Littlehempston Youth Club to expand?

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The Community Space Team is working with our youth club leader, Asher Levin, to secure the future of the club, which has proved so popular with many children – and with the parents, who enjoy the get-together at the Pub Club in the Tally next door. Those of you involved in the past have been contacted to find out your views on how the club can be run in future. Proposals include inviting children from other local rural areas to join and to limit the age range to seven to eleven year olds.

Ash provides a great range of exciting activities including drama games, group challenges, physical games, acro-balancing and action songs. You may have met him at Littlehempston Fete – he’s great on stilts (as pictured here), at circus skills and story-telling.

If you’d like to have your say or find out more about the Youth Club, please get in touch.

Hidden treasures of Lot 7

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We don’t always need to travel far to find amazing wildlife – sometimes it’s here on our doorstep, waiting to be appreciated. The land recently bought by the community in the centre of the village harbours a remarkable variety of wildlife. Pictured here is the confluence of Gatcombe Brook and the Hems, on the borders of Lot 7. The orchard area is particularly rich, as it has been left untouched for several years. Recent surveys have revealed 60 varieties of lichens, 55 different wildflowers, 50 species of moths, 9 types of bat and an unknown quantity of bugs and birds. Many thanks to Jenny Galton-Fenzi, who sent in this touching account:

‘It’s six-thirty on a fine morning, and I’m sitting at the top of the orchard in Lot 7 taking in the view. And feeling massively, humbly grateful to those village activists and donors who seized the day, and secured these precious four acres of meadow and orchard for all to enjoy. Things could so easily have ended differently; but now this piece of very special land will belong to the village for ever.

Just how special it is I’m only just beginning to appreciate. I’ve recently been privileged to walk the orchard with two amazing people. One, Nicola Bacciu, is a lichenologist. The couple of hours I spent in her company were fascinating and enlightening. With the help of magnifier and scraper, she identified over 60 types of lichen in the orchard, including the delightfully-named Fanfare of Trumpets (pictured here). Before, I would have walked past these complex organisms without a second glance, only vaguely noticing that they were grey or orange blobs. I learned that orange on twig tips, although not on walls, is bad, as it indicates too much nitrogen in the air. We don’t have too many orange tips, so our air is pretty clean.

My second expedition was with Chris Knapman, the Chair of the Devon Ancient Tree Forum, another extremely knowledgeable and wise person. He was delighted with the orchard and its bramble patches, and suggested we leave it just as it is, only planting a few extra trees if we want to. As we stood and watched tree creepers and nuthatches running up and down the trees, he warned against removing dead wood or fallen trees, as these are full of bugs and are an important part of the ecosystem. Inside one hollow apple trunk, he identified an ‘air root ‘, that is, the tree was trying to grow a root down to the ground through the hollow space from a height of about five feet. Who else would have seen that? He said he did not think there was any need to cut the grass in the orchard, but we could have a late September cut if we wanted, but not too short as some creatures overwinter in the tussocks. If we do cut it we should remove the debris and put it in a pile for grass snakes, however he did not think that nutrient enrichment would build up fast, as the ground is on a slope. He suggested trying to introduce Yellow Rattle and Knapweed, to parasitize the grass.

We took part in the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat survey recently, and found that 9 types of bat, including Greater Horseshoes, were flying around the orchard. 55 types of wildflowers were counted between May and July. Most recently, our fifth annual moth-trapping event (pictured here) with Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation totalled 50 species – the results will be shared with the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre and also with the National Moth Recording Scheme.

We hope to arrange a bug survey of the meadow shortly. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species have been surveying old orchards to try to find the rare Noble Chafer beetle, which feeds on dead heartwood. Perhaps there are some on Lot 7!

So Lot 7 is about much more than cider-making, although this will be good too. And I do recommend early-morning (or other time) visits, just to sit and watch and listen. See you there!’

Quest for bronze ends in the Tally

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Early drinkers at the Tally Ho last Friday evening agreed to keep the noise down, while a film crew from the news channel NewsAsia Singapore shot the final sequence of a documentary featuring Mr Tan Kee Wee, who years ago inherited bronze antiques from his father – his quest was to discover whether they were from the Shang and Zhou dynasty or were admirable fakes.

