and business model through the pandemic, in response to consumer demand for quality food and drink. The Crediton-based cider business teamed up with Creedy Carver, another customer of APC Exeter, which specialises in duck, and developed a cider and duck meal kit deal that was promoted by Jamie Oliver. Within one week, business for Sandford Orchards increased by approximately 300 consignments a night and saw the business significantly multiply in scale – an overall year-on-year consignment growth of 610 per cent – resulting in APC Exeter having to send two vans a day to accommodate all of the collections. For more: www.apcexeter.com

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25 MARCH EXETER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY Join Exeter Chamber on the last Thursday of the month for a virtual meet the member event: an informal opportunity to connect with fellow members and virtually welcome some of the new members to the business community. There will also be updates on the Chamber’s current campaigns and planned activities this year. 4-5pm, online Zoom meeting; www.exeterchamber.co.uk

19 APRIL CRUMBS TAKEAWAY CONFERENCE There’s a new hospitality conference in April – and Exeter Living is part of it. Called the Crumbs Takeaway, this free event aims to provide practical advice for hospitality companies as they re-emerge to full trading, and to give inspiration along the way. There’s also a special Exeter Living section highlighting the good that food and drinks companies have done during the pandemic. “The Crumbs Takeaway runs on Monday 19 April during the morning,” says event producer Nell Robins, for organiser MediaClash. “It’ll be a chance for cafés, restaurants and bars in Exeter, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to come together for advice and to share stories, ahead of the return in the coming weeks.” Sponsorships are available, contact: nell.robins@mediaclash.co.uk; register here: www.crumbsmag.com

Buddy Creative scooped the creative award at last year’s Exeter Living ceremony. Creative Partners Mark Girvan and David Jones give us the lowdown on what life’s been like for the design team since then How did it feel to win an Exeter Living award? When we first set up Buddy in 2007 our intention was to bring quality design to the South West, drawing on our experience in some of London’s top studios. We’ve picked up quite a few design awards over the years, but this one felt very special to us; acknowledging that our creativity is having a positive impact on Exeter, and for the businesses we work with. How did you celebrate? Our creative director Mark attended the awards with his wife Gemma (a bonus date night!), and our whole team enjoyed celebratory G&T’s with the winners’ Tarquin’s Cornish Gin – an extra special surprise having designed the bottle. Where do you keep your award? It’s in proud position on the staircase

CREATIVE WINNER in our studio, where we can walk past it every day. Why do you think you won? Over the last few years we’ve taken on quite a few new clients, expanded our team, and picked up a number of design awards for our branding and packaging work with clients such as: Sharp’s Brewery, Tarquin’s Gin and Butter Bike. Ultimately, we think the judges chose Buddy because they saw our passion for great design, and how it makes a real impact for our clients’ businesses. How has business has been for you over the past year... With many clients in the food and drink sector we experienced an initial slowdown, but things have since Buddy Creative partners Mark Girvan and David Jones



Mark Girvan and his wife Gemma celebrating on the night

bounced back. We’ve been helping new and existing clients with their branding and packaging projects as they adapt their businesses in the current climate. Has your business model had to change? The nature of our business hasn’t changed much, but our ‘ways of working’ have changed dramatically. How do you manage working remotely? Team Zooms are part of our daily ritual – an early morning staff check-in with a cuppa to talk about the day ahead. Our work and family lives are much more blended now, featuring the joys and distractions of home-schooling, co-working spouses and random video call appearances from pets. Have there been any positives from this time? We’ve spent less time travelling and had more time to enjoy being at home, and with our families, creating a better work/life balance and reducing our environmental impact. In a strange way we’ve become more connected. Having frequent, shorter video meetings with clients and suppliers which are more focussd. Video calling is definitely something we’ll keep. It’s much easier for us to meet clients, new contacts and provide our services nationally and internationally. What’s in the pipeline? Despite the pandemic, our portfolio of clients continues to expand and we’ve been working with a number of new-to-market food and drink brands which have just launched, with others launching in the near future.

