Saturday, 29 September 2012

Nice Weather, Choppy River

On a sunny but breezy autumn afternoon, four gig clubs raced each other on the River Tamar this afternoon at Weir Quay Sailing Club. In addition to the rowing there was a barbecue selling delicious burgers and hot dogs and a tea stall, plus the ubiquitous raffle.
The Tamar & Tavy Gig Club were the hosts, with gigs from the Rame, Cotehel and Salcombe clubs taking part.
There was a bit of a chop on the river as various teams battled it out on the river to Saltash and back, though this distance was shortened later as the wind increased.
The Salcombe gig leaves the slip.
Cotehele prepare to take their boat
out of the river.

Rame manhandle their boat ashore.

Ginette heads off downriver.

The tea tent - BMW Motorcycles?!
The barbecue in full smoke.




After the exertions of rowing, there was the attraction of an excellent barbecue, selling delicious beefburgers and sizzling sausages. The refreshment tent was doing a roaring trade with tea and soft drinks.

Dog Show Tomorrow

Chris and Ray Robinson will be holding a Fun Family Dog Show at Barne Farm, Bere Alston, on Sunday 30th September, starting at 11.30am. There will be a varied schedule of classes for owners to enter their dog.
There will be a barbecue and a beer tent, a dog agility demonstration and course, plus a dog stall for toys, feed, etc.
Proceeds will go to the Devon Air Ambulance and Wingletang Dogs Home.
For more details, including the various classes, look out for the posters or contact Chris on

Gig Racing and Fun Today

Short notice I know, but there will be gig racing on the Tamar today, with the Tamar & Tavy gigs, plus visitors, including Rame, Cotehele and Salcombe. Racing starts at noon and goes on till 4pm, with a barbecue at the dinghy park.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Post Office Report from Angus

Angus Doulton is the village representative on the Bere Alston Post Office Group and this is his latest report on attempts to save the post office for all of us:

'Bev asked me if I'd sit on the working group. There have been once weekly meetings and heaps of emails.
This is how I see it so far:

1. The only solution appears to be to buy the post office building for the community.

2. There are various ways in which money could be raised but the most likely candidate seems to be a mixed economy that includes donations from the community, grants, support from the council etc.

3. There is ongoing discussion about whether the community's part of this should be in the form of shares, bonds, donations etc. A majority of the working party favour an arrangement that will allow all members of the community to participate and recognises that some might offer quite a large contribution while others will only be able to offer something much smaller. It seems this is likely to be resolved shortly in a sensible way.

4. So far as Bere Ferrers is concerned, and not forgetting that I have only just arrived here, it seems to me that it is essential to support the Post Office in Bere Alston if we want to maintain any reasonable level of service in the whole peninsula. At the same time many people have told me how many shops have already been lost. The more we lose, the harder it gets to maintain any form of commercial centre. Therefore it seems to me that we should support this initiative.

5. The letters that have already gone out ask for an indication of what people would be likely to do. Please respond so that the working group can get a good oversight. Requests for actual cash will only follow when it is clear what level of support there is.

6. The working group is only that. What form any community body should take and who would sit on that is still all for discussion and will form part of the agenda at the next meeting. Thoughts and contributions are still needed on this.

7. Apparently there is already a very strong response in Bere Alston.'


Food Bank Officially Opened

The Bere Food Bank was set up due to the persistence of Graham and Christine Fine and is based on a similar operation in Tavistock. It is not surprising in this time of economic cuts that many people suffer from not being able to support themselves and their families. The Food Bank is where villagers can leave food (tins, packages, etc.) for those who are in desperate need. There are collection points on the Peninsula where villagers can donate food for these needy folk. There is a box in the porch of Bere Ferrers church hall where food can be left, plus contributions can be left at the church and Margaret's Hairdressing.
A small team of volunteers, with their Chairman Graham Boot-Handford, and guests gathered at Hope Cottage, Bere Alston, yesterday with the new Food Bank sign that will be displayed outside Hope Cottage. The Mayor and Mayoress of West Devon and the Chairman of Bere Ferrers Parish Council were among the people who admired the new sign.

The amount of food needed to feed
a family of four for three days.
The group in the garden at Hope

Monday, 24 September 2012

Post Office Appeal

I do not apologise for bringing your attention to the situation we are still in with regard to the Bere Alston post office and its imminent closure.
I am told that the response from this villager is less than favourable and it appears  that most villagers think it is not their problem, but Bere Alston’s. This could not be farther from the truth and this is why.
Yes, we are promised a weekly post office service, starting in October, if BT pull their fingers out and install a phone line. If they don’t, when Trevor closes the post office we will not have a service. OK, this may be temporary, but think if the usage of our weekly service is not good enough for the Post Office and they close it down, where will you go? Bere Alston? Only if it is saved from closure and to do this we have to all pull together.

