Entries open for Royal Bath and West Show

t’s only 100 days to go until the Royal Bath & West Show, and livestock entries are now open, with new classes, top judges and plenty of evening entertainment on offer.

This year sees the Dexter Society hosting its National Show at the event for the first time, which is sure to attract a large entry. “The smallest cattle breed in Europe, Dexters are descended from the mountain cattle of Ireland,” says head of shows Alan Lyons. “They are very popular with smallholders and provide great beef, and we look forward to welcoming so many of them to the ring.”

Reflecting the importance of commercial success, the Show has introduced two new cross-bred cattle classes and increased the number of commercial cattle classes. “Husband and wife team Jason and Sarah Wareham from Sussex will be judging the commercial and young handler categories, with Jason returning to the Show having exhibited here as a boy,” says Mr Lyons. Another regular exhibitor, Richard Dorrell from Worcestershire, will be judging the supreme beef championship, while Peter Waring from East Yorkshire will be picking out the supreme dairy champion.

In the sheep section, Portland, Primitive and Shetland sheep now have their own class, and young sheep handlers have an impressive five classes to choose from. “Judging the interbreed pairs championship is Gwynne Davies from Ceredigion – a well-known sheep farmer and the sheep commentator from the Royal Welsh Show,” explains Mr Lyons.

Sheep shearing is always a popular draw, with some of the UK’s fastest shearers competing for the top prize. This year the event will host the South West area qualifier for the National Young Farmers Clubs, leading to the final at the Great Yorkshire Show in July.

Pig exhibitors won’t be left out either, with a new class for veteran sows to complement the veteran exhibitor prize.

Within the Cattle Showmanship competition there is a new discipline for senior competitors in that having judged a class and prepared and shown their animal, they have to set it up and take a ‘Show Standard’ image of it – an important part of displaying livestock to look their best.

“Showing livestock is hard work - with families having to take time off from the farm to attend – but it is certainly worthwhile; particularly at the Bath & West Show, as regular exhibitors will attest,” says Mr Lyons. “As a keen sheep exhibitor, I know the difficulties of travelling round attending different competitions. But our competitors love the way we make them feel so welcome, with a hugely enjoyable Showmans’ Supper on the eve of the Show and live music going on into the night. Both exhibitors and visitors are welcome to camp overnight and really make the most of the occasion: The camaraderie and atmosphere really is second to none.”

The Royal Bath & West Show will be held on 29 May – 1 June. Competition schedules and tickets are available from the website: www.bathandwest.com or by calling 0844 776 6777. Children - for the first time - can go free during the May half term, with a £5 discount on early adult bookings.

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Royal Bath & West Society - International Women's Day


Join the Royal Bath & West Society for networking and nibbles in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Friday 8th March 2019 from 09:30 – 12:00.

The Rural Enterprise Centre, Bath & West Showground, BA4 6QN

This event is free to attend and will be chaired by Annie Maw, HM Lord- Lieutenant of Somerset and the Society’s President-elect and will feature inspiring presentations from the following women in business:

Debbie Howarth - Commercial Enterprise Manager at The Royal Bath & West Society - "How well do you know the Bath & West Showground?"

Catherine Look - Managing Director at Oaktree Parks Ltd & Trustee of The Royal Bath & West Society - "Building on Foundations"

Lisa Cadd - Founder of Fuss Free Foodie - "Inspiring Change - the challenges of cooking & eating well as part of working/family life"

Jen Hunter - Events Manager Fernhill Farm and founder of Fernhill Fibre - "Products with Provenance"

The presenters will share their business stories, the challenges they face and give you ‘top tips’ to take away. This is a great opportunity for business women to connect, share stories and celebrate achievements.

Places are limited and are on a first come first serve basis.

Environmental body must be independent, warns ALA

The proposed new body for overseeing environmental legislation must be truly independent if farmers and land managers are to have confidence in it, the Agricultural Law Association has warned.

In its response to the draft Environment (Governance & Principles) Bill, the ALA is clear that the new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) should report directly to Parliament, not just to Government departments.

“As an independent body, the OEP will be giving advice on proposed changes to environmental law, but under the current wording of the draft Bill the Minister won’t be required to present this advice to Parliament, which has the real possibility of limiting the scrutiny of any future changes,” said Mike Holland, consultant and adviser at the ALA.