What can you tell us about Exeter businesses at the moment? We’ve noticed a ‘get your head down and crack on’, determined spirit in the community, as well as genuine desire from businesses to collaborate with and support one another. The local clients we’re working with have shown inventiveness and embraced digital transformation, adapting to the current situation at speed and making sure their products and services are relevant, and can be accessed online. What do you love most about Exeter? Exeter is such exciting place to be, rich in things to see and do, surrounded by beautiful moorland and coastline and steeped in history. We love its vibrant arts and culture scene, quirky shops, characterful back streets and beautiful architecture. Sitting outside by the river, on Cathedral Green or by the Quay, enjoying the café culture, many shops and restaurants and the buskers that provide the soundscape to the city. What have you learnt about Exeter and its people during this pandemic? During a time of crisis you might expect people to be inward facing. In reality, we’ve witnessed much kindness, empathy and resilience across the city and in its outlying communities. There’s been a strong desire for people to stay connected with each other, support vulnerable members of the community and support local businesses. We’re very proud to be part of the community and look forward to seeing the city re-emerge postpandemic in all its glory. For more: www.buddycreative.com

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Awards returning in September The Exeter Living Awards will return in September, with value on much greater certainty to return to normality. Dig out your 2021 diary and book off 2 September, when Exeter’s best will gather to celebrate all things great about the city – and hand out a few awards, too


ll has been revealed at the Awards Launch: The 25-minute uplifting session featured exclusive updates on the new date, nominations and sponsorship opportunities. Some of the Awards familiar faces also spoke including Mark Minton of Platinum Sponsor, Marsh Commercial; past winners; NatWest Boost’s James Court; Exeter Northcott Theatre; Jay’s Aim; and much more. “After this past year, we can all do with buoying up – business owners perhaps more than almost anyone,” says MediaClash events and brand manager Claudia Butler. “Imagine how good it will feel to be on the shortlist of the Exeter Living Awards, to have all the marketing benefits of being a finalist.” SPONSORSHIPS For remaining options, please contact harriette.dixon@ mediaclash.co.uk or paula. miller@mediaclash.co.uk. NOMINATIONS Open via website www.exeterlivingawards.co.uk

Nominations are now open for all businesses in the Exeter area. They’re free to enter, and offer great opportunity to share your successes. Nominate for your teams, find good things to praise, and acknowledge their contribution. Sponsorships are available for Exeter’s most prestigious Awards ceremony. The night has many sponsors on board so far, led by Platinum Sponsor Marsh Commercial, with other sponsors including Exeter Science Park, Powderham Castle, Regus, Warwick Event Services, Yellowtail Financial Planning; and of course, Exeter Living itself. Category sponsorship opportunities remain, please contact harriette.dixon@mediaclash.co.uk for more details. For more: www.exeterlivingawards.co.uk; @exeterlivingawds

LAUNCH See the official launch in full on the Exeter Living YouTube channel. AWARDS The uberglam Exeter Living Awards are on 2 September 2021 at Exeter Universities’

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Great Hall. Nothing beats being there… SOCIAL MEDIA Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter for all updates.

Anybody can win!

From the coolest of the indies to the largest of the corporates: everyone playing their part in this city, everyone coming together once more. It’s never been more important


“For a fourth year running Triangle Networks are proud sponsors of the Awards and are looking forward to engaging with all of the finalists and finding out more about them and their business. After this year of all years, networking and sharing achievements has never been more important for the business community.” Paul Anslow Triangle Networks


The Great Hall will be back to host Exeter’s biggest business event!

