The BV, May 22

Page 72

From the heart of the Blackmore Vale.


Carole Jones is worried about the storm - p.10

A growing number of proud pensioners are in tears when seeking help to feed themselves - the Pantry’s Carole Jones spoke to Rachael Rowe

Live Performance Special - p.19

Our Random19 guest this month is Covent Garden Dance Company Director Matt Brady, who shares a love of fig rolls and Mac n Cheese as well as the Hatch House Ballet. Gay Pirrie-Weir has provided an amazing round up of all open air performances this summer, and Fanny Charles has selected her pick of the Artsreach summer programme

Dorset Island Discs - p.28

This month’s castaway is David Sidwick, Dorset’s Police Crime Commissioner. His best dinner date? “Sir Terry Wogan.

By a long way. What a lovely, lovely man. He just got slightly squiffy with my wife! Lady Wogan reassured me it ‘happens all the time’.” Also - James Herriott has a lot to answer for.

A Country Living - p.14

Equestrian p.54

Jemima Green, paradressage rider spoke about her inspiring journey from car crash to top competition this month, as well as a monthly catch up with the yard lives of Lucy Procter and Toots Bartlett

This month Tracie Beardsley spoke to Ian Ring, Managing Director of Newton Forge (who would be the first to say he’s still happiest in the workshop with hammer and anvil).

We think we’re probably the biggest two-man band around. Thank you team.

2 Front cover: ‘The Bruiser’ by Graham Bannister The BV magazine - May ‘22

Contact the BV Team:

Editor: Laura Hitchcock

Deputy Ed: Andy Palmer

Advertising: Courtenay Hitchcock

Everything else:

Try Courtenay, he’s the organised one ...

The Four (yes all four are in there)

The returning big brother is in red - and all three waiting siblings opted for the 4am Heathrow run, just for this hug.

all, son no.1 finally

after almost 18 long months of

through screens, there he suddenly was. Taller

swear. Though I do realise it’s far more likely I’ve shrunk), skinnier, smilier, with new habits and words I didn’t instinctively know... but here. Having your big children far away is hard, isn’t it?

then, among the delicious peacefulness of a temporarily full nest, we found time to finally recruit the last two pieces in our podcast puzzle (welcome Terry & Jenny everyone), and the first audio version of the BV is now on air. It’s been many many months in the planning - and we have been bowled over by the response (often from the least likely sources!). We were ready for a slow build; just 26 downloads in our first week would put us in the top 50% of podcasts globally. Imagine then, cautiously opening the stats to see if we’d made our target of ‘over 25’ to see ‘377 downloads’.

One sad note this month was the untimely passing of the much-loved Philip Hart - Jon Dart’s beautiful obituary on p.12 is sure to raise a smile of recognition to most long-time residents of Stur.

Lastly, can we have a moment for Graham Bannister’s front cover hare? Graham has been submitting the most beautiful hare photography for months, and has always been kept off the front cover at the last minute for no fault of his own photography.

This month he finally made it - and I’m sure it’s just as important to him as the image he had printed in the The Express, The Telegraph and The Times last week!

3 68 14 A country living - Ian Ring 80 74 Animals 124 129 Announcements 90 88 Antiques 36 41 Art 34 40 Book corner 109 112 Business news 101 101 Community 18 28 Dorset island discs - David Sidwick 54 54 Equestrian 120 Family Law 72 84 Farming 92 90 Food & Drink 112 116 Health 126 130 Jobs 32 36 Letters to the editor 48 64 Local history 4 4 News 46 52 Night sky 85 78 Out of doors 23 32 Politics 134 138 Property 100 100 Puzzles 14 19 Random 19 - Matt Brady 42 46 Reader's photography 105 108 School news 62 22 Live Performance Special 82 76 Take a hike 71 62 Tales from the Vale 117 122 What's on 76 70 Wildlife INDEX We know, it’s a HUGE magazine. So we make it easy for you - just like grabbing the sections you like best from the Sunday papers, you can click the number to jump straight to the section you want. Or, y’know, just make yourself a coffee and read from the beginning ... Amongst the worry, anger and fear that seems to dominate our screens and airwaves (and bills) at the moment, it feels a little heartless to share a few peaceful and contented thoughts. And yet, we’re nothing if not honest - and April was a quietly lovely month in Hitchcock House. Most important of
came home. And

How ‘A Dorset Kitchen’ is so very much more than a recipe book

A wonderful new country life focusing on home-grown produce and beautiful food could have been shattered by the death of a son. But the family have strained every sinew to wrestle good from the tragedy, says Rachael Rowe

When Patty Lowe and her family moved to a large house in Woolland with a traditional Victorian greenhouse and an acre to grow vegetables, it inspired a journey of creating nutritious recipes.

Over ten years, Patty and daughter Gertie tested and refined family favourites while husband Gordon provided technical know-how. Twins Archie and Jamie loved trying the various creations emerging from the kitchen, with Archie helping with preparation and cooking. So that her children could use the recipes at university, Patty uploaded them to a website. However, son Archie, 21, insisted the photography should be better and set about creating beautiful images of the feasts made in the Lowe kitchen. He used the garden and a small studio he set up in the house,

saying, “The pictures should make people feel hungry, Mum!”

On 8 September 2020, all that changed. Archie went off to work in a local racing yard as usual, and later that morning, Patty got a phone call. There had been an accident. Archie had been tragically killed in a horseriding accident on Okeford Hill. Everything the family knew and loved about life was blown apart. ‘It is a beautiful place,’ Patty reflects, ‘and for someone who loved life as Archie did, I cannot think of a more beautiful place to spend your last moments.’

Ugly pony, best pony Archie had been passionate about horses from the age of ten. Patty smiles as she reminisces: “He got the ugliest pony to ride. It had a wall-eye, and he called it the Cow (it was called Manni), but he loved it so much. And he

NEWS 4 by Rachael Rowe
Archie, aged seven, already showing a love of cooking Archie with Manni, ‘the ugliest pony in Britain’ with whom Archie went on to trial for the Great Britain team and was recognised as one of the best young riders in the country.

went on to trial for the Great Britain team and was recognised as one of the best young riders in the country. In fact, people talk at Pony Club of how the ugliest pony in Britain went on to be the best in the country.

“And Archie was always so positive. He would always say hello to people or say what a nice dog they had.”

That cookbook!

As Patty and her family were dealing with the aftermath of Archie’s death, friends suggested she create a cookbook. More than 100 recipes were selected and illustrated with Archie’s photography. Tempting dishes such as mushroom risotto with peperonata, courgette and walnut bake (just in time for summer gluts), and pork with chilli burst from the pages. For the last two years of his life, Archie was vegetarian, so there is a large selection of plant-based ideas. Poignantly, delicious-looking doughnuts are on the back cover, but there is no recipe in the book.

Patty explains: “Archie wanted to make doughnuts just like Krispy Kremes and mastered a technique. Each Friday, he made them and took them to work for colleagues but never told us the recipe.”

All the proceeds from A Dorset Kitchen are going to two charities. The Air Ambulance that tried so hard to save Archie is one beneficiary. In addition, the Archie Lowe Foundation has been established to support young riders, especially boys, to learn riding skills. The Archie and Manni Bursary will help people who might not otherwise have been able to pursue their dream of riding. It is a partnership award in collaboration with West Wilts British Eventing with the first prize of £1,000. Does Patty have a favourite recipe? “Chicken lasagna. And Archie loved the Pad Thai.”

Sold out

The book sold out all 1,000 copies within six weeks. More have been printed as word gets out of how

good the book is (the recipes are easy to follow and delicious, by the way). I’m curious as to how the book is helping Patty and the family begin to heal after such a tragic accident.

“Just before I wake up each day, I wonder what to do. And then as I wake, I think, today I can do something good. I can do something good and help people. It is easy to sink into self-pity. If I can make this charity work and give a little bit of Archie to people, good can come from this, and the pain is eased.”

To buy a copy of A Dorset Kitchen, visit More events to support the Archie Lowe Foundation and Air Ambulance will be held in the near future.

Archie with his much-loved Sura A Dorset Kitchen recipe for vegetarian stuffed peppers – a simple risotto packed with veggies spooned into baked peppers image Archie Lowe As Patty and her family were dealing with the aftermath of Archie’s death, friends suggested pouring their energies into a fundraising cookbook of their family recipes. More than 100 recipes were selected, all illustrated with Archie’s photography. Sea bass receipe image Archie Lowe

Clamping down on rural crime

For over two and a half years Police Constable Sebastian Haggett has been deterring and solving rural crime in Dorset, including many ‘Hot Fuzz’ moments such as hiding in bushes for poachers.

In North Dorset, a lot of the Rural Crime Team (RCT) time is spent hunting poachers who engage in the illegal activity of hare coursing, whereby individuals trespass on private land with vehicles and dogs to chase, catch and kill brown hare. This causes serious damage to land and crops.

Speaking with the BV magazine, the 31-year-old police constable explained why North Dorset is a prime location for hare coursing. “The north and east of Dorset see increased levels of activity because of the large flat open fields favoured by brown hare.”

For two years now, Operation Galileo has been in effect nationwide to clamp down on hare poaching; the operation involves sharing intelligence between different forces. PC Haggett states that Dorset police works closely with Hampshire and Wiltshire.

“In January 2022 we conducted a joint evening operation with Hampshire and Wiltshire Police which saw the arrest of two individuals for poaching and a vehicle seized in Dorset.

New laws include jail time

New laws have recently been emplaced to further clamp down on the illegal activity. The changes, which came into effect on the 28th of April, mean that poachers found guilty can now

face up to six months in jail.

Nine days prior to the changes in law, three men from Essex and one from Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty to the charges of trespassing in the pursuit of game after being caught by the Rural Crime Team in North Dorset. In total, the four men were fined £3,255 in the Poole Magistrates Court on April 19th.

“We are committed to working with our rural communities as well as our national and local partners and take reports of this nature seriously. In this case, we were able to detain the offenders at

the scene and subsequently bring them before the courts.” Since 2020, there has been a 20% reduction in rural crime. The Dorset Constable believes that this is due to much better cooperation with more than just other police forces.

“In the case of fly-tipping, we work with the Council to share intelligence on top offenders.

I can’t go into the specifics of the tactics being used, but we are seeing positive outcomes from that effective working partnership.”

Constable Haggett went on to explain the difference in

NEWS 6 by Andrew Livingston
Rural crimes can be violent, costly and yet are often misunderstood, requiring an entire community approach reports Andrew Livingston
“...the fact that only 1.7% of the UK workforce is in agriculture contributes to a lack of public awareness of crimes that affect the countryside”

Rural Crime Stories:

“I want to remain anonymous because I don’t want poachers to know this is me talking and target my land in the future. The truth is, I must speak out and I am glad to have this opportunity to do so.

The modern day ‘poacher’ is not trying to feed their family. They used to drive across my crops night after night, destroying hedges, gates and anything else that came into their path. They did so under the cover of darkness, their acts shielded by the remoteness of the farm.

My fields had become a playground for the most barbaric and pointless crimes where they would film their activities, sharing them live to others who would be betting on the outcome – what dog will get the kill? How long will it take?

Who will get the deer with the biggest antlers? It wasn’t just about the economic loss. It was truly barbaric how some of these animals were killed.

When it was at its worse, in my frustration, I blamed the authorities and felt helpless.

working within the RCT as opposed to the neighbourhood units. He said: “In the RCT our base is to look at agricultural, heritage, wildlife and waste crime. However we will sometimes investigate other elements if our ‘core offenders’ are involved in that area of criminality. This allows us to disrupt and deter those repeat offenders.”

Sharing their stories

Under 20% of the UK population lives in rural areas

That’s when I turned to the Police and worked with the Rural Crime Team. Together we discussed a plan where we could both work together to stop this. I learnt what to look for, what to use to gather evidence and what crime preventative measures I could put in place. The very nature of what we were dealing with meant I wasn’t going to solve this alone, and needed not only the help of the police but that of my neighbours too. Very quickly a

and that, coupled with the fact that only 1.7% of the UK workforce is in agriculture, contributes to a lack of public awareness of crimes that affect the countryside. Despite this, PC Haggett believes that there is a growing awareness of rural crime and its effects. He went on to say: “there is a growing number of Rural Crime Teams being created nationally, charities such as Crimestoppers are running rural-crime-specific

positive momentum picked up in my area, and together land managers, land owners, farm staff, game keepers & other rural businesses were reporting suspicious vehicles and anything related to rural crime in the area. Together we are working together for a better and safer future. Everyone has a part to play and whilst it was not obvious to me at the start, I soon learnt it was me, and others like me, working with the police, that could make the difference. If you are a victim of rural crime then report it, no matter how irrelevant you might think it is, it could just be the missing piece of a bigger puzzle”

campaigns, and there is even a university course around rural and environmental crime.

“We are keen to share the stories of farmers to help increase public awareness of rural crime. On Facebook we have used #ruralcrimestories to publish stories allowing the victim to share with members of the public what had occurred.

One of the important roles of the Dorset Rural Crime Team is to prevent crimes from

“...sharing them live to others who would be betting on the outcome – what dog will get the kill? How long will it take? Who will get the deer with the biggest antlers?”
“A wonderful balance of all round education” Parent Open Mornings: 11th May Nursery & Pre-Prep 14th May Prep School 25th May Nursery & Pre-Prep

occurring in the first place.

The four men arrested and charged in Poole in April were caught due to a report from a civilian who noticed suspicious activity.

“It is important to report all incidents of rural crime, but also any suspicious incidents. The latter often remains unreported, but is important; they can be the ‘final piece’

Rural Crime Stories:

“I am a sheep farmer. I often do a 14 hour day with early starts, seven days a week... I am always ‘on call’ to tend and look after my livestock.

I have been a victim to livestock theft on a number of occasions. How does that make me feel? Angry, to tell you the truth. When you spend a good portion of your life rearing livestock, to have them stolen feels personal - this job is part of everything I am.

I think sometimes people don’t understand rural crime, especially those not involved in the agricultural sector. That’s why its so great to be able to highlight ‘our side’ of the story. The last time I had sheep stolen the police put out a public appeal on social media. I read some of the comments and it

in the puzzle we need to take action against a suspect.”

Partnership with farmers “Intelligence is the lifeblood of our work, telling us who is causing the most harm and where these incidents are happening.”

Constable Haggett and the rest of the team also work with farmers to help ensure that

shocked me. One suggested the crime hadn’t happened, that this was just an insurance claim because the offence timeframe was wide. I think they didn’t realise that whilst I count my sheep on a regular basis, I cant count them everyday! If you owned hundreds of sheep in a field, would you notice 20 missing straight away? Likewise people always suggest investing in crime prevention; of course it’s important but I think people need to understand how this is difficult for farmers. The idea that a farmhouse is situated in the middle of its land is not always a reality. Farmers often have fields dotted in multiple areas, making watching over it difficult. Likewise, securing all the access points to stop vehicles is both costly and difficult, especially if you are a tenant

everything is being done on farms to prevent thefts from occurring. “Should a farmer want to have a free crime prevention survey they can get in contact. I would also advise any rural business or farmer to make sure they are signed up to Farmwatch so they know what is happening locally - this may include suspicious vehicles to look out for.”

farmer and the land you are investing in is not yours!

I can strive for strong perimeter fencing, but what I can’t do is turn our fields into a fortress. Not only is ease of access important for farm vehicles, its also important to keep bridleways and footpaths open so others can enjoy the countryside.

In the past I have had secure metal gates simply rammed by suspected poachers, and fences have been cut. When this happens, I wake to find my livestock all over the place, walking in roads and causing a danger to road users and themselves.

Its important we share our stories and talk about it. It’s important people understand. When we understand it, we can tackle it.”

image: Courtenay Hitchcock

Storm clouds are brewing on the horizon at the Vale Pantry

A growing number of proud pensioners are in tears when seeking help to feed themselves - the Pantry’s Carole Jones spoke to Rachael Rowe

The Vale Pantry, the social supermarket in Sturminster Newton, has been running since November 2020 and is highly successful.

However, over the past few weeks, the team are seeing a growing trend as they receive new requests for help. The cost of living is affecting many, but life is getting significantly more precarious for our more vulnerable members of the community.

The requests keep coming. Carole Jones and her team started the Vale Pantry in Sturminster Newton with 100 clients. That quickly rose to 150, but today there are 240 families on the books. In the last couple of weeks, the team has seen a significant rise in requests for assistance. Carole said: “This last week we

have had an unprecedented number of new applications.

Around 70 per cent of them now come from pensioners - who have never asked for help before in their lives. So many are proud and have been in tears about asking for help - it’s incredibly sad.

“It was a surprise to us about the number of people of retirement age who are on pensions or working and unable to make ends meet. And older people always feel guilty about it as they think someone else is worse off than them.”

The Pantry has looked at ways of making sure there is room for everyone who needs it. For example, clients who are beginning to return to work have access on a fortnightly basis. The end of the month before people are paid is the time of heaviest demand. In the last week

of April, the Pantry received 12 new applications; and requests continue to flow in. That’s a five per cent rise in a week. Just imagine if things continue to rise at that rate.

The Tipping Point

Many of us are checking prices right now and have noticed the rise in costs everywhere. Most of us are looking at ways to cut back on spending. So what is tipping people over the edge? Carole has seen the plight of people stuck on contracts.

“We have people who have looked at cancelling subscriptions such as Sky or mobile phones to cut back. However, they found they are on a contract that they cannot get out of, and that is leading to more debt. There is no leeway. And then there are people who are on a meter for their energy supplies for all kinds of reasons, including previous debt. Those people can’t change their tariffs,

“older people always feel guilty. They think someone else is worse off than them”

so the bills are higher. One family had a bill of £180 for nine days. And come October, it will be worse. It’s a perfect storm.”

There are also reports of people not being able to afford the basics. For example, families have reported to Carole that they have received notification that they can no longer access NHS dentistry in Sturminster Newton.

“A parent told me they can’t afford £36 for each child to have a check-up at the dentist.”

How to Help the Situation

The team are looking at tips for people to save energy. Carole continued: “For example, a slow cooker uses significantly less energy than a four ring hob- and you have a one-pot meal.” The team already receive generous donations of fresh

threads of help together. Ideally, I’d like our own citizens’ advisor who can work with people to see what benefits they might be eligible for, such as free school meals for children. It would also be nice to have a hardship fund.”

vegetables from Gold Hill Organic Farm during the growing season.

Carole is also working to help Ukrainian refugees settle in the area. “We have pledged to support all the Ukrainians who need our help.”

She is looking ahead to the colder months. “It will be a challenging year. We are pulling all kinds of

How can readers could help Carole is clear. “If people can set up a standing order for a regular donation, it would help us a lot. We are now a registered charity, so we can claim gift aid. Our running costs are £3,000 a WEEK at present. People think everything is free, but we have to buy in the food. If I could raise our revenue to £4,000 or 5,000, it will help us support more people in need and be able to plan ahead.”

To find out more about Vale Pantry, either to register for help or to donate, contact www. or call 07968 348481.

Life doesn’t stand still. Some events you can predict, plot and carefully plan for. Others come out of the blue and send you reeling. Whatever you’re facing, we’re here to help. Clear. Approachable. And as individual as you are. Call us on 01722 398137. “Our running costs are £3,000 a WEEK. People misunderstandwe have to buy in the food”


1958 – 2022

‘I’ll always remember his infectious laugh and wicked sense of humour’

Philip was born in 1958, growing up in Sturminster Newton where he attended primary school before moving on to Blandford upper school. Enjoying a brief spell as a Tesco management trainee, Philip joined the family business in 1979, which was then a successful agricultural steel fabrication and hardware business. He soon set to work steering this wellestablished business in a new direction, turning it into a

thriving country department store before taking over directorship from his father Eddie in the early 90s.

I first met Philip when I was working at the original Blackmore Vale Magazine. He would turn up at the office with visuals for adverts that he’d cut and pasted together (usually to a completely different shape than the advert he’d booked). Luckily, we seemed to be on the same wavelength, and I was able to

decipher his ideas and turn them into what he was after.

As I got to know him better, we’d spend more time chatting and partaking in some light-hearted banter, which was the first time I experienced his infectious laugh. It was during these chats that he would always enquire about ‘how the family were doing?’, a phrase that will forever remind me of Philip. At the time I was new to parenting and he took great

“We are sad to say ‘farewell’ to a community-minded employer, a stalwart of local business, and simply my friend” says Jon Dart
Philip pictured with his wife Wendy at his retirement party in 2019

delight in my lack of sleep, stories of leaking nappies and basic ineptitude at being a parent.

And it was clear that family played such an important role in Philip’s life. Proud of his father and grandfather’s lineage in the family business; besotted with Wendy, his wife and childhood sweetheart; his sister Linda and his two sons Johnathan and Graham and their families. And also his extended family, which is what he called the employees that worked with him. He surrounded himself with everything that made him happy.

‘He didn’t make a fuss’

So how did I end up becoming part of Philip’s extended family? I very nearly didn’t. He’d sent me an email, and right at the bottom he’d made a passing comment that they were looking for someone to do their marketing, which I intially missed. But that was the way with Philip. He wasn’t showy, he didn’t make a fuss, he just went about running his business in his own unique style.

I can still remember my first day - the London 2012 Summer Olympics had just come to a close, the sun was shining and Philip was there waiting to greet me in the

Philip with his wife Wendy, and sons Johnathan (far left) and Graham

car park. The pride he had in showing me around and introducing me to everyone confirmed I’d made the right choice.

Although a shrewd and successful businessman, full of ideas and visions to better the business, Philip always had time to talk and would bend over backwards to help you. His infectious laugh and wicked sense of humour could diffuse even the tensest of situations (it could also get him into trouble

on occasions). That laugh never failed to put a smile on your face, but for all of his joviality, Philip was also a much-respected pillar of the local community, providing employment to a rural area, initiating and contributing to local events and supporting local charities with vigour and passion.

Another fond memory was seeing Philip bestowed with an Honorary Achievement Award in 2019 for his hard work and dedication to the housewares sector and for taking his family business into its 100th year.

It was an honour to have known Philip as a friend, and to have worked for him. I shall miss him immensely, as I suspect will anyone who has had the good fortune to have known him.

Philip receiving his honorary achievement award at the 2019 Excellence in Housewares Awards

The Iron Man of Sturminster!

At the age of 11, Ian Ring was ‘mucking around with metal’. He now runs a world heritage ironwork business in Sturminster Newton image Courtenay Hitchcock

‘Forging ahead to restore the past’ seems a good motto for Ian Ring, who owns Newton Forge, the Sturminster-based World Heritage business, whose work is in demand across the UK. Tracie Beardsley reports in A Country Living

At the age of 11, Ian Ring was ‘mucking around with metal’. It was time well spenthe’s now running a world heritage ironwork business in Sturminster Newton.

As Managing Director of Newton Forge, Ian Ring would be the first to say he’s still happier in the workshop with hammer and anvil than in front of his computer.

When we meet, his hands and sweatshirt are covered in carbon iron dust. He’s just finished helping his team constructing a stunning iron spiral staircase for a private client in London.

Shed full of ambition Newton Forge began life in a chicken shed in 1980 on Ian’s uncle’s farm near Newton Hill and now has a portfolio of clients which reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of historical buildings. They include: The Royal Courts of Justice; The Langham Hotel; Hotel Café Royal; Berkely Square; Blackfriars Bridge; Kingston Lacy and numerous other National trust properties. Ian’s about to tender for roof restoration on the Houses of Parliament and the famous glasshouse at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Many projects demand nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements – Ian has worked inside some incredible palaces and magnificent mansions - but he must remain tight-lipped about them.

Despite all the grandeur of these huge historical assignments in glamorous cities around the UK, his favourite project is just down the road in Sturminster Newton! The Mayor has just unveiled the restored

town pump. A car ploughed into it and the pump, which dates back to 1908, was smashed. “It was a bit like putting Humpty Dumpty back together,” Ian explains. “It was very rewarding as it’s an historical landmark for the town. Being local to our offices, I see it every day.”

As an apprentice blacksmith straight from school, Ian exhibited at local country shows, selling handmade fire

baskets and wall lights. Six years later, the master blacksmith and his wife Karen started their own company which progressed from chicken shed to a barn in Stalbridge Lane, then to Manston and finally Butts Pond Industrial Estate where it’s been for the past three years.

Training new ‘smiths The 22-strong team has more than 200 years’ experience

As Managing Director of Newton Forge, Ian Ring would be the first to say he’s still happiest in the workshop with hammer and anvil. image Courtenay Hitchcock

The craft of blacksmithing originated in the cradle of Syria, around 1500 BC. The skill spread across the continents, from the Middle East to Asia to Europe. Blacksmiths in the medieval period were vital in both military and domestic settings. There was historical opposition between the heavy work of the blacksmith and the more delicate operation of a whitesmith, who usually worked in lighter metals such as tin, or the finishing steps of fine steel.

between them. There’s also keen support for future generations. Students from Kingston Maurward college learn metalworking skills on day-release and some former students are now on the Forge payroll.

Ian’s passion for his trade is obvious. ‘’I always knew I wanted to do traditional high-

“We’re about to start work on some damaged gates at Hyde Park. That’s a big job in itself, but we’ve also got to work out the logistics of getting the gates back to Dorset for repair”

end metalwork,” he recalls. And he’s true to his word. The company’s symbol is an old blacksmith’s hammer and most of the work is done by hand, although the forge also has

Image Courtenay Hitchcock
“How to crane huge iron railings over the top of a skyscraper when you’re installing balustrades at the Royal College of Surgeons – that sort of thing keeps me awake at night”
Image Courtenay Hitchcock

“When I handle ironwork that’s been created hundreds of years ago, I can’t help but think about the boy or man who held it first. Was it the apprentice in his shiny shoes and apron?”

state-of-the-art equipment.

“We do get some work engineered or laser-profiled. Sometimes we may need 3D models which is where the modern side kicks in.” Restoration is now a high proportion of the work in the forge alongside reproductions matching original historical ironwork.

