A Historic Day for Littlehempston

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On Thursday March 15th, a great cheer went up at the auction  of Higher Court Farm at the Seven Stars in Totnes, when the Littlehempston bid for Lot 7 was successful. The auctioneer commented that it wasn’t often he made so many people happy with just one sale! This land purchase provides the parish with its first community-owned open space and will help preserve this very central part of the village for future generations. And to add to the happiness, Lot 4 was bought by individual locals.

Littlehempston owes much to the small group of determined individuals who rallied the community to action so successfully, and did so much work behind the scenes.

If you missed the auction, you can experience all the excitement and tension of the Lot 7 bid, thanks to Jon Morris’s recording:


You can see a map of the various lots on page 17 of the Higher Court Farm Sales Particulars. Here are details of the prices paid and the purchasers, to the best of our knowledge:

Lot Price Purchaser
1 £348,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
2 £450,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
3 £197,000 Jacqui Hodgson
4 £45,000 Littlehempston residents
5 £94,000 To be confirmed
6 £200,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
7 £58,000 Littlehempston community!!!
8 £285,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
9 £90,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
10 £202,000 A local farmer
11 £52,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The village of Littlehempston in South Hams has a strong history of community spirit and purpose – we have bought our own pub, enhanced the church into a community space and now bought our own land for community use.

Murmurings started in late January 2018 when the Blacklers land in Littlehempston came up for sale, including a central pasture with orchard. When an email went out on the 19th of January asking whether it wouldn’t be worth “putting the idea out there” for the villagers to club together and buy Lot 7, it didn’t exactly take off as a priority … and not much happened until around the 19th Feb when a growing group thought it would be good to meet and discuss.

This first well attended meeting was on the 26th of February in the church where full support was given to “give it a go”. We got £30k in pledges that evening in a cardboard box so we felt emboldened!

Results of this meeting included some delegated tasks such as capture the pledges and turn them hard cash, find a purchasing entity (the Bidder) to bid on the day, think about the balance between Lot 4 and Lot 7, and start drafting an agreement for the community to agree with the Bidders that they would buy it on the village’s behalf.

There was quite a flurry of activity leading to the 2nd meeting on the 12th March with only 3 days to go until auction day. This 2nd meeting was a very focussed event where we could confirm that we had reached the guide price in hard cash, but requested more if possible. We also agreed to focus solely on Lot 7 as a community, and let village individuals go for Lot 4. We discussed the premise on which the Bidders would buy the land on behalf of the village and had Mike Dix and Nicky Oldridge stepping up to be the Bidders … things starting to come together but there was a way to go yet!

Really ramping up the tempo now in the days before the auction, the kitty reached £60k on auction day with some fabulous last minute donations, and having signed a Deed of Trust with Nicky and Mike, we were battle ready … and the rest is history!


Youth Club is Back in Action

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And there’s some great action on offer! Twenty young people turned up for the re-opening of the Youth Club led by Ash Levin. With the pews rolled back and mats on the floor, the group were kept busy with activities that stretched their minds, asked for artistic expression and practiced their physical dexterity.

Ash has loads of experience working with young people and offers an exciting mix of drama games, group challenges, physical games, acro-balancing, and (action) songs. The club is for 7 – 14 year olds, and the older ones can work with Ash as youth leaders to help run the sessions, if they want. Sessions are fortnightly on Friday from 6.15 to 7.45pm in the Community Space and cost £3.

We hope this group will grow friendships amongst the children in the parish and encourage a feeling of community. It is also a great opportunity for parents to have a regular get together in the Tally Ho. And if Ash seems a familiar face, you may have seen him at the Littlehempston Fete last year – either playing chess in the Chess Tent or as Mr Cupid on Stilts. Circus skills are another arrow to his bow.

Contact Kendal or Susie for more information. Check the Events page on this web site for dates.

A Good Year in Space

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A successful pilot of the Littlehempston Youth Club was one of the achievements of the Community Space in 2017, outlined at the recent Annual Meeting.  The Space is our “village hall” offering loads of events and activities that keep us all fit and entertained, whilst raising the money to keep our church open for all.

In 2017, the Space had an income of nearly £7,000, that included donations from the Fete, Lottery and the Bogan Trust. This income paid for a new boiler, heating, lighting, cleaning, repayment of the loans for the building works to create the Space and the Youth Club Pilot. A similar sum is generated by church activities, which covers insurance and church-related costs. Get in touch if you’d like a full Annual Report and Statement of Accounts.

