Friday, 31 August 2012

Ticket Machine Still Out of Action

Beware anyone parking in the Bedford Car Park in Tavistock - even after several months the ticket machine at the top end near the alley way is STILL not working! I rang WDBC (the number's on the charges board) and complained. I was the third person that morning to complain and who knows how many before me over the months and nothing gets done!!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Song of the Tamar

The Calstock Singers bring to Bere Ferrers their production of Song of the Tamar, a celebration of the varied life and fortunes of our special Valley and the people living in it over the last couple of centuries.
Told in song and verse, it charts the highs and lows of the mining boom and depression, the coming of war and the rise and slow decline of the flower trade and market gardening. Our iconic river just keeps rolling along, oblivious to the joys and tragedies played out by those living along the Tamar’s shores.
It is being performed in St Andrew’s, Bere Ferrers, on 29th September by the Calstock Singers. Look out for posters with more details.


Monday, 27 August 2012

Barn Dance This Saturday

There will be a barn dance at Bere Ferrers Social Club this coming Saturday at 8pm in aid of Bere Ferrers Villagers' Group. Funds are needed for the upkeep of the Recreation Field and the play park equipment.
Tickets are £5 each, which include a pasty and are available from Margaret Ball or Lyndsay Gay.
Come along, have a good time and help support the upkeep of your Recreation Field.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Jill Returns to the Village

Former village resident Jill Etherington is in the village at the moment after her annual visit for a horse trek across Exmoor with friends. To celebrate, Margaret Ball organised, with the help of Rob and Lesley, a musical evening at the Social Club. Many of Jill's friends turned up for an evening of music and chat.
Providing the music were (in order of appearance): Summerhouse Strummers, White Lightnin', Blaxton, Steve Rickhards, Cowboy Ian, Lizzie, finishing up with Rockin' Ron and a finale with Steve, Lesley and Rob with 'Let It Be'.
Jill with Christine Poole.
Chris, Jill and Margaret.

By the end of the evening most of the audience were on the floor dancing!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Abysmal Response from Bere Ferrers

As a follow-up to the post office meeting I asked how many people from Bere Ferrers put their name down for the Working Party and it appears that no one volunteered, which I think is disgraceful for a village that prides itself on its community spirit!
Yet again it would appear that we have the Bere Ferrers v Bere Alston attitude surfacing – ‘it’s their problem, not ours; we’ll have a post office service.’ What many people in this village need to realise is that the possible loss of Bere Alston post office would affect the whole of the Peninsula, not just Bere Alston.
OK, so we will have a once-a-week post office in the village soon, but how long will the Post Office keep this going when they realise we haven’t got a cat in Hell’s chance of providing 75 customers every Tuesday, which is what they are asking? Personally, I don’t expect this service to last more than six months.
Then, unless we lose it, Bere Alston post office will become OUR post office as well, so now is the time to stand up and be counted! If we lose Bere Alston post office we will never get it back!
What happens then to all our Senior Citizens who need a post office? Who needs a post office more than them? Think on.

The first meeting of the Working Party is next Thursday. Bere Ferrers must be represented.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Packed Meeting Hears About Post Offices

Cllr Mike Benson addresses the meeting.

There was a packed meeting in the newly-decorated Parish Hall last night as over 200 people packed into the building. The meeting was called to discuss the future of the two post offices on the Peninsula.
Hilary Boot-Handford chaired the meeting and the speakers were Marion Grey and Yvonne Hicks from the Bere Alston post office, Geoffrey Cox MP, Dawn Ercott from the Community Council of Devon, Geoffrey Stowell, Cllr Mike Benson (Borough Councillor), Cllr Brian Lamb and Cllr Philip Sanders (Leader of West Devon Borough Councillor and Devon County Councillor).
Brian Lamb explained the situation in Bere Ferrers: there will be a post office in the Hazel Room in the church hall every Tuesday from 9am until noon. There will be the usual service as at present, but with extras.
Marion was next to speak and thanked Yvonne for doing an exemplary job at the Bere Alston post office. But what do we do next? The owners of the premises, Mr and Mrs Case, are trying hard to sell it. The post office is not closing but urgent action needs to be taken now to save it. Mrs Case is the postmistress but, because of ill health, is trying to sell the premises and the post office. ‘The Post Office will let us continue as long as Annabel doesn’t resign.’ Marion said.

