Val’s Up, Down and Back!

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Huge congratulations to our local heroine, Val Hoare, who has successfully scaled Africa’s highest mountain and raised a load of money for charity to boot. Here’s her story:

“What a challenge – the toughest thing I have yet done! I was part of an amazing team of like-minded people who were so positive and supportive of each other, and all but three of us made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our leaders, Ben and Chris and our team medic Sarah from Discover Adventure were the best- they encouraged a ‘can-do’ attitude in the entire team with fantastic humour and patience. Ben took great delight in my west-country accent and my age (the oldest on the team) but made it his mission to get me to the top.

We walked through jungle on the first day (with afternoon deluge) to emerge into an alpine environment of tree-heathers and lichens and then further up into an almost barren landscape of rock and dust, cooled each afternoon by the clouds rising from the jungle storms. Camp each night was a village of two-man tents which disappeared as we got up the next morning to re-appear further up the mountain at the next site. Our local porters and guides did a magnificent job on the mountain with such grace and cheerfulness – on most evenings we were welcomed into camp with Swahili songs and dancing. Most of us joined in, even though we were exhausted. The chef produced some fantastic meals each day, including peanut soup, casseroles, pop-corn (with added salt to support our muscles) and fresh cucumber and pineapple. I will admit to suffering Acute Mountain Sickness, despite taking medication! Being sick most days was a bit trying, but there was no option- it was up and get going with the rest of them. The scrambling up the Barranco Wall caused some trepidation in some of the team, but luckily I have done this sort of stuff before and other than wishing I had longer legs, I managed OK.

Summit night brought its own challenges – starting out at 11p.m. and climbing steadily for eight hours before reaching the summit on dry, dusty terrain that seemed like going up a down escalator in sub-zero temperatures. We all felt so pleased to make it to the top, and also to be raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support at the same time made it really worthwhile. Let me say a massive ‘Thank you’ to the many, many people who have helped and supported my adventure. (My total now stands at £6,293 – beating a target of £4,450 by miles!)”

Well done, Val. What’s next?

Littlehempston Kids’ Cinema & Pizza Night

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New to the Space is Kids’ Cinema Night on Friday February 28th at 5pm. Supper is sorted too – well known local pizza van, Il Volcano, is offering us a special discount price on all pizzas (£5 + for a 12”) and will be stoking up his oven in the church car park to create quality pizzas to enjoy during the show. The PG rated film is “The Iron Giant” – check it out by clicking here.

To book a ticket, contact Nicky or phone her on 01803 840855. Gluten-free pizzas have to be booked in advance. All are welcome to this fun family evening (popcorn included – bring your own drinks) and it’s free, apart from the cost of the food.

Just want a pizza? Il Volcano will take orders from the general public after 6pm, so why not come on down to the church car park and treat yourself to a delicious take-away pizza?

Treats in Store for 2014

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Last year, many of you enjoyed music, dance, food, fairs and fun in the Community Space at the church, and there’s lots more planned for the coming year.

The Village Supper last month was as merry as ever and a great way to meet new people. Rev Nicholas and Jill Todd (pictured) did a grand job at keeping everyone hohohoing as they sold raffle tickets, we feasted well and raised over £250 into the bargain.

First up for 2014 is a Valentine’s Day special on Friday February 14th, when talented musicians Ben & Alfie will fill the church with music from around the world. Thanks to Sandra Law for organising this. Then on Friday February 28th, there’s the Kid’s Cinema & Pizza Night. Thanks to Nicky Oldridge.

And a few more dates before those new diaries start to fill up – more details nearer the time. On Friday March 28th, you’ll be able to discover more about Littlehempston’s past with local historian, Jenny Galton-Fenzi, through “never before shown” images and recordings. And on Friday April 11th, enjoy “Travellers’ Tales” – an entertainment of poetry and prose, presented by the voices of Visible Ink (including our resident poet, Chris Waters), with some musical detours and delectations of cheese and wine.

As well as providing great opportunities for people to get together, these events and activities also raise the funds vital to keep the church open for future generations, so use it or lose it! If you have an idea for an event or activity that you’d like to see happen in the coming year or can offer a few hours now and then to help, get in touch with the Littlehempston Community Space Team. The more the merrier!

Ben & Alfie in Action in Littlehempston

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Littlehempston Community Space is hosting another Villages in Action event on Friday 14th February – a real Valentine’s Day treat! For those of you lucky enough to see Panta Rei last November, you’ll know that only top quality acts are promoted. This time we have a musical event – so more room for an audience!  I’m sure it will be just as exciting and atmospheric in our lovely old church as was our Norwegian dance company.

Ben and Alfie are an engagingly individual duo of 5-string guitar and double bass and voices. All of their repertoire is original and some is inspired by their time in Senegal, where they were lucky enough to spend two months living with the West-African musician Seckou Keita. Ben and Alfie are classically trained but then began playing/arranging old folk tunes. Throughout their lives they have picked up many different musical influences which shape the music. These include Western and Eastern European Folk, Jazz, Classical, West African and South American influences. Their music has a strong folky feel, yet the textures of classical music are also evident in their stylish and atmospheric compositions. Now with two albums under their belts, the duo are quickly establishing themselves as one of the hottest new talents around.