“We’re about to start work on some damaged gates at Hyde Park. That’s a big job in itself, but we’ve also got to work out the logistics of getting the gates back to Dorset for repair and work out what we can do safely on-site in London.”

It’s no surprise Ian’s not a great sleeper. “I do a lot of problem solving at night,” he admits. “How to crane huge iron railings over the top of a skyscraper when you’re installing balustrades at the Royal College of Surgeons

– that sort of thing keeps me awake at night. I’ll come into the office next morning, admittedly a bit sleepy, but I can tell the team – ‘this is how we’re going to do it’!”


Quick-fire questions with Ian:

A-list dinner party guests past or present?

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Muhammad Ali and Winston Churchill. I’d also love to talk to a blacksmith from the past.

I write poetry (it’s not very good!) about the ghosts of blacksmiths. When I handle ironwork that’s been created hundreds of years ago, I can’t help but think about the boy or man who held it first, was it the apprentice in his shiny shoes and apron? I love to envisage the back story behind the historical object.

Books on your bedside?

I’m an audio book fan. I struggle to get to sleep. I can tune in and may eventually doze off. It’s easier than sitting up and reading a book in bed.

I get through dozens and they’re great when I’m on the road working on projects away from home.

Favourite TV show?

I don’t get much time to watch TV but I do like the Repair Shop. In fact, I’d love to be on the team!

Even with advances in technology, many of the earliest techniques and tools are essentially unchanged in modern blacksmithing. Blacksmithing hammers come in various shapes, weights, and head styles that perform the different techniques of manipulating metal.

Co-educational day and boarding school Nursery - Pre-Prep - Prep - Senior - Sixth Form To arrange a visit: 01749 834441 School transport available

Covent Garden Dance Company Director Matt Brady takes on the Random 19

Matt Brady, Director of The Covent Garden Dance Company, who created Ballet Under the Stars at Hatch House, is celebrating the event’s return this summer, after a three year absence.

On 22nd, 23rd and 24th July audiences in the beautiful 17th century walled Dutch garden venue just north of Shaftesbury can enjoy an incredible line-up of dancers - many of them Principal dancers from companies including the National Ballet of Ukraine, The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and Staatsballett Berlin. Xander Parish returns to the Hatch theatre this year dancing with his wife, Anastasia Demidova.

1. What’s your relationship with the Blackmore Vale (the loose North Dorset area, not us!)?

I have lived in the area for nearly 40 years on and off, it’s very much my base and where my parents settled so it’s really home. One of my enduring memories of the Blackmore Vale was in my early twenties, I used to exercise horses for a Point to Point stables owned by the trainer John Duffossy. John used to have a copy of a magazine rolled up and would clip me round the ear with it every time I turned up late to ride - which was quite often! It didn’t make me arrive any earlier so he was always waiting for me.

As a child I would spend much of the holidays fishing on the Stour for pike. Long days of walking river banks and desperately trying to catch the monster pike! A lot of time was also spent riding in the Stourhead woods on the badly behaved ponies of many friends, being thrown off frequently and having to walk home.

2. What was the last song you sang out loud in your car? That’s a tough one! I’m not really sure … but I have a vague recollection of singing Zero by Imagine Dragons VERY loudly with my stepson Jack not so

long ago and the dog hiding his head under the blankets in the Land Rover.

3. Who is your celebrity crush?

It’s a secret … In case they are reading this or if I meet them!! (if I had to say then the genius that is Jodie Comer is wonderful …but so is Scarlett Johansson … both so talented and brilliant!)

4. It’s Friday night - you have the house to yourself, and no work is allowed. What are you going to do?

Hahahahaha ... That is between a man and his four walls. But realistically …probably

something really boring like DIY… I have a passion for restoring and making things. I recently built a cabin on the lake. Very proud of that. Love staying in it when it is not rented out. (see it on Insta @ the_Bruton_BoatHouse ;) )

5. What was the last movie you watched? Would you recommend it?

I actually had time to watch two movies one Sunday night recently; ‘The Gentleman’ by Guy Ritchie - one of my fave directors - followed by ‘A Good Year’ by Ridley Scott. Love this movie, I’ve seen it so many times but it re-ignites my love

interview by Laura Hitchcock
Matt Brady, Director of The Covent Garden Dance Company, who created Ballet Under the Stars at Hatch House, is celebrating the event’s return this summer, after a three year absence.

Matt in the car with his dog Panda “Tibetan terriers are great at sulking”

crackling heat, the effortless shabby chic.

I lived in France for three years in my late teens and early twenties, it was one of the happiest times of my life.

6. What is your comfort meal?

Mac ‘n Cheese, I make a really delicious one, it’s an old recipe and I love it.

I do have a second choiceHeinz Ravioli on toast …with grated parmesan on top.

7. What would you like to tell 15yr old you?


Oh… and finish your studies!

8. The best crisps flavour?

I love a Pringle. But also love prawn cocktail Walkers… Difficult to choose.

strong place in my life.

9. And the best biscuit for dunking?

This is random, but probably a Fig Roll? Does that count? Or is a roll excluded?

VIP Choccie Hobnob, if so.

10. What shop can you not pass without going in?

A great old fashioned fishing tackle shop. I spent so much of my childhood on rivers and lakes in the shire, fishing and walking. There were some really wonderful old school tackle shops when I was a kid round here. They were always filled with amazing curiosities and inventions, spinning lures and hand-tied flies … It was what I spent my pocket money on. There was always something new to buy to try and catch that

lurked in the deep pool beneath the weir on the Stour!

11. What book did you read last year that stayed with you? What made you love it?

I re-read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin … It is one of those books.

My father gave it to me years ago and said you must read. I then gave it back to him when he was fighting the Big C (a battle he lost in 2016) … It gave him great joy again and always gives me great joy.

And yes, (spoiler alert) I cry like a baby when Carlo dies.

12. Cats or dogs?

My amazing dog Panda, who’s three, is staring at me right now, so what can I say?

Tibetan terriers are great at sulking, so my hands are tied.


He’s always there for me and always happy to see me.

13. What was the last gift you gave someone?

Flowers to my amazing mum. She is going through a really tough time at the moment fighting bone cancer. She is just amazing.

14. What’s your most annoying trait? All of them?

The most annoying is maybe driving my PR mad by always having a million things happening all at the same time. And usually she is on the phone having to listen to me do them! (she is long suffering!)

15. Tell us about one of the best evenings you’ve ever had?

Honestly? The Tenth Anniversary celebrations of the ballets at Hatch House in July 2019. It

sounds self-serving but after 10 years of struggle to keep the dream alive, it all came together in such a spectacular way that made everything worthwhile. The whole team felt it. We were already sold out for 2020 just months after that 10th anniversary show. It was a testament to everyone’s amazing work and artistry. Covid unfortunately had other ideas, obviously, so it is great to be back producing our flagship show at Hatch House this summer.

16. What’s your secret superpower?

Never giving up? When putting on live events and shows you always have to think on your feet, it is something you develop over the years. But what you really need more than anything is grit - the ability to not give up. Even when it’s got really tough. Stopping is not an option.

17. Your favourite quote?

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope”. Martin Luther King Jnr from his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington DC on August 28th, 1963. So much wisdom from one man, it’s difficult to choose one thing. It is about never giving up, it is about when things look bad or insurmountable … there is always a stone of hope.

18. Chip Shop Chips or Home Baked Cake?

Chip shop chips! Lots of salt and vin - Mere Fish and Chips is great! I always pop in there to grab some on my way to see friends.

19. You have the power to pass one law tomorrow, uncontested. What would you do?

I’d pass a law to allow me to pass a law every year uncontested, so I have more time to think about what law would really make a difference!


Open air theatre - some things just taste better outdoors

THERE are more chances than ever before to enjoy a show in the open air this summer, as familiar and new companies tour classics, fresh adaptations and new shows to gardens, village greens and interesting venues all around the area.

It’s even worth planning to travel a little further from home to see some of the events on offer, packing up your folding chairs and picnics and encamping for a night of drama, comedy, colour, music and inventive fun. Several of the regular touring companies have included ‘family friendly’ shows for summer 2022,

aimed specifically at younger audiences. The schedules also include performances of Shakespeare and other classics, performed in the alfresco style that makes a perfect introduction to live theatre, in a more relaxed setting.

How about introducing young theatre-goers to its joys in summer at an open air show as well as in winter at the pantomime?

Something for everyone

This season in our area, 13 companies are offering a total of 24 shows from May through to

September. Some of the settings are so spectacular that it’s worth making a special journey. Some might be on a field in a nearby village, and some will be in walled gardens, natural amphitheatres and gardens of large houses near where you live.

You can choose between a whole range of styles from broad comedy to classic storytelling, performed by small(ish) companies sometimes on bicycles, sometimes all female or all male, some with an emphasis on music, some on clowning. Or just take a chance...


The first show of the season in our area comes from Illyria, whose Peter Pan will be in the ECOS Amphitheatre at Frome on 29th May, and also at Sherborne Castle Gardens (17 June), the dramatic Corfe Castle (4 August) and Kingstone Lacy (18 August). The company has three shows on tour this summer, with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Pirates of Penzance both at ECOS and Sherborne Castle Gardens later in the summer.

Like food and music, there’s something special about open air theatre - Gay Pirrie-Weir shares the wide range of this summer’s outdoor performances
Three Inch Fools are bringing
this summer:
Twelfth Night and The Gunpowder Plot. Festival
Players have chosen A Midsummer Night’s Dream for their 2022 season

Lord Chamberlain’s Men

The all-male Lord Chamberlain’s Men, whose music is always a special feature, bring As You Like It to Salisbury Cathedral Close on 10th and 11th June, the new venue Octagon in the Country Park on 29 June, Kingston Lacy near Wimborne on 28 July and Breamore House on 27 August.


Chapterhouse is touring Cinderella (Corfe Castle 28 July), Romeo and Juliet (Holme for Gardens Wareham 7 July) and Pride and Prejudice (Kingston Lacy 12 August, Yeovil Country Park 27 August).

Festival Players

Festival Players have chosen A Midsummer Night’s Dream, coming to Halstock on 10 June, Shaftesbury Abbey on 25 June and the beautiful Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, 18 August.

Folksy Theatre

Folksy Theatre is touring Much Ado About Nothing (12 August) and Alice in Wonderland (6 August) to Holme for Gardens near Wareham. Alice will also be performed at the amphitheatre by the Marine in Lyme Regis on 12 August.


The Handlebards, travelling from venue to venue on their bikes, perform Twelfth Night at Maumbury Rings in Dorchester (19 June).

Heartbreak Productions

Heartbreak Productions, with the longest tour of three shows, all through England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, performing Jane Eyre, Awful Auntie and Much Ado About Murder. They are at

Wells Bishop’s Palace with Jane Eyre (11 August), Awful Auntie at Maumbury Rings on 13 August and Much Ado About Murder at Holme for Gardens on 9 June and Athelhampton House on 21 July.

Pantaloons Pantaloons come to Montacute House with The War of the Worlds on 25 June and Much Ado About Nothing on 1 July.

Quantum Theatre Quantum Theatre is touring The Reluctant Dragon, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tale of Peter Rabbit, coming to Salisbury Cathedral Close (RD 16 August - PR 17 August), Brympton D’Evercy (MND and PR 26 June).

Rain or Shine

The Recruiting Officer, performed dashingly by Rain or Shine, is at Salisbury on 17 June, Holme for Gardens on 23 June, and Beaminster Manor on 26 June.

Rude Mechanicals

The ever-enjoyable Rude Mechanicals always tour a new show, and this year’s is God and

Dogs, a comic dystopian allegory set in 2084. See it at East Farm Tarrant Monkton on 20 July, the village hall field at Stourpaine on 21 July, Mill Farm at Bradford Abbas on 22 July or Child Okeford recreation ground on 23 July.

Slapstick Picnic Slapstick Picnic performs The Importance of Being Earnest, with tea, at Lyme Regis Marine on 15 July.

Three Inch Fools

Three Inch Fools, another company whose shows have lots of music, bring Twelfth Night to Corfe Castle on 11 August, Stourhead on 12 and 26 August and Higher Orchard at Sandford Orcas on 21 August. Their second show of 2022, The Gunpowder Plot, is at Stourhead on 13 and 27 August and Corfe Castle on 18 August.

Dates and times can change, and new dates may be added. Always check the company or the venue websites for more details - book early and hope that the weather gods cast a kindly eye on the night you have chosen.

The all-male Lord Chamberlain’s Men are touring with As You Like It

Weaving willow magic at Springhead

A story full of humour, pathos and energy, based on ancient of willow farming, is just one of Artsreach’s ‘must see’ events this year, says Fanny Charles

Willow planting, growing, harvesting and weaving. It’s one of Somerset’s most ancient industries, and it remained at the centre of life on the Somerset Levels until the middle of the 20th century.

Whispering Willows, a magical open-air show by Somerset based Wassail theatre company, is a moving evocation of the changing life of a willow worker, coming to Springhead Gardens, Fontmell Magna, on Saturday 11th June as part of the 2022 summer programme from Artsreach, Dorset’s rural touring arts charity.

It’s 1929. Morris has been planting, harvesting, basket making and drinking tea on his Somerset willow farm since before he can remember. Every year the pattern repeats itself. Plant, harvest, weave. Plant, harvest, weave...

…she’s a complete nuisance!

One day he pulls up a particularly large piece of willow with a girl clinging to the end of it! She eats too much, breaks everything in his workshop and is a complete nuisance. But as time moves on, they teach each other the ways of the willow. Planting, harvesting, weaving... the cycle continues, and all is well until the chaos of the Second World War and the invention of plastic threaten to destroy the farm and their livelihoods. Can they find a new use for willow before it’s too late?

Pack a picnic and join Wassail in Springhead Gardens for a beautiful, non-verbal story that’s suitable for all the family, with puppets crafted from Somerset willow and an evocative original soundtrack. It’s a story full of humour, pathos and energy.

Also showing locally…

The Exchange at Sturminster Newton has two very different Artsreach events – a visit by contemporary

dance company New Art Club on 14th May, and the stars of tomorrow’s stage, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School on tour with Vanity Fair on 30th June. New Art Club’s Cupid’s Revenge is a comedy dance theatre piece, exploring love in all its many joyful, tragic, infuriating and hilarious facets.

One of the greatest English novels, Vanity Fair is a brilliant satire on early 19th century society. It is a tale of intrigue, survival and sexual politics starring the irresistible but deeply selfish Becky Sharp and sweet-natured Emmy Sedley tumbling their way through the exploitative and hazardous playground of the English upper class in war and peace.

Stomping bluegrass Stomping virtuoso bluegrass trio Old Baby Mackerel will rattle the rafters at Winterborne Stickland’s Pamela Hambro Hall on 1st July and Marnhull village hall on 8th July. The band’s songs dramatise the small-town fascination with locomotion, the trials of murderous drunks and the veneration of whisky and bootleg liquor.

Lucky pigeons

A new name on the local summer scene, Brainfools come to Stalbridge village hall garden on Sunday 14th August at 2pm, with Lucky Pigeons. A young businessman struggles with the demands of city life and, after losing his job, takes his frustrations out on a group of pigeons. Karma soon returns however, and the man finds himself turned into a pigeon, where he quickly learns about the playful world of this misunderstood animal. The show is performed by skilled circus and aerial performers.


Now you can just listen to the BV!

This month the BV team launched a podcast- simply a ‘best bits’ version of the BV magazine, so you can now listen to it every month

We were so excited to launch the BV Magazine podcast! Months in the planning, weeks in the making… and we’ve found two perfect local voices in Jenny Devitt and Terry Bennett. Not to replace the magazine – never that – the podcast is simply a ‘best bits’. Because we totally understand that no matter how good the magazine, sometimes reading on your screen isn’t practical. But maybe you can enjoy listening while you’re baking, driving, knitting, gardening, crafting, walking … and now we’re here for you!

Jump right in

If you’re a podcast fan, then you can step right in and catch up on the April issue (May’s will be

out next week; we have to give Terry & Jenny time to record it yet!) – just look for ‘BV Magazine’ on your favourite platform (we’re still waiting on Google to approve us, but we should be everywhere else, including Apple, Spotify, Alexa and TuneIn), or just hit play on the picture below.

I don’t know what a Podcast is!

If you’re not even sure what a podcast is – fear not. It’s simply an audio version of the magazine – like an audiobook, which you can start, pause and stop, and listen to whenever and wherever it suits you.

Don’t be frightened of the length - just dip in and out, and it will always remember where you got to, and pick back up where you

left off. It’s super easy if you’ve never done it before – no need to go anywhere special, or for special programmes on your computer or apps on your phone or tablet. The easiest way is to simply use headphones with your phone, or just prop up your iPad nearby, turn up the volume and press play below. Then simply get on while Jenny & Terry talk you through the latest BV stories. We’re still working on the format, so do let us know what you think. In the meantime – we hope you enjoy episode one!

The BV Magazine podcast is available on all major platforms and on the website, and each month will release approximately a week after the magazine


“James Herriott has a lot to answer for” - Dorset Island Discs

David Sidwick was elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset in May 2021.

David was born and raised in Dorset, and his working life has been spent in the pharmaceutical industry. For nearly two decades, his company STAC Consultancy facilitated the education of more than 17,500 secondary care consultants in areas such as chronic pain, epilepsy, dementia and multiple sclerosis.

£5,000 for magic

While on holiday in the US, David and his wife visited a key shop – which offered magic tutorials as a side line (of course it didEd). David had always been keen to learn, and he immediately signed up. The owner of the shop then provided David and his wife with tickets for the Magic Castle in Los Angeles – a venue only open to registered magicians, and their specially invited guests. The Harry Potteresque experience of visiting this

clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts cemented David’s love of magic – and lead him, years later, to being paid £5,000 for his magic skills. In fairness, it wasn’t a big show: he was working with a training company who were struggling to enliven a course on organisation and planning for pharma sales reps – David pitched the idea of doing it via a magic routine, and they accepted!

Dinner dates

Apart from politicians, David can put on his CV that he has had dinner with Sir Terry Wogan, Sir Patrick Stewart, Raymond Blanc, Dan and Peter Snow, Rick Stein, George Lazenby - and Q!

His favourite dinner date?

“Sir Terry Wogan. By a long way. What a lovely, lovely man. He

just got slightly squiffy with my wife! Lady Wogan reassured me it ‘happens all the time’.”

And so to David’s eight music choices, along with how and why they stuck in his life:

The Quartermasters Stores

My parents ran an off licence, and their only time off throughout my childhood was Sunday afternoons (2-7pm!). This meant I spent lots of my free time with my grandparents, and treasured Sunday afternoon trips with mum and dad. The Quartermaster Stores was the song we always sang in the car, and hearing it takes me right back to sitting on the back seat, heading home from a day in the Dorset countryside.

David Sidwick is about to celebrate his first anniversary as Dorset’s Police Crime Commissioner. He shares his top eight music choices with us

The James Herriott Theme

I grew up determined to be a vet. Until the age of 21, it was all I wanted to be. But just before my final exams, I was very unwell – I did the exams, but underperformed and failed to get the grades. Reassuringly, I was offered a place at Bristol to study Anatomical Science, with the plan of applying again to switch courses the following year.

However, in the meantime James Herriot appeared on TV, and the world and his wife suddenly wanted to be a vet. Competition was so fierce I never did get my vet placement and after finishing my degree I joined the Pharma industry.

James Herriott has a lot to answer for.

Hallelujah Leonard Cohen

In the year 2000 my wife walked into a bar where I was drinking… and I fell in love. She is a huge Cohen fan, and this will always remind me of her. She’s supported me through three long years of full time campaiging to be PCC. We fit.

I love her to bits.

The Gambler Kenny Rogers

I love a song with a story, and this is just a great tale of redemption! I’ve learned over the years that I’m just a visual learner; it’s one of the reasons that I often struggle with classical music, it’s difficult to absorb unless I can see it visually too.


For me this just resonates with everything I love about the Dorset countryside. In my Pharma rep days I would

drive the length and breadth of the county, hunting down tiny villages to find the local GP surgeries. I developed a deep love of the special, quirky, often hidden parts of our county. It’s that feeling that drives one of my main policing commitments – I’m aware that we really need to get things right for the enormous rural part of our county. Until this year the Rural Crime Team has been effectively a token gesture - it has now trebled in size, and is being properly funded.

Every Breath You Take The Police

Oh, this song just screams STALKER, doesn’t it? I know many perceive it as a love song, and Sting says it’s for his daughter… but to me it’s just a personal representation of one of the most nasty crimes, and one which has only got worse as modern technology has developed. I am determined to change the victim experience of stalking in Dorset – I have installed an independent advisor to help victims, and this year I asked the police to scrutinise the Stalking Protection Orders, how they’re used and to be certain they are correctly resourced. In times past this was one of


those crimes which was often shrugged off as ‘nothing we can do’ – and that is simply no longer the case.

Bohemian Rhapsody Queen

Okay, I can’t sing a note. I really can’t. But I don’t care – I’m a proud lover of karaoke, and this is the one I sing! No one ever faulted my ambition… In the movie of the same name, Freddie Mercury’s life is openly intertwined with his drug use, and the song segues nicely as a representation of my work on drug issues. Dorset has one the top ten areas of opioid and cocaine use in the UK. That’s not a stat I’m proud of, and we’re working from many angles to ensure we don’t stay on the hit list. It’s not a simple solution, obviously, but recently five PCCs working together saw an operation take £400,000 of drugs off the streets. In Dorset with Operation Viper we’re addressing County Lines, drug dealers, and anti-social drug users, but there’s still so much more to do. Apologies, slightly off my Bohemian Rhapsody track!

The Bright Side of Life Monty Python

Because we all need some JOY! We have to keep looking forward, staying positive. It’s a silly, fun song, but also it’s about

a philosophy. I think we need to strive to be Winnie the Pooh, not Eeyore.

And if the waves were to wash all your records away but you had time to save just one, which would it be?

Monty Python – if I’m stuck alone on a desert island, I’m going to need some cheering up.

My book

The Lord of the Rings. It’s so much more than the classic tale of good vs. evil. My favourite part of the book(s) – I’m taking the complete collection in one volume and you can’t stop me –is the part the movie franchise entirely skipped. It’s a testament to our countryside, and a cry

against industrialisation. The part when the hobbits return to the Shire is one of the most powerful and resonant.

My luxury item

Robinson Crusoe, the board game. I love board games (I have an occasional slot on Hope FM as their resident board game fanatic) – it’s a family activity, and a slight obsession. I have a collection of 120, and I just love playing them. Unusually you can play Robinson Crusoe as a one player game (handy on my island), and I thought it might provide some useful hints and tips on survival too.

here to listen to David’s entire playlist on YouTube

For peace of mind that stays with you.

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All views are welcome!

Every day that the House of Commons sits, the day’s proceedings begin with prayers. Those prayers are led by the Speaker’s Chaplain. We pray for wise counsel, for the Queen, The Commonwealth and for the Country. We pray that we be motivated by the best of intentions and that we set aside all private interests and prejudices. This part of the Parliamentary day is never broadcast. It is intensely private. Irrespective of the Speakers’ religion, if indeed they have any, the Chaplain must be drawn from the Anglican Church. The Palace of Westminster is just that, a palace. The Chaplaincy is known as a Royal Peculiar (a somewhat peculiar title of itself) because the appointment is made with the permission and agreement of the Sovereign. The Sovereign herself is of course, Supreme Governor of the Church of England. At the other end of the building in the House

of Lords, Church of England Bishops sit, by dint of office, solely because we have an Established Church, and that Church has to be represented within the Legislature: the Lords Spiritual and Temporal. The Lord Chancellor of England & Wales is involved with the recommendation of Bishops to the Sovereign. The upcoming Queen’s Speech will conclude with the time-honoured phrase: “I pray that the Blessings of

Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey (or the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster to give it its correct title) is a “Royal Peculiar” under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign and not to any archbishop or bishop.

Almighty God may rest upon your counsels”. The relationship between (Established) Church and State is manifest and intricately interwoven. It will remain so unless or until the Church of England is disestablished. I gleaned from Radio 4 (another National Treasure) that only the UK and Iran have clerics within their respective legislatures as a matter of right. I shall leave that particular fact there.

Free speech

I raise the above to try to demonstrate why it is perfectly proper for our religious leaders to be able to speak out on issues of politics or policy. They do so from a moral/ ethical starting point. Those bishops can make their points in the House of Lords and no one would bat an eyelid. But some would have you believe, make it from the pulpit, and the terrors of Hell are unleashed and the foundations of Civilisation shaken to their

The Archbishop of Canturbury has every right to comment on political decisions – and politicians must listen, argues Simon Hoare MP

very core. Commentary from our religious should be challenging, thought provoking and invite soul searching. Woe betide we should have clerics along the lines of Are You Being Served’s young Mr Grace who only seemed to intone ‘you’re all doing very well’.

I am a Roman Catholic and wear my faith lightly. I try not to moralise or believe I can deduce the view of The Almighty myself. I like to hear the views of leaders of all religions. However, what I do know is that Christ’s message, at the forefront of so many minds during the Easter Season, was challenging. Outcast shepherds rather than local notables at the Nativity Stable. Prostitutes, tax collectors welcomed. The innocence of children preferred over their elders. Hypocrisy, pride and hubris all shot

down. The poor rewarded over the rich. If Christ himself challenged the rulers of the day, faced into the accepted wisdoms, grabbed people and shook them, why shouldn’t those who carry forward the Apostolic message today?

It is indeed their duty and calling to do so.

Criticism is never comfortable to hear. We are all human. We know that. But being uncomfortable and challenged is a necessary part of our daily and political discourse. We cannot shy away from it. Criticism is not always right. It does not necessarily lead to a Government or public

policy having to be changed or abandoned. It does not always have to be elegantly phrased or robed in some Delphic, nuanced cloak that is beyond understanding to all but the Mystics. Sometimes I will agree. Other times I won’t. However, I will champion up until the end their right to speak out. Any politician who seeks to diminish that right, belittle the speaker or mute the voice cannot lay legitimate claim to the mantle of democrat or demonstrate an understanding as to how our delicate and centuriesdeveloped modus operandi works.