The search led him to Berry Pomeroy and the studio-foundry of bronze artist, Andrew Lacey, an expert in archaeometallurgy (study of metal produced by people in ancient times). The final scenes of the UK part of this documentary, Bronzes: A forgotten treasure, due to be screened in Singapore in November, were shot in the Tally.

Dawn Tan, the documentary film host, and Kee Wee reflected on what they have discovered on their journey over drinks. (Dawn is a well known documentary maker and news reader in Singapore – a bit of an Anna Ford, possibly?) They and the film crew were hugely enthusiastic about the Tally, their welcome and the surrounding area. Pictured here from left to right are Simon, Pete, Dawn, producer Nivitra and Kee Wee.


Investigating how to run Lot 7

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The community is currently looking at establishing the right charitable organisation to manage Lot 7, Littlehempston’s community land. We have also reached out to other similar organisations and learnt from their experiences. Anyone interested in being a part of the management team to please contact Martin.

Many people in the parish will have received the report of the meeting that took place on 2nd July in the Community Space to discuss how Lot 7 could be best managed and decisions made. If you’d like to see the full report, just click here.

The Knives and Forks are out in Littlehempston!

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Four great reasons to visit the Tally Ho in July. Four local ladies are going head to head in Littlehempston’s version of Come Dine with Me to add a bit of spice and zest to the menu at the Tally. Every week throughout July, one of their signature dishes will appear on the Specials Board and customers can sample the dishes and vote for their favourite.

Chef Paul has already selected his favourite four from the many recipes submitted and the chosen chefs will show him how to recreate their dishes. The winner will receive a meal for two at the Tally!

The competition was launched amongst much good-humoured rivalry at the Tally Ho Pop Up bar at Littlehempston Fete. The first week in July stars Kendal Tredinnick (second left in the photo) who offers an unusual butternut squash dish, followed by Anna Ash (second from the right) who wows with a seafood recipe. Third week, Josephine Ash (far right) is in competition with Kendal to win over the taste buds of vegetarians with an imaginative veggie burger, and the final week is a Touch of Thai with Susie Dorman. Organiser Kate Rudman (far left) wished all the women good luck and suggested they get their knives sharpened!

So tickle your taste buds at the Tally – click here to book your table.

Sun Shines on the Littlehempston Fete

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Over 900 people including visitors, volunteers and stall holders enjoyed a sunny day at Littlehempston Fete, which proved one of the most successful fetes ever. Keys to the success of this traditional village fete were loads of things to keep the kids amused while parents relaxed in the free deckchairs, enjoying high quality BBQ food and excellent local ales – and lashings of Pimms provided at the Tally Ho Pop Up bar.

Music was provided by Chez la Vie followed by Waves from Broadhempston. New attractions this year were Emma and her donkeys, the racing ferrets, and Ash Levin in the Story Telling Tent.

Fete Team rep Bee West said, “The fete was a real feat of community coming together. Everyone can be proud of their amazing achievement in providing such a wonderful day of fun. Money raised by the fete will go towards supporting new activities in the parish, the beautiful church, the Community Space, which acts as the village hall, Berry Pomeroy School and Rowcroft Hospice.” A donation also went to the Dartmoor Beast Explorer Scouts who did sterling work, manning the car park and packing up the next day. Thanks to the Fete Team for all their hard work. Early estimates suggest around £4,000 had been raised. More photos will be posted on the Gallery soon – honest!

Johns win the lottery!

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Lots of people came down the Tally for a meal and to watch Lottery draw recently. Lawrence Joiner, who used to live in Littlehempston and had returned to help with the Fete, drew the lucky ball – John Hoare scooped first prize of £82.  John Todd’s number came up next, winning him a £20 prize.  As usual, half of the receipts – £102 – was donated to the Community Space.

Entries to the Lottery have dropped off over the last year, which is a pity as the money comes in very handy to support village activities. Over the last year, hundred of pounds have been raised to help get our Youth Club going in the Community Space. The draws are quarterly and the next one is on Wednesday September 19th. So why not have a flutter and support village causes at the same time? Full details here.

Let the organ thunder and the bells ring out!