“Environmental law has a direct effect on land use and management. For the agricultural industry to have confidence in the OEP it absolutely must be transparent, open and independent, and for that to be the case it must report directly to Parliament.”

In addition, the ALA recommends that the OEP has an internal panel with legally qualified members to deal with any authority which fails to comply with environmental law or issues arising from misinterpretation of Government policy. “This panel should have the power to set up a judicial inquiry, to ensure policy implementation is robust,” explained Mr Holland.

Another area of concern is how the Environment Bill will dovetail with the Agriculture Bill. “With all the pieces of legislation coming from Brexit there is a danger that they won’t tie up together. It is vitally important that the contents of the proposed Environment Bill reflect the direction of Government policy contained in DEFRA’s Health and Harmony consultation in 2018.”

This is particularly important with regard to new regulatory baselines that will apply to the environment; the starting point for the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan. “While baseline data will be used to measure the success of environmental schemes, it’s not clear how the data will be collected or used, or how those baselines will be established,” said Mr Holland. “It is fundamental to the agriculture sector that the Government is clear on the evaluation methods that will be used and supported at farm level.

“In the longer term, it is also vital that we have clear and transparent environmental law governance outside of the EU, to ensure the rural sector is not over-burdened with regulation that hinders its ability to respond to the challenges ahead.”

For more information visit www.ala.org.uk.

Rosemoor announce three-year sponsorship deal for Garden Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor, in North Devon, has signed a local three-year sponsorship deal with Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management (AFWM). This follows on from the very successful partnership supporting the 2018 Rosemoor Garden Flower Show.

The deal means that AFWM will be the Headline Sponsor for the next three years at the annual Garden Flower Show in August – the only official RHS Flower Show in the South West. It will bring in valuable funds to increase the content of the show and improve the visitor experience even more than in previous years. 

The deal also includes support for four other major gardening events in 2019 at Rosemoor, starting with The Spring Flower Festival, 16 & 17 March, then the RHS National Rhododendron Show, 27 & 28 April, followed by Rose Weekend, 21 - 23 June, and finally the Apple Festival in October.

Brokering the partnership, Steve Bowyer, Head of Site at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said “I am truly delighted to have the support of AFWM and the three-year deal means that we can invest in the show to increase its size; bring in more exhibits, displays and demonstrations, and generally ensure it continues to be a very enjoyable event for all our visitors.”

John Waldie, Managing Director of AFWM said: “As a keen gardener I am delighted to be working with the RHS.  We have sponsored the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show for 6 years and, as we are very quickly growing our presence in Devon, working with the RHS is a natural progression for us.  Sponsoring the Rosemoor Flower Show in 2018 was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to coming back for the next three years as well as sponsoring additional events at Rosemoor for 2019.  We have been amazed by the professionalism of the RHS staff at Rosemoor whose attention to detail and excellence is as great as the garden itself.’

The 2019 Rosemoor Garden Flower Show takes place 16 – 18 August and is included in normal garden admission which is free for RHS members.

Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whatson or call 01805 626810 for more details.

Steve Bowyer (left) for RHS Garden Rosemoor with Atkins Ferrie’s John Waldie

Steve Bowyer (left) for RHS Garden Rosemoor with Atkins Ferrie’s John Waldie

Cheddar throughput to double in new energy efficient Dairy

Bruton, Somerset, 28th January 2018 – Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producers and exporters, have been granted planning permission to re-build their Bruton based Dairy, doubling the capacity. The redevelopment is part of the companies 5-year plan for growth which is underpinned by increasing volume and the strategic targeting of specific regions world-wide.

The company have concluded their market prioritization research; the results of which have been used to develop the Wyke Farms 5-year plan for growth, which includes increasing brand presence in export markets in preparation for post Brexit trade and launching new export targeted products throughout 2019.

The companies’ audited accounts for y/e March 2018 show that turnover has risen to a record breaking high of £85 million; a significant 26% increase from the previous year with significant investment into world markets and a growth plan aimed to push the business to a £100million turnover this financial year. The Somerset based company have seen strong and consistent sales growth in the UK and overseas despite the challenging retail landscape.