SPONSORED CONTENT – FAMILY LAW Business Development Director Rachel Buckley explains how The Family Law Company has stepped up to the challenge of meeting client experience aspirations during the pandemic

This past year has given businesses from so many sectors incredible challenges to face and cope with. Being able to adapt has been crucial, and there are endless stories of how businesses have done this again – and again. The legal sector, too, has had to adjust. Being unable to see clients face to face, and with many court hearings online has had a huge impact on the way we do what we do. From an early stage, we asked ourselves how these changes were working not just for our teams but also our clients. As family lawyers we realised that we needed to look closely at the new online world we found ourselves in, to ensure it still provided the best possible service for our clients. For without them, what are we? Putting yourself in your clients’ shoes has never been so important. Understanding what our clients need has always been at the core of our business. But implementing change so quickly in response to the pandemic was not without complications – tweaking processes from necessity undoubtedly has a knock on effect. Whether this is a new client’s first impressions or collaboration for information – recording when a file is closed, we realised we needed to take a close look sooner rather than later. In truth, it has become more crucial than ever to ensure the customer experience is as straightforward and supportive as possible. Someone who has trouble accessing the firm because a phone doesn’t transfer properly or can’t join a video call because they haven’t received proper instructions won’t be impressed. And as with any business, a client or customer who isn’t happy or feels let down won’t be afraid to share their experience on public platforms. Most people look at recommendations and reviews before deciding who to choose or what to purchase. This could easily be business critical. Our own response? We decided to spend some time thinking about the best possible solutions. This led to the implementation of a new ‘Caring Client Journey’ programme and some great client focussed initiatives: creating a new role for a client care co-ordinator, instigating a new client feedback system, and running online client Q&A sessions. The programme is really paying off. We have received many inspiring client testimonials online and through our feedback surveys.

Contact Rachel Buckley directly on 01392 457155 or by email: Rachel.Buckley@thefamilylawco.com

For any business still just thinking about it – now is not the time to pause in striving to understand what your clients and customers need from you. There are so many methods and initiatives to try. How about mystery shopping? Or implementing consistent account review meetings, training your staff to have those conversations? It’s the perfect time to review the way you collect feedback. If you’re not doing this yet, perhaps it’s time to start! Lockdown is set to ease, but we can’t take our eye off the ball just yet. If you can discover exactly where your costumer’s journey falls down you can act to improve it. If you do nothing, you might just get left behind.

Balliol House, Southernhay Gardens Exeter EX1 1NP.


INNER BEAUTY The outlook is calm, fresh and optimistic. Fall in love with the Spring interior trends for 2021 By Harriet Noble

Coffee and cream blends at Mandarin Stone

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Muted earthy tones have been a staple in the design world for quite some time now but they’ve seen a resurgence in popularity as people seek a sense of calm in their homes. This colour palette can include shades of coffee, cream, grey, beige, oats and chocolate. “Earthy tones are huge this year with a nod to nature bringing the outside into your home,” says Exeter-based interior designer Sophie Watkiss. Don’t be afraid to add other colours in to the mix though. “A soft green is a great alternative to grey if you would like to lift your colour scheme,” she adds. “It has a calm, relaxing feel and works with a variety of accent colours.”


TOP TIP: Accessorise to give your neutral room some warmth. How? Add cushions in a bold colour, pot plants and candles.

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1 & 2. Designs from Koto Design & Living 3. Gold spiral rug, £39.50; Hyde & Seek 4.Tiles from Mandarin Stone 5. Taj recycled leather and jute rug, £29.95; Sancho’s



1. Cream and black cushion, £19.95; Hyde & Seek 2. Linen frill charcoal cushion, £45; Lark 3. Tile varieties from Mandarin Stone 4. Designs from Koto Design & Living


Adding texture to a room means adding textiles, materials, colours, and metals to a space. Without doing this, rooms can look a bit lifeless. “Add tactile and natural fabrics that you want to touch and are comfortable with, from bouclé, matt velvet, to linen,” says Sophie. In its simplest form this could mean, adding a rug or throw but can extend to all sorts of layering. This trend is set to be big this year. “Texture dominates – on furniture, in the kitchen, on walls and underfoot – think ribbed, woven, band-sawn and bouclé,” says Caroline Palk from Ashton House Design. “Fabrics with natural credentials such as wool sheers make for sumptuous curtaining and offer billowing style at the windows.”