A vote of thanks was passed at the meeting to Ken Wood, who started the Littlehempston Lottery, which to date has raised £4,200 for village causes. Pictured here is Space Team Chairman, James Dunn, who is doubly happy – he won first prize in the March 2018 quarterly draw and also received on behalf of the Space a donation for equipment for the new Youth Club. Thanks were given at the meeting to all who’d helped, including Kendal Tredinnick, who is stepping down from the Team.

New blood is needed, so if you’d like to join our friendly team, please get in touch – meetings are good-humoured, short, “well refreshed” and a great way to get involved in village life. Not keen on monthly meetings? Then why not offer to run a one-off event? Full support from the experienced team provided! Just get in touch for more information.

Stars abound in Space

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The stars were out in February for a fascinating exploration of the night sky guided by Dave Norman from the Torbay Astronomical Society with a great slide show provided by Alison Alexander. We stood mouths agape in the churchyard, as Dave’s laser guided us from Orion’s belt to the Seven Sisters, the faintly twinkling Pleiades, and explored the moon’s craters through the telescope. The raffle prize of a moon chart was won by children from Hemsford and home-made soup was served up in the Community Space.

Another group of stars appeared in a documentary film directed by Russ Pariseau, Holding up the Sky, about ten young women from Nepal and Africa who overcame many barriers to scale Kilimanjaro. One related that she had run away from home rather than face an arranged marriage; another felt lucky that she was sent to school because she was “too ugly” to be married. Their inspiring tales were a great way to celebrate International Women Days and the cake stall made £150 for the charity Womankind.

Littlehempston gets together to purchase Community Land

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After coming to the aid of our church and local pub, Littlehempston people are coming together to secure land that is going up for sale in the centre of our village.

In the biggest land sale for generations 122 acres (almost 50 hectares) is going to auction, following the death of farmer Lyndon Blackler, of Higher Court Farm. The land has been divided into 11 lots, some of which lie right in the centre of our picturesque village. The auction will be conducted by Rendells in 11 separate lots and is set to take place on March 15th. Click here for full details.

As well as protecting the land from possible development, we intend to place the land in a Trust for community use with a focus on nature conservation and biodiversity. Ideas include preserving an old Devon cider orchard, creating a village green and providing shared space for the use of all villagers and their children.

Littlehempston has a strong track record of community action. In 2012 we managed to protect the future of our church by adapting it to perform a dual function as a village hall, with the help of innovative pews on wheels. Then, in 2014, we formed a co-operative, bought, and then reopened our village pub, the Tally Ho. The centuries old pub is now the first community owned pub in South Devon.

Littlehempston is now applying its usual vigour to raise funds prior to the auction on 15th March, with a working group set up to investigate Community Interest Companies and Community Land Trusts.

In order to raise funds, the group is collecting money and pledges from within and beyond Littlehempston. With money rolling in, they’re feeling confident they will be able to raise the funds to bid for at least one of the lots.

Littlehempston Parish Council chair Jonathan Morris says: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to acquire land for the whole community of Littlehempston. We’ve got a great track record of pulling together as a village to protect the things we value most and this will provide a fantastic resource for the whole community to enjoy. There has been an astonishing amount of money pledged so far and each new pledge safeguards a little more of the village for future generations. Let’s hope people continue to give generously!”

If you are interested in contributing to the fund, make your cheque out to ‘Village Community Space’ and write ‘Land Littlehempston’ on the back of the cheque together with your contact details. Send your cheque to: Land Littlehempston, 2 Church Cottages, Littlehempston, Totnes, TQ9 6LY.

Alternatively you can do a bank transfer of your contribution to:
Account: Village Community Space
Sort Code: 30-98-69
Account No: 02271067

If you’d like to contribute to the fund but your money isn’t immediately available, you can make a pledge – please use this website’s contact form to get in touch and we’ll let you know how.

We’ve also set up a mailing list which you can join to be kept up to date with this campaign, ask questions, put forward ideas and contribute to the discussion. Again, use our contact form and let us know if you’d like to join the Littlehempston Land mailing list.

Holding up the Sky to support International Women’s Day

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Come and help celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th with an inspiring film about women who succeed against the odds. Presented by director, Russ Pariseau, Holding Up The Sky is an inspiring tale about 7 Nepali women and 3 African “sisters” who climbed Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day in 2013. Their mission was to call attention to the challenges girls and young women face growing up in traditional patriarchal societies of the developing world. The physical challenges of the Kilimanjaro climb parallel the individual stories each woman relates about overcoming “gender obstacles” growing up.