The situation in a nutshell is this: if Mrs Case resigns from the post office, there is no replacement postmaster and the premises are not sold, that is the end of the post office in Bere Alston. If the post office is moved to another site it is immediately downgraded and loses a lot of the current services: no car tax; no foreign currency; no bill paying; no banking, etc. This is not good!

What needs to be done urgently:

a)    someone buys the premises and continues to run the post office and the shop. This could be possible but certain restrictions are preventing this at the moment, or

b)   The community of the Peninsula (and this is all of us, not just Bere Alston) buy the premises and install a suitably trained, vetted and checked postmaster with a three-year business plan.

Dawn explained about the Community Council of Devon and what they do. They are an independent charity helping communities to set up and run their own services, called ‘Social Enterprise’. There are many successful schemes running in Devon where communities have taken over services.
The question was asked: where do we get the money from? There are a number of sources of income, all of which would need a financial commitment from the community. Issuing community shares would be one source of finance, where members of the community buy shares in a co-operative, and profits from the venture would be put back into it to improve it. The community would have to raise a considerable amount of money itself, by jumble sales, bring and buy sales, etc.
Geoffrey Cox MP simply asked; ‘Do you want to keep your post office? What are you prepared to do to help?’ If you do, and are, there will be plenty of help and people to stand by you. But it does need a core group to keep it going. Geoffrey has a ‘blueprint’ of other similar schemes, with contacts.
Geoff Stowell addressed the meeting with a plan to raise £200,000 by parishioners buying shares. This would cover the £180,000 to buy the premises, with money over to pay expenses, fees, etc. There would be a Board of Directors and a small dividend would be paid.
It was pointed out that grant funding would not be available for this scheme as it was a private business venture. Consequently, the co-operative scheme was agreed to be the way to go.
Cllr Sanders added his support, both from WDBC and DCC, for the plan; DCC recognise the vital need to keep a post office here. He pledged full support from Devon County and will help to find funding. Much applause!
A question was asked if the post office is a viable concern; Yvonne replied that it is very viable and gives a good income.
It was pointed out that there are two problems: the need to find £180,000 and the need to find a suitable postmaster. Marion said that she has someone ready to take over the job, it just needs someone to buy the premises.
Unfortunately, time is running out. If Mrs Case’s health declines and she has to resign, that’s the end of the post office. She has to make a decision by the end of October, which is only two months away! Geoffrey Cox said that he understood from the Post Office that there was no rush; Marion said that financial resources dictated that October was decision time.
There was a heartfelt plea from a member of the audience on behalf of the senior citizens who depended on the post office – do all you can to save it! This brought tremendous applause!
The meeting was asked for volunteers to be on the Working Party and there were many volunteers, who signed up. It was agreed that Marion and Yvonne would be part of this, to give advice. Marion will speak to Mrs Case and explain what is being proposed.
It was also agreed to put something up in the post office for those people who couldn’t attend the meeting and who may like to help.

These are the main points of the meeting; other minor points were discussed but were irrelevant when the final decision was made.
It should be pointed out quite plainly that this is not a Bere Alston problem, it affects everyone on the Peninsula. Bere Ferrers may have a weekly post office, but this depends on 75 people each Tuesday using the new service! A tall order indeed and if we don’t achieve this target we may lose the service, thereby reverting to Bere Alston post office. If it isn’t there the only option is travelling to Tavistock.

                                          The solution is up to us all!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

10th Anniversary Apple Fest

A question often asked is: Has the Bere Apple Fest changed over the years? The answer is yes and no! The basics are the same but there have been additions over the years. The Apple Fest started when a group of enthusiastic apple growers in Bere Ferrers decided to celebrate the history of apples on the Bere Peninsula and to help the development of local orchards. Subsequently, the Tavy & Tamar Apple Group was formed and now has over 100 members, from far and wide.
The programme of events for this year includes the famous Apple Pie Baking competition, open to adults and children, with a huge range of fantastic prizes. The first prize is a superb meal at Robertson’s Organic Café and the second prize is a pair of First Class return tickets anywhere on the First Great Western network. The competition is judged by Seth and Sally Robertson, from Robertson’s Organic Café in Tavistock.
As well as the children’s section in the Apple Pie Baking competition, there is usually a prize for the best ‘animal’ made out of an apple and the Longest Apple Peel competition. There is also a supervised hand-operated apple crusher that children can use to chop up their apples – this is always popular with them!