TOP TIP: If you’re not sure where to start with this trend, start small by adding a woolen blanket over your armchair, or a neutral rug under your coffee table.

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If you’re not confident with creating a complete colour scheme, lighting is an easy way to give your room a complete overhaul, changing the look and feel of the space without having to make lots of tricky decor decisions. “Lighting is often overlooked but floor lamps, table lamps or changing your shades on your base can have a large impact” says Sophie.

1. Designs from Koto Design & Living 2. Ashton House Design 3. Bobble lamp, £145; Lark 4. Laurel wreath, £34; Busby & Fox 5. Designs from Koto Design & Living


TOP TIP: It may sound obvious but if you have a small room, a huge light fixture will dominate the space. A floor lamp will make a small space look bigger, while you can really go to town with a whopper chandelier in a bigger room. 3






Because we are spending so much time at home, space has become the sought-after quality everyone is craving and everyone is looking for canny storage solutions. “Our homes need to be multi-functional,” says Caroline. “Look to create storage wherever you can and find a place for everything and everyone. “Start in the hallway, boot room or back door, wherever you enter/leave the home. Dedicated hooks, pigeonholes or baskets will create tidy habits that may just reverberate throughout the home. “Incorporate multi-functional furniture such as an ottoman bed that opens up for maximum storage within. In bathrooms, recess into walls for cabinets, niches and shelving.” TOP TIP: If you’re really short on space, opt for square-shaped containers as you can fit them in corners of cupboards to save space. Also, instead of filling up floor space, opt for storage solutions on your walls.

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1. Storage from Ashton House Design 2. Locker room storage, £54, Sancho’s 3. Small black and gold sequin basket, £20, Lark


PANTONE’S COLOURS OF THE YEAR Opt for this year’s on-trend colours grey and yellow. Other colours to try? “Colour is the spirit of any interior and current favourites are sage and palm green, citron or ochre yellow – happy colours inspired by nature’s best,” says Caroline.

TOP TIP: Mix and match patterns and fabrics so your colour coordination doesn’t look too matchy-matchy. 2 1. Tiling from Mandarin Stone 2. Stone fan planter, £4.99; Insideout Home 3. Yellow glaze planter, £7.95; Hyde & Seek; 4. Designs from Queenstreet Carpets & Furnishings



1. Ashton House Design; 2. Faux fig tree, £95; Nest Living 3. Plant baskets, £42; Boka 4. Terni planter, POA, St Bridget Nurseries





“Connect further with the outside and include leafy botanicals and painterly prints, particularly well-suited to scaled up wall coverings,” says Caroline. “With more people working from home there is a massive trend to bring the outdoors inside and green up our living spaces,” adds the team at St Bridget Nurseries. “Houseplants have been proven to help boost productivity, helps us relax and focus as well as boost our creativity. By making your interior feel more open it can also make you feel less claustrophobic.” 4

TOP TIP: When grouping pot plants together, always opt for an odd number for an aesthetically pleasing look.

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We are used to having soft furnishings in our sitting rooms and bedrooms but perhaps not in our studies – but with WFH it makes sense for this room to be as welcoming as possible. Add rugs, cushions and throws to your place of work to soften the space and make it a room you actively want to spend time in. TOP TIP: “For an inexpensive fix, look to buy cushion covers only and re-use your old cushions. Try to go for piped edging to give a luxury feel,” says Sophie. 2

1. Study from Ashton House Design; 2. Sheepskin, POA, Lark 3. Blue pouf, £130; Lark




If you want to spruce up your home without completely redecorating, add some fun pieces in eyecatching shapes to liven up your living spaces. TOP TIP: If you have a room that is full of sharp edges opt for bendy, curved accessories to add contrast and a bit of warmth.