“I like to hear the views of leaders of all religions. Criticism is never comfortable to hear. But being uncomfortable and challenged is a necessary part of our daily and political discourse”

Vote for those you trust

You may have missed events at a Dorset Council meeting last month. First, the Tories voted against a motion calling for national legislation to be strengthened to allow councils to reject fossil fuel applications. Second, a vote favour of a motion calling for the opening up of more oil and coal fields in the UK.

It seems clear that Dorset Tories were never serious about taking action to avert a climate catastrophe, and their support of a Climate Emergency Declaration in recent years feels nothing more than ‘greenwash’. In short, this is a significant backwards step for Dorset Council that shows the Tories can’t be trusted on climate.

Sadly, these events were overshadowed by two ladies with a tube of glue who stuck themselves to a table to interrupt proceedings as a protest against the motions.

With the ‘glance and scroll’ many of us now consume the news, it was this desperate but illconceived way they expressed their message (rather than the message itself) that took the headlines both locally and nationally.

The Tories will no doubt be feeling relieved that they were gifted the opportunity to brush off legitimate climate concerns by fanning the flames of controversy around what appeared to be little more than a storm in a teacup.

Stay accountable

Dorset Tories shouldn’t simply be let off the hook for inflicting a deliberate act of climate crisis self-harm on all of us. Neither is it necessary to take extreme, headline grabbing action to hold them to account.

If you’re as serious about the climate emergency as I am, you’ll write to your local Tory councillor and tell them what you think about those votes. Then you’ll vote in the next election in favour of a candidate that you feel you actually can trust on climate.

“We’re focusing on the wrong people”

The Government is punishing the victims of cross-channel trafficking, not the perpetrators, says north Dorset Lib Dems’ Mike Chapman.

I had only just got over the ‘let them eat cake’ resonance of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, when I heard of the proposal to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda on a one-way ticket.

I am probably being a bit unfair, but I was immediately reminded of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal.’ Its title carries on’…For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country and For making them Beneficial to the Publick’.

The Proposal, of course, is that the rich should eat the poor starvelings, (preferably in a casserole!).

So, how is it that people with the multi-national background of the Prime Minster, Chancellor and Home Secretary have stewed up such a proposal allowing them to sit in judgement over the

future lives of fugitives from war, repression and poverty?

Fair and reasonable?

It beggars belief that the way to break the criminal gangs is to victimise their prey even further.

The ‘system’ seems to have lost its ability to be fair and reasonable and is lashing out with this makeor-break, immoral, unjust and damaging idea.

Much of the problem is born of the notion, now institutionalised, that we must make asylum application very slow and very hard because otherwise “they” (whoever “they” are) will all want to try to jump the immigration queue.

On the other hand, coming down hard in an internationally cooperative way on the smugglers seems wholly right and proper.

With the right investment in co-operative surveillance and intelligence, it cannot be beyond the wit of man to find them, and raise the stakes of their game considerably whilst delivering fair and reasonable asylum solutions. Whatever the outcome of our local elections, there is a strong case for those representatives forming the new unitary Somerset Council to leave their party badges at home.

It will take a massive effort to make the new council work.

If it all starts off on party lines, Us v Them, the losers are likely to be the people expecting the services and the positive changes they have been promised. These are hard yards building a new perspective, culture, system and process. Let’s approach it with goodwill all round.

Events at a Dorset council meeting made national headlines, but ultimately overshadowed the importance of the vote, says Labour’s Pat Osborne

Can we ‘Build back better’?

‘Build Back Better’. Great ambition, or just another meaningless slogan designed to make people think you’re worth voting for ?

Can we actually ‘Build Back Better’? Of course we can, and the blunt truth is that we simply have to. Not least because the present parlous state of the planet has been brought about by the failings of the existing political & economic models. They have allowed human greed for money and power to create systems that put profit before people and planet. With disastrous consequences, as so many of us are now beginning to realise.

First, though, we have to answer more questions: who

are we going to build back better for, what does building back better mean, and how are we going to go about it?

Answering those questions honestly will require us to set aside our differences, and work together. Not an easy task for some, I know, but surely an essential one.

The answer to the first question has to be ‘Everyone’. And not just in the interests of equality, as vitally important as that is. The ever-growing divide between the Haves and the Have Nots threatens to bring down our whole society. If that were to be allowed to happen then we would all lose, rich and poor alike.

I was much heartened by the

recent by-election in Lyme & Charmouth, which saw a slump in voter support for all three main parties and an astonishing 27% swing towards the Green Party. My pleasure was not because ‘We’ beat ‘Them’ but because the result shows that the mood of ordinary people is continuing to shift as their disillusionment grows with the failings and inequality of the present system. It also means there is now another voice on Dorset Council speaking for people and planet.

What’s not to like !

It’s not just a political slogan - we simply have to, argues the Green Party’s Ken Huggins

Letters to the Editor

When writing, please include your full name and address; we will not print this, but do require it.

Thank you, Gillingham

I would like to send my sincere thanks to three very kind Gillingham people.

On Wednesday morning 6 April I was cycling along Queen Street and had an accident which resulted in me being taken to hospital via ambulance - I had sustained a broken elbow.

The care, kindness and response from Rose Love, Susannah (resident of Queen Street) and a construction worker from nearby was superb. I need to extend my heartfelt thanks to them.

Kathleen Holden, Zeals


On low carbon farming

I agree with James Cossins column (BV April issue, p74). that we need to take food production in the UK seriously, not rely so much on imports, and that food shortages are an ever increasing danger.

However in one of the world’s most nature-depleted

countries we have to take the regeneration of nature seriously too. Intensive farming, with a high reliance on fertilisers (also discussed in George Hosford’s excellent column in the same issue), have degraded soils to a dangerous level over the last 70 years and made agriculture a major source of carbon emissions. Using this system we may have less than 30 years of top soil remaining to feed ourselves.

An integrated approach is both possible and desirable which produces low carbon agriculture, restores soils, combines growing crops with rewilding marginal land and caring for hedgerows and secures the UK’s food supply. It won’t happen if we keep making all the same old mistakes.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could provide us with that approach. Google it and ask your MP and local councillors to support it. John Marsh, Sherborne.

Neither the climate crisis nor the biodiversity collapse will wait for more favourable sociopolitical conditions for us to take a grip on our future. Whether we like it or not, it’s essential to support a global transition towards sustainable food systems, within which organic farming and other agroecological approaches are key.

The latest IPCC report says that global temperature is likely to increase by more than 3ºC in the coming decades. Severe harvest failures will become common.

The UK is already one of the world’s most naturedepleted countries – in the bottom 10% globally and last in the G7. The grim reality is that we have prioritised food above the environment for the last 60 years.

There is much talk of the need to intensify food production, but one third of food produced globally is going to waste. Just 55% of the world’s crop calories are directly eaten by humans; 36% is used for animal feed and 9% for industrial use. We need fundamental change in our diet, our food system and our consumption, not just ‘more food’.

The UK’s reliance on imported feed, fuel and other inputs are being magnified through the lens of Putin’s war but these issues within our food supply chain are not new.

We need systems that rely on less intensive use of increasingly scarce inputs in large part derived from fossil fuel resources.

Continued intensification will undoubtedly create an

Has a local issue incurred your wrath? Disagree with a BV article or columnist? Delighted with the service at a local business? Whatever your burning issue – let us know your thoughts. Join the others who write to us every month to express their views. Please send emails to

even greater long-term threat to UK food security, as our overall agricultural capacity will be undermined and irretrievably diminished.


The Podcast

What a terrific idea the new podcast is - thank you so much! I love the BV, and look forward to it every month. It stands head and shoulders above other ‘free magazines’ for its intelligence, humour, and sheer interesting content.

However - I am 73, and am not ashamed to admit that I do not love reading on my iPad for any length of time.

Two days ago I wasn’t sure what a ‘podcast’ was (turns out it’s no different to an audiobook, really).

But I have just spent a lovely afternoon baking in the kitchen, catching up on the April issue (I was one of those caught out by your technical issue last month). The podcast is the answer! I can now flip through the magazine to enjoy the stunning photography and art, and read the pages I love most. And now I can have the rest of it read to me! The voices you have selected are perfect (well done Jenny and Terry!), and on top of which, I achieved bonus points with my grandson when I told him on the phone ‘hold on while I pause my podcast’.

Thank you BV team!

Mary Grey, Wincanton


Book corner

I have finally acted upon my monthly impulse to write and tell you (a fact which I am sure you already know) how excellent Wayne Winstone’s book choices are every single month. He never fails to lure me in with his choices and descriptions, and those that I have purchased have fulfilled his promises perfectly.

I have found new popularity as

the giver of perfect books for gifts, I have discovered new authors for myself, and every month my ‘To Be Read’ pile grows a little. How refreshing it is to find intellligent, thoughtful recommendations that are not simply the latest ‘big hits’, but rather a quiet, thoughtful look at one or two truly well-written titles that in my own experience have always been worth seeking out.

It’s one of the must-read pages I flip to first. Thank you!

Karen Shaw, Wimborne


Learning how to read

I have noticed on your Index page that you encourage people to use the ‘clickable’ page numbers.

I had ignored this advice for a while - I am 76 years old, I think I know how to turn the pages of a magazine - even a digital one. But last month I did not read the whole magazine in one go, as

usual, and instead came back to it a few days later.

I remembered I had stopped at the antiques, so I tried out the index clicking.

Well. I now feel immensely clever. Because now I can really read the magazine the way I’ve always wanted to by using the index - the editors letter, then the letters page, the local history and Tales from the Vale, and then a check in with the deaths page. Back to the news, and then I can turn the pages as I wish until I reach the puzzles for a coffee break.

It’s a marvel. Apologies for not catching on sooner. I am rather aware you have been saying this for many months!

Gwen Hines, Wincanton (you’re not alone, Gwen - but I’m so glad you’ve worked it out. It’s such a big magazine most people take well over half an hour to read us so it makes sense to dip in and out - you do have a whole month til the next one, no need to rush it! - Ed)

“Bruton makes its bid for this years most confusing road signs…” Shared with us on Twitter by the Mayor of Bruton, Ewan Jones

The Spring Countryside Show

Organised by the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show team, the new two-day event showcased rural life and crafts as well as live music, steam engines and classic cars. James Cox, Event Organiser said “We are over the moon with the responses to the Spring Countryside Show. We set out on this venture back in the autumn and never expected it to gain the momentum it has. We were joined by so many craft producers, local traders and skilled rural individuals. The feedback on social media has been incredible.”

The BV team certainly had a great time! There was so much to see, but here’s our own personal highlights:

The Sheep Show

Brilliantly entertaining whilst being oddly educational - seriously do NOT miss this show when it’s back in the summer. Way more fun than one man and his sheep has any right to be.

The Farrier

For those of us not fortunate enough to have a horse, it’s a fascinating chance to see the farrier skills up close, and Sam is great at explaining as he goes

The Falconry display

I never miss the opportunity to watch Mere Down Falconry, it’s always a brilliant show. Made even more entertaining today by an unrepentantly bolshy falcon refusing to come home - he simply buzzed the crowd with flashy fly-bys, showing off his skills.

Heavy Horse Logging

It was amazing watching the team at work, and incredibly interesting to learn about the industry.

Jonathan Marshall’s Free Spirits Show

No one could walk past without stopping to watch the beauty of Jonathan’s Amadeus (yes, he’s been the Lloyds Bank black horse) and Aria the falcon. Not the show you’re expecting.

Terrier Racing

Hilarious! Think your dog has the speed? Enter them in the terrier racing (not just for terriers, we saw all sorts having a go) - it was just beautifully brilliant chaos. And the commentator was ace.


Seriously. Cheese, gin, great burgers, hog roast, jams, chills, pancakes, doughnuts, sausage rolls, cakes, fudge...


Now we are ten!

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting, £14.99

Sophie Irwin (daughter of Mike and Louise who own Castle Gardens in Sherborne) has been snapped up by major publisher HarperCollins. Her debut novel is a delicious, sassy, Austen-tatious novel about women’s self-advancement in the 19th Century.

The season is about to begin - and there’s not a minute to lose. Our heroine, Kitty Talbot, needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune.

This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches. With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost. Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? Time is running out and no one - not even a lord - will stand in her way...

Join us for a Talk and Signing with Sophie at Castle Gardens 17th May, 6.30 for 7pm, tickets £2 available from Winstone’s

The Sheep’s Tale by John Lewis-Stemple £12.99

An important book on several levels. Read a few sentences out loud, wherever you are: ‘We take a look at the Ryeland ewes, white and fat with fecundity. Replete with contentment.’

‘Contentment is a transmissible condition. I catch it off the sheep. The old time shepherds used to sleep with their sheep, out in the fields. I do it sometimes too, on the dry nights, the sheep lying down around me. I’m not sure on those nights who is protecting whom.’

Everybody thinks they know what sheep are like: they’re stupid, noisy, cowardly (‘lambs to the slaughter’), and they’re ‘sheep-wrecking’ the environment.’ Or maybe not.

Contrary to popular prejudice, sheep are among the smartest animals in the farmyard, fiercely loyal, forming long and lasting friendships. Sheep, farmed properly, are boons to biodiversity. They also happen to taste good and their fleeces warm us through the winter - indeed, John Lewis-Stempel’s family supplied the wool for Queen Elizabeth’s ‘hose’. Observing the traditional shepherd’s calendar, The Sheep’s Tale is a loving biography of ewes, lambs, and rams through the seasons. Lewis-Stempel tends to his flock with deep-rooted wisdom, ethical consideration, affection, and humour.

This book is a tribute to all the sheep he has reared and shearedfrom gregarious Action Ram to sweet Maid Marion. In his inimitable style, he shares the tales that only a shepherd can tell.

In 2022 Winstone’s celebrates 10 years as Sherborne’s Independent Bookseller. Winstone’s has won the ‘British Book Awards South West Bookseller of the Year’ four times and was winner of the ‘Independent Bookseller of the Year’ national award in 2016. Owner Wayne Winstone was previously one of the three judges for the Costa Prize for Fiction, and in 2018 Wayne was selected as one of the top 100 people in the Bookseller’s Most Influential Figures listing.

“Lordy, lordy, with all the turmoil in the world it would be great to have a reprieve, and I thought it time to celebrate a local success” - Wayne

A host of golden Dorset talent

This year’s Dorset Art Weeks is bolder and brighter than ever with more than 250 exciting venues showcasing local talent. Edwina Baines gives a preview of her favourites

Dorset Art Weeks runs from 14 - 29 MAY 2022

The return of the Dorset Art Weeks new style printed Directory, with full venue information, alongside an improved Dorset Art Weeks App, and details on the DAW website, is good news for us all.

Artists will be looking forward to opening their doors again and larger venues are hosting group shows. With 257 venues it is impossible to give you more than a snapshot preview of the delights on offer - but to whet your appetites I have visited and chatted to artists from the six different County regions outlined in the Directory. I hope this helps with route planning!

Felice Hodges (East)

The drive from Blandford or Wimborne takes you through rolling countryside - and a visit to Felice’s exhibition in the stables of Abbey House, Witchampton will be well worth the journey. An American, who was brought up in New York before moving to the UK, Felice’s parents were collectors; thus she was exposed to art at an early age. She works in acrylic paints as well as inks, chalks, pastels, charcoal and collage. The abstract works emerge from a joyful yet thoughtful, sensitive feel for colour.

“I’m a big fan of pink, an underused colour in art,” she told me with a laugh, “I like to challenge myself a lot, it’s constantly evolving.” Certain motifs

reappear and there is a degree of spontaneity but serendipity may also play a part in a splash of ink. Without doubt, Felice is in complete control of her media.

John Goodliffe (North East)

Felice Hodges works in acrylic paints as well as inks, chalks, pastels, charcoal and collage. “I like to challenge myself a lot, it’s constantly evolving.”

Image Edwina Baines

John is a sculptor working in Purbeck Marble, Shaftesbury Greensand and Portland Stone. His brother sent him off on a sculpture course on Portland, which precipitated his journey into understanding the geology and history of his materials. On show during DAW will be a range of sculptures in and around John’s lovely garden in Iwerne Minster. With views across to Preston Hill, this is an ideal location to view the work in a natural setting and admire the power and beauty of each piece. John showed me the various forms of stone with which he works: each has different properties and lends itself to various designs. For example, a piece of Greensand was being

Interviews by
Felice Hodges exhibition is in the stables of Abbey House, Witchampton Image Edwina Baines

turned into a pair of lizards, the colour and form of the stone lending itself to these reptiles; whereas the harsher beauty of the Portland stone was suited to more geometric designs and finer detail. Also in the beautiful village of Iwerne Minster (which boasts a pub and a village shop) are painters Saskia Darell and Kim Pragnell.

Claire Cameron (Purbeck)

Claire Cameron will take commissions to make a ‘pawtrait’ in clay to capture the personality of your pet in a unique sculpture. She also produces small stylised sculptures of dogs set on a scene of your choice, for example Kimmeridge, Durdle Door or Corfe Castle.

She told me that “being able to combine my passion for ceramics with my love of dogs, means that each sculpture is an absolute privilege to make.”

In a beautiful 19th century barn at Creech near Wareham, Claire is joined by Caroline Slark, (Kezmee Studio glass) and Ted Edley (The Dorset Copperfish). The latter is known for his truly

unique metalwork sculptures and TV appearances on ‘Salvage Hunters: The Restorers’. His

works will also be on show in the FORM exhibition at Sculpture by the Lakes.

Vanessa Bowman (North West) Vanessa’s studio is nestled at the top end of her lovely garden in the centre of Cattistock village. From here she paints in rich detail the simple beauty of her everyday surroundings observed in the garden or whilst out walking with her little white terrier. The vibrant colours of her still lifes and whimsical landscape illustrations have adorned numerous magazines, notebooks and greetings cards; a huge range of which will be on sale at special prices alongside her prints and original oil paintings. An assortment of her favourite jugs, vases, shells and knickknacks (most of which have been collected in flea markets over the years), line the studio shelves and feature in many works. Cattistock boasts a pub and a dear little

Local sculptor John Goodliffe from Iwerne Minster was sent on on a sculpture course on Portland by his brother, and has never looked back Image Edwina Baines. Claire Cameron creates small stylised sculptures of dogs from her home in the Purbecks. Image Edwina Baines

village shop with a delightful café - of which I can give a personal recommendation.

Podi Lawrence (South)

If you venture across to Portland then ensure you make a stop at Podi Lawrence’s Art studio in Fortunesewell. Her studio doubles as a gallery where space is shared with textile artist Antje Rook. Podi is a portrait and landscape painter but she also runs classes and annual Greek painting holidays in Kalymnos. She told me ”I have been teaching since 1988 and whatever their level, I love to help people on their creative journey. I still learn new ways and I’ve been painting professionally for at least fifty years.” She welcomes guests and is happy for them to browse and chat about her work. Six further artists also will be exhibiting at ArtSpace82 in Fortuneswell and there are six other venues to visit on Portland.

Barbara Green (West)

The turning to Whitchurch Canonicorum off the A35 at Morcombelake will lead you to Manscombe Abbey and on the slopes of the Hardown Hill, to Barbara Green’s delightful house and garden with stunning views across to Charmouth, Lyme Bay and the sea.

Barbara is a regular contributor to Dorset Art Weeks and before entering the house and gallery, a mini art trail full of Barbara’s colourful, lively paintings, prints and etchings will guide the visitor through the garden. She is inspired, “… from walks along the coast and through the countryside of Dorset making sketches which capture the essence of the places seen. The constantly changing colours and textures of the area, the weather, the buildings and the people are all captured in my paintings.”

We are indeed lucky to have this patchwork of talent across Dorset so let’s make the most of the forthcoming weeks!

At Barbara Green’s home, with its stunning views across to Charmouth, Lyme Bay and the sea, visitors will enjoy a mini art trail full of Barbara’s colourful, lively paintings, prints and etchings through the garden before entering the house and gallery.

Podi Lawrence in her studio in Fortuneswell. Podi has been a professional portrait and landscape painter for fifty years. Image Edwina Baines Vanessa Bowman works from her studio in Cattistock. Her vibrant still lifes and whimsical landscape illustrations have adorned numerous magazines, notebooks and greetings cards. Image Edwina Baines

Don’t miss the stunning FORM at Sculpture by the Lakes

Once again, FORM brings a world-class exhibition of inspiring contemporary sculpture to Dorset, says Edwina Baines

The FORM exhibition returns to the stunning setting of Simon and Monique Gudgeon’s Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington, near Dorchester until the end of the month, to

coincide with Dorset Art Weeks.

This year it is more spell-binding than ever, with work from more than prestigious artists. The exhibition takes place around the 26 acre garden and lakes for

the larger, monumental pieces - and smaller works are on display in the Gallery and in the Sculpture Courtyard.

I was lucky enough to visit on a lovely sunny day and no sooner

44 ART
Greer, Guardian Angel by Ed Elliott. Image Edwina Baines Cheetah by Gill Parker Image Edwina Baines

had I parked than I was faced with the arresting cast bronze ‘Greer Guardian Angel’ figure by Ed Elliott.

Greer means ‘alert, watchful’ and the sculpture has been cleverly placed at the edge of a reflecting pool feature to create a brooding image.

The piece received the award for ‘Sculpture of the Year 2020’ at the Cotswold Sculpture Park. Ed Elliott is an award-winning sculptor specialising in large scale figurative pieces, who has received national acclaim for his innovative and emotive work in his distinctive style.

Revived with a coffee and Danish pastry from the Artisan’s Pantry and a wander around the Bazaar, I aimed for the new ‘Gallery by the Lakes’ and was immediately confronted by Heather Jansch’s life-size driftwood horse ‘The Young Arabian’ and a bronze driftwood horse’s head ‘Shaker’. Heather, who sadly died last year, was a renowned British sculptor whose lifelong passion was to achieve mastery of the equine form.

Beautiful ‘Mouse in a Pod’

Some of my favourite pieces in the Gallery were by Adam Binder. I especially loved his ‘Mouse in a Pod’. The little mouse could be removed from his pea pod to nestle in one’s hand! Adam is one of Britain’s leading wildlife sculptors, whose signature fluid style of simple lines and flowing forms depicts both movement and emotion that beautifully captures the essence of his subjects. He has said ‘Nature is my passion and my constant distraction.’

There is an interesting story behind Nadine Collinson’s ‘To The Stars!’; the maquette for the full-size sculpture installed at the Silverlake Holiday Estate in Warmwell. Simon is soon hoping to install one of the editions on the lake at Pallington. Silverlake was a former RAF base and the piece was created as a homage to the RAF and the Spitfire, as well as a celebration of the local birdlife. The Spitfire’s acrobatic performance is represented in the looping trails of the birds which create a ring reflecting the RAF badge.

As I made my way into the garden and towards the lakes I found Jane Shaw’s ‘Sherlock, the Mountain Goat’.

She told me “The goat stands proud with attitude and comes alive when the sun brings out the

vibrancy of the rust colour, bouncing off from the green surrounds.

We have featured Jane’s work in the past and she has several more sculptures in the exhibition including ‘Electric Blue Hare’ and ‘Forever Friends’.

“There is a huge number of unspoken words being said between the two lurchers in ‘Forever Friends’.” Jane went on ”and the hare is about to turn the corner at speed, provoking a feeling of energy and joy for anyone who manages to catch his glance.”

Hunting for goats!

It could have been Gill Parker’s ‘Cheetah’ who was hunting for goats as he crept through the sunlit woodland. This beautiful bronze is made by a sculptor who says “I never set out to be an artist” and who had no idea she could make a career out of her art. However, she has a passion for animals and nature and over the years she has become a leader in the field of equine and wildlife sculpture. There are some lovely pieces by her in the exhibition. Finally, I have to mention Carl Longworth’s massive, imposing ‘Barn Owl III’. This exceptionally talented sculptor says “I wish only to capture the simple essence and movement of the beautiful”. The long, elegant lines and distinctive patination enhance the beauty of his stunning works.

Please remember it is necessary to pre-book your ticket and no dogs or children under the age of fourteen are allowed onsite. As well as the Artisan’s Pantry where picnic goodies can be purchased, there is a lovely café where you can enjoy fresh produce from the gardens. It all makes for a wonderful day out.

“The hare is about to turn the corner at speed, provoking a feeling of energy and joy for anyone who manages to catch his glance”
Blackcap in the blackthorn - Carl Bovis




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READER’S PHOTOGRAPHY We welcome photography submissions from readersthe only rule is
they must have been taken locally in
last month. Our cover shot is usually selected
our submissions pile. If you’d
• use #BVPhoto and tag us on Instagram (@theblackmorevale), • share it
BV community Facebook Group • or simply email
Rebel bluebells - Adie Ray Lady’s smock - Vicky Rehbein
Acorn weevil (real size 4mm!) - Marilyn Peddle Dartford Warbler - Paul Dibben
Bluebell dreams in Fifehead Magdalen Woods - Claire Norris The Barn - Meyrick Griffiths-Jones
Purple orchid in Garston Wood - Chris Robinson
St Catherine’s Chapel - Russell Parker
Witchampton song thrush - Nicky Newman BlackthornRob Hannam

Champagne Supernova (what you see occurred when dinosaurs roamed the earth!)

Now it’s easy to think at first glance that this isn’t a particularly great image, but bear with me.

The reason this is such an interesting photo is because a supernova (designated SN 2022 HRS) in this little region of space near M60 (NGC 4649) - which is an elliptical galaxy approximately 57 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo - suddenly became visible to us just a couple of weeks ago, around the 16th April.

It is also worth bearing in mind that a single light year is around six trillion miles, so this galaxy is

possibly the furthest object I’ve intended to capture to date!