Ben and Alfie will be playing at 8pm and doors open at 7.15pm.  Tickets are £7.50 Adult and £5.50 Child. There will be refreshments for sale in the interval. Please contact Sandra Law or ring her on 01803 865458 to reserve tickets or turn up on the night and we’ll be selling them at the door. This is such an enjoyable way to support our community!

Sandra Law

Dancing at the Fete?

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First a big thank you to those who came along at the end of last year to help plan next year’s fete, based on lessons from 2013. It was agreed that despite the rain, the 2013 fete was a great success, offering the usual traditional atmosphere and friendly welcome, and had given the Fete Team the confidence that things would be fine whatever the weather!

It was decided to keep the midsummer date this year, so the fete will be held on SATURDAY JUNE 21ST. Support was shown for a slightly earlier start for those with younger families, but also for a spot of dancing after the stalls shut to make more of the band, so a bit of an experiment wil take place this year. The fete will start at 4pm and stalls and most activities will come to a close around 7pm, swiftly followed by an evening of music and dancing (ceilidh style?)  A large marquee might be drafted into service if the weather looks doubtful.

The same old favourites will all be there and there is the possibility of the return of the Human Fruit Machine! As it’s World Cup year, we’re hoping to have a football demo of some sort – does anybody have any contacts who could help with this? And as well as the Obstacle Course introduced last year, there’ll be traditional children’s races. And if you’d like to volunteer to help or have any suggestions, get in touch with Sue Wellum, who would love to hear from you. Expect to hear more after Easter.

Not Good Weather Even for Ducks

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Around half a dozen homes in Littlehempston were flooded and local roads closed, when the appalling weather over Christmas caused the Hems to rise to extraordinary levels. The Hems drains into the Dart, which had become unusually swollen due to floodwater and storm surges, with the result that at high tide our local floodwater had nowhere to go. Roads crossing the Hems were submerged, forcing motorists to take long and often frustrated detours, and in the early hours of Christmas Eve, the local fire service spent 5 hours pumping water away from local homes near the main village. Homes were again threatened on January 2nd.

Like many villagers, local councillor, Vyv Whybrow, who lives in one of the houses affected, is fed up with the poorly maintained flood defences. 22 years ago, a flood alleviation channel was built to be kept clear by an ongoing maintenance programme. Vyv believes this has not been done due to lack of money. The Hems itself also needs dredging, and debris, especially around bridges, needs clearing. The Totnes Times on January 8th quoted a spokesman from South Hams Council as saying, “We have been requested before Christmas to look at the flood defences in Littlehempston which we put in about 20 years ago. It involved about 400 metres of flood channels to guide floodwater away to the River Dart more efficiently. We have been in the process of gaining permission from the landowner to carry out a full survey of the channels to compare its present condition with its design levels to establish whether silting up has taken place. We hope the survey work will be completed in two weeks. A decision would then have to be made about any remedial works necessary. In the past, we have done remedial work cutting trees in the two tributaries the Little Hems and Gatcombe Brook but the flood channels appeared to be in a clear condition. But now we are doing the survey to be sure.”

Another casualty of the floods was a large fish, cast up by the Triangle Bridge over the Gatcombe Brook on the road into the village. It was spotted and photographed by Jenny Galton Fenzi, who sent in this report: “John Floyd identified it as a male salmon (apparently the jaw is different) and thinks it was swimming upstream. It has a wound, but made by what or whom is not clear. I couldn’t bear to hack it up for the cat, so put it back in the stream and hope it reaches the sea again. Some strange things appear in the flood. In the dusk the other night my fevered imagination thought a dead cow which had blown up was coming down – daylight revealed it to be a child’s space-hopper.”

One thing not found in the Gatcombe Brook this Christmas was a duck. Sadly the eagerly anticipated Boxing Day Duck Race (think smiley yellow plastic things with numbers on their bottoms) organised by the Pig & Whistle and Lawrence Joiner had to be cancelled, as it was considered too dangerous for participants. However, spirits were raised again on New Year’s Eve, when The Pig & Whistle hosted a splendid evening with Lawrence entertaining with an elegantly delivered fireworks display at midnight.

The effects of bad weather were shared around the parish in the New Year when 54 homes suffered power cuts after lightning struck power lines – there were a number of strikes over a few days and some houses also lost internet services for over a week. A dramatic start to 2014 – let’s hope things quieten down soon.

Have a Ball with Ken’s Lottery

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Here’s a great resolution to make. Have fun and support the Community Space by buying a numbered ball in the Village Lottery, run by Ken Wood. To date, Ken has raised £1,625 for the Space, which has helped enormously in paying the heating bills. Half of the money raised goes to the Space, while the other half provides three prizes – 1st prize has the lion’s share with 80% of the prize money. There’ll be 4 quarterly draws with the first in March. Ken will be contacting each household next month with details of how to enter or else you can get information and an application form by clicking here. You too could be a happy winner, like Bee Criddle!