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1. 101 Copenhagen Duck bowl, £32; Koto Design & Living 2. Copper heart frame, £8; Toot Garouk 3. Black swan hook, £21.50; Toot Garouk 4. Pink bubble candle, £16; Sancho’s 5. Scoop bowl, £15; Toot Garouk 6. Shell candle in pastel purple, £16, Sancho’s 7. Ceramic hands trinket dish, £14.99; Insideout Home 8. 101 Copenhagen Sphere Vase Bubl, £100; Koto Design & Living



The maximalism trend is having a big comeback. Think rich colours (deep blues and greens), opulent fabrics (velvet) and patterned wallpaper. A trend to have fun with. TOP TIPS: Go for it too much and, well, it will just be too much. If you’ve found a daring wallpaper or some dramatic paint that you love, try putting it up on just one of your four walls. 2



1. Designs from Mandarin Stone 2. Designs from Ashton House Design 3. Ceramic drawer pull, £6.50; Toot Garouk 4. Cheetah bookends, £60; Toot garouk 5. Tufted face cushion, £14.95, Hyde & Seek

Ashton House Design, 31a East St, Ashburton, Newton Abbot; www.ashtonhousedesign.co.uk Koto Design & Living, 1 Fosketh Hill, Westward Ho!, Bideford; www.kotodesign.co.uk Queenstreet Carpets & Furnishings, Church Road, Alphington, Exeter; www.queenstreet.co.uk Mandarin Stone, The Newton Centre, 3 Thorverton Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter; www.mandarinstone.com Sophie Watkiss: interior designer; www.sophielouisainteriors.co.uk Toot Garouk, 19 Queen Street, Exeter, www.tootgarook.co.uk Insideout Home, 1 Bampfylde Lane, Princesshay, Exeter, www.insideouthome.co.uk Hyde & Seek, Unit 1 Harlequins, 1 Paul Street, Exeter; www.hydeseek.co.uk Busby & Fox, 21 Cathedral Yard, Exeter; www.busbyandfox.com Lark, 16 Fore Street, Topsham; www.larktopsham.shop St Bridget nurseries, Sidmouth Road, Clyst St. Mary, Exeter; www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk Boka, 3 High Street, Crediton; www.bokaonline.co.uk Sancho’s, 117 Fore Street, Exeter; www.sanchosshop.com Nest Living, 60 Fore Street, Topsham; www.nestliving.net

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The newly completed Ada Lovelace Building;

below: Designs for the Grow-out Space building


A global pandemic hasn’t stopped Exeter Science Park in its tracks, with construction on the Ada Lovelace building completed and work starting on a new £5 million Grow-out Space building


xeter’s reputation as a fast-growing business location continues to flourish with news of major developments at Exeter Science Park. Currently, there around 500 people employed by the tenant businesses at Exeter Science Park and projections forecast a seven-fold growth over the next 15 years, taking employee numbers to 3,500 by 2035, partly due to the new developments on the site. First up is the completion and opening of the £6.6 million Ada Lovelace building. The 20,000 square foot development is situated over three floors, boasts net-zerocarbon for operational energy and will be let to various companies in STEMM sectors. It’s been named after the 19th Century mathematician and computer scientist and was chosen by students attending the ‘Big Bang Fair’ at Westpoint Arena in 2019, where an overwhelming majority of schoolchildren voted for Ada Lovelace from a shortlist of three inspirational figures. The building has been partly funded with £5.5 million from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s (HotSW LEP) Growth Deal Funding. “It’s fantastic to see the completion of the work on the new Ada Lovelace Building, which

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will provide valuable innovation space for STEMM businesses, supporting them to grow and create high value jobs,” says Karl Tucker, chair of the HotSW LEP. “We’re delighted to have been able to support it with Growth Deal funding, which is designed to boost the economy in key sectors throughout the Heart of the South West area. Exeter Science Park is a thriving business location and has an important role to play as we look towards local economic recovery and building back better with a cleaner and more inclusive economy.” Elsewhere at Exeter Science Park, construction has just begun on the £5million specialist centre for fast-growth businesses – months after government funding was secured for a ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure project to drive growth and create jobs.