There are also demonstrations of pruning apple trees by local expert Charles Staniland and grafting by Michael from Endsleigh Nurseries, near Milton Abbot. Andy, a local wood-turner, gives an interesting display of his art on an old-fashioned wooden lathe. Rural crafts are demonstrated by Mick Godwin, while some apple juice sales are looked after by Derek Scofield. Ross & Suzy Dyter explain about the benefits of bees in the orchard.
There is a huge display of apple varieties, and experts, including Chris Groves from Cotehele and Frances Howard, are on hand to identify visitors’ apples they bring. In addition, the local Women’s Institute have a mouth-watering display of apple products on sale. Apple refreshments, including tea and coffee, are available throughout the afternoon and there is an enormous raffle hamper prize!

Meanwhile, the main activity of the day is crushing and pressing apples to make juice. Visitors are invited to bring their own clean apples and, for a small fee, the apples are crushed and juiced and taken away in containers. This is very popular and the team are hard at work crushing and juicing throughout the day!
The Group try to invite someone to open the Apple Fest who is connected with apples in some way or with a local group or concern. This year we are delighted to announce that Cllr Philip Sanders, the Leader of West Devon Borough Council, a Devon County Councillor and a former Mayor of Tavistock, has accepted our invitation to open this special event.

For the last two years Dartmoor Border Morris have attended the Apple Fest and, weather permitting, danced in the road outside the venue. They are always welcome and also take a big part in our annual Wassailing in the village in January.
This year’s event is on Saturday 6th October, from 1-5pm in and around Bere Ferrers church hall, but why not come to the village earlier and visit the Community Shop and Café (recently awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service) in the Social Club, or have lunch in the excellent Olde Plough Inn?

Visitors to the Apple Fest are invited to bring their own clean apples for juicing, though we can’t guarantee that the juice they receive will be totally from their apples, because of the enormous amount of apples brought along. Entries for the Apple Pie competition are always welcome and the entry forms will be available on the Tavy & Tamar Apple Group’s web site ( soon and from local outlets in Bere Ferrers and Bere Alston.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Local Girl Marries

The wedding took place last Saturday at St Andrew's Church between Adele Butler, daughter of Avril Bellinger of Silver Street, and Sam Mayne. The reception was held in a marquee at Mount Cottage, Tavistock.
Adele and Sam will be leaving for their honeymoon on Crete this coming Wednesday. They will live in Tavistock, so there's a likelihood we will see them often in the village.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

New Village Notice Board

The village has a new notice board, thanks to Villagers' Group committee member Dave Mills and his father-in-law. The notice board was recycled from an old window; it was fixed on the existing posts today (Saturday) and Dave has promised to paint the posts with preservative to nearly match the board. Thanks go to them both.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


The future of Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers Post Offices is to be discussed at a meeting in the Parish Hall in Bere Alston on Tuesday 21st August at 7.30pm. Anyone who can make it please come! If we don't get our once-a-week service, Bere Alston will be the only alternative, otherwise it will be Tavistock.
So please don't think this is their problem, it affects us all, so go if you can. It's no use moaning after we've lost them, we need your input at this meeting.

STOP PRESS! The meeting will be attended by our MP, Geoffrey Cox QC

QAVS: The Official photograph

The official photo of the party that received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service at Exeter recently. From left to right: Mike Grimshaw, Mavis Burchall, Fran Gorringe, Cherry Stratton, Lesley Smith with the award, Angela Hooper, Pearl Dawe holds the certificate, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Eric Dancer CBE JP.

Garden Party

There was a disappointing turn-out of villagers at the annual Garden Party yesterday at the 'Willmott Estate', despite the clement weather, but perhaps the lure of the Olympics was too much for some.
Allan and Maggie again hosted the event in aid of church funds and amongst the guests enjoying the ambience was the Rector, the Rev. Nick Law and his wife Val, newly returned from holiday and now back 'in service'.