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The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the installation of our fine organ in Littlehempston church was a tremendous success with the church packed on both days to hear some wonderful music. For the Saturday concert, Let the Organ Thunder – Let the Trumpet Blast, we were fortunate to have Dr Noel Tredinnick, organist and director of music at All Souls, Langham Place, London, deliver a rousing and accomplished concert of works by, amongst others, John Stanley, Purcell, J.S.Bach, Torelli and Handel. Dr Tredinnick (pictured far right), whose reputation is international and has family connections with Littlehempston, stayed on to conduct a Littlehempston in Praise event on the Sunday, when we sang some old favourites and newer hymns. On both occasions we were privileged to hear talented young Brazilian trumpeter, Izalni Batista Nascimento junior, who had travelled down with Dr Tredinnick. At the Sunday service, when our own organist Mark Ekert accompanied us, we also enjoyed beautiful solos by local soprano Clare Lash-Williams. In all, a wonderful weekend of music and celebration which we shall remember for a long time.

This all took place on the first weekend of June. On 12th June 1868, such a large congregation gathered for the inaugural service that many could not get into the church. More than 20 rectors and vicars of all the neighbouring parishes were present. This was a result of efforts by the Rev Fitzhenry Hele, rector of Littlehempston for 50 years in the 19th century. After the service, a cold collation for 300 was laid out in the barn at nearby Grattons Farm. This was owned at the time by the Evans family, who were all extremely musical, and who sang in the church choir and played the organ. Their grandchildren later presented a stained glass window to the church in their memory; it has three panels showing St Cecilia, St Gregory and King David.

We didn’t have a cold lunch for 300, but the quality of cakes and refreshments was highly commended and a magnificent £907 was raised to support the church and Community Space. Many thanks to all involved in putting on such a special event and, in particular, organiser, Jenny Galton-Fenzi.

The funds raised during the two concerts have given an enormous boost to church and Community Space funds. Some of the money raised will be put into a fund recently set up to raise money for new bell ropes for the church. There has been renewed interest in getting the bells of Littlehempston ringing out again on a regular basis, but new ropes are urgently needed. Around £1,200 is needed – appealing suggestions on fundraising welcome.

Fancy a spot of thistle thwarting?

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No, not a new local custom! To cut or not to cut? That’s been the recent local debate about mowing Lot 7 which was knee high in grasses and wildflowers. (Lot 7 is the piece of land bought back in March on behalf of the community to preserve it for future generations.)  The call went out to local people to come and chop the thistles that might spread to neighbouring farmland. Pictured here are Jenny Galton-Fenzi, Anna Ash, John Todd and Sandra Law who together with Jill Todd (pictured separately in a bush) and Ali Taylor spent a happy evening nattering and enjoying the beautiful setting and wildlife. The flat area has now been mown and the orchard area left for the moment.

A wide range of wildflowers had appeared and as one local said: It’s refreshing to see the land used for something other than grazing. Whilst that remains important, we also need to try and reverse the significant level of decline in biodiversity. The UK has lost 97% of its meadows since World War II and now we are seeing unprecedented declines in wildlife, particularly the pollinators, which, if left unchecked, will one day have repercussions for all of us. Hopefully (with the right advice) we can find a way of improving the odds a little for wildlife, whilst retaining enough control so the village does not disappear under a forest of thistles!

An expert lichenologist who visited the site recently was hugely knowledgeable about wildlife in general, and amongst other things identified a Lesser Whitethroat singing in Lot 7 (she thought possibly nesting in one of the bramble clumps), two male Beautiful Demoiselles dancing around down by the river, and she also pointed out the patches of Bird’s Foot Trefoil, favourite food plant of Small Blue butterflies, and the many spikes of Sorrel, favoured by Small Copper butterflies.

On Monday 2nd July at 7pm, a meeting in the Community Space in Littlehempston Church will consider management options for the land, together with how this large piece of land, which includes an orchard, can be best maintained.

Parish Council vacancy

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Gerald Hine-Haycock has resigned from the Parish Council – his fellow Councillors passed a vote of hearty thanks for his 8 years of service as Councillor, Chair and Vice-Chair, and wished him every success in the future.

A notice for a “Casual Vacancy” has been posted on the Parish Council noticeboards and you can read it by clicking here.

The next Parish Council meeting is on Wednesday 20th June at 6.30pm at Littlehempston Church. All are welcome to attend.