“It’s difficult to emphasise how fast this project has reached this point”

The new three-storey, 14,000sqft Grow-out Space building, will provide flexible office and laboratory space for STEMM businesses and will have sustainability and the environment at the heart of the building’s design. With funding only secured in August of last year, the project has seen the fastest turnaround of any building scheme undertaken by the Park. “This latest investment is another stamp of confidence in Exeter Science Park helping to grow the very best STEMM businesses by providing the right environment and facilitating collaboration among like-minded, ambitious businesses,” says Dr Sally Basker, CEO of Exeter Science Park. “It’s difficult to emphasise how fast this project has reached this point – it really is quite remarkable. Compared to a conventional build programme, we’ve saved up to 33 per cent of the time involved. This has required close collaboration between the Exeter Science Park, Morgan Sindall, LHC Design working for NPS South West Property Consultants and the Southern Construction Framework. “Exeter Science Park helps innovative STEMM companies to deliver extraordinary growth and these are exactly the kinds of businesses that will help accelerate economic recovery post COVID-19. This development marks the start of the next phase of growth for the park and provides firms with the space to grow and thrive.” www.exetersciencepark.co.uk





he converted Georgian Winslade Manor on the outskirts of Exeter has been officially opened following its £2m refurbishment. Winslade Manor stands at the heart of the 86-acre development of offices, homes and leisure facilities at Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary. Renovation work to restore the building to its former glory saw the restoration of historic features including an atrium ceiling, original staircase and balustrades, plus a new marble hallway floor. The redevelopment provides around 570 sq ft of serviced offices, meeting rooms, a restaurant and bar, and leisure facilities. The first commercial tenants have moved in following the Grade II listed manor’s refurbishment, and Winslade Manor Restaurant and Bar will be open as soon as government guidelines allow. The next phase will include refurbishing existing offices on the site and providing additional health club and wellness facilities. A development of new homes planned for Winslade Park is currently at detailed planning stage with building work due to start later this year. www.winsladepark.com

clockwise above: Winslade Bar and Restaurant is set to open shortly; below: Cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony

“The restoration of historic features included an atrium ceiling”

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left: Burrington Estates: Seaward Park Estates; below: Exeter’s Skypark Park

Plush new student accommodation is on the way



n investment of £15.5 million has been agreed between investor BGF and local property developer Burrington Estates, to support the growth plans of the Exeter-

based business. From the investment pot, £13.5 million will support the expansion of Burrington Estates New Homes (currently there are six sites in active development across Devon and Cornwall) while the remaining £2 million investment has been allocated to Burrington Estates Commercial to enable the development of business parks in the South West. The first of these is Exeter’s SkyPark Park, where planning permission has just been approved for 35 new business units. The units will be built to provide flexible space over 1,000 sq ft and will include bicycle storage and a café unit, available for purchase

or lease. “We are delighted to get the go ahead for this development allowing us to provide superior options for start-ups and small to medium businesses looking to expand,” says Burrington Estates commercial managing director, Matthew Bennett. With an impressive show of positivity and optimism from the business community, 90 percent of the units have already been reserved. “To attract such a strong demand from SMEs for the business units underlines the need for this type of high specification, sustainable development in the South West,” says development manager Charles Berry who took the lead on the project. “Alongside superb quality, businesses are clearly also looking for premises that focus on sustainability and flexibility.” The units are set to be completed this August 2021. www.burringtonestates.com

“Businesses are clearly looking for premises that focus on sustainability”