This woman is not to be trifled with!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Garden Party

The annual Garden Party will be held at Alpine House, courtesy of Allan and Margaret, at 2.30pm on Saturday 11th August. All the usual attractions will be there, including a raffle. Proceeds go to church funds.

50th Wedding Anniversary

Saturday 4th August was the 50th wedding anniversary of Brian and Kay Lamb and a small party was held at the home for family and friends, some of whom had come great distances.
There was no hospitality lacking as guests were invited to partake of alcoholic refreshment on arrival. Once settled around the various marquees and the sound stage, guests were treated to a varied programme of music from local talent.  First up were White Lightnin', a specially-formed supergroup, who sang a number of bluegrass songs.
They were followed by Blaxton (with and without Clive Charlton), then by Robin and Jane Musgrave, Jane with  Rob Smith, Steve Rickhards on the electric piano, Lizzie Spiers and finally in this section the Tavy Tars. The session was introduced in his own inimitable style by Marcel.
Most of White Lightnin'
Balxton with Clive

Robin and Jane
Jane and Rob

Steve with page-turner Marcel

Tavy Tars
After the music, guests were invited to help themselves to a splendid pig roast with all the trimmings. The puddings to follow were excellent as were the specially-made cakes. Music later in the evening was provided by Stevie Mann.
Congratulations to Brian and Kay!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Former Villager Dies

Ann Wildish died last week. Ann and her husband owned and ran the post office and General Store for several years before Ken and Irene Sheaf took over.  She used to attend the village yoga classes and trained to teach yoga herself when she left Bere Ferrers.  Many people knew Ann through her participation in social club activities and especially playing mahjong.
Ann helped set up the Harbour Centre in Kingsbridge and ran yoga classes there for many years.  She passed away after teaching her last class of the summer term in the morning and was relaxing in a chair in her garden on a lovely sunny afternoon.  She had been struggling with MS for several years and was finding it increasingly difficult to get about without her scooter.  Throughout this time she remained cheerful and positive and was a great inspiration to all her students and friends.  Her funeral was at Stokenham Church at 2pm on Friday 3 August.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Tamar Valley AONB Discovery Trail Challenge

Sixty intrepid walkers took part in the Tamar Valley AONB Discovery Trail Challenge on Saturday 28th July.  Ruth Charlton and Christine Poole were two of only 20 who completed the whole route. 
The Discovery Trail Challenge started opposite Warleigh Lodge,at Tamerton Foliot and finished at Lifton Hall Hotel with nine checkpoints. The route passed Lopwell Dam Old Pump House Cafe, Weir Quay Boatyard, crossing the River Tamar at Ferry Farm at Bere Alston to Calstock, then on to Gunnislake Newbridge, The Royal Inn at Horsebridge, Milton Abbot and Kelly House. 
“The walk was advertised as 25 miles, but several people told us that it was in fact 32 miles” said Ruth. “Then we foolishly added an extra couple of miles for a navigational error or two! We had expected to take 8-10 hours but in fact it took us 12, walking at a good fast pace. But we were still chatting cheerfully at the end”.
Christine said “The weather was perfect, and it was challenging and fun, with lots of wonderful trails we’d not walked before. We intend to return to sections to explore them at a more leisurely pace. This should be easy, as the Discovery Trail handbook is divided into 3 mile, 5 mile, 7 mile and 10 mile trails, so you can choose how much you want to do at one time.”
In the photo with Christine and Ruth are Julia Paget-Woods from Horndon and Sue from Liskeard who also completed the walk with them.
Christine and Ruth raised £300 for Devon Air Ambulance.  
“Many thanks to all our sponsors, who inspired us to keep going even when the going was tough.”

Another Photo from the QAVS Ceremony

Another photo, courtesy of Lizzie Spiers, of the party that accepted the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, this time including (in a suit!) Mike Grimshaw, the man who nominated the team. But what on earth is Lesley giggling at?!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Special Villagers' Meeting

There was a special meeting of the Villagers’ Group tonight to discuss, amongst others, the closure of the post office. A small group of interested villagers gathered at the Social Club to hear the village’s views on the subject. Unfortunately, most of the village didn’t seem to care about losing an important village service.