There are many other ‘faint fuzzies’ in this image, making up the Virgo supercluster which is a huge swarm of 2,000 galaxies in this region of space. The Supernova shown magnified in this image actually happened 63 million years ago.

To put that into perspective, this star all the way across the universe exploded in the biggest explosions that we as humans know about - but it actually happened when the dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth.

However, it only just became visible to us on a seemingly ordinary day a couple of weeks ago.

More amazingly, we saw it, realised, and now astronomers all over the world just like me are imaging it themselves, just days after it became apparent to us. I find that truly incredible, and its why I love this hobby! This image was captured only nine days after the Supernova appeared, and was captured using my bigger Sky-watcher Newtonian Reflector Telescope and Cooled Astro Camera.

The night sky, May 2022 - Rob’s guide for your stargazing this month:

We are in the midst of galaxy season now, and with the lighter evenings extending, long nights shooting are becoming scarce. The nights are still packed with celestial events though, if you’re prepared to get up early enough to see them! Highlights include close conjunctions of some of our neighbouring planets, a total lunar eclipse, meteors from Halley’s Comet and a possible storm of shooting stars towards the end of the month! So, grab those binoculars or your telescope and get ready to set those alarm clocks. Also on display this month are the bright stars Vega and Arcturus; look towards Vega on a dark moonless night, and you may be able to make out a fuzzy patch. This is the Great Cluster M13 in Hercules. A closely knit globular cluster of around 1 million stars. That particular cluster may feature as next months image, if I can get a good shot of it!

What to look out for

On the 6th of May, we’ll be treated to a display of shooting stars from the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Caused by tiny pieces of Halley’ Comets burning up in our atmosphere, you’ll need to look up in the early hours of the morning to catch the


On the 13th May between 1:55 and 2:45am, the Moon moves in front of Porrima, a large star in the constellation Virgo.

On the 16th May, there is the possibility of seeing a total lunar eclipse which should be visible from America, and parts of Europe and Africa. Here in the UK, the partial phase starts at 3:27am, reaching totality at 4:29am.

Grab a pair of binoculars and look low towards the east to spot the crescent Moon sailing below Jupiter, Mars and Venus, on the respective nights of the 25th, 26th and 27th May. Another celestial event requiring an early dawn wake-up call!

Before dawn on the 29th May, Mars passes below Jupiter, another one to observe with Binoculars. The second potential meteor shower on offer this month is provided courtesy of the debris from Comet Schwassam-Wachman-3, during the night of 31st May/1st June.

This may produce a brief but intense storm of shooting stars, known as the Tau Herculid meteor shower, with the best views offered once again before dawn. The comet itself is still in the process of breaking up, a process which began when the comet first started to fracture in 1995.

NIGHT SKY by Rob Nolan Find RPN Photography on Facebook here

“I wasn’t thinking about managing. I was terrified I’d never ride again”

When Jemima Green was paralysed from the waist down after a car crash, she thought she’d never be able to ride again. She was wrong – this is her story

My passion for riding started when I was just two years old. I had a very fluffy 12.2 Welsh pony who took me through pony club and many open fields and embedded my love of horses.

I knew this was how I wanted to live my life, and so

Jemima with her first pony, a ‘very fluffy 12.2 Welsh’ called Dinky

chose a career working in eventing and producing my own horses. I worked my way up to my dream job as head girl and second rider for a top 4* eventer (Jodie Amos). This all changed in 2015 when I was involved in a very serious car accident, which left me paralysed from the waist down.

My parents, brothers and family were, of course, devastated.

I too felt the same - but I wasn’t thinking how I was going to manage my new life.

I was terrified I would never ride again.

Hard climb back

I started with the fantastic Riding for the Disabled (RDA) charity, which supported and encouraged me (with hours and hours of walking round next to me while I just tried to stay upright in the saddle. I had no idea it was going to be this hard).

The fabulous RDA horse, Pandora, was so patient, and looked after me even through our first wobbly trot strides.

Jemima Green
image © Jo Hansford

I had little confidence that I was ever going to be able ride properly again but each time we got me on there was always a step further and the confidence built.

Competing against the best After months of hard work, I managed to finally progress to a different pony, Bubbles, and we managed to start my para dressage competition experience. She was the perfect stepping stone to get back to what I felt was normality, and to prepare me for the years ahead.

In the near seven years since I became a paraplegic I have managed to compete against the best. I have won international competitions, and I am now supported by the world class programme.

I am looking ahead to the European championships in 2023, which I am focusing my training on, and I cannot wait for the season ahead.

Follow Jemima’s season on her Facebook page Jemima Green Para Dressage

Jemima in the hospital, not long after the accident Para Dressage rider Jemima Green and her horse Elrite from the Festival of Dressage at Hartpury College in 2021. Jemima is an athlete on British Equestrian’s World Class Programme, funded by the National Lottery via UK Sport. Image © British Equestrian / Jon Stroud Media Para Dressage rider Jemima Green and her horse Elrite from the Festival of Dressage at Hartpury College in 2021. Jemima is an athlete on British Equestrian’s World Class Programme, funded by the National Lottery via UK Sport. Image © British Equestrian / Jon Stroud Media
56 • 01638 662246 We are here to help you all Flat Jockeys (including Apprentice and Conditional) Point-to-Point Jockeys National Hunt Jockeys (including Apprentice and Conditional) Jockey’s Family (Spouse, partner, child or dependant)

By the law of averages, not all foals are going to be problem free...

Life or death foals, DIY one-sided milking, windswept legs, film stardom and “Go Honeysuckle, go!” - it’s another average month at TGS with Lucy Procter

One such troublesome filly was foaled in early April. We were delighted with her during her first 24 hours, but by the second morning she had collapsed, and we couldn’t get her up to drink from her dam. Our vet attended quickly, and we stomach-tubed milk stripped from the mare into the foal, to help alleviate dehydration and further deterioration in her condition.

Despite various vet-administered drugs and even roping – a practice whereby one attempts to replicate the squeezing of the foal that would naturally occur during the foal’s passage through the birth canal, thought to help alleviate the symptoms of a ‘dummy’ foal, which can be caused by too swift a foaling – there was little improvement in the foal’s condition, and it was decided that she needed intensive care that could only be provided by a specialist veterinary hospital.

Doug had already left for Cheltenham, as we had Last Royal (regular readers will remember him as Honeysuckle’s frustrating little brother), making his handicap hurdle debut in the afternoon and,

Lucy Procter, co-owner of The Glanvilles Stud (TGS), shares her diary of life on a Thoroughbred stud. Lucy & Doug Procter with 3yo Black Sam Bellamy x Seemarye image © Tattersalls Stomach tubing milk into Aphrodisias’ foal before sending her to vet hospital Roping a foal: replicates the squeezing of the foal that would naturally occur during the foal’s passage through the birth canal

as the chosen vet hospital was en route, I swiftly changed into clean racing clothes and set off in the lorry to deliver the poorly foal and her dam to hospital, before going on racing, only to watch Last Royal fall at the last. Definitely one of those not so good days at the office!

Having been diagnosed with sepsis on the brain, we were delighted the following morning to receive the news that, with round-the-clock veterinary treatment, the foal’s condition was improving. Three days later, we collected the mare and foal from hospital and the foal has been thriving ever since. So, a happy outcome in the end!

Just from the left bar thanks Another tricky foal was one that simply refused to drink from one side of his dam. With the dam producing more and more milk that wasn’t being drunk, we had to manually strip the milk out to help the mare feel more comfortable. However, her bags quickly became so tight it was difficult to milk her out by hand. So I made a makeshift milk pump, by cutting off the nipple end of a syringe and reversing the plunger – by drawing the plunger down, the milk easily flowed into the syringe and could be emptied into a jug and the process repeated. We were stripping the

this, until eventually the foal decided that he would drink from both sides after all.

A skiing foal

Some foals are born with crooked legs and, if left alone, many will self-correct over the first few months. However, to produce a top equine athlete, correct conformation is vital to help reduce injuries during a racehorse’s career – and thus poor conformation will reduce a horse’s sale value. One foal last month had been born, what in the industry is called ‘windswept’, which means that their hind legs look a bit like a skier doing a hard, fast turn. With doing nothing more than putting supportive, resin

foal’s hind feet, six weeks later the hind legs are now perfectly straight and strong.

Boys on film

Late May is our next sales day, and recently the sales company, Tattersalls, visited the stud to film a promotional video featuring our two 3-year-old ‘stores’ that we have been busy prepping for the sale. Usually, we would have sold both these geldings as foals, but they had a bug at the time of the foal sales and didn’t go, so we ‘stored’ them on. They have both grown into big, strapping horses and we are very excited to be selling two of our best stock as stores this time, rather than foals. They will hopefully be purchased by racehorse trainers to be backed and pretrained over the summer, and should be ready to run in the Autumn or early next Spring. You can see the result of the filming session below left (click play to watch the three minute video).

In other news...

On the racing front, our daughter Alice has had another point-to-point win, this time in the Ladies Open at the

Behind the scenes at the Tattersalls video shoot. Doug and Lucy are with Doubly Guest, dam of Glanvilles Guest who has featured in previous articles, and her Falco filly. Image Shirley Anderson-Jolag

Cattistock Races at the end of April, and Freddie, who is in the States riding in timber races, has so far won five ‘sanctioned’ races and is second in the table for prize money won. He will remain in America until their Spring season finishes at the end of May and will hopefully return for their Autumn season,

but more about this next month.

Our final racing news has to be all about Honeysuckle yet again, who remains unbeaten, having claimed her 16th win in a row since debut and her 12th Grade One victory, when she won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on 29th April.

We were amused to hear from one local vet that her daughter’s young Pony Club friend, whose elderly pony is called Honey, is regularly to be heard happily shrieking “Go Honeysuckle, go!” as her pony takes off around the arena at pony club rallies. Happy days!

Our mares were wrapping their foals up warm this season! Image Lucy Procter (I double checked - Lucy swears the mares cover the foals up themselves - Ed)

A clear start for Taran, and possibly the best FedEx parcel delivery ever?

April has been a very exciting month here at Toots Bartlett Eventing, with lots of eventing and a few new members joining the team.

The lovely Extasy SR Z (Gatsby) has been out twice this season, returning from a year off. He started with a 24 dressage and clear show jumping but withdrew cross country as it was only unaffiliated and we felt he wouldn’t have gained any education from the course. He then went on to do a lovely double clear at Portman BE100, with a few time penalties cross country for a finishing place of 9th. He will now step back up to BE Novice level. Portman also marked the first event for my fantastic groom, Joel Hart and his horse The Rag Lad, also competing in the BE100 section, just adding four faults from the show jumping to his dressage score of 34.

Cor Y Taran’s debut

My very exciting young horse Cor Y Taran (I introduced him last month - he’s the horse I bought unseen off Facebook) had his eventing debut with me. Throwing him into the deep end at one unaffiliated 100 at Aston-Le-Walls and then a BE100 at Bicton. He passed all my expectations with double clear at both! I am feeling just a little pleased with myself to have found this special boy.

Freestyle R was the last horse to have been out competing in April. He had two great runs at Intermediate level, and is feeling absolutely amazing. We took on our first Advanced as a combination on the 1st May, before turning our attention to

Houghton for the CCI3*L.

A very special FedEx parcel

Finally, whilst pretty much every weekend has been full of eventing throughout April, we have also had the arrival of two very special horses.

My 4* horse C Why came back to me from Ivy Lodge Rehab Centre in Glos, where they have done a fabulous job and have given him the chance to return to his former glory!! It’s fantastic to have him home and I am excited about bringing him back to fitness.

On April the 21st a very special FedEx parcel arrived from the other side of the world. Back

in March whilst on the search for a new horse we found an incredible ‘Black Beauty’ that my family and I fell in love with. The only small problem was that he was in New Zealand!

We had no opportunity to be able to go try him because of Covid restrictions, so there were long conversations with my trainers and a lot of research before we decided to take an enormous risk and a deal was done! A long wait till the earliest plane from New Zealand to England, and a 38 hour plane journey for him, but Equador has finally safely arrived.

I have had many sleepless nights wondering if we made the

Buying two horses unseen was a risk, but the results are absolutely wonderful, and the season has started well, says Toots Bartlett
Equador, Toots’ favourite ever FedEx delivery, is settling in to life in the UK - and slowly acclimatising to the British weather!

right decision, but he is here, safe, sound and more beautiful than I can ever had imagined.

I can’t wait to start getting to know him and am so grateful, appreciative and still in a little bit of shock to have been giving this once in a lifetime opportunity. Apparently it will take him six months to adjust to our British weather (my heart goes out to Equador on that one - Ed), so I will thoroughly enjoy sharing our journey with you.

It has also been a very special

month watching all the preparation for William FoxPitt’s two horses getting ready for Badminton. It has been wonderfully insightful, and has made me even more determined to follow in his footsteps. He is a legend and what a privileged young rider I am to have access to all his expertise and knowledge.

Anyway such an exciting month, time to take a breath, catch up on a tiny bit more sleep and get ready to go and attack May!

Three Day Eventing 101 Eventing is best described as an equestrian triathlon. Each horse and rider pair must complete three tests: dressage, crosscountry and show jumping. The horse and rider pair with the fewest penalty points after all three tests is the winner. The tests developed from training horses used in military combat; war horses were required to be fit, agile, obedient and brave. As their usefulness in combat diminished, these highly trained horses became repurposed for competitions between nations during peaceful times, which became known as Horse Trials, and the sport known as Eventing.

How it works

Horse trials have varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from Beginner Novice through to Advanced in nationally recognized events, and CCI1* through CCI5* in internationally recognised competitions. A simple guide to all levels can be seen here.

The three disciplines

Dressage - The first phase of a Horse Trial is always dressage, a series of suppling and strengthening exercises performed in a flat, enclosed arena.

Show jumping - The second phase in Eventing. Agility and precision at speed are the critical requirements of Stadium Jumping. A ‘clear’ round means no penalties.

Cross-country - The final phase tests the speed, endurance, boldness and jumping ability of the horse over varied terrain and solid obstacles; large fences, water, banks, ditches and drops. Cross-Country is ridden at a gallop with speed requirements dependent upon the level of difficulty of the division.

Toots and Cor Y Taran, the horse she bought unseen from Facebook, at his first event. He passed all Toots’ expectations with double clear. Freestyle R had two great runs at Intermediate level in April

Tales From The Vale

It is September 1939 and a young girl, around 12 years old, is hushed while the family gathers in the kitchen: ‘there’s an important announcement on the wireless.’

The Prime Minister is announcing to the nation ‘we are at war with Germany’.

I’ll break in at this sombre moment to recall the memory of Spike Milligan, a teenager, later called-up to fight. He was in his London home at exactly the same time as our young Blackmore Vale girl, his family also hushed around the wireless, as Chamberlain made his announcement, ‘we are at war…’.

Spike’s dad indignantly said of the deluded, failed premier, “I like the ‘we’!”.

And how life changed for the little girl. The families were issued with gas masks, ID cards and ration books. The gas masks had to be carried at all times. What a coming of age for the poor children. Now too old for Mappowder’s infant school our young girl and others were bused to Buckland Newton primary, a rather bare three roomed building.

The children were told to bring a hessian sack into school the next day, where the girls slit the edges so they resembled small blankets. The hessian squares – one for each child - were dyed green and they were told to listen for the whistles.

One pheep on the whistle meant the children had to put on the gas masks. Two shrill calls on the whistle instructed the children to lie down flat on the ground and cover themselves with their green hessian blanket in order to minimise being machine gunned by passing German planes. Three whistle calls meant ‘run to the trenches’, which were at the top of the school garden and under a hedge. And there they had to stay,

SW London on VE Day - top left you can spot Andy’s mum Audrey Philipson, aged 15, with her hand on her hip, apparently rather annoyed that the war was over

presumably alternating between being scared rigid and giggling until they heard the ‘all-clear’. You may think it a bit far-fetched, the thought of highly intelligent German pilots, from an allegedly super-cultured nation that gave us Schiller, Goethe, Beethoven (we’ll omit Kraftwerk) modern psychiatry et al, machine gunning English civilians, including women and children.

Not at all: it is well-documented. I used to play chess in East Sussex with some elderly gentlemen (and yes, they always won, but they did checkmate me with a charming air of regret). They all remembered their boyhood in Kent spent excitedly watching the German formations drone over and running for cover when a lowlevel fighter came over searching for ‘a bit of fun’.

Indeed, secretly recorded conversations from captured

pilots in British-run POW camps caught some pilots boasting about the fun of such heroic war work and of their prowess. Obviously, such a thing couldn’t happen in Europe today. Oh, hang on ...

Now, onto food I’ve mentioned before that one of my first jobs was to establish and run an education department in a military museum (Fort Newhaven in East Sussex - see my column in Feb’s BV) .

The job was easy as we had no end of original artefacts to display and for school age children to handle.

But it was all pretty much geared for boys, and I wanted it to be attractive to girls. So not only did we display authentic uniforms for women called up – the WRENS uniforms were most admired – I thought it interesting if children


could appreciate the weekly food allowance which, I’ll admit, rather astounded me.

The nation’s new diet

Rationing was introduced on January 8th, 1940 and a typical person’s weekly ration – the amounts fluctuated throughout the conflict - roughly allowed per person:

• 1 egg,

• 2oz of tea

• 2 oz of butter

• 1 oz of cheese

• 8 oz of sugar

• 4 oz of bacon

• 4 oz of margarine

Just a quick note: fifty modern teabags weighs 4.8 oz (they re-used tea bags). A modern pack of butter is 9 oz. Two tablespoons of sugar is 1.7 oz - no wonder people sweetened cake mixture with root vegetables, mainly carrots.

It may be interesting for children to weigh out two ounces of butter and see how much they get to last a week.

As for bananas, oranges, lemons and other imported fruit and nuts, forget it. In 1946 my mum, aged 16, was given an orange, and she’d forgotten what they were. When told it was to eat she took a bite and grimaced - she didn’t know you had to peel it. The last time she’d seen an orange, she was nine.

So, at the museum I got the art department to knock up a display of a typical week’s food allowance. Our female visitors were astonished – but the boys were even more horrified.

National Loaf

No, this wasn’t a massive country-wide lie-in: rationing made people inventive. We had an example during the 70th VE Day anniversary in the village hall in Mappowder.

The villagers went to great efforts to reproduce authentic war time festive meals. By and large it was all inedible, including the ‘National Loaf’, which my wife researched and baked. The National Loaf was a Government-inspired horror which urged bakers not to use wasteful white purified flour, but the grain husks, too.

I’m all for wholemeal and roughage but there are limits, as the Government must have thought as they tried to sell the concept with the ditty:

Click to read a fascinating House of Commons debate by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food from March 1942.

It discusses the effects of current rationing, and a fascinating discourse on the efforts to control the black market. With a startling relevance to current political furore around ‘partygate’, Lloyd George finishes by stating “we can call upon our people for any sacrifice, provided they have the knowledge that it is equitable”

Pat-a-loaf, pat-a-loaf Baker’s man

Bake me a loaf as fast as you can

It builds up my health

And its taste is good

I find that I like eating

Just what I should.

I think it fairly clear that the author at the propaganda ministry either hadn’t tried the National Loaf – or had one hell of an imagination. Not sure if the ditty worked but that didn’t matter. There was little other choice for most people.

And there was the notorious Woolton Pie, named after the Food Ministry boss. Of this monstrosity, I can only say that if you tried a modern ‘Homity Pie’ in what seems to be the regulation bullet-proof pastry from a particularly austere vegetarian café, then that would be sumptuous by comparison.

A sheltered upbringing Bit more about my mum, which I have gently touched on in an earlier article: mum, based in SW London, rather liked the war and thoroughly enjoyed the air raids in 1940. Even now I wonder at the morality of adult males thinking it OK to kill a 10 year old girl and her mum. Mum had little thought for that. “It was so cosy in the shelter. Dad made up beds, we had hot milk in a thermos and I was allowed to read by candlelight.”

Typical of my mum: it’s just ‘me, me, me!’

…rationing wasn’t rationed!

And did rationing end right after the war in May 1945? No. My mum was nine when rationing started, and she was a 24 year old qualified teacher when it ended on July 4th, 1954.

Blast! No, that wasn’t a bomb, I’ve been distracted (bloody Germans!). I meant to write about life in the Blackmore Vale based on our young north Dorset girl’s memoirs, but got carried away.

We’ll see if the Editor wants more next issue. (NO, write something cheerful, for the love of macaroni. Ed)

Mrs Lillie Taylor of Oldham, Lancashire at work in the Ministry of Food kitchen. She was “one of 25 housewives chosen to show cookery experts of the Ministry of Food how they vary their rations”.

The Battle of Hambledon Hill

People often forget how severely Dorset was impacted by the Civil War which started in earnest in 1642.

The county lay between the Royalist strongholds in the West Country and those of the Roundheads in South East. Dorset was very divided with Sherborne and Blandford Royalist while Dorchester and Lyme Regis were strong supporters of Parliament. There were repeated clashes and sieges, such as at Corfe Castle, where the brave Lady Bankes held out for years. However ,the largest pitched battle was at Hambledon Hill in 1645, and was fought between an army of Roundheads and a motley band of local farmers, called Clubmen, driven to defend their land and

homes from the ravages of both Roundhead and Cavalier soldiers.

Indiscriminate plundering and looting by these troops in Dorset and other counties had gone on for several years badly affecting rural communities, especially in the Vale. Soldiers were for the most part ill-paid and poorly disciplined, living off the land, although the formation of the New Model Army in 1645 improved things to some degree.

A white ribbon on their hats

In exasperation farmers formed local militias to defend themselves and their families. They were known as Clubman, due to the rudimentary nature of their arms, including clubs and pitchforks. They were often led by the

local clergy, as well as gentry, while their ‘uniform’ was no more than a white ribbon on their hats as a sign that they were a neutral third party. They did carry banners saying: “If you offer to plunder or take our cattel, be assured we will bid you battel!”.

The first notable sign of them in Dorset was in February 1645 when 1,000 gathered at Godmanstone, outside Dorchester, and killed a few Royalist soldiers. By May, Clubmen were organising themselves throughout the west of England, and 4,000 gathered on Clubmen’s Down near Fontmell Down to create articles of covenant and organise groups of watchmen to guard against the soldiers who stole and plundered.

In June a similar large gathering took place at Badbury Rings calling for “an end to this civil and unnatural

64 RURAL MATTERS - monthly column from the CPRE
The fascinating history of compassion, bravery and pitched battle in Dorset during the Civil War is told by Rupert Hardy, chair of North Dorset CPRE
“If you offer to plunder or take our cattel, be assured we will bid you battel!”
Hambledon Hill, an Iron Age hill fort known for its spectacular views across the Blackmore Vale. Few people walking the ramparts today are aware that 3-4,000 local men, led by Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdalen and the Rev. Thomas Bravel of Compton Abbas, fought Cromwell and his Roundhead Dragoons, with up to 60 men killed as they eventually fled

war within the Kingdom”. The next month a deputation of clerics and gentry presented parliamentarian General Sir Thomas Fairfax with a petition in Dorchester, which prompted him to promise them good discipline. However, in August Fairfax started to besiege Sherborne Castle, but found his supply lines threatened by Clubmen. He therefore sent troops, commanded by no less a figure than Oliver Cromwell, to Shaftesbury to arrest their leaders as they presented a real threat to his Parliamentary forces. Cromwell did this, but then nearly faced a battle with Clubmen at nearby Duncliffe Hill. However, he managed to pacify them after an arduous climb to the top of the hill to meet their leaders, including Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdalen.

Battle of Hambledon Hill

A few days later the Clubman had regrouped on Hambledon Hill. They numbered 3-4,000 and were led by Newman and the Rev. Thomas Bravel of Compton Abbas. They were determined to make a stand against the Roundhead dragoons, while Cromwell thought it was time put

Oliver Cromwell by master miniaturist Samuel Cooper in 1656 - the portrait which coined the phrase ‘warts and all’.

Cooper’s original, in watercolour on vellum, is the size of a 50p piece but miraculously detailed – from the bald patch, creased forehead and roughened cheeks to the jowly five o’clock shadow. When Cromwell came to Cooper’s studio, he gave the famous order for less flattery and more accuracy

an end to the threat they posed to his supply lines. He attempted to negotiate but was met with a hail of bullets which killed two of his men. The Clubmen had dug trenches and used the existing Iron Age banks and ditches. They were

The English Civil War 1642-9

The conflict started when King Charles 1, believing he had the divine right to rule, was confronted by ‘commoners’ in Parliament who demanded a more democratic (by the then standards) rule of law. The impasse led to open conflict with the Royalist army, supporters of the king, opposing the ‘Roundheads’, supporters of Parliament The conflict ended with the trial of the monarch ‘for treason’ after ‘the will of the common man’ triumphed. Found ‘guilty’, Charles was beheaded outside The Banqueting Hall, Westminster, on January 30th 1649 – almost exactly 144 years before the French revolutionaries beheaded Louis XV1.

expecting a frontal attack, but Cromwell outwitted them by sending 50 dragoons to charge their rear as he attacked the front. The Clubmen took one look at the dragoons bearing down on them and most fled down the hill in panic, with up to 60 killed. Three hundred were locked up overnight at Shroton, including four “malignant priests”. Cromwell gave them a lecture and then dismissed them calling them “poor silly creatures”. A Roundhead helmet hung from the church there until quite recently as a reminder. The Clubmen might have had greater success had they been

‘Cromwell gave them a lecture and then dismissed them, calling them “poor silly creatures”’

more united. Part of this was related to the army of occupation they feared more. Langport Clubmen only experienced the ravages of Royalists, so they actually helped the Roundhead army in 1645 while those in Dorset and Wiltshire feared both armies.