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£25 million development of student accommodation is set to open this September in Exeter. Located on the site of the former BBC studios in Walnut Gardens, St David’s Hill in the heart of the city, the property will provide 167 rooms in a mix of studios and shared serviced apartment bedrooms. The developers New Study Inn Group, are building the luxury hotelstyle student accommodation with resident wellbeing and life experience at its core. Facilities will include round the clock on-site management; room cleaning and linen services; wellness spa; sauna; steam room; hot beds; gym; yoga studio; games room; lounge; meeting space; and cinema. Additionally, the landscaping scheme incorporates its own private gardens, providing secure outdoor green space. www.studyinn.com




he redevelopment of a former school in Exeter, known as St Margaret’s, has secured the exclusive Energy Performance Certification (EPC) A for a set of historic buildings. The Grade I and Grade II listed buildings have been transformed into new energy efficient homes by Exeterbased developer Grenadier. Typically, it is challenging for historic buildings to achieve an EPC rating above a C but the team have worked on a number of ways to achieve this. Solar panels have been added to the roofs to generate clean, renewable energy, and a £700,000 communal ground source heat pump will supply energy efficient hot water and heating free of charge to residents. In addition, new homeowners will have access to electric car changing points, encouraging the use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution in an ever-growing city. The first 18 properties on the St Margaret’s site are expected to be complete by the end of March 2021, with the remaining 22 properties expected to be ready by November. www.stmargaretsresidences.co.uk

Energy-saving at St Margaret’s

More houses like those in Braid Park are on the way



ousebuilder David Wilson Homes is scoping out plans for an additional new community alongside their development at Braid Park, Tiverton. Construction work is due for completion this summer and the new community will include large areas of green space.

“We’re delighted to see the homes at Braid Park being snapped up by people from the local area,” says Nicki Reid, sales director at Barratt David Wilson Homes Exeter. “The development has been so successful we are actively working up plans to build another community next door and we look forward to sharing plans as they develop.” n www.dwh.co.uk

Summer will see new homes in Tiverton

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THE WAREHOUSE Waterfront property in Topsham with this view? We’re sold By Imogen Davidson www.mediaclash.co.uk I EXETER LIVING I 63



hen you think restored warehouse, trendy interiors spring to mind. The kind that may leave you feeling, well, a bit cold. Exposed brickwork, steel table tops and not a plumped-up cushion in sight. This gorgeous Topsham abode flips this stereotype right on its head, stripping out the spikiness and dousing it in Devonstyle freshness. The folks who’ve restored this waterfront property have breathed light, brightness and warmth everywhere with a colour scheme that is all buttermilks, creams and earthy browns. There are, of course, bobbing blues too as you might expect of a house that sits by the water. The impact is that it’s both clean and homely and altogether quite charming. We’re calling it estuary chic. But, of course, bringing star quality to this property are those outstanding views. Yes, if you are lucky enough to live in this serene spot you can sit outside, whether it’s on the deck outside the kitchen or out on the Juliet balcony upstairs, enjoying that view. Just think of all those delicious moments. Breakfasts of fresh coffee and croissants, sunset mojitos, afternoons lazily reading a book, star gazing out on a summer sky, figuring out the mysteries of life – all outside looking out onto the River Exe. Quite frankly, if there was nothing more than these views we’d still be sold but there are actually some rather lovely rooms here too.

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The ground floor sees a welcoming kitchen breakfast room – a decent size for ideal for entertaining – plus a spacious utility and cloakroom, loo and an adjoining garage attached. Upstairs, the first floor has a superb reception room with a vaulted ceiling and exposed oak beams (also where the Juliet balcony is) and there’s also a beautiful master suite as well as two further bedrooms and an attractive family bathroom. Then there’s the location. The fact that Topsham remains the much sought after place to be in Devon is a surprise to absolutely no one. It is a gorgeous estuary town with loads going on, pretty landscape (did we mention the views?) and Exeter city centre is kess than five miles away. Let us know when you’re moving in because we are coming to stay. We’ll bring the mojitos. n

HOUSE NUMBERS Guide price £1,500,000 Where Ferry Road, Topsham. Topsham train station is 0.1 miles away. Yes, handy isn’t it? Bedrooms 3 Bathrooms 2 Outside Garden, deck and Juliet balcony overlooking the River Exe For more Knight Frank, 19 Southernhay E, Exeter; www.knightfrank.co.uk

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“The amazing coaches at Exeter City Swimming Club have been by my side” I am so grateful to be able to help this charity as I know all their work has helped save the lives of countless children. Why swimming?