There is still the feeling that it is not Bere Ferrers’ problem, BUT IT IS!
Everyone should have received a letter from the Bere Peninsula Post Office Group asking for their support to buy the post office premises and keep the post office open and pledging money towards the Community Fund. Please pledge something, no matter how small, we will all need this post office soon!

Saturday, 22 September 2012




                        CONCERT IN AID OF THE RNLI AND
                        DEVON AIR AMBULANCE
                                             by the St Andrew's Singers
                                with guests Tyrone Piper and David Crocker

                  Friday 26th October at 7.30pm in St Andrew's Church, Bere Ferrers.

Tickets are £5 each and are available from The Pharmacy, Bere Alston and Margaret's Hairdressing, Bere Ferrers. Light refreshments are included and RNLI cards and gifts will be on sale.

There may be renditions of previously unknown pieces by the famous composer Eric Coates (The Dambusters March) given to the mother of a well-known villager and recently discovered and given to the Eric Coates Society.
                                                            As featured on

Important Public Meeting

The Bere Peninsula Post Office Group announce a public meeting on Thursday 18th October at 7.30pm in the Parish Hall, Bere Alston, to announce the result of the Community Fund pledge appeal and to present and discuss alternative ways forward.
If you are interested in the future of your local post office, be there!

Pledge For the Post Office

All households should have received a leaflet explaining the latest position about saving the Bere Alston Post Office. The potential lack of a post office on the Peninsula will affect us all, either immediately or some time in the future; even setting up a small office in a shop will mean the loss of some essential services to the community, so we need to do everything we can to save the current post office.
This means raising a large amount of money to buy the premises. As I understand it, we need to raise something like £66,000 ourselves so that grants can be applied for to cover the remainder.
Therefore we have to pledge money to the Community Fund. I've heard ridiculous suggestions that everyone could pay £100! This may be OK for some, but a lot of people in the parish are Senior Citizens and can't afford this sort of amount. However, every little counts, so please use the form and pledge as much as you can. The forms must be returned to the Bere Alston Post Office or posted to the Action Group no later than 8th October.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Denham Bridge Closed - Use the Railway!

With the closure of Denham Bridge for two weeks, if you have to go to Plymouth don't waste time driving into Tavistock and out again - use the train from Bere Ferrers station! It's much quicker and stress-free!

Good News for the Pub

The Olde Plough has been included in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide in recognition of the quality of its real ales (something we locals recognised a long time ago!).

News from the Tamar Valley Line Forum

The old waiting room at Bere Alston station
The waiting room on the up platform at Bere Alston station has been a concern of the Forum for some time, due to its increasing dilapidation.  However, Richard Burningham MBE and Ray Bentley had a meeting recently with the Railway Heritage Trust, who renovate interesting and useful items of rail infrastructure.
The news from the meeting is positive: generally speaking, the building is in a fairly good condition, except for the roof. There will be money available to repair the roof and then the volunteers from the University of Plymouth Students Union will refurbish the inside and outside.
It was suggested that when the Tavistock line reopens, the building could be used for its original purpose – as a waiting room!

Rail Franchise
The bidding companies need to submit their bids for the whole of the Greater Western franchise by noon on 25th October. The Department for Transport will assess each bid and the winner will be announced in late February or early March. The new franchise will begin on Sunday 21st July next year.

Work on the Line
There is currently a temporary speed limit over the Tamerton bridge, which should end just after Christmas. There are no other major engineering works due on the line.

Bere Alston – Tavistock
The requirement to include the new extension from Bere Alston to Tavistock was included in the Invitation to Tender document from the DfT to the franchise bidders, including eight extra trains per day to Tavistock in addition to the present timetable.
There has been a lot of discussion about what service would be provided, bearing in mind the reservations we had when Kilbride published their original suggested timetable. This has now been significantly revised. It has been decided that all trains to Tavistock will be through trains, with a shuttle service of about 13 trains per day between Bere Alston and Gunnislake.
A new bay platform will be constructed over where the old up line used to be so that passengers will be able to leave the Gunnislake train and walk to the front of the coaches and board the main line train, without the need for a bridge.
This new suggestion will give the opportunity for more trains on each of the two sections of the line.
Devon County Council is now handling the whole aspect of reopening the line and are planning for a one-hour clockface service with the object of maintaining connectivity for Calstock and Gunnislake. They are also doing a lot of work on the demand for the service at peak times and how to cater for all requirements.
Bovis Homes’ application for the first 250 homes in Tavistock will go through the planning process by the end of the year.
It was reported that all the structures along the line are sound.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Lopwell Art Exhibition

Visitors at The Old Pumphouse Cafe at Lopwell Dam looking at the exhibition by the Bere Ferrers Art Group.

2013 Watersports Day Announced

The date for next year's Watersports is Saturday 6th July. Put it in your diary/phone now!