Rebellion by the ‘common man’ There were more Clubmen risings later in the year but The Battle of Hambledon Hill was the last time they presented a real threat to either army. It would be wrong to underestimate them though. The failure of either the King or Parliament to agree a peace treaty only served to increase tension as plundering continued, and gave further motivation to the Clubmen. After Hambledon these were demonstrated largely

through physical demonstrations and print culture, particularly in pamphlets. Joshua Sprigg, chaplain to General Fairfax, summed it up well, if the Clubmen rising “had not been crushed in the egg, it had on an instant run all over the kingdom”. Some historians have sought to attribute revolutionary tendencies to them, but this is simply not true. They mostly wanted a return to the status quo before the war, but they are remembered as early instigators of rebellion by the ‘common man’ and their example of community self-defence was inspirational.

If you’re keen to learn more, the book ‘CLUBMEN 1645, Neutralism in a Revolution’ by local author Haydn Wheeler is available here.
Dorset Clubmen Map, courtesy of artist Stewart MacArthur.

The wild history of Shroton’s village pub!

If you think Shroton’s village pub looks markedly different from its forebear, you’d be right – and there’s a good reason for that.

The Cricketers of today was built a century ago after the thatched White Hart that stood on the same site was burnt down.

The fire was in 1920 but the White Hart name survived until the 1990s when it was changed to celebrate the pub’s long association with Shroton Cricket Club, founded in 1857. The pub’s own origins are lost in the mists of time.

Village historian Judith Hewitt tells me the earliest record of a pub in Shroton dates from before 1715, when victualler Edward New paid £10 for his liquor licence. It’s not clear where Mr New’s premises were.

In 1759 victualler John Goddard kept a pub at ‘the sign of a Bush’. The Bush was renamed the White Hart the following year.

Goddard’s name appears again in 1807, when the White Hart hosted a major auction of timber comprising ‘100 prime maiden oaks, with lops and bark’ and ‘21 ashes’, all standing at Shroton Farm.

Gory list of attractions

The White Hart also hosted cockfighting in 1799, with the Salisbury and Winchester Journal advertising ‘a main of cocks to be fought, 15 on each side’.

The White Hart, Shroton, in the early 1900s.

Picture from David Burnett’s book Lost Dorset: The Villages & Countryside, based on Barry Cuff’s postcard collection

The prizes were ‘10 guineas a battle’ and ‘50 guineas the odd battle’.

On Boxing Day 1889, a pigeon shooting competition was held at the White Hart with a sweepstake for ‘valuable prizes’.

Tickets cost five shillings and ‘conveyances’ were organised to meet trains at Shillingstone station with a fare of one shilling.

For much of the 19th century the pub was associated with the Andrews family and Shroton Brewery, who rented it from the Pitt Rivers Estate.

In 1918 the Estate, anticipating

death duties, offered the pub for sale and it was bought by Blandford brewers Hall & Woodhouse for £750.

The sale was held at the Swan in Sturminster Newton and the catalogue describes the building as ‘brick-built with a thatched roof and fronted by a small lawn and open green beyond, extending to the main highway’.

The green is now the car park.

Facilities in 1918 included a bar, smoking room, taproom, large living room, large cellars, three bedrooms, lobby, attic bedroom, long clubroom and a long room that doubled as a skittle alley and trap house.

The outbuildings included a tworoom former brewhouse and a four-stall stable.

The landlord at the time was Joseph Crew, who paid an annual rent of £45 and whose wife or sister appear in the early 1900s picture above.

During the 19th century the clubroom and long room hosted coroner’s inquests, the cricket club AGM, political meetings and Christmas dinners for village organisations.

Pubs in previous centuries staged a wild variety of events to draw in customers – but they weren’t quite the same as today’s quiz nights and ‘open mic’ sessions, explains Roger Guttridge
The familiar post1920 building, now called the Cricketers
‘...hosted cockfighting in 1799 ... ‘a main of cocks to be fought, 15 on each side’ ... ‘10 guineas a battle’

An offer of marriage among a pile of amputated limbs!

The tale of an innocent Dorset boy who quickly became a man in the horrors of the Napoleonic war is vividly described by Roger Guttridge

When Benjamin Harris of Stalbridge exchanged the gentle pace of life as a shepherd boy for military service, he had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

After tending sheep since infancy, the 22-year-old met an army recruiting team in Blandford in 1803, and was seduced into ‘taking the King’s shilling’.

Army records reveal that Harris was paid £11 (approximately £900 today) for signing up, which must have seemed a fortune to someone whose weekly wage would have been a few shillings.

He spent the next 11 years as

a private, mostly in the 95th Rifles, surviving battles and other tribulations that claimed the lives of many comrades. Although illiterate, Harris later dictated a vivid account of the Peninsular War, which was first published in 1848 and reprinted in 1995, with notes and additions, by Dorset writer Eileen Hathaway (see image opposite).

Benjamin, son of shepherd Robert Harris and his wife Elizabeth, was a ‘sheep-boy’ from an early age.

‘As soon almost as I could run, I began helping to look after the sheep on the downs of Blandford in Dorsetshire where

I was born,’ he says. ‘Tending the flocks and herds under my charge and occasionally, in the long winter nights, learning the art of making shoes, I grew a hardy little chap.’

His hardiness would come in handy in later years.

‘One fine day, in 1803, I was drawn as a soldier for the Army of Reserve.

‘Without troubling myself much about the change which was to take place in the hitherto quiet routine of my days, I was drafted into the 66th Regiment of Foot and bid goodbye to my shepherd companions.’

Benjamin’s decision meant

68 LOOKING BACK by Roger Guttridge
J T Willmore’s engraving of the Storming of the Centre Pass at Roliça, one of the battles that Harris describes

leaving his ageing father ‘without an assistant to collect his flocks just as he was beginning more than ever to require one’.

A shocked Robert Harris did his best to remedy his son’s impulsiveness.

‘He tried hard to buy me off, and to persuade the sergeant that I was of no use as a soldier, having maimed my right hand by breaking a forefinger when a child,’ says Benjamin.

‘But the sergeant said I was just the sort of little chap he wanted, and off he went, carrying me, and a batch of other recruits, away with him.’

Witnessing an execution

One of Benjamin’s first military experiences was to witness the execution of a soldier who had joined up 16 times to claim the bounty and deserted every time.

In 1808 Harris was involved in the first skirmishes of the Peninsular campaign against Napoleon in Portugal.

‘I often look back with wonder at the light-hearted style, the jollity and reckless indifference with which men, destined in so short a time to fall, hurried onwards to the field of strife,’ he says.

Among those whose deaths he witnessed was Joseph Cockayne, shot in the head while swigging water.

In those days many women followed their men to the battlefields.

‘After the battle, when the roll was called, some of the females came along the line to inquire of the survivors whether they knew anything about their husbands,’ Harris recalled.

Mrs Cockayne refused to believe Joseph was dead and insisted on being taken to the

get in touch with Roger:


‘I made my way over the ground we had fought on. She followed, sobbing,’ says Harris in a particularly moving section.

When they reached her husband’s body, Mrs Cockayne ‘embraced a stiffened corpse, then rose and contemplated his disfigured face for some minutes’.

‘She took a prayer book from her pocket, and with hands clasped and tears streaming down her cheeks, she knelt down and repeated the service for the dead over the body.’

‘Widow refused my offer!’ Harris later offered to marry the ‘handsome woman’ but she said she’d never think of marrying another soldier. Some horrors described by Harris are almost too awful to


After the Battle of Vimeiro, a churchyard became an open-air hospital where surgeons, ‘their hands and arms covered with blood, looked like butchers in the shambles’.

‘As I passed, I saw at least 20 legs lying on the ground, many clothed in the long black gaiters then worn by the infantry of the line,’ Harris adds.

During a winter retreat to Corunna and Vigo, a heavily pregnant Irishwoman and her husband fell by the wayside in the snow and were not expected to be seen again. But a little later the couple were hurrying to catch up, complete with their newborn baby.

Between them they carried the baby to the end of the retreat and sailed for England.

Front cover of the 1995 edition of Benjamin Harris’ book

Every salad should contain a wild harvest ...

…and forageable flowers, buds and leaves make gorgeous tissanes - and will always perk up your spice mixes, says expert Carl Mintern

As we move closer to the heights of summer, the outdoors draws us more heavily with its mild temperatures, and longer days. What better time to go foraging for some delicious wild edible plants to celebrate the incoming heady days that summertime promises.

In May the hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) bushes are heaving with blossom. Their blooms being a May staple is surely the reason so many May Day traditions of the UK feature their thorny branches. And these flowers can make a great addition to salads and other dishes as an attractive garnish.

The young growth of the flower buds and young leaves are all edible now before they mature later in the season, and can be used to make more of any side salad: indeed, at this time of year

I would argue no salad should be denied the inclusion of a wild harvest.

Hawthorn can be found in many hedgerows all over the Blackmore Vale and beyond, and on waste ground and woodlands. It flowers from now to midsummer, sporting five petalled flowers that smell faintly of almonds, with deeply lobed leaves on its thorny thin branches.

Mild and succulent leaves

Next up, the lime (Tilia cordata) tree is one you really ought to include on your itinerary of May foraging. The young, heartshaped leaves of small-leaved lime (and other species of lime) are not only edible, but entirely

delicious and can make up the bulk of a decent salad. Mild and succulent, they have a great flavour that isn’t tainted by the bitterness associated with many wild salad greens. Be sure to harvest the young leaves though, before they mature and get a papery texture. If you are really lucky, you may even find an aphid farm, curated by ants, which has excreted a silvery substance on your leaves. If so, this is a real prize, as it is almost as if the leaf has been dipped in honey. This substance is the equivalent of aphids making lime syrup from the sap for you and leaving it behind.

The lime tree is one of the trees that is found growing wild in any space where such habitat

Eye Daisies - also
Dog Daisy
Daisy, this tall grassland flower native to Europe also has another trick up its leaves. The flowers are tasty eaten raw and can be added to salads or desserts and the flower buds can be pickled like capers. The flowers also can be tempura battered and bizarrely taste a little bit pineappley.
“young growth of the hawthorn flower buds and young leaves are all edible now”

is preserved, but also cultivated in parks and the like, making it another easy to find specimen for novice foragers.

My last choice for May’s Foraging guide is the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). Sometimes also called the dog daisy, oxeye daisy is a plant no

doubt you will already recognise which offers up to us both its flowers and flower buds as table fare. In addition, the leaves are also edible, although tend to become bitter once the flowering has begun - so be sure to harvest only leaves from younger plants. Growing almost anywhere grass grows and isn’t too manicured, the oxeye daisy is another incredibly common plant one can pursue with little trouble and will likely be available right through into September or even October.

Think beyond salads

Once harvested, the fun has only just begun as there is a plethora of uses for the edible parts of this much overlooked plant. As mentioned, the leaves can be added to salads, and the flowers are often cooked in a simple tempura batter (recipe here). Just the petals can be used to

liven up any dish as a garnish (have I mentioned before that no salad should ever be without some wild flowers?!) but there are many uses even beyond this. Dried leaves and flowers can be stored and used to make teas when they are out of season, and the fresh versions can be used likewise straight away. The dried leaves can be crushed and used to add to herb mixes, and the flower buds can be

pickled like capers. For me, my love of foraging begins and ends in the kitchen, and what better way to spend your May evenings than by enjoying a wild salad with lime and hawthorn, with some daisy tea as the sun sets, before setting about preserving your produce in the kitchen, pickling and drying.

Productive bliss, a gift from May’s bounty.

Britain’s most famous hawthorn is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Legend tells of how Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary, arrived at a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor. Where he thrust his staff into the ground it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree. Though the original is obviously long gone, one of its supposed descendants does still stand on the hill. This particular hawthorn blooms twice a year, once in May and again around Christmas. A sprig of one of these Glastonbury thorns from outside St Johns Church is traditionally sent to the Queen. She is said to decorate her breakfast table with it on Christmas morning.

See details and availability of
Carl’s local foraging courses on his website
sufficient Hub here The small-leaved lime: charming, sturdy, pollinator-magnet. Not only does the small-leaved lime’s blossom produce a sweet scent and pleasantly minty honey, its leaves support the caterpillars of moths such as the lime hawk, peppered and vapourer.
“ may even find an aphid farm, curated by ants... If so, this is a real prize, as it is almost as if the leaf has been dipped in honey.”

What’s happening in the blue tit nest box?

Both sexes look similar, but the male blue tit is considerably brighter, especially in the blue on the head. It is thought that as they get older, they get brighter plumage with each subsequent moult. No other British tit has blue in its plumage. The breeding season varies with location and season, but generally starts in the third week of April. Though blue tits will lay repeat clutches if their first is lost, they rarely try and rear two broods.

Blue tits are on a surprisingly precarious tightrope each spring. Nature writer Jane Adams shares the task ahead of ‘her’ Bonnie and Clyde

In March, as I battled with 6ft bamboo canes in the overgrown veg patch, two blue tits scolded me from a nearby beech tree. It happens every year: they’ve chosen a nest box nailed to the side of the potting shed and as they flit back and forth, they think I’m a bit too close for comfort.

I’ve named them Bonnie and Clyde and they look glamorous in their yellow and blue feathered coats. They’re living life on the edge - their eggs must hatch at the same time as the caterpillars they catch to feed their chicks. It’s all down to timing.

In April Bonnie built the nest. Starting with a platform of moss and leaves and finishing by wiggling her body to form a nest cup where she placed tiny soft feathers. This month she’s laid an egg each day until she has a clutch of ten. Each

weighs in at a whopping one gram. By the time she finished, she’d laid more than her own body weight in eggs. Now, she has her bare plucked chest (called a brood patch) resting against the eggs to incubate them. Any day now they’ll hatch.

If the weather’s good, both parents will find the caterpillars needed to appease the appetites of their hungry chicks. It’s thought that blue tits need to find 100 caterpillars a day to feed each chick, and as the youngsters can take three weeks to fledge, that’s more than 15,000 caterpillars. No wonder scientists are worried by the effect climate change will have on our native birds’ long-term survival. With spring starting earlier, temperatures rising and rain increasing, will (or can) our birds adapt? For now, I’m keeping an eye on this intrepid pair and hoping they don’t come to a sticky end like their namesakes.

The clutch size is highly variable, but usually ranges from 7-13 eggs. Clutches as large as 19 eggs, all laid by the same female, have been recorded.

Extra Fact File:

If you see bees buzzing in and out of your nest boxes, don’t panic. It’s a privilege. They’re likely to be tree bumblebees, and they often nest in bird nest boxes. Treat them with the same respect you would nesting birds. Relish having them in your garden pollinating your plants. Their lifecycle is quick, and they’ll be gone within a couple of months.

72 WILDLIFE by Jane Adams
“the parents will find more than 15,000 caterpillars in the three weeks it takes the chicks to fledge”

Helping our farmland birds to return and thrive

Birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland saw numbers decline by almost a tenth in just five years, says Dorset Wildlife Trust

From chattering flocks of linnets, buntings and finches, yellowhammers singing from thick bushy hedges and skylarks hovering above fields, farmland has traditionally provided key habitats for some of our most beautiful and melodic native farmland birds. However, changes in farming practices have led to the loss of many such habitats. According to the bird indicators produced jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB for Defra, breeding farmland birds declined by more than half between 1970 and 2019. Dorset Wildlife Trust works with landowners across the county to provide guidance and advice on managing their land with wildlife in mind. From unplanted patches for skylarks to nest, to designating grassy margins for ground-nesting birds such as corn bunting, birds can be encouraged to return and thrive. Making space for nature and in particular, these traditional birds has never been more important.

What to look out for in Dorset:

• Yellowhammer

The yellowhammer is a sparrow-sized, bright yellow bird that feeds on seeds

Farmland bird populations have declined by 56% since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows. Image © corn bunting by Luke Massey 2020VISION

and invertebrates. They are often seen perched on top of bushes singing their ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ song. Whilst the numbers of this bright yellow bird have declined in recent years, surveys have identified yellowhammer at our recently acquired Wild Woodbury rewilding project at Bere Regis. By changing the way the land is managed, we hope to build the numbers of this red list species.

• Skylark

The song of the skylark has been the subject of many great musical and literary works. They are easy to spot rising almost vertically from farmland and grasslands singing and hovering effortlessly at a great height before parachuting back

down to earth. Despite their aerial activities, skylarks nest on the ground laying three to four eggs. Fontmell Down is a great place to spot the skylark, a streaky brown bird, with a crest.

• Corn bunting

A streaky brown, thick-billed bird which is similar to the skylark but with a thicker bill and no crest. Male corn buntings are often seen perched on top of bushes singing loudly – a song that sounds just like a jangling set of keys. The corn bunting often joins mixed flocks of buntings, finches and sparrows feeding on seeds on farmland in the winter.

To find information on birds, visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust website at

The yellowhammer has declined in number in recent years. Spot this bright yellow bird singing from the top of a bush or fence, or in a mixedspecies flock in winter.

Belle’s journey to work alongside Veterans with Dogs

Veterans with Dogs trains and provides assistance dogs for current and former members of the British Armed Forces with service-related mental health conditions.

Veterans with Dogs was founded for the purpose of training fully accredited assistance dogs to help mitigate the symptoms of mental health difficulties for Veterans and active-duty service members. Veterans who qualify through the programme have partnerships that they can depend on to help them recognise earlier the increasing symptoms of their difficulties. The dogs are trained to intervene with interruptive behaviours to help their Veteran with emotional regulation, grounding and to remain safe. It is commonly recognised and accepted, a Veteran suffering from a condition such as PTSD can become extremely isolated - and their life can become dominated by conditions

such as anxiety and depression. Introducing a specially trained dog into the life of a Veteran who is suffering from PTSD has been shown to have hugely beneficial outcomes, increasing their quality of life and regain independence.

Local girl Belle Belle is a three-year-old black Labrador and a much-loved family pet. To help raise awareness of the charity, she has recently passed her assessment to be a Veterans with Dogs Community Support Dog. She is now able to wear her Community Dog coat with pride.

A Community Dog provides access to the public within group activities and represents the charity at public events. These dogs need to be trained and are assessed before they are accepted as a Community Dog. They can be playful and fun, but also have the ability to be very relaxed and settled when

required. They need to be calm and confident in many different situations and be able to bring their natural benefits of physical interaction to the public.

Belle’s training is continuing so that she can further the support she can give to the charity. She is now learning to carry out tasks which might be required of an assistance dog to support their veteran. She will then be able to demonstrate these to the public as an example of what these highly intelligent and special assistance dogs can do.

Belle, and her humans, Carol and Andy, are happy to attend any local events to help raise awareness of this much needed charity. They can be contacted through Veterans with Dogs.

Damory Vets in Blandford have very kindly agreed have a collection tin in the reception area from the end of April in support of Veterans with Dogs. For more details of the charity, please visit their website ( and support the charity in any way that you can.

Veterans With Dogs specialise in helping Veterans lead independent lives by training assistance dogs in task-specific skills relevant to mental health
“...intervene with interruptive behaviours to help their Veteran with emotional regulation, grounding and to remain safe”

Take a Hike: The beautiful Deverills and Downs above Mere 12.5 miles

The routes we feature have always been created and walked recently by ourselves (See all previously published routes on the website here), so you know you can trust them - we aim for unpopulated routes with as little road and as many views as possible! You can see all our routes (including those not published) on Outdoor Active website here, and all include a downloadable gpx

In between the A303 and Warminster is a stunning area which is often overlooked. Head up there (hit Longleat and you’ve gone too far) and you’re rewarded with the broad rolling downland and extraordinary wide views of the ancient landscape that is the West Wiltshire Downs AONB.

It’s a longer hike than we’ve shared for a while - but set aside a day, pack a sandwich and treat yourself, it’s a total stunner. One word of warning - the start of this is immediately and moderately stiffly uphill; if like me you hate that straight out of the gate, think about reversing the route!

All images Laura Hitchcock

Beautiful spring turbans!

Originally a wildflower from Asia, Europe’s love for tulips meant that some bulbs were worth more than a house during the height of the Dutch craze for the plant, as Charlotte Tombs relates

The tulip was a wildflower originally growing in Central Asia. It was first cultivated by the Turks as early as 1,000 AD. Mania in Turkey struck in the 16th century at the time of the Ottoman Empire when a particular Sultan demanded certain flowers for his pleasure. The name ‘tulip’ comes from the Turkish word for turban which makes a lot if sense when you consider the shape of both. Tulips remained popular in Turkey, thereafter and in the early 18th Century the tulip era really began. There were tulip festivals and it became a crime punishable by exile to buy or sell the tulips outside the capital.

Constantinople to Amsterdam

The flowers arrived in northern Europe in the 16th century. Their introduction was thought to be by a botanist from Vienna, Clausius, who became the director of the oldest botanical garden in Leiden. He was friendly with the ambassador of Constantinople who sent him a samples of this wonder flower. This is believed to be the start of the bulb fields in the Netherlands today. At this time the tulip was being used for medicinal purposes but by the beginning of the 17th century they were gaining popularity in gardens and the bulbs were beginning to be sold for unbelievable amounts of money.

Hybridized flowers were being bred to be very decorative, and in the autumn of 1636 some bulbs were reaching larger amounts of money than a house in Amsterdam! Things came to a crash

in 1637 when people came to their senses and stopped buying the bulbs for such high prices. Throughout the 17th and 18th century interest remained high in these bulbs and the Dutch became the true connoisseurs of this incredible flower.

It was discovered in the 20th century that the frilly petals and flames on the flowers were actually caused by a virus - this has now been bred out of them, and the fancy tulips are now genetically stable although some are deliberately bred to retain this look.

Close planting for longer stems

This year Charlotte planted nearly 2,000 bulbs of 25 different varieties of tulips - she treats them as annuals, as returning flowers are always inferior (her assistant was VERY helpful).

This year I have planted nearly 2,000 bulbs with 25 different varieties. I plant them very closely together so I can get a longer stem (they fight for light and go upwards) which is more saleable. I treat the bulb as an annual and all the spent bulbs are composted. There are some varieties that will come back year after year but the flowers are smaller and less well-defined. British grown tulips are amazing and far superior to the supermarkets ones which are generally mass-grown imports.Some tulips are even scented but this has been bred out of the imports.

Some of this year’s Dorset-grown Northcombe Flowers tulips - sold by the stem, bunch or bucket! Image - Charlotte Tombs Charlotte offers Workshops through the year - please see for further details.
Crating the tulips image - Melanie Ward

A spring in our step!

What an absolutely stunning April we had. The weather over Easter felt like Summer had arrived early on some days, and we just could not get enough. At the garden centre, the warmth and sunshine meant that many of our plants began to spring into life as they sought to soak up some of them golden rays!

We also saw our first children’s event since late 2019, as we hosted Easter Crafts at Thorngrove, and it was a huge success with a brilliant turnout. We want to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who attended and spread the word about our event. We look forward to putting on more as the year goes on.

The furniture’s out Our brand new range of garden furniture went on sale in April too. We had a few available last year but this time we’ve really extended the range and there are so many beautiful items to choose from, whether it’s a fire pit, hanging chair, rattan dinging set and more – there’s something for all tastes and needs! (browse the range on our website today).

At the time of writing, it’s the Monday after the weekend of

the Spring Countryside show, which we attended proudly, offering a selected range of plants to the show visitors, while also taking some time to have a wander around and see all the fantastic local businesses and entertainment all coming together again for this important community event. We can’t wait for the Gillingham & Shaftesbury show later in the summer –which we’ll also be at!

Thorngrove’s got basket

Let’s see…what else is going on… oh yes, that’s right, our famous hanging basket workshops are back for late spring! There will

still be time to book your place once this issue hits your inbox. Thorngrove expert Chris Francis will be on hand to help you get creative, and create a beautiful and unique handing basket full of seasonal plants of your choice. These events always fill up so please book to avoid disappointment. Phew… I think that about covers it for now. Right, where’s our ‘To Do’ list…the roses need watering (they’ll be blooming soon!!).

Stop by Thorngrove this May for all your gardening needs. We’d love to chat about ideas and how to make the most of your garden space. See you soon!

A lovely April has meant Thorngrove is buzzing and much-loved community events are finally back, says a happily tired Kelsi-Dean Buck
The Thorngrove team proudly attended the Spring Countryside Show, with a selected range of plants for the show visitors to browse

A diary of April on the allotment

This month Barry Cuff thought it might be interesting to share his month of activity on the allotment, along with his daily notes on growing conditions April was dry with cold nights, some very sunny days and the wind mostly from the north and east:


• Cut two large Medallion cauliflowers.

• Covered purple sprouting broccoli with a net to protect from pigeons.


• Frost down to -1ºC.

• Pricked out Ildi and Bumble Bee tomatoes (all other varieties were pricked out in March).


• White frost -3ºC. Thin ice on water buts.

4th Plant three lines Rooster potato

• Sowed in the greenhouse Spanish Flag Ipomoea and Grandpa Ott Ipomoea. Both showy climbers for a wigwam.


• Sowed a patch of French Breakfast radish.

• Sow in modules the Brendan Brussels sprouts.


• Plant one line Picasso potato

• Weeding around fruit bushes and mulched with manure.


• White frost.

• Weeding where needed

• Sow various annual flowers in trays and modules (greenhouse).

• Sow in pots Marketmore and La Diva cucumber (greenhouse)


with a out were out Thin Rooster sprouts. Picasso and

Frost -1ºC.

• Trimming edges of plots.


Pumped water for site.

• A mass of flowers on Conference pear.


• Some very useful rain in the night.

• Cut chicons (our second cut).

• Spray beans for weevils.


• Picked purple sprouting broccoli.

• Dug five leeks.

• Removed sprouts (chimps) from stored potatoes.

• Sow Greensleeves celery and Asterix celeriac in modules.


chicons in Plant cloche

• Plant out under cloche Little Gem lettuce.

• Sow two pots of Musselburgh leek.


• Pumped water for site.

• Sow two lines Palace parsnip

• Earthed up eight lines of potatoes.


Sow further line of Hurst Greenshaft pea.

• Plant two lines Picasso (after the purple sprouting) 26th

• Pumped water for the site.

• Cover eight lines of potatoes with fleece as more frosts forecast. Dug remaining leeks and put them on the compost heap as they were running up to flower.