This is a timely film given the current spotlight on the barriers women face … and overcome … and the IWD theme for 2018 is #PressforProgress. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first run by the Suffragettes in 1911 – it is not country, group or organisation specific. With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away, there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and there is currently strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

This event supports both the charity Womankind who work at local, regional and international levels to ensure women’s voices are heard, their rights are realised, and their lives are free from violence, and also the Community Space in Littlehempston Church where the event takes place. Entry is £3, doors open at 7pm and the event starts at 7.30pm. There’ll be a bar and light refreshments – please eat lots of cake in aid of Womankind. Feel free to share this invitation with as many of your friends as possible.

A first for Littlehempston wildlife?

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Spring is well on the way with snowdrops, celandines and daffodils brightening the hedgerows. And some interesting sightings since Christmas too. Jenny Galton-Fenzi reported last week “A first yesterday – John Floyd and I were standing on the village bridge when we saw a cormorant swimming downstream. Have previously only seen them drying their wings on the dead tree in the ’causeway meadow’. Cherry plum (prunus cerasifera) is out. I think the nearest tree is by the main road as you go through Littlehempston Wood. Next blackthorn, then hawthorn.” Jenny also has a regular visitor to her garden – a white pheasant. Another white pheasant has been spotted roaming around the fields in Gatcombe.

If you’d like to add yourself to the local informal e-mail list exchanging news about interesting sightings, just get in touch.

Support Littlehempston – buy a Lottery Ticket!

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Littlehempston Lottery has now been running for 5 years and over that time has raised an amazing £4,220 for community activities. And the same amount has been paid out in prizes! Lottery 2017 was a great help in setting up activities for our local children and there were lots of happy winners too. This year, the quarterly draws will be held at the Tally Ho on the third Wednesday of March, June, September and December and the lucky ball will be drawn out of the barrel just before the pub Quiz Night starts.

Have you got an hour or two to spare? One or two people to help promote the Lottery now Ken Wood has stepped down are still needed – it’s not a huge job but it would much appreciated. This is a great way of having a flutter and also supporting village life, so please join in if you can. For information and to apply for your ticket, go to our Littlehempston Lottery page.

Tally Ho – destination pub?

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Can the Tally depend for its custom on just the local area? In a favourable review in this quarter’s BEER magazine from CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) in an article on community pubs, food writer Susan Nowak praised the selection of ales and range of food. She also pointed out that as Littlehempston was so small, the Tally needed to be a “destination pub”, attracting customers from a wide area.

This was a theme taken up by local resident, Ali Taylor, in a recent interview on Radio Devon about the importance of the “local” to communities. When asked by Victoria Graham whether the Tally depended on people living nearby, Ali explained that a lot of custom came from further afield, many from the Torbay area. Some customers remembered the Tally as a popular meeting place as far back as the 50’s – romances developed, proposals were made and anniversaries are still celebrated at the Tally. Ali invited listeners to contribute their “Tales of the Tally” which one day could make a little book! (Looking at this old postcard taken in the 1950’s, things haven’t changed much!) If you have a story or photos, do get in touch. And if you want to hear the interview, go to the Press Cuttings page on the Tally Ho website and click on Radio Devon – Janet Kipling – 15th February 2018.

And more custom from further afield might come from the Tally’s recent inclusion in Dartmoor Accommodation‘s newly launched Dartmoor Real Ale Trail featuring over 35 pubs on and around the moor. Brains behind the trail, Lisa Jenkins, said “We know from people using our website that there is a thirst for information about good beer pubs in the area. Often tucked away off the beaten track, these can be hard to find so we felt a map, or Ale Trail, would be great way of solving this problem. From the dramatic high tors in the north, to the softer more rolling landscape in the south, this Real Ale Trail will help you seek out the delights of traditional real ales and good hostelries in this beautiful area.” So we can expect to welcome some curious visitors at the Tally.

Council call to carers – let us know who you are

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Devon County Council estimate that there are 90,000 people providing unpaid care for loved ones and friends in Devon, but only 20,000 are known to the County’s carers’ support services.

If you look after someone else on a voluntary basis, then there’s information and support available that may help you.

They’ve been asking carers what sort of support they feel would be helpful, and making improvements to services they provide to carers as a result.

One of their big challenges though, is in reaching carers. They’re in touch with many, but there are many more who they don’t yet know and can’t yet support.

So if you’re providing unpaid care to someone, or you know someone who is, have a look at this DCC web page, and get in touch with them by phoning the Devon Carers helpline, 03456 434 435, open Monday to Friday 8-6 and Saturdays 9-1.