Two-Cakes Jenny

Who was spotted at the Saturday shop and cafe this morning with two slices of cake?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Denham Bridge Closed

In case anybody hasn't seen it, there's a sign at the junction to Denham bridge that the road will be closed from 17th September for two weeks!

Artists' Exhibition at Lopwell Cafe

There is a comprehensive exhibition of work by members of the Bere Ferrers Art Group at the Lopwell Dam cafe starting today and running until Sunday. All of the exhibits are for sale, so pop along and have a look!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Fun Family Dog Show

Chris and Ray Robinson will be holding a Fun Family Dog Show at Barne Farm, Bere Alston, on Sunday 30th September, starting at 11.30am. There will be a varied schedule of classes for owners to enter their dog. 
There will be a barbecue and a beer tent, a dog agility demonstration and course, plus a dog stall for toys, feed, etc.
Proceeds will go to the Devon Air Ambulance and Wingletang Dogs Home.
For more details, including the various classes, look out for the posters or contact Chris on

Latest Rail Figures

There were 107,060 passenger journeys on the Tamar Valley Line up to the end of August, an increase of 1,127 on the same period last year. Figures courtesy of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Post Office Action

You may not be aware that the Bere Alston Post Office is under threat of closure. Unless a means can be found to purchase the property we could lose the only Post Office in the Peninsula, and the services it supplies.
Following a well-attended public meeting, the Bere Peninsula Post Office Group has been set up with the aim of exploring ways that £200,000 can be raised to buy the property and keep the Post Office services we have.
The group will be exploring options as to how this can be achieved. A local community company will probably need to be set up to obtain grants and manage the property. Local residents will also need to contribute in some way to enable the property to be purchased.
Time is tight for the community to obtain the freehold of the property and many grants take time to obtain, therefore it is vital that residents contribute what they can to the project.
You will soon be asked to register your interest in helping to save the Post Office. We urge you to help. Bere Alston needs to continue to be a vibrant community and not a dormitory village for Tavistock and Plymouth.
Contact one of the BPPOG volunteers below or Bere Alston Post Office for more information.

Mike Benson (Press Officer) 01822 840 209  
Philip Griffiths
01822 840 785
Susan Hartley 07969 232 850  
Lesley and Colin Hunter
01822 841 425
Richard Leithall (Chairman) 01822 841 241  
Sue Synons   Ralph Maycock
01822 841 801
George Nash 01822 840 558  
Andrew Sadleir (Treasurer)
01822 840 093
Granville Starkie 01822 841 331  
Geoff Stowell
01822 840 262
Mark Tremlett (Secretary) 01822 841 487  
Mike Wright
01822 841 120

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Art Group Starts Autumn Term

The Bere Ferrers Art Group held its first meeting of the Autumn term this morning with a near full house. The first lecturer was Richard Woodgate, who showed the group how to plan a picture and illustrated his talk with samples of his own work. Members then tried their hand at doing their own compositions.
There will be an exhibition of some of the members' work at the new cafe at Lopwell Dam from Friday 14th September.

Song of the Tamar

The Calstock Singers present ‘Song of the Tamar’ at St Andrew’s Church, Bere Ferrers, on Saturday 29th September at 7.30pm (doors open at 7). It is a revival of the Millennium production, a contemporary folk cantata depicting the life and work of Tamar Valley dwellers during the 20th Century. It is written and performed by local people.

The lyrics are by Ian Gallacher and the music by Ian Marshall. The musicians are all members of the famous Calstock Rubber Band, led by their Musical Director, Rosie Fierek. Rosie also choreographs the dancers. There is also a slide show by courtesy of the Calstock Parish Archive, so what more could you want – singing, dancing and a slide show, plus a programme with all the words!

This is a show not to be missed for lovers of the history of the Tamar Valley. Tickets are £6 each and will be on sale by this weekend at Margaret’s Hairdressing in Bere Ferrers.

Get yours soon before they sell out!

Monday, 3 September 2012

More from the Barbecue

Trevor expertly cooks the mackerel, while Martin and Owen wait patiently.

Free Barbecue at the Plough

There was a free mackerel barbecue at the pub tonight after Martin Hawkins donated a quantity of freshly-caught fish.
A small group of people waited patiently while the mackerel were landed and gutted. They were delicious! (The fish, not the people!)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Splendid Barn Dance Raises Funds

An enthusiastic crowd of 'barn dancers' enjoyed an evening of promenading their partners and dosey-doe-ing at the Social Club last night in aid of Villagers' Group funds, depleted by extensive repairs to the zip slide and fence.
Most villagers took to the floor while others watched as they promenaded around the floor. At 'half time', everyone enjoyed delicious pasties.
There was the usual raffle, though some people are still mystified that winners are told what prize they have, rather than the normal practice of choosing their prize. Prizes were donated by villagers.
The evening raised over £220 for funds. The Villagers' Group would like to thank everyone who helped with the organisation of the evening.
Pasty time!