Greenshaft lines sprouting) for the site. eight and put store beans

From our store and freezer we still have potatoes, squash (Crown Prince), broad beans and French beans from last year’s harvest.

• Plant out from modules two lines of Golden Bear onion.

• Cover beetroot seedlings to protect from the sparrows.

• Sow line Early Nantes carrot.


Plant Plant

Plant further two lines of Golden Bear.


Pumped water for site. Picked last of the purple sprouting broccoli.

• Sow one line of Hurst Greenshaft pea.

• A Red Kite flew over plots.

The voice of the allotment:
Barry’s Conference pear tree was a mass of flowers by the 14th of April

Help them thrive! | Garden jobs for May

Yes, the warmer weather is coming but be wary until frosts are gone –and ensure optimum siting for plants to bloom, says Pete Harcom

May should be a lot warmer, but as said last month, keep an eye on the weather forecast and protect early outdoor sowings and plantings with fleece.

Gradually harden-off tender plants for outside (and hanging baskets) before planting out after the last frosts which should be by mid-May (possibly)!

Bedding plants may need to wait to be planted out towards the end of May.

Now is a good time to re-evaluate the positioning of plants; try to reduce any failures or poor growth due to their siting in the garden.

The right spot

If you have a shady area in your garden, it’s a good idea to check your individual plants requirements - research any that are unfamiliar. Always ensure they get planted in the correct place in the garden. Check out if the plant’s natural habitat is, for example, a woodlandthen you can be sure it will grow best in dappled shade, and not in full sun.

Following is a list of plants and shrubs that prefer to be in dappled shade or even full shade:

Shade lovers

Astilbe, Azaleas, Hostas, Bergenia, Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) Foxgloves, Solomon’s Seal, Pieris, Hydrangeas, Hellebores, Ferns, Forget Me Not, Lily of the Valley, Autumn Anemones, Pulmonaria, Vinca Minor and Major (Periwinkle), Shrubs - Mahonia, Viburnum, Rhododendron, Holly (Ilex), Berberis, Euonymus, Fuchsia Shrubs, Skimmia, Weigela, Cotoneaster, Daphne, Ribes (flowering currant).

Do note that the leaves of Skimmia shrubs turn yellow if in full sun. You may need to give the plant a tonic of sequestered iron after you have moved it from the sunny position.

Acer Palmatum trees enjoy partial shade - these can be spectacular in Autumn. You can buy a wildflower ‘shade mix’ of seeds for a ‘wild’ and shady part of your garden.

Other jobs

• Birds will be starting to nest now - please check hedges before trimming them back.

• Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as Deutzia, Choisya, Weigela and Philadelphus.

Foxgloves are biennial - the plants will root and produce foliage in their first year, remain dormant throughout winter before erupting into beautiful blooms the following year.

Foxgloves prefer partial shadethey are a woodland plant and so like woodland conditions

These can all be pruned after flowering to maintain shape.

• Keep tying in Clematis, Sweet peas and honeysuckle as they grow up their trellis or other supports.

• Apply liquid feed to Daffodils and the Spring bulbs to ensure good flowers for next year.


Outwitting the beetle, and a need for sensible ‘Rules for Water’

Where have all the larvae gone?

There we were, a few days ago, hunting around in flowering rape for evidence that there had been any flea beetle attack this season. Eventually we found one larva embedded in a stem - far short of anything to worry about. Since the Europe-wide ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments in 2013 we have tried countless methods to outwit the little devils which have decimated the UK rape crop over recent years. The flea beetle is a formidable pest. The adult will attack the tiny emerging plants shortly after sowing in autumn, and on many of the plants that survive, the beetle lays eggs, which eventually hatch and then attempt to burrow into the stems as the plant grows

in late autumn and into early spring. They can weaken plants considerably, and when you think you have escaped the autumn onslaught, you find patches of plants in spring where they have given up, having been hollowed out. We have tried applying smelly manures, sown companion crops to distract them, sown early, even grazed the rape off with sheep in the hope that the sheep actually eat the larvae in the plants.

Overall larvae numbers on this farm were lower in 2021 than 2020, and appear to be lower still this year, the fourth since forsaking insecticides. Can we dare to believe that beneficial predators are making a comeback, now we aren’t repeatedly killing them off

with increasingly unsuccessful chemical attempts to control the flea beetle?

We know the drill

In a vain hope to encourage a bit of rain in May, is it appropriate as I write this on the 23rd of April, to have a good moan about the very dry, cool and windy, weather?

Our spring barley is seriously struggling, it was sown into rapidly drying seedbeds, which in spite of our intentions to direct drill, had to be cultivated to make a half decent seedbed. A return to the field with a heavy flat roll this week has been required to try to encourage some late germination where there are gaps, and to conserve what little moisture is there.

The spring beans, usually more sensitive to lack of moisture than most crops, are holding out at

We’re dealing with beetle, unseasonal weather and confusing, costly messages from the EA, argues Dorset NFU County Chair George Hosford The Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) is a little, iridescent, black beetle. It isn’t related to fleas, but gets its name from having large, powerful femurs, which allow it to leap like a flea. It feeds on cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower), and also enjoys a spot of oil seed rape. The larvae enter the plants, where they eat the entire inside of the stem, before emerging to eat all the leaves on the outside, devastating the crop.

the moment. We managed to direct drill some of them into the kinder soils, and in two small fields we are using them as a break with which to improve some worn-out permanent pasture. Direct sowing the beans into the turf has so far worked well: leatherjackets, that would otherwise have demolished a cereal crop, are not interested in beans, and will have hopefully hatched and left the field before we sow a wheat crop in the autumn, and then establish a long term herbal mixture in the following year. Digging down below the turf finds surprisingly moist soil, protected from the wind and sun by the old turf.

A urea heap?

Defra have announced some long-awaited answers for farmers recently: firstly, their response to the urea fertiliser consultation that they issued a year ago, which had left farmers who are accustomed to using urea fertiliser, with no idea whether they could buy, let alone use any urea this year.

The decision means that previously announced restrictions on the use of urea

are being postponed whilst the industry tries to cope with the enormous rise in fertiliser prices that has occurred in the last few months.

Urea has traditionally been used as a cheaper form of fertiliser than the more widelyused ammonium nitrate, but a major drawback is that it leads to the emission of more ammonia into the atmosphere than AN. Both contribute to global warming, but urea is worse.

The decision seems likely, in the longer term, to lead to a regime which will restrict urea use, force farmers to adjust the timing of applications and to only apply it in conjunction with an inhibitor, to help reduce emissions.

Costly storage needed?

The second announcement relates to the ‘Farming Rules for Water’, devised and policed by the Environment Agency (EA), which aims to control pollution from farmland to waterways and ground water. These rules have been contentious from their inception in 2018, when the Environment Agency (EA)

In 2018 the Environment Agency (EA) announced a clampdown on manure spreading in the autumn. The implication was that farmers who produce organic manures would not be able to apply them to any more than a narrow range of permitted crops in autumn - the time when traditionally many millions of tons of manures are applied to newly sown crops.

announced a clampdown on manure spreading in the autumn. The implication was that farmers who produce organic manures would not be able to apply them to any more than a narrow range of permitted crops in autumn - the time when traditionally many millions of tons of manures are applied to newly sown crops.

Lots more storage capacity would have to be built to carry it safely through until it could legally be applied in the spring.

There are many reasons why this draconian ruling didn’t make sense, and I plan to return to this subject soon, but to put it concisely, DEFRA have asked the EA to look again at this, and work more closely with farmers to make the system more sensible. No farmers intentionally allow their manures to get into water, they are far too valuable to do that. A confrontational approach helps no-one, and I very much hope now that we can move forward with an environmentally responsible, and economically justifiable blend of common sense and practical regulation.

“No farmers intentionally allow their manures to get into water, they are far too valuable to do that”

War and water (or lack of it)

Rising costs due to the Ukraine war combined with dry weather spell challenges for farmers, says James Cossins

As has been well publicised April was a very dry month, with only 33mm, or one and half inches, of rain recorded in the month at Rawston Farm.

The winter crops seem to be surviving well, with the oilseeds well out in their yellow flowers.

The spring crops desperately need a good drink, however, or yields will be reduced considerably. We are currently sowing maize, our final crop of the spring.

With the current high cost of fertiliser, we have put a cover of farmyard manure on the fields before ploughing. We hope this will give the crop a good boost to its growth without having to add extra fertiliser.

The cattle grazing enjoys the dry weather whilst the grass continues to grow. There is little poaching of the fields, and they are able to utilise the grass to good effect. The milking cows have certainly benefited from going out to grass, and we have been able to save on feeding silage and reduced the amount of bought-in feed that they require in the winter.

We now look forward to silagemaking, aiming for good quality feed for next winter. Getting the balance between quality and

quantity can be challenging, and there is a trend towards cutting more often to improve the quality. Sometimes the quantity can be sacrificed if we don’t get sufficient moisture for the following cuts.

Fun and games

In my youth I was very involved with the Young Farmers Organisation, my local club being Blandford - in fact this is where I met my wife Barbara, who was a farmer’s daughter. I have recently been recycled into being involved again with Blandford on their advisory committee.

Each year there is a County Rally where all the clubs in Dorset compete with each other in many varied events. I was asked to help with the field events, which involved tractor driving, quad bike handling, tying a load of straw bales, to name a few. A great time was had, with all competitors thoroughly enjoying themselves. The Young Farmers movement is a tremendous organisation to belong to where young people can have lots of fun, meet new friends and learn about life in the countryside. The name ‘Young Farmers’ may be a little off-putting, but anyone under the

age of 26 can join in. I am sure by looking at social media or the YFC website you will be able find the details and contacts of your local club; see what goes on and maybe join in!

Shortages predicted

The effect of the war in Ukraine seems to be having far-reaching consequences for our everyday lives now. With energy prices sky high it seems food prices and availability are being affected. Vegetable oil (in the form of sunflower oil) is being rationed in some shops, with home-grown oilseed being looked at as a replacement. Harvesting oilseeds in the UK will take place in July, and hopefully making up for any shortfall. Maybe in the UK we should look at the possibility of growing more sunflowers.

It is also predicted that there may be a shortage of eggs in the summer, with many producers deciding that it is uneconomical at the moment to produce eggs, due to high feed costs.

I think the Government needs a wake-up call on food security for this country and not rely on imports to make up for any shortfall.

Finally, let’s hope for some rain for farmers and gardeners whilst we are in the growing season and not to save it up for the harvesting!

86 by James Cossins In association with VOICE OF A FARMER
“the Government needs a wakeup call on food security for this country and not rely on imports”
Silaging on Rawston Farm in the late 1960s

The truth behind ‘green credibility’

Big businesses buying productive farmland to promote their ‘green’ credentials may impact rural communities and UK food security, argues Andrew Livingston

Roman Abramovich at Chelsea football club, Saudi Arabia buying Newcastle FC and a World Cup hosted in Qatar have all continued to fill the back pages of newspapers in the UK.

Not so reputable people and nations for years have used sporting teams and tournaments to change their public reputationthis is called sportswashing. In farming and business, something similar occurs, and it is becoming ever more prevalent since COP26 and global plans to be net-zero in 2050 - this is known as greenwashing.

Previously, the main types of greenwashing were seen in companies’ marketing and advertising. For example, some oil companies in the past have been challenged for advertising heavily on low-carbon products, while most of their annual spending is on oil and gas.

Greenwashing is more commonly

now being seen in big businesses investing in land to offset their carbon spend.

Does it matter?

People may say it is fine as it’s a global issue, but are companies doing the right thing if they just throw money at the situation and if we don’t try to reduce our carbon usage?

Greenwashing is being seen as having a bigger effect on farmers in both Wales and Scotland. In Wales, paid afforestation schemes were set up to encourage farmers to plant trees on their land.

But large investment firms have been purchasing Welsh farms and land and planting the trees in order to sell off the carbon offset. Although once again it seems great that the environment is being taken care of, but for local communities it’s hard to see their farming heritage ripped up and the land they worked for generations changed forever.

As an example, some airlines are known to have bought farms in Wales as they look to offset carbon for their global flights.

Land purchasing for carbon offsetting is having a larger effect on farming in Scotland. Last year two-thirds of land sales in Scotland were done privately, meaning that they never went on the ‘open market’ - with one-third of those being sold to overseas buyers. Farms sold ‘off the market’ means that members of the local community are unable to get into farming or expand their current business.

On the face of it, greenwashing doesn’t quite have the newsworthy nature of sports washing. Most people see any tree planted as a good news story. But it seems that even capturing carbon comes at a cost as businesses look to exploit environmental schemes, and local communities to be seen doing the right thing.

As with knowing where your food comes from, we must ask ourselves when a business advertises its green credentials “Do I know the real story behind this?”

87 by Andrew LivingstonFARM TALES
“people see any tree planted as a good news story, but it seems that even capturing carbon comes at a cost”

Single buyer takes home ex-family heirlooms in four day £1m auction

A single determined bidder ensured that a group of lots relating to Combe Sydenham, the historic manor in Somerset, all ended up ‘back where they belong’ last month. “In the age of the internet, auctions may scatter art and antiques across the globe but sometimes they can gather antiques back into a collection too,” observed Helen Carless, Lawrences ’ Managing Director. “We were fortunate to have been given the opportunity to sell four lots that each related to one historic house in Somerset and the current owner bought them all, to place back in the family collection.”

A large watercolour view of Combe Sydenham house by Edward Gurden Dalziel, 1870 (see image, right top) that was probably a Royal Academy exhibit in 1871, made £3,250.

A Victorian oil painting by John Adams Whipple, also depicting the house, made £400. This picture had been spotted by the vendor’s father in the window of an antique shop in Kensington and was recognised immediately. A more modern oil on board of an atmospheric moonlit scene at Combe Sydenham house, painted by Felix Kelly in 1964, made £5,500 (image right, middle).

The Earl of Egmont’s chairs

The following day, a pair of Windsor armchairs that had been made in about 1756 for John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont were offered for sale. The chairs were sold at a sale at Enmore Castle in 1899 and went to Combe Sydenham.

The superb provenance and strikingly decorative design of the pair (see image below right) ensured that the price topped £15,000 and these have also returned to the house.

The buyer of all four lots, William Theed, commented that he had sat on these very chairs when he purchased the house in 1963.

In addition to the Combe Sydenham lots, two large drawings by Dame Elisabeth Frink (who lived and worked at Woolland, Dorset) from 1962 were sold. One of a horse’s head and the other of a fallen warrior, they showcased Frink’s skill at portraying the vulnerability of strength. These made £3,500 and £4,750 respectively.

A twilight landscape scene in oils, entitled ‘Evening’ by Midlands artist William Kiddier (1859-1934) surged beyond its estimate of £400-600 to make £6,875, almost ten times any other price paid for this artist’s work in any auction.

The lots contributed to an auction that totalled £1m across four days of selling.

Jubilee THE Charity Registration No.1120193 Lewis-Manning Hospice Care ANNIVERSARY GREAT DORSET TEA PARTY Taking part is easy, simply sign up to receive your FREE tea party pack and invite your friends, family and work colleagues to join your tea party and raise money for Lewis-Manning Hospice Care. Call 01202 708470 or email

Twice-baked perfect biscotti

For those days when you want something sweet with your coffee, but you don’t quite want a big slice of cake, these little biscotti are the perfect treat.

Traditionally biscotti are a little Italian biscuit, baked twice to make them wonderfully crisp. They are literally designed to dip into your coffee (or hot chocolate, of course), and they make a lovely nottoo-sweet treat.

I’ve used pistachios and cranberries here, but you can substitute those ingredients for any dried fruit or nuts. I have made these simply with whole almonds and a little almond extract, and they are delicious with a freshly made espresso. Heather x


• 200g Plain Flour

• 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

• 200g Caster Sugar

• 50g Ground Almonds

• 200g Pistachios

• 100g Cranberries

• 2-3 eggs

• a little white chocolate


• Preheat the oven to 160º fan/gas 3.

• Grease and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

• In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, sugar, ground almonds, pistachios and cranberries.

• Gently beat together the three eggs. Add this to the dry mixture until you form a soft dough. This will likely take all three eggs, but you don’t want the dough to be too sticky. You can also add a little almond extract or vanilla extract here if you wish.

• Place the dough onto the baking tray and pat or roll into a large rectangle about 1cm high. It doesn’t need to be too perfect and can taper at the sides slightly.

• Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack to cool.

• Reduce the oven temperature to 145º fan/gas 2.

• Once cool, gently remove from the baking parchment the baked dough and then using a serrated knife, cut the baked dough rectangle into 1 cm slices. Place the slices back onto the baking tray, cut side facing up.

• Bake in the oven again for a further 20-30 minutes until slightly golden and crisp. Once baked, transfer to a cooling tray.

• If desired, melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the cooled biscotti to finish.

by Heather Brown
Heather Brown is on the committee of the Guild of Food Writers; a home economist with a passion for Dorset’s brilliant foodie scene. Heather runs Dorset Foodie Feed, championing Dorset’s food and drink businesses, as well as working with her food industry clients. Italian Biscotti or Cantucci are crunchy almond biscuits, traditionally dunked in Vin Santo - a sweet Italian dessert wine, but are also commonly paired with coffee Image: Heather Brown

It’s all about the taste

If you were lately walking near the Kingsmead Business Park at Gillingham, you might have heard peels of laughter. Go a little closer and the scene

looked positively Mediterranean – a group of people sitting on benches around a wooden table, enjoying lunch in the unseasonable sunshine. It probably didn’t look like work! But the 10 people around the table were having a short break from tasting and testing for this year’s Great Taste Awards. As a long-standing judge and coordinator at the Great Taste Awards, I am used to the amused headshaking if I comment that we work hard. Eating interesting food all day – how hard can that be?

The truth, of course, is that it is hard work, because it is a very responsible job and one which is carried out with real rigour.

Becoming a judge

I have been a Great Taste judge for many years, since the Guild of Fine Food, now based in

Gillingham, was in Wincanton near where I live.

At that time, I was editing the Blackmore Vale Magazine, and regularly writing about the activities of the Guild, including the Great Taste and World Cheese Awards. Bob Farrand, who founded the Guild and both award schemes – his son, John, is now managing director – repeatedly invited me to come and spend a day judging. I always pleaded the demands of work until one day I didn’t

So I walked down the road, met some of the judges, listened to Bob’s introduction, spent the day tasting dozens of products – and was hooked. I have been a judge ever since, and for some years also a co-ordinator (one of the people who record the comments and stars, where agreed, on the products).

Bob, a writer, cheese expert and

Great Taste is the world’s largest, most trusted food and drink accreditation scheme - and its home is right here in Gillingham. Long time judge Fanny Charles takes us behind the scenes on testing for this year’s Great Taste Awards
“...preserves or cider, artisan cheese or handmade biscuits, sausages or ice-cream, sea salt or Greek mountain honey”
Steve Horrell, Roth Bar & Grill in the judging room image © Steven Lamb, River Cottage and Lucas Hollweg, food writer and chef in the judging room image ©

author of the excellent Cheese Handbook (2000), always put new judges at their ease by explaining that we “all have the same number of taste buds.” Some people may have more knowledge of specific products – olive oil or espresso coffee, for example –but that doesn‘t mean that your opinion on the taste isn’t just as valid.

You’ve definitely seen them

If you are still with me, but wondering what the Great Taste Awards are, the best advice is to look around the next time you are in a supermarket, deli or farm shop. You will soon spot products with small black and gold Great Taste Award labels, with one, two or three stars. They might be preserves or cider, artisan cheese or handmade biscuits, sausages or ice-cream, sea salt or Greek mountain honey.

It’s a simple idea – establish a benchmark for quality and encourage producers and retailers to work together to promote great tasting food, prepared by dedicated makers using fresh, honest and where possible local ingredients. Launched in 1994, when fewer than 100 food and drink entries were blind-tasted by 12 experts across five classes, Great Taste is now arguably the world’s leading food awards scheme, attracting around 14,000 entries in 2021. Since 1994, more than 150,000 products have gone through the judging process. Each food or drink item is blind-tasted by judges from a wide range of foodrelated backgrounds, including chefs, cooks, buyers, retailers,

restaurateurs, food critics and writers.

Antipasto squid tyres

The judges look for truly great taste, regardless of branding or packaging. They take into account texture, appearance, aroma and of course the quality of the ingredients – but above all, does the product taste truly great?

On any given judging day, you may have some glorious experiences – a three star hazelnut gelato, mouth-watering venison salami, oysters fresh from the pristine sea waters off the Irish coast –or some that are anything but ...

My worst experience, bar none, still remembered with a shudder, was a dish of seafood, intended as antipasto. It included pieces of squid that could have patched shredded bike tyres, floating in a sea of rough vinegar. It was hard to imagine how this made it out of a test kitchen – let alone why anyone would put it forward for a Great Taste star!

But the horrors are rare – the majority of the products we taste and discuss, thoughtfully, professionally and constructively, are created and made with care,

and many will qualify as Great Tastes.

In 2021, a total of 5,383 products were awarded one, two or three stars, of which 497 were from the West Country.

This year’s Great Taste judging is now well under way. My most recent experience, typical of the cross-section of people you meet, was a fun and interesting morning with Val Stones, the “Cake Whisperer” and former Great British Bake-Off contestant, and Bini Ludlow, who makes Indian ready meals in Somerset. The combined tastebuds of a great baker, an award-winning Indian cook and me produced some strong opinions –the pros and cons of a vegan chocolate cake, the level of spicing of a biryani – and stars for several products.

When people ask me why I love Great Taste judging, I have four reasons: I believe that what we do helps to support and promote the work of great artisan and small food and drink producers (and some bigger companies too); I believe we help consumers to discover fine foods they might not otherwise try; I always meet interesting people; and I always learn something new.

“...pieces of squid that could have patched shredded bike tyres, floating in a sea of rough vinegar”
Judges Val Stones, aka “the Cake Whisperer,” and award-winning Indian cook Bini Ludlow.

New ‘Vine of the times’ award celebrates the minority makers in a biased industry

Hannah Wilkins of Vineyards in Sherborne is championing change in the wine industry, creating a ‘blanc slate’ with an exciting wine competition

Like many industries, being a wino can be tough when you’re sipping your way through the archaic stigmas attached to a privileged, white, maledominated arena.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still a distance to go.

Proud as we are to be awarded Best in the South West and fifth in the UK (out of over 800 independent wine shops), we were the only gals featured in this year’s top 10 indie wine merchants by Harpers Wine –and in 2022, it just doesn’t feel right.

Under-represented makers

So, we’re introducing our very own and very shiny indie wine tasting: Vine of the Times. An annual wine tasting where a group of industry winos sit together and raise a glass to inclusivity by hosting a blind tasting competition. Our new event will unearth little drinking gems from underrepresented makers – this year belongs to women in wine. Our vision is to highlight a different group of ‘minority makers’ each year, not just women, and try to level out the diversity – one bottle at a time. But back to now, and it’s all about the Sipsterhood!

Made by women

For the inaugural awards we’re gathering wine from female winemakers across the globe for the tasting, and have recruited an eclectic, independent panel of

female judges, each bringing a real mix of experience from the wine industry. On the day, the judges will be provided with the grape variety, region, and RRP only for each bottle we try, in a bid to remove any misconceptions. All wines will be celebrated in an awards brochure after the event and shared within the wino community, and the winning wines from each grape category will receive a special feature. We’re not giving out glittery trophies, we’re creating a noise instead, which is what Vine of the Times is about. Real change doesn’t happen from silence.

Time to drink equal The response we have received from winemakers and prospective judges has been nothing short of overwhelming, including some heavy weights, who are well-respected in our trade, giving up their time and expertise to be part of our event

– in Sherborne, here in rural Dorset. It’s incredible. If you want to follow our journey and gain a behind the scenes scoop on our exciting event, please do sign up to our mailing list and check out our social media accounts. Vine of the Times takes place on 23rd May –it’s time to drink equal.

Your monthly wine tip

For those who look forward to a recommendation each month, here’s a wine from one of our favourite winemakers – who just so happens to be young and female (which coincidentally is how we hope she gets introduced in the future: simply as a winemaker, without the female adjective).

From the heart of Burgundy, making waves with her delicious winemaking, let us introduce you to Marinette Garnier of Maison Jaffelin.

Her Côte de Beaune Villages is a true gem – it’s voluptuous, soft, approachable and completely over-delivers for a £25 bottle of wine.

“…this year belongs to women in wine…”
‘We’ll be tasting wine from female vinters, particularly the smaller underrepresented growers,’ says Sadie Wilkins

Bespoke Butchery Service

We offer a bespoke cutting and processing service for certified organic meat producers in the South West. For farmers, farm shops and local producers, we can cut and process your carcasses to your specification, either as shop ready cuts, primals or processed products, in our FSA certified organic butchery. Please contact Lee on / 01460 279521 for all enquiries. O N LINE BUTCHERY BUSINESSOFTHE YE A R

Meet your local: Sprout & Flower, Mere

There’s an attractive colourful display of fresh vegetables and floral bouquets outside Sprout and Flower on The Square in Mere. The smell of fresh fruit and vegetables blended with foliage and flowers greets customers inside. “We need to can that smell,” smiles owner Sarah Collins.

How did you get started? What’s the story behind the shop?

“I have been a florist for 20 years. Then, 11 years ago, my family expanded, and we needed a bigger house. And then this place popped up in Mere. So, we ended up with a bigger house, a shop, and the business started. I had always worked for other people and thought: “I’ll give it a go”, and the business has grown subtly and slowly.

“This was originally a greengrocer but needed some updating. I started the coffee bar around seven years ago, and it has really made the place a hub for people in Mere. It’s also a nice stop off for people heading to the South West (note - it’s just off the A303). It’s a green oasis.

“People comment about the smell. We do produce our own candles here, but if only we could just can the smell because everyone comments on it. We were also the first place to have a milk station in Mere, and we sell cheeses and charcuterie. “We keep the place looking rustic with lots of upcycled and reclaimed furnishings. It has an earthy feel to the place.”