Swimming is a sport that teaches you discipline, time management, team work and also how to work alone and motivate yourself. This has all helped shaped me into the person that I am today which is why I will always love the sport.


This June, 20-year-old Lily from Rockbeare will be swimming the English Channel to raise funds for the Children’s Air Ambulance. Lily chats bananas, tricky weather and her love for Exeter... Hi Lily, tell us a bit about home…

I live in Rockbeare, this area is particularly special to me as it has the best of what Exeter can offer just a short car ride away. From popping into the city centre or diving out to the country side and beaches for long walks and swims, it has everything right on my doorstep so I can explore a different part of Exeter every day. Did you grow up in Exeter?

I’ve lived in Exeter ever since I was three. I went to Broadclyst Primary School then progressed on to Clyst Vale Community College and finally achieved my A-Levels at Exeter College. How did you get into swimming?

The only reason I started swimming was because my mum wanted me to be safe around water and for me to learn a basic life skill.

I don’t think she ever thought I’d be swimming the Channel one day. My dad helped me reach competitive swimming levels and is still supporting me though my biggest challenge yet, the Channel swim. The amazing coaches at Exeter City Swimming Club have been by my side from teaching me how to swim to competing at national competitions. I would never be here today if it wasn’t for all the support the club has given me over the years. Tell us a bit about the big swim…

I am swimming the Channel for Children’s Air Ambulance and helping them fundraise for their amazing charity. Swimming the Channel will be the toughest challenge I have put myself though but it will all be worth it as the money raised can help the life-saving work the Children’s Air Ambulance carries out daily.

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What is the most challenging thing about swimming the Channel?

I think the hardest part will be not knowing what might happen on the day. Weather conditions and the conditions of the swimmers can change very quickly, especially in open water swimming. How have you been preparing during lockdown?

Obviously, due to current restrictions swimming training has been particularly difficult. I have been keeping up my fitness with long distance running and trying to keep up with my swimming strength training with home workouts. Hopefully, as the water begins to warm up again and restrictions ease, I can get back into the water again to catch up on vital training that I have been missing out on. What about the psychological side of training? How do you get yourself in the right frame of mind?

Long distance running has helped me with my psychological training as I can treat a run as if I am about to swim. I like to focus on the end goal and take each challenge step by step, working my way through until I reach the end. This is how I have treated every big swim in the past and how I plan

on treating the channel crossing. What will you be eating before the big swim?

Pasta, porridge and bananas, and lots of it! Anything that keeps me going and hopefully keeps me warm. What are you doing when you’re not swimming?

I am in my third year of a fouryear course in Mathematics and Finance at the University of Stirling. Would you like to be a professional swimmer?

Swimming will be a lifelong hobby of mine. I find it a great time to relax away from my university work and will hopefully still find this when I move on to a professional career. You’ve got an hour free in Exeter, where do you go?

Definitely to the quay. I love the different choices of food and browsing around the independent shops down there. What’s your go-to restaurant or bar in Exeter?

Pink Moon is by far my favourite place to eat and drink in Exeter. The food there is always amazing and it’s the perfect setting for brunch, dinner or just cocktails. Times are uncertain at the moment. What do you know for sure?

I know that I have an amazing support team, from my family to my swimming club, as well as all the support I am receiving from Children’s Air Ambulance. n Lily will be one of seven swimmers who make up the Water Warriors team. For more: www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk

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