Post Office
Brian Lamb started proceedings by saying that he, on behalf of the Parish Council, had a meeting today with Colin Pound, who is the Area Change Manager, South West, for the Post Office. The Post Office will replace the existing post office, which will be closing in mid-October, by a weekly service between 9am and 12 noon every Friday in a venue to be decided. The two ‘candidates’ are the Social Club and the Hazel Room in the Church Hall. A visit to each will be made soon.
The Post Office will provide all the existing services, with possibly some new ones. The arrangement will be a permanent one but they will need 25 people per hour (75 for the week) to use the post office.
BT will install a phone line to the new post office, but for the use of the post office only.
Some arrangement about rent will be discussed.
Subject to satisfactory negotiation of the premises, there will be a public consultation, possibly using a web site, before the new facility opens in October. The aim is to have a seamless change-over when the existing post office closes.
The post office at Bere Alston is up for sale and the Post Office hope that the premises are sold soon and the new owners carry on the post office.

Someone asked what has happened about newspapers. It was pointed out that Tim Peden had asked people in the Saturday shop if they wanted newspapers, as he was looking into providing a service. Many people at the meeting said they knew nothing of this initiative. It was pointed out that Tim was looking for a job and concern was expressed as to whether he could continue any service that he set up.

Diana said that the Recreation Field needs regular maintenance. It is looking good now, thanks to Paul Willmott, who regularly mows most of it. However, much of the undergrowth needs chopping down. Diana holds a monthly maintenance session at the Field one Sunday a month and is looking for volunteers – not every month, just when is practical for everyone! So, come on villagers! This is your Field, so do something to keep it looking good! It’s no good complaining when it becomes overgrown and looks terrible, it’s down to volunteers, not one or two dedicated people.
Angela said that she and Caroline had discussed having a big clearing event twice a year, when volunteers come to the Field and do some work, followed by a barbecue.
Diana said that some fence posts adjacent to the zip slide need replacing and this may involve a significant amount of cash and the village would need to do some fundraising. The Group Treasurer said that there was money in the bank to cover no more than two years without any fundraising, unless a big outlay was required, in which case funds would be severely depleted.
A jumble sale or a table top sale were suggested to raise money. It was also suggested that perhaps a donation from Watersports would be acceptable. Juli said that the Steering Committee would always look at requests for donations from the Saturday shop profits.

Jubilee Memorial
Bere Alston will be having two benches to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee and we still have £500 available for the Bere Ferrers commemorative ‘thing’. It was decided that we don’t need any more benches. A suggestion from Roger was that the steps at the war memorial be significantly altered to make them easier to walk down. This would probably need some sort of planning permission as they are in the conservation area. It may be expensive to do this work – a quote would be needed.
Lizzie asked if there was anything that was needed in the church hall. Margaret would investigate.
It was agreed to invite suggestions from villagers through the Bere Ferrers News, the Blog and Bere Link.

A discussion was held about insurance for the Field. It was agreed that Roger and others would visit the Parish Clerk to determine what the insurance covers.

Plan It
Clive reported that he is on the Plan It committee. This is the amended Parish Plan to develop a community plan for the Peninsula. The next meeting is on 12th September. Has anyone got any ideas or would like to join the committee?

Jubilee Trail
The Trail is progressing satisfactorily and routes have been identified. A brochure is being designed and funding has been obtained by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. Clive needs photos of families enjoying themselves on the Peninsula to put in the brochure.

Brian told the meeting about the communication from the Department of Transport about the bidding guidelines for the new rail franchise (see earlier post on this blog). This included the requirement for extra trains between Plymouth and Tavistock by December 2016.

‘Undergrounding’ is the installation of power cables underground instead of strung between poles. This would be suitable for a village like Bere Ferrers; Western Power would consider re-cabling the lower part of the village and there are funds available. They would work in partnership, which means that funding would be needed from the village.
The Parish Council is currently working with agencies on this possibility. The meeting agreed in principle with the suggestion.