Sarah admits she’ll always be a florist at heart, and they are the favourite part of the shop “No one does flowers quite like us. They are very natural, and we buy mostly British flowers”

How big is the team?

“We have three full-time staff and five who are part-time. Some do one day a week.”

Rachael Rowe visited Sprout & Flower, a beautiful flowermonger/greengrocer /deli (with ‘the best coffee for miles’) in Mere, and chatted to owner Sarah Collins
Sprout & Flower have been on The Square in Mere for over a decade.

What’s flying off the shelves right now?

“Our flowers are always very popular. No one does flowers quite like us. They are very natural, and we buy mostly British flowers, although some are imported. The cakes are another bestseller. People adore our cakes, and I have just got a fantastic new baker. Our coffee is also excellent. I’m told we’re the best for miles around.”

Tell us about some of your local suppliers.

“Almost everything in the shop has a local twist. I have three baking ladies locally. We use Jane’s Grains from Tisbury, and we have local cheeses. Our vegetable stall outside is all local, apart from the kohlrabi. We get carrots from North Wiltshire, and we’re lucky to have Mere Trout Farm close by. John Hurd’s watercress is just down the road, and he always seems to know when I have run out because a fresh box appears in the doorway.”

What has been your biggest challenge in the last decade?

“Lockdown - changing the business was a challenge. We went from a happy florist to a food and veg box assembly line

Sarah had been a florist for twenty years when her family expanded and they moved to Mere in 2011 for a bigger house - which came with a greengrocer’s shop. She decided to give working for herself a go, and hasn’t looked back

overnight. The whole team came in, and we did 40 box deliveries a day. Customers could not go all the way into the shop. It was a real challenge for two years.”

What is your absolute favourite part of the shop?

“I’m a florist! I love planters and things like that.”

And what part of the business are you most proud of?

“The whole thing. And that it’s so supported. We have some real characters in Mere. And that I have kept it going for 11 years.” Sarah recalled a day last Christmas. “Two men came in

and bought huge bouquets of flowers. One of them couldn’t believe the place. He said it was just like being in a storybook, and it was magical. It made me quite emotional to hear that.”

So what’s next?

“Well, I never really plan anything. I think it’s enough!”

Assistant Fiona looks up thoughtfully. “I like that every day is different here. And I think this is the type of shop that brings nice people in.”

It’s definitely a place to visit and stop for a coffee, treat yourself to flowers, and enjoy that smell.

Find Sprout and Flower on The Square in Mere (BA12 6DJ)

“I started the coffee bar around seven years ago, and it has really made the place a hub for people in Mere. It’s also a nice stop off for people heading to the South West (note - it’s just off the A303). It’s a green oasis.”

Baskets brimming with fresh citrus fruits, delicious tomatoes, Italian pasta, dried herbs & spices and in the fridges local organic salad, chard & spinach, local cheeses & charcuterie…


The 2022 Love Local Trust Local Awards

The Love Local, Trust Local is back for its third season, and entries opened for the 2022 food producer awards on the 1st of May

It’s that time of year again!

The 2022 Love Local Trust Local Awards opens for entries on the 1st May and there are 14 exciting categories to choose from this year, with some new ones added to the list for the very first time.

If you are a Dorset food producer, farmer or fishermen and the food & drink you produce comes from within 30 miles of your home base then these could be the awards for you.

The categories

There are opportunities to enter your Dorset products into any of the following categories: Bakery (Sweet and Savoury), Cheese, Dairy, Meat, Fish, Jams, Chutneys & Condiments, Dorset Drinks, Farm Shops, Honey, Innovation & Diversification, Business Development Award and Conservation and Environmental Impact. Past winners of the awards include some businesses making a great name for themselves

and putting the county of Dorset firmly on the map. Notable winners include Gulliver’s Farm Shop & Kitchen, Book & Bucket Cheese Co, Portland Shellfish, Dorset Goat Meat Company and Lizzie’s Baking Bird amongst others.

How and why it works

The Love Local Trust Local Awards are FREE to enter and

you can enter one of your products into each category. Entries open on the 1st May 2022 and you have until the 1st September 2022 to enter. After this time judging and tasting will take place through October and November and there will be an awards ceremony to celebrate all the achievements in early February, hosted at Kingston Maurward College, one of

In association with
Blanchards Bailey are a Dorset based law firm specialising in commercial and private law. Recognised by the Legal 500 as one of the top firms in the south west, renowned for their personal expertise, excellent client service and active role in local communities. The 2021 overall winners were Gullivers Farm, Shop & Kitchen, the Sturts Community Trust project.

the Love Local Trust Local returning sponsors. ‘Trust and provenance’ are everything at Love Local Trust Local, and the story of the food and drinks that are being produced in Dorset is key to why this food movement is so important. Even more so right now, with the state of the global economy and a war in Ukraine, eating and supporting local, homegrown businesses is the key to survival on the food front. We need to value our home producers more than ever before in order to feed our families a healthy and sustainable diet.

To enter the 2022 awards, visit the Love Local Trust Local website and download the entry form. If you need any help or guidance you can also get in touch with Barbara and the LLTL team on 07831 184920

Love Local Trust Local –What’s It All About?

Founded by a fifth generation farming family, the Cossins’ in the Tarrant Valley, Barbara Cossins has made it her mission to ensure that farmers are recognised and represented. Love Local Trust Local was established to educate consumers on how

to trust food labelling, where to look, what it all really means and why shopping local matters. Love Local Trust Local has every intention of being the go-to food label you can completely trust. These awards have been created by farmers and producers, for farmers and producers - with the main objective being to celebrate the work that goes into the local food production here in Dorset.

Want to be involved?

The Love Local Trust Local Awards are championed by sponsors who also make up the judging panel; Small, local businesses supporting each other in their hard work for the British food & drink industry. If you want to be part of the 2022 Awards & join the sponsorship team then get in touch with them today.

“What a fab evening with great friends & gongs. We had an amazing night – thank you so very much!”
Lizzie’s Baking Bird, Winner of the 2021 Love Local Trust Local Sweet Baking Award
Range of images from the 2022 LLTL awards night, with some of the category winners images Robin Goodlad

Simply click to complete on your tablet, computer or phone - or there’s a download option if you prefer pen and paper.

Jigsaw Naturally we had to have bluebells this month - simply click to complete. If you get stuck, there’s an icon at the top of the screen which reveals the completed picture for you to refresh your memory.

100 PUZZLES Crossword

Q: “My wife and I have been married for ten years but we have been gradually growing apart. We feel that our marriage has broken down and we have decided that we want to get divorced but it is amicable and we don’t want to have to pin the blame on one or other or us. What can we do?”

A: This is a very timely question. The biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years came into force on 6 April under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. This applies to all applications for divorce, ending a civil partnership, judicial separation and annulment issued on or after 6 April 2022 . The key changes in the law include:

• No blame or separation periods - simply a statement

of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ is required

• Joint and sole applications now possible

• Minimum 26 weeks to final order

• Limited ground to dispute

• Changes in terminology‘applications’, ‘conditional orders’, ‘final orders’

If you want to get divorced or to dissolve your civil partnership, you can apply online - you can find the forms on GOV.UK here. Any application that was issued before 6 April will continue under the old rules. An application submitted before 6 April but not issued in time is likely to be returned by the court to be started again under the new procedure.

There is more information about all of this on the Citizens Advice website.

A local expert from Citizen’s Advice provides timely tips on consumer issues. This Month: how could the new divorce laws help an amicable divorce

Monthly updates from the various North Dorset Police Teams. This month’s news from Sturminster Newtons’s PCSO Mandy Robinson

We’ll see you at the show!

North Dorset Rural Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) attended the Spring Countryside Show at the Shaftesbury on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24h April. NPT were joined by members of the Rural Crime Team on the Saturday. This was our first large community engagement event for 2022. It was great to see so many people out and about enjoying the demonstrations, craft and food stands as well as the weather. Leaflets, stickers, lost child badges, card police hats, pens and reflectors were handed out to members of the public. Questions were asked and advice was given.

We will also be in attendance at the following events; Three Okeford’s Preservation Society Steam and Vintage Show 21st and 22nd May at Shillingstone, and Shaftesbury and Gillingham Show on Wednesday 17th August at the Turnpike Showground Motcombe

Beauty spots

When visiting beauty spots please do not leave valuables in your vehicle whilst you go for a walkwhether you are walking the dog or out enjoying the countryside. Do not place items under your car seat, or put them in the boot as the would-be thieves know all the hiding places. Best by far; don’t take valuables out with you and leave them at home! There is nothing more frustrating than returning to your vehicle after a lovely walk to find that your car has had a window smashed and your valuables are gone.


“Blue squad are on duty this evening covering ASB patrols across the patch. The below vehicle was spotted by the eagle eyed driver who is known not to have a licence.They have been reported for no insurance and licence offences. The vehicle has been seized.Give us a wave if you see us!”

“Gillingham NPT have attended Gillingham Primary School this morning to speak with year 2 who have been carrying out a Police investigation for a creative writing piece.

It was great to speak with the children who had very good knowledge and some great ideas.”

April 15th

“Blandford NPT are looking to speak to anyone with information about who might be responsible for causing extensive damage at the play park in Hunt Road on Friday evening. Extra patrols will be carried out in the coming weeks.


If you have any information, contact us on 101 or online at quoting occurrence 55220063496.”

For details on your local team’s future engagements please refer to our website. As always, if you wish to contact us follow the links. You can report non urgent matters via 101, and remember if you see a crime in progress or a person in danger call 999.

The North Dorset team enjoy working the local shows, says Sturminster Newton’s PCSO Mandy Robinson - and look forward to more this summer

Well, after five months of planning and then long hours stripping out the old Legends nightclub, we are getting closer to opening Gillingham’s biggest new attraction in 20 years.

The Gillingham Community Leisure Trust (GCLT) have been working with Thrive Services CIC and key stakeholders towards funding and managing the new inflatable world with the under three’s disabled interactive area.

The competition to name the new venue has closed, and the winner chosen - congratulations to Marie Amos! We are proud to announce that the venue ‘Space Inflaters’ is due to open on Saturday the 2nd July. The opening date will totally be dependent on the inflatable world itself arriving from Chinasomething we sadly do not have any control over! Menwhile, planning permission has been approved for a new building which will host a brand new gym complementing the Riversmeet gym, and these works will follow the opening of the new indoor inflatable world. We are hoping for a potential opening in 2023, and will of course keep you all informed as the next project evolves.

Exciting times ahead for the local community and we are proud to be playing a pinnacle part in Gillingham. The town businesses that have helped make this happen are proud to be part of this new venture, and we hope the whole community will visit when we open. We’re aiming for the new ‘Outer Space’-themed world to literally blow your minds! The new venture will cater for ALL user groups, ages and abilitiesunusually, the inflatable world is also designed for adults with children in hand. The new team will focus on the safety of your visit, of course, and will always strive to create an atmosphere where fun and enjoyment are second nature.

GCLT, who also manage Riversmeet, are really proud of what we have achieved so far, and we look forward to you coming to the new venue. We are confident that through hard work, community and a real commitment to the people of Gillingham and the surrounding areas, that we can offer you something very different.

In terms of basic facilities, there is ample free parking, child changing rooms, toilets and a buggy store on site, along with CCTV for security.

We’re hiring!

As part of this new venture we are also needing to employ more staff - please see the ad opposite to see if you might be who we are looking for. The new team will absolutely make this venture - it’s a fabulous opportunity to really make your mark on the new inflatable world, café and bar. We are hoping for the new staff to start two weeks before we open for training, so if this attracts you to a career change or you fancy a change apply online by following the details in the advert.

Gillingham’s new inflatable play world inside the old Legends building is set to open in July, and the name has offically been declared as ‘Space Inflaters’
Brickfields Industrial Estate, Gillingham BE PART OF THE BIGGEST AND BEST NEW ATTRACTION TO GILLINGHAM • 2 X Arena Managers Full time 37.5 hrs PW Salary Circa £21k • 2 x Receptionists 35 hrs PW Salary National minimum wage • 2 x Catering Assistants Full time 37.5 hrs PW Salary National minimum wage • Party Leaders – Weekends and Holiday Times Only National minimum wage We are seeking responsible, dynamic people to be part of a brand new exciting venture in Gillingham. The new inflatable world is a community led venture that will cater for all ages and abilities. The new team ideally would be people who love working in a very busy buzzing atmosphere where work is fun, not mundane. We are launching the New Inflatable world hopefully on the 2nd July 2022 but hoping to employ as of the 2nd week of June for staff training and pre opening events. The Roles will ensure that we successfully meet all of our customers’ requirements in a welcoming, fun but safe environment. From greeting the customers to feeding them and even helping them have fun is a pinnacle part of the new team’s ethics. We are offering an array of roles where you design the sites future as it’s your business J We envisage these role to be very much focused on building positive customer relations and ensuring our little customers come back for more. Proposed Opening hours of the inflatable world: 9.30am – 19.00pm Staff Rotas are based on all staff working one week end in two. Rotas have been produced for these roles and we are happy to share these via email if requested. The requirements below are based on the position you are applying for a Job description can be sent via email. Ideally you would have: • Qualifications in Child Care / Catering / Reception Dependent on position applying for • DBS or CRB clearance required for Arena Managers and soft play staff only • Commitment and enthusiasm for Child Based Activities • Experience of working with young children / Catering environment / Front of House Dependent on position applying for To apply for the positions, please send your CV and Covering supporting letter to: Closing date for all positions Monday 9th May 2022

Stur plans the first permanent indoor shopping area

The NatWest Project for a new indoor shopping area - to be known as ‘1855’ - is coming together. The unusual name refers to the date the building is believed to have opened as the National Provincial Bank. If you are interested in a customer-facing selling space for your artisan business, a presentation for potential hirers will be held on 11th May, for an informal gathering at 5pm with the presentation starting at 5.30 pm.

To book a space and learn more about the scheme, please contact either Cheryl Basten on or

Jacqui Wragg on

The target date for opening is the 20th July, exactly two years after the popular Emporium opened in the former Lloyds Bank.

Alongside established retailers

There will be varying areas of selling space available to hire, from two strong rooms and one small room, to separated spaces on the open floor, along with shelving and cabinets. A curator will in charge of sales. The Community Benefit Society intends this to be a high quality

destination to attract more shoppers to Stur.

“The commitment we have made is to avoid new retailers who compete with existing shops - we want our local shops to thrive, not to drive them out of business,” says Cllr Nick Dodson, Chairman of Sturminster Newton Community Benefit Society Limited (SturBen) who is leading the project.

“This is not ‘another charity shop’, this is a commercial enterprise. We hope this project will enable our Blackmore Vale entrepreneurs to grow, move on and employ staff, thereby creating more jobs in the area.”

This month’s news from the unofficial capital of the Blackmore Vale ...
A move to re-open the NatWest bank building in Sturminster Newton will give local artisans their own ‘shop front’, and seeks to increase consumer footfall to benefit all local businesses
The planned indoor shopping area in the old NatWest Bank is to be known as ‘1855’ - the year the building is believed to have opened as the National Provincial Bank
Local photographer Adie Ray made use of the empty NatWest building to create a still life shoot © Adie Ray

Easter bonnets at Pamphill

The whole of Pamphill First School decamped to the nearby church for its annual Easter service.

The school near Wimborne has around 70 pupils who made traditional bonnets to wear.

Reverend Suzie Allen led the service in St Stephen’s Church at which the children sang hymns

enthusiastically. Afterwards all the pupils took part in an Easter bonnet parade in front of their parents – with medals given out by headteacher Mike Wheeler. He said: “Following all the Covid disruption it was great to have the whole school in church for the traditional Easter service.

“Afterwards the wonderful Parent

Teacher and Friends Association (PTFA) sold tea, coffee and cakes to raise funds. It was a lovely service during which we were reminded of the true meaning of this Christian festival.”

Wimborne Academy Trust’s CEO Liz West said: “This looked like a great last day of term and the bonnets all look wonderful.”

Blandford School staff complete the ‘3 Peaks Challenge’ for Blandford Foodbank and MYTIME Young Carers

Fourteen of The Blandford School staff set off to complete the 3 Peaks Challenge this monthclimbing and descending the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in under 24 hours. Their challenge officially began with the ascent of Ben Nevis at 1pm on Wednesday 20th April.

In glorious weather the team reached the snowcovered peak at 1:45pm, before returning to the bus and travelling to Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

The second 978m climb started at midnight; it was tricky with a howling wind most of the way up. The team kept close together to ensure everyone stayed safe, but successfully completed the trip just after 5am. The third climb was Snowdon - and another glorious day for the final 1,085m climb, but the team didn’t begin until 10:21am. The time looked very tight, so the team decided to split up and allow colleagues to complete the mountain at their own pace, with the hope of some being able to get to the top in under 24 hours, and others being able to make it up and down.

The first four members of the team made it back to the car park at 12:51pm. They were quickly followed by two others, all completing the challenge just inside the 24 hours.

The rest of the team successfully made it to the top and back down again. Trip organiser, Mr Niall Clinton (Head of year 7 and 9) commented “It’s been a real team effort from both the climbers and the members of staff who helped

with the organisation of accommodation, travel and fundraising. The student body have been supporting our efforts and credit needs to go to our Senior Students, including our prefect team, for this. We are so pleased that we’ve been able to raise money and awareness for two such worthy causes.”

Everyone involved would like to say a huge thank you to Riverside Travel for the use of their bus, and everyone who sponsored the event; so far over £2,700 has been raised for the two charities (Blandford Foodbank and MYTIME Young Carers).

Rev Suzie Allen and headteacher Mike Wheeler at the back, with pupils and their bonnets The 14-strong team that completed the 3 Peak Challenge

Student art sale raises £400 funds for art materials

St Andrew’s CE Primary School displayed an incredible selection of artwork produced by the pupils of our school in Summer 2021, and raised over £400 in original artwork sales and donations during this memorable event. They are delighted to have now used the money to purchase a large selection of new art materials for the school, including inks, paints, pastels, papers, drawing pencils and more to further encourage and nurture our children’s creativity.

The school intends to make the school art exhibition an annual event for family and friends of pupils and locals to support and enjoy.

Big Yellow Friday for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation

Sexey’s School students and staff have raised more than £1,000 supporting the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation’s annual ‘Big Yellow Friday’.

For the ninth consecutive year, Sexey’s School has supported this cause alongside Tilly, the eldest child of two former pupils who met in Sexey’s Sixth Form, and who had a life-saving liver transplant at 10 months old. This year students attended school wearing items of yellow ranging from scarfs and socks to jumpers, full-length coats and high-visibility jackets.

Sixth Form students supported the event by selling yellow cupcakes, made by the kitchen

and dining team, and raffle tickets to win some great prizes including a Nintendo Switch, F1 Merchandise and Amazon vouchers.

To date the school has helped raise more than £40,000 by holding non-uniform days, coffee mornings, raffles and bake sales.

Mr Hill, IT Systems Manager

at Sexey’s School said “Thank you to everyone who has once again supported this important cause that has such a personal tie to the school. It’s fantastic that we have raised more than £1,000 to help fight all childhood liver diseases. We are especially grateful to all the businesses who donated prizes.”

An air drop of life jackets for Boradmayne!

The pupils and staff of Broadmayne First School were excited to welcome an unexpected visitor to their school field this week, in the shape of a helicopter! Piloted by Peter Faulding, the visit was fun, but with a serious message. Peter is the Chief Executive at Specialist Group International, which supports rescues, both privately and alongside police and fire services across the UK. Peter was involved in a sadly unsuccessful attempt to rescue a drowning child. Consequently he created the Lucas Dobson Water Safety Campaign, and he flew into Broadmayne to speak to the children about the importance of water safety, and to deliver eight children’s life jackets.

The children and staff also had the opportunity to watch the helicopter in flight, and have a look

inside it. Headteacher, Helen Collings said “Living so close to the coast, and with our own swimming pool on site, water safety is really important to all of us at Broadmayne.” The life jackets will be available for families and the local community to borrow from the school to help keep children safe near the water, whilst allowing them to take a full part in water-based activities.


New markings for Yewstock School

Yewstock School in Sturminster Newton have recently given their school playground an exciting new look with colourful markings to replace the previous tired, old designs. The surfaces now contain decorative games that invite the children to be active whilst having fun outside. The new playground markings are bright and engaging, and include a new basketball court, mini roadway, snakes and ladders, activity trail, compass, hopscotch, and phonics and numeracy activities. These have all been very generously provided by Geveko Markings who specialise in using materials that minimise the risk of slippery surfaces, and make play areas safe for children.

Bryan Trim of Yewstock school said: “We are extremely grateful to Geveko Markings for so generously providing their time, resources and design skills to produce such fantastic, fun markings. The pupils at Yewstock School will enjoy them for years to come!”

Jana Hounsell of Geveko Markings said “We are very pleased that the children enjoy having fun with the games. It is our pleasure to give something back to the community.”

Yewstock School is a day community school for children with Profound and Multiple, Severe, Moderate and Complex Learning Difficulties.

Motcombe pupils invited to ‘cooking with bugs’!

From insect burgers to sushi made from bugs, Mr Dines and his class of Year 5 pupils from Motcombe Primary School were very lucky to be invited to the Future Classroom at Shaftesbury School to do a STEM project looking at the future of food. The first day consisted of a series of mini workshops with STEM ambassadors from the school, where the children looked at profit and net costs, branding, the benefits of insects as a food choice, and designed and created a basic recipe using future food ingredients.

Creativity had no bounds and they created some unique recipes that they were then able to cook in the professional kitchen alongside Year 7 pupils, and Head Chef Clive Harris. When in the kitchen, they got a taste of what secondary school

life is like from talking to the students who were helping. They also got to make and watch their wonderful and weird creations come to life, and realise that they actually tasted really nice.

The students showed determination to try them, and they are glad they did.

The benefits of eating insects is something the children researched - rich in muchneeded protein and iron, they

cause less strain on the land and water resources and help in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“It was definitely fun and I also liked cooking the sushi because I have never cooked it before and it was tasty with crickets.” (Viggo J) “...being in the future classroom was really cool. It’s bigger, you can write on the walls and there was great technology to use.”

(Alice S)

Next to the new playground markings are (l-r) Clive Padgett (Yewstock Headteacher), Jana Hounsell (Geveko), Fiona Wing (Geveko), Karl Whittick (PE Teacher), Bryan Trim (Yewstock)

Whole village enjoys Easter traditions in Witchampton

Children from Witchampton C of E First School, one of Dorset’s smallest schools, welcomed in Easter by parading through the village wearing their wonderful Easter bonnets which came in all shapes, sizes and colours. They were cheered on by members of the community and accompanied by their families.

The pupils and their families gathered in the churchyard for their annual Easter Service led by Reverend Suzie Allen. They then paraded through the village, stopping along the way to sing a selection of Easter songs.

Back at school the children enjoyed an Easter egg hunt organised by the ‘Friends of Witchampton’; a wonderful community tradition enjoyed by the whole village and always a very special way to mark the start of the school Easter holidays.

Congratulations to Upper Sixth pupil Hetta Falzon who has won the Pilton Stage Competition 2022. The Pilton Stage is a contest that provides up and coming bands and solo artists the chance to win a performance slot at Glastonbury.

Competing against 600 artists, Hetta fought off tough competition in the heats and then triumphed in the final to secure her place at the world-renowned festival. At 17 she is the youngest person ever to win the competition, and Hetta will perform at Glastonbury Festival on the Field of Avalon stage every day during the festival. We wish Hetta the best of luck for her big performances!

M12K Road Race

St Greg’s Primary in Marnhull

On Sunday 3rd April St Greg’s Primary school were finally able to host the M12K road race. Having been deferred due to covid since 2020 it was a mighty relief to see runners gracing our undulating roads. The race was proudly part of the Dorset Road League fixtures for 2022 and so attracted a good field. The roads around Marnhull offer a decent challenge, with runners having to either run up or down most of the way.

250 runners started the race in perfect conditions - so perfect that the ladies course record was smashed by local runner and Dorset Doddler; Molly Rasch, with a blistering 46:09

Lee Dempster of Twemlow Track Club won the race in a terrific time of 41:21.

Tom Hawtree of Marnhull Stores was the honorary starter, having sponsored this year’s race. A Marnhull spokesman said ”We are very thankful for Tom’s continued support of the school. Our other sponsors and prize donors all deserve a mention as without them the race would not be the financial success it is:

Thomas Fudge’s, Hall & Woodhouse, The Dorset Dairy Company, Marnhull Festival, Dorset Doddlers, Dorset Tech, Friars Moor Vets, Camelot Builders, Wyke Farms, Compton Smith Interiors, AJN Steel, Toyota Somerset County Cars, Cooks Garage, MG Maintenance & Building and Hook Electrical Contractors.

Wells Cathedral School pupil Hetta Falzon wins Pilton Stage Competition!
Raises £5,700 For

Dorset Chamber auction raises over £11,000 for Ukraine DEC

Swift donations from Dorset businesses lead to a successful auction raising £11,242 for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal

Items donated for the auction bids included signed AFC Bournemouth shirts, VIP tickets to the Bournemouth Air Festival, holidays and hotel stays, surf lessons, a laptop, signed cricket bat, an Audi A5 cabriolet for the weekend, lunches, dinners, afternoon teas, fashion wear, events tickets, hampers and more.

Chamber CEO Ian Girling said: “The money raised will help save lives and relieve the suffering of people fleeing this horrific war. It is easy to feel powerless in such situations but this is a way of really making a difference.”

TV personality Martin Roberts and Dorset businessman Paul Tansey met at a refugee camp while on separate mercy missions delivering medicines,

supplies and emergency relief.

Martin, star of TV’s Homes under the Hammer, and former chamber president Paul spoke at an emotionally charged opening of bids in the auction.

You’re not the same guy Paul, chief executive of the Intergage Group, travelled to the border to deliver aid after linking up with the From Bournemouth to Ukraine charity.

He told of his experiences at the border with some ‘heroic’ volunteers helping refugees and risking their lives to drive aid into Ukraine, as well as some horrific stories of children travelling alone to Poland and others dying overnight while queuing at the border.

He added: “You’re not the same

guy when you come back after seeing those lives in bits.

“What Dorset Chamber has done really does matter and really will make a difference.”

Martin added “I saw children exactly like my son and daughter who had lost absolutely everything. It just strikes you in the face. People are crossing the border not knowing anything about what is ahead of them and what the rest of their life holds.

“They arrive at the refugee centre and are wrapped in so much love and support - and that is where what we are doing makes so much difference.

“it will help save lives but also lets them know that the world hasn’t forgotten about them.” supporting-ukraine

It’s a Ruby anniversary for Rubicon

100% employee-owned Rubicon recruitment consultancy – one of just four in the UK - has traded successfully for 40 years

Rubicon’s founder and current MD of Rubicon People Partnership, Lloyd Banks commented: “Supporting local businesses with recruitment solutions for 40 years from May, we’re also about to celebrate Rubicon’s first year of 100% employee ownership.”

With a combined experience of over 130 years of recruitment industry experience, Rubicon’s senior management team have reflected on the changes they’ve witnessed:

• “Employee’s expectations have changed. A competitive salary used to be enough to entice a ‘talented’ candidate. Candidates we speak to, especially millennials, now expect much more. Those

employers embracing flexible working, as well as a suite of attractive benefits, ‘outrecruit’ and ‘out-retain’ their competitors.” Jessica ComollyJones, Director.

• “Tech has become a gamechanger. Securing a physical presence at local events used to be of paramount importance. Now it is secondary to an appropriately targeted social media and web presence.” Terry Porter, Director.

• “Paper based applications, multiple-paged Thursday newspaper supplements, job centre careers fairs etc. have given into online applications

/inductions/tests, website pre-selections and video interviewing.” Tina Perry, Director.

The 2022 market

When asked about the challenges hiring managers face today, Lloyd said “post Brexit and Lockdowns, the availability of ‘talented’ people significantly reduced, and employers continue to struggle to find talented people at many levels, and in many sectors.

Job seeker numbers are increasing, many individuals don’t have the experience, and/or skills, and/or qualifications, and/ or attitudes necessary to meeting employers’ needs.”


How is your HR department?

The fast-moving world of employment law can be difficult for many employers to keep pace with. BattensHR is a bespoke service developed by Battens Solicitors to meet those challenges. The Head of its Employment team, solicitor Dawn Gallie, explains the benefits of a besopoke expert team:

1. Legal experts - HR plus law

We are experts in our field, and advise on general HR matters including performance management, grievance and disciplinary processes and dismissal. We are also deal with discrimination and whistleblowing, contract changes and TUPE. We keep updated changes in complex legislation and case law and, by virtue of our qualifications and experience, we are perfectly equipped to condense this into straightforward, practical advice for our clients. As we regularly present cases at Employment Tribunals, we know what Judges consider in making decisions and how our recommended course of action could be perceived.

2. Cost effective solution

BattensHR gives you unlimited day-to-day advice on HR and employment law matters, all for a fixed annual fee. You can also add insurance to cover both the cost and compensation in the event of a claim against your business. BattensHR means never having to worry about the costs of obtaining employment advice and having the advice & support on hand, allowing you to concentrate on running your business.

3. Privileged advice

Whenever you receive advice from a solicitor, that advice is protected by Legal Professional Privilege. This isn’t the case when you consult an HR advisor. Likewise, any communication between you and your solicitor in preparation for anticipated or actual litigation is protected by Litigation Privilege.

Correspondence between you and your HR advisor is disclosable as part of legal proceedings and all HR advice is disclosable as part of a Subject Access Request (with some exemptions) so there is a risk that your communications will end up being scrutinised by a Judge, and in the public domain.

4. Bespoke documents

As part of Battens HR we provide all your documents from initial employment contracts through to disciplinary and dismissal letters. We provide tailored, accurate and carefully drafted documents which fit your business needs and comply with the latest legal requirements.

5. Continuity of advice

We are a dedicated specialist team who provide continuity of service from initial contact, with day-to-day advice through to litigation, including undertaking advocacy at Employment Tribunal. We are often able to prevent issues reaching Tribunal by resolving them early on and, where appropriate, assisting you in negotiating a settlement. This continuity means we won’t need time to get up to speed on a matter and we can be confident that the correct processes have been followed.

6. Commercial approach

We tailor our advice to our clients’ business, rather than having a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Part of that is building a relationship with you, knowing your business and its resources. We will advise on what settlement is reasonable and what sort of award an employee might achieve at Tribunal, so you can weigh up costs, risks and management time.

For more information about BattensHR contact Dawn Gallie email dawn.gallie@ or 01935 846272.

Keeping up to date with employment law is a challenge - it can be easier to outsource than to keep up, explains Dawn Gallie, Head of BattensHR team
Head of Battens Employment team, solicitor Dawn Gallie

Local family business are finalists in national business award

Husband and wife team Mervyn and Sue Rose have run Rose Engineering from Sturminster Newton for the last 35 years

“We’re immensely proud to have been selected as a finalist for the South & South West’s Family Business of The Year Award” said Sue Rose.

Founded in 1986 by the husband and wife team, Mervyn and Sue have now been joined by their son, Tom Rose, who brings a new generation’s energy into driving the family business forward.

The Family Business of the Year Awards, established in 2012 by Family Business United, are now in their 10th year of celebrating the UK family business sector, recognising the diversity of family firms across the country.

Managing Director Tom said, “We’re so pleased to recognise the hard work that my family

puts into our business. Taking on the role of Managing Director in the past 18 months, during a global pandemic, has been a real challenge. But to have remained in business and fully operational during this time is testament to the hard work of the whole team.”

Spokesman for Rose Engineering, Anita Beaumont, said “We’re proud of our growth and of the hard work all our teams carry out. This [award] is a great way for this to be recognised.”

Paul Andrews, founder of FBU and organiser of the upcoming awards explains, “Each year it is an honour to celebrate with some of the very best of British family firms. It is a pleasure

to champion the sector and to celebrate the collective contribution that family firms make in terms of jobs provided, income generated and wealth created.” He adds, “Each year we are amazed at the nominations received and and there are always some real gems that are fabulous ambassadors for the family business sector.”

A new garden makeover for Tisbury residents

The Wessex teams arranged a makeover for the communal garden of the Nadder Close community as part of its wider Social Value Charter Nadder Close is located in the centre of Tisbury and comprises 34 apartments and eight bungalows for social rent and has a large garden and patio areas for all the residents to enjoy. Built in 1992, Nadder Close celebrates its 30-year anniversary this summer. To celebrate, the Wessex teams turned their hands to gardening to refresh the communal areas.

Many of the residents’ apartments face onto the gardens, with the focal point a 30 year old wisteria which provides a spring display of colour and scent, as well as shade in the warmer months.

Having notified them about the Nadder Close project, Edmundson Electricals very kindly supplied all the materials needed for the garden refresh. Over the course of three days, the Wessex team jet washed the patios, mowed the gardens, weeded and planted new flowerbeds and pruned back the wisteria.

The team also undertook structural work to stabilise the pergola supporting the wisteria, replaced and painted hand rails and rebuilt damaged raised flowerbeds. Lastly, the teams

created a new gravelled terrace with seating in a sunny spot overlooking the new flowerbeds.

Jamie Robinson, Operations Manager, Wessex Electricals said “The team have got to know the residents over the years, and wanted to help to refresh the garden for them.”

Nadder Close resident Maureen came to oversee proceedings, including the pruning of the wisteria, and offered wise advice, as well as cake for the team. She said “It’s nice to have them here helping out, the gardens look amazing, and I am looking forward to sitting on the new bench in the summer. We are all really grateful.”

7 Second Floor Merley House Merley Park Wimborne BH21 3AA 01202 848203 Clearbrook House Bristol Road Sherborne DT9 4EF 01202 848203

What everyone should eat after a course of antibiotics

Supplements can help - but nutrional therapist Karen Geary explains the cheapest and the best options are readily available in simple recipes

My mother has pneumonia, and is currently finishing her second round of antibiotics. When I first had the news, I sent her some supportive supplements. She didn’t take any of them. The second round of much stronger antibiotics made her feel nauseous, and I know from her previous experiences with antibiotics, they also lower her mood.

Low mood and depression is a common symptom when taking antibiotics. This is because the bacteria in our gut produces chemicals that affect the way our brains function. When antibiotics get introduced, the balance gets upset - we change the composition of both the good and not so good bacteria in our gut, so it is not surprising that she felt low after the first round.

Microbiome science is becoming increasingly sophisticated – the gut is really the second brain, so what we eat (and what we don’t eat) determines our mood, focus and wellbeing more than we know. This interplay goes further and includes our immune system too, and a depleted gut microbiome changes our ability to fight off other viruses and bacteria.

Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotic foods help the bacterial colonies return back to normal more quickly after a course of antibiotics. As the

body cannot break them down, they get passed directly to the gut where they act as food for ‘good’ bacteria, allowing the good bacteria to recolonise and discourage the growth of unwanted bacteria by taking up

the space in the gut. Prebiotics are substances in plants which come from prebiotic fibres, resistant starches and polyphenols (a type of phytonutrient). They may be especially helpful if

by Karen Geary, a Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, mBANT, CNHC at Amplify

probiotics have created constipation. Good prebiotic foods are garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples, chicory, dark chocolate, flaxseeds, Jerusalem artichokes, cold potatoes, legumes, berries, raw honey.

Probiotic Foods

These are live organisms which nurture ‘good’ bacteria as well as supporting other functions in the body. They help to maintain the order in the gut by maintaining the right acidity and keeping away opportunistic (unwanted) bacteria) from colonising your gut.

Foods containing live organisms include kefir, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, natto.

Working together

Pre and Probiotics go together because probiotics cannot thrive without prebiotics which create the colonies for the probiotics to develop and nurture.

One of my favourite gut-loving meals are stewed apples with no sugar, peel on (prebiotic), with kefir (probiotic), sprinkled with cinnamon. This is a winner for constipation if eaten daily. You can also try my gut-loving smoothie bowl.


There are some excellent pre, probiotic and synbiotic (pre and pro) supplements on the market now and some of the science is showing that particular strains of probiotics may also have an impact on different health conditions such as cholesterol and blood pressure. However, the best ones can come up expensive and the very best ones simply come from real food. However nutritional therapists often recommend them especially where a dramatic improvement in gut health is needed, depending upon the condition.

Listen to your daughter

Having had two rounds of antibiotics, my mother is now listening to her daughter and is taking some supplements (not probiotics) to help strengthen her immune system. She is on with the kefir and apples daily too, now, and recovering nicely.

“...however, the best supplements can be expensive - and the very best ones simply come from real food.”

Are you alone, or are you lonely?

Mental Health Awareness Week is 9th – 15th of May. The theme is particularly relevant as we emerge from the pandemic - it’s loneliness, says Izzy Anwell of Dorset Mind.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation has revealed that people across the UK became a lot more lonely during the pandemic. Loneliness can have damaging effects on physical and mental health. Not only can loneliness contribute to, and exacerbate, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, but some research suggests that loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Loneliness is a unique experience. Someone can be lonely due to social isolation, where they have little contact with others, such as an older adult with no family. It is also possible to feel lonely in a room full of people. This is because loneliness can stem from not feeling heard, understood, or cared for by the people around you.

Equally, it is possible for someone to feel content being alone. Everyone is different and all emotions are valid.

So how to combat loneliness? One option is to make a concerted effort to meet new people. Although this can be daunting, it is worth giving yourself a little push, remembering that you can leave if you feel overwhelmed.

This may be through joining a club or activitysomewhere you can meet people with similar interests.

Alternatively, you can sign up to volunteer for a cause (such as Dorset Mind!) where you can meet people with similar passions whilst giving back to the community. There’s a charity for every interest, and I guarantee they’re ALL crying out for more volunteers. Helping others can help combat loneliness as it can make us feel more connected to society. Research suggests that ‘giving back’ is one of five proven ways to improve your mental health Another strategy would be to appreciate and strengthen your existing connections. Sometimes we can be too focused on what we believe are active demonstrations of caring (i.e. regular phone calls) but not recognise other gestures, such as a friend who is always willing to help with errands. Additionally, sometimes we are reluctant to make the first move, such as initiating plans. Even if it doesn’t work out as you hoped, you can feel comfort in the knowledge that you tried. It is possible to become better at managing and

accepting the experience of loneliness. The first step is to accept the feeling, learn to sit with it and know that you can survive it. Try to learn to enjoy your own company by making an effort to do enjoyable things. Follow a routine of self-care or start a new activity - rediscover the benefits of enjoying your own company. You can also learn strategies to better manage difficult emotions such as loneliness through various talking therapies and psychological treatments.

If your feelings of loneliness are affecting your ability to function seek additional support. Speak to your GP, or in a crisis, call 999 or The Samaritans at 116 123. For more resources and support, visit

“loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day”

We work out every day (yes you do - you just don’t call it that!)

Fundamental movement is your body’s unthinking, necessary ‘work out’ as you go about your day, explains expert Mel Mitchell

When it comes to training in the gym, I always encourage people to incorporate ‘functional movements’ as opposed to isolated exercises, which only train specific muscles. It’s important to train the muscles that we require for simple everyday tasks, such as picking things up from the floor - it’s easy for these basic movements to become difficult as we get older if we don’t keep using those muscles properly. There are seven established basic movement patterns, the most common five I’ve outlined below, with tips on practicing them:

1. The Hinge

The hinge is the movement we perform when picking things up from the floor - and we all know how hard that gets as you age! Training this movement (for example with dead lifts or kettle bell swings) can not only help strengthen the muscles involved but also allow you to develop the capability and perfect the form required to lift without damaging your back.

2. The Squat

This is a movement that we do more often than people think. You are essentially squatting whenever you are sitting down in a chair, or coming back up from it again. Even sitting on the toilet is a squatting motion, so why would you not train this movement! Exercises such as front and back squats are a great addition to any gym program.

3. The Lunge

Lunging is a single leg movement. Everyday movements such as climbing stairs or

stepping forward to throw a ball for the dog are all forms of lunging. It’s important to note that lunging is not one dimensional, and should be trained in all directions in order to improve balance, strength, flexibility and overall mobility.

4. Push

Pushing objects away from our body is another fundamental movement that we use every day. Movements such as pushing ourselves up from the floor or lifting objects above our head to place on a shelf are common examples of this movement pattern. Adding exercises such as press ups and the overhead press are a great way of strengthening this movement.

5. Pull

Obviously this is the opposite movement to push, literally pulling objects towards your body. Although we don’t necessarily do much of this movement everyday - other than pulling people in for a good old cuddle (run through that again, Ed) - this movement is essential for training and maintaining good posture. Any of the row exercises, and gym machines such as the lat. pulldown are brilliant for this movement pattern.

HEALTHby Mel Mitchell

An in Depp-th look at defamation

The Johnny Depp and Amanda Heard trial has sparked an interest amongst most. The case is centred around the ever-growing law of defamation, explains expert Wingwai Tam of Blanchards Bailey

With increased social media usage and the ease of posting statements/comments about other people and businesses publicly, we are seeing an increased level of defamation claims. How do you know if you have crossed the line between harmless banter and a statement damaging one’s reputation and character?

What is Defamation?

The Defamation Act 2013 protects people and businesses from injury caused by words spoken or written by another. The statement made, needs to be damaging to your reputation/ lowers your integrity to others, be largely untrue and misleading.

How much is my claim worth?

Depp has claimed $50 million for the defamatory statement and Heard has Counterclaimed $100 million.

The value of your claim will largely depend on the seriousness of the statement. For example, Heard wrote an article in the Washington Post alleging she was the subject of domestic abuse. The Washington Post is a worldwide news outlet which has the potential to cause much greater damage than one that is published to a smaller group of people.

Your claim will also depend on the person’s livelihood the statement has affected. Heard and Depp are public figures in which Depp’s professional reputation has been seriously affected. The court in this scenario will most likely look to the value of the work lost by him (such as the latest Pirates

of the Caribbean film) amongst a whole host of other aspects of his career and personal life the statement has affected.

It will then be for the person that made the statement to prove what they said is true.

Currently, Heard is presenting to the court her evidence of the alleged domestic abuse suffered and evidence to show Depp’s explosive behaviour. Evidence both sides have shown are photos of injuries, witness evidence from people that have an insight into their relationship such as friends, family and bodyguards and their own personal evidence.

It will then be for the court to assess the evidence presented and whether the damage correlates with the monetary sum suffered.

The aim of the compensatory damages is to restore you to the

position you would be in if you had not been defamed.

What if I/my business suffer?

Your first point of call should be to contact the person who made the untrue statement to ask them to retract it.

Remedies include involving the court to issue an injunction order to stop the person making the statement from making any further statement, and compensatory damages. Other remedies can also include removal of the statement from publication, withdrawal of statement, written public apology and/or amending the statement.

Can Blanchards Bailey help?

If you’re looking for help or advice, please get in touch on 01258 483609 and speak to Wingwai Tam about the facts surrounding your potential claim.


Where is my legal boundary and who’s responsible for it?

Back in February, Storm Eunice caused widespread property damage and destruction, together with power cuts, to many households. Because of the resulting damage and destruction, particularly to fencing, many have been left wondering where their legal boundary is and who is responsible for paying to repair or replace the damaged fence.

Neighbourly disputes

Many household insurance policies specifically exclude fencing as an insured risk. It can be expensive to fence and the choice of structure and colour scheme are often a very personal choice. It is not uncommon for neighbours to disagree over what type of boundary feature should be erected; the precise position of the posts; who should have the ‘best side’ facing them; and what colour to paint it.

In circumstances where a fence needs replacing, and the fencing quotation far exceeds £1,000, it is not surprising that many people would then look to their title deeds or documents to try to ascertain the answers to the questions posed above.

The truth is that deeds or registered title documents and plans are often silent on the question of ownership of boundary features. Some plans contain ‘T marks’ that can be taken as evidence of ownership; most plans do not. There is also a common misconception that the red line shown on registered title plans shows precisely the position of the legal boundary between properties.

Don’t reply on the red lines

Land Registry plans are for identification only, based upon ordnance survey plans. The red line shown on the plan and depicting a boundary may in fact provide for an error of a couple of metres from the position of the true ‘legal boundary’. It is a far from satisfactory position, and often misunderstood. In the absence of express obligations as to ownership or maintenance, it can be extremely beneficial to obtain professional legal, and also surveyor’s advice, if you are looking to establish the position of your legal boundary and who may be responsible for maintenance or replacement of the boundary features.

We’re here for you

Porter Dodson Solicitors has a designated Property Disputes Team who can provide advice and assistance where a boundary dispute or boundary question arises. To find out more, contact Helen Williams: or 01935 846758.



THURS 26TH MAY, 7:30PM £10


Monty Halls is best known as an author and TV broadcaster ("Monty Halls' Great Escape"; "My Family and the Galapagos"). Join Monty Halls for an exclusive event to celebrate the launch of his new book “Commando” The event will reveal the behind the scenes story of one of the world’s most revered military units, as well as describing the filming of the major BBC series that accompanies the book



SAT 28TH MAY, 7:30PM

A tribute to the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and much more! Back by overwhelming public demand, this hit show continues to play to sell out audiences and standing ovations throughout the UK


Professor Angelique Richardson and Dr Steph Alder introduce the Hardy Correspondents project, a digital humanities collaboration between the University of Exeter and Dorset Museum Event

as part of Sturminster Newton




& The Falcons consists of 4 world class quality musicians

Moses has performed multiple times at The Exchange with Los Pacaminos. He has also performed and recorded with Queen, Sir Tom Jones, The Pretenders and many more



A gentle, sweet, funny, romantic story of love in later life following a couple in their sixties, Dave and Fern, who get to know one another over the course of 23 dog walks Starring Alison Steadman, Dave Johns and Graham Cole.





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Vision of Elvis Stayin' Alive Cupid's Revenge SNADS Elizabeth I Monty Halls Belfast December '63

Thomas Hardy 23 Walks Three Men in a Boat Jamie and the Falcons Tom Robinson Bootleg Shadows Vanity Fair





Jerome as he recounts the hilarious story of his boating holiday along the magnificent River Thames with his two companions and Montmorency the dog

Tom Robinson first became known in the 1970s as a musician, LGBT activist and with the Tom Robinson Band Hits include "2 4 6 8 Motorway", "Glad To Be Gay" and "Up Against The Wall". As a broadcaster, he hosts two shows a week on BBC Radio 6 Music.

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£10 £5 £22 £12/£10 conc Sponsored

World class organists gather in Gillingham for ‘once in a lifetime’ concert

Gordon Amery, the organist of Gillingham Methodist Church, is organising an important fundraising Concert for Ukraine in the church on 13th May.

It will feature celebrity organist Thomas Trotter (Birmingham City Organist) and guests David Briggs (Organist, St John the Divine, NYC), Keith Hearnshaw (Concert Organist), Jonathan Hope (Organist, Gloucester Cathedral), Duncan Honeybourne (Concert Pianist) and Rex Wickham (Treble).

Everyone involved is giving their services without

so 100% of funds raised will go to the DEC appeal. ‘WeGotTickets’ the online booking site will also be donating 20% of their Booking Fee. Gordon said “Not only is it vital for us to raise as much money as possible for this appeal, but most of the performers are world-class artists. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime concert for music lovers in Gillingham and its surroundings.” Tickets £20 on the door, or online here


Friday 13th May 2022

Gillingham Methodist Church 7.30 pm (doors 6.30 pm)

Tickets £20 on the door or in advance from 100% of the proceeds to go to the Disasters Emergency Committee

Featuring: Celebrity Organist Thomas Trotter & Guests… David Briggs (via video) Jonathan Hope Keith Hearnshaw Crispian Steele Perkins Duncan Honeybourne Rex Wickham
Join us for a fantastic day out at our GroundDog Day, which is returning to our Lincoln Farm Centre, Blandford, DT11 9BP on Sunday 29th May. Your four-legged friends will have the opportunity to enter a range of dog show classes and take part in the ever-popular Flyball and Have-a-go-Agility! There will also be a selection of refreshments and stalls from wonderful local traders for you to enjoy. Gates open at 11am with the dog show starting from 11:30am. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and will go towards the care of our rescue animals. GroundDog Day Please visit our website for more information: Registered charity number: 1167990
124 From 10.00am FULL INSTRUCTION FOR NEWCOMERS Tea and Cof fee Availabl WHAT’S ON All Stars Enjoy an evening of jazz with Sherborne School’s Swing Band Friday 27th May 6 00pm a glass of fizz in the Music School 7.00pm three course dinner in the Dining Hall Music by Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Glenn Miller and Charles Mingus Tickets £20.00 | 01935 812249 |
125 WHAT’S ON Sem Ey Church Green, Semley Village Sunday 5 June 2:00 - 11:00pm LIVE MUSIC PIZZA & STREET FOOD WINE & SPIRITS BAR BEER TENT STALLS . CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES Tickets on sale Semley Music Festival Semley, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 9AS MUSIC FESTIVAL l EARLYBIRD OFFER Bookticketsbefore20May Adult£15/Child£5Lorem ipsum



Time : 3.00pm

: 9.45pm The Terraces The Sherborne Beacon will be lit in the evening, along with 1500 other beacons across the country.
Sherborne Abbey Civic Service for the Platinum Jubilee. FRIDAY 3 RD JUNE SPONSORED BY Find out more © Sherborne Chamber 2022 | Designed by Hi Top Design Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Beacon Lighting Jubilee Street Market Abbey Service WITH Time: 10am - 4pm Cheap Street, Digby Road Street Fair | Street Entertainment | Food and Drink PARTY IN THE PARK Time: 2pm - 10pm Pageant Gardens Live Music | Food and Drink
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Top Tips for selling your home

Selling your home is a big decision - and you want to get it right. The new Purple Bricks North Dorset team are on hand with some insider advice

Putting your home on the market is a huge life decision and one which takes a lot of careful consideration and thoughtful planning. Purplebricks are proud to work with over 600 local experts located across the UK, each dedicated to taking you through the whole process of selling your home, from start to finish. Here to help you on your journey to getting sold, Purplebricks local expert and North Dorset resident, Chellie Elkington, shares her top tips for preparing your home for market:

• First Impressions

Ensure the outside of your property is clean, clear and tidy, including entrance ways and the front garden. Potential viewers will often pass by before deciding whether to book a viewing so it’s important to create a good first impression, starting with your home’s curb appeal.

• Declutter

One of the most costeffective tips for home selling is to declutter your home. This includes keeping all surface spaces clear, without interfering with your daily life. By removing or hiding unnecessary items out of sight, you are maximising the perception of space in your home.

• A new face Freshen up scuffed paint marks by giving your walls a fresh lick of paint, where needed. While this is not essential to do before

Small details like placing fresh flowers in your home not only make it more welcoming, but also help buyers feel confident that you’ve cared for the house.

selling, it will ensure your property is presented in the best way possible.

• A good deep clean Give your home a spring clean to show off the property in its best light. This includes descaling the shower, cleaning the windows, ensuring beds are made with freshly washed bedding and mending anything that’s broken.

• It’s in the detail Think about those little touches that make a home

feel welcoming. Fresh flowers are always great to have around the home for photos and viewings as they show you’re making an effort to sell while helping potential buyers to feel more confident that you’ve looked after the house during your ownership.

If you’re thinking of selling your home and would like further advice, book your virtual or in-home valuation today:

141 *Fixed fee payable on instruction. Money back guarantee of fixed fee redeemable if no qualifying offer is made within 10 months. Any extras purchased and all legal fees are excluded. See Terms and conditions for full details of the offer at Book a free valuation with your Local Property Expert for at If you’re not sold, you don’t pay.* It’s that simple. North Dorset 07922880029 Chellie Elkington 07922881705 Rikki Sorbie Sell your home from only £999*