The new Dairy expansion project, titled ‘Ivy’s Dairy’ after Wyke Farms’ matriarch Ivy Clothier will create a 16,589m² state of the art production facility. The dairy will be built to Ivy Clothier’s founding principles of producing the best in class quality combined with an industry leading respect for the environment. The development will be both energy and water efficient and sympathetic to the surrounding environment, with soft landscaping and a natural grass roof. The investment will build a sustainable long-term future and build sufficient infrastructure for servicing increased sales of award winning cheddar in both the UK and export markets.

Richard Clothier, third generation family member and Managing Director, comments: “Our strategy of selling into a growing export market has been very successful; it generates revenue that allows us to mitigate against the risks that a volatile dairy sector and a disrupted UK retail sector may bring. The new Dairy is crucial to facilitate the growth and meet global demand”

Wyke Farms has been producing its award-winning cheddar to their secret family recipe for over 150 years and has grown to become one of the largest family-owned cheese makers in Britain selling over 15,000 tonnes annually to over 160 countries around the world.

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Easter Holiday Fun for Families at The Bishop’s Palace 6th-22nd April 2019

If you’re looking to keep little ones busy this Easter Holiday, why not head over to The Bishop’s Palace & Gardens in Wells to join in with a whole range of family-friendly activities with a variety of Easter themes.

The holiday fun kicks off on Saturday 6th April when the new Easter Egg Trail will be in place. Challenge the kids to follow the clues around the Palace & Gardens and find coloured eggs hidden in unexpected places – and if they find them all, they can claim a chocolate prize from the Visitor Centre on the way out!

On Tuesday 9th and 16th April (10:30am-3pm), our Crafty Cats sessions will take place in the Undercroft of the Palace. On 9th the theme will be ‘Bugs and Buds’ and the children will have the chance to create Bug Hand Puppets, Coffee Filter Butterflies and Tree Blossom Picture, and on 16th the Easter-themed activities will include making Bunny Masks, weaving Easter baskets and creating Easter Egg Mosaics!

On Thursday 11th and 18th April (11am-3pm), the Palace Garden team will be holding “Nature Ninjas” activity sessions in the Community Garden, aimed at getting little ones engaged with nature and gardening. The team will have lots of horticulturally-based fun activities for all ages.

For something a little different, join Raptorcare on Saturday 13th April for the Palace’s Medieval Falconry Day.

Taking place from 10am-4pm, Tony, the master falconer, will be hosting flying displays, suitable for all ages, on the South Lawn. The displays will illustrate how these birds would have been used in Medieval times and why. Marvel at their skill and training as they show off their well-honed moves in front of the audience and in between displays, visitors will also have the chance to handle some of the birds.

The 14 acres of Gardens will be open daily throughout the Easter Holidays and the Dragon’s Lair Play Area is the perfect place to exercise little legs – climb the Dragon’s Wings, explore the Tree Pods, crawl through the Dragon’s belly or pump the water to spill the bucket and send the Dragon to sleep – the choice is yours!

There’s also a choice of The Hungry Dragon Snack Bar (adjacent to The Dragon’s Lair), serving drinks and snacks, or The Bishop’s Table Café, which is open daily, serving child-friendly menus alongside lunches, cakes and hot drinks to refresh the grown ups too!

All activities are included in standard admission.



The Devon County Agricultural Association (DCAA) has announced the launch of The Prince of Wales Award 2019.

The Award, which the DCAA has run for 34 years, is open to Devon-based community projects. Entries are encouraged from all areas of the community, from schools through to small farm diversification projects. The emphasis, reflecting HRH the Prince of Wales’ personal beliefs, is on sustainability and young people.

Entries are judged by a panel from the DCAA and the winner is selected based on their outstanding contribution.

Winners receive a cheque for £1000 and must invest their prize in further community projects.

Last year’s winner was Wynstream Primary School for the completion of a sensory garden where groups of children are encouraged to learn growing skills, nurture plants and encourage pollinators. Commenting on the effect the award has had Angela Redmond, the Outdoor Learning Teacher said: ‘It has meant so much to our children and their families to have had their hard work rewarded in this way. They are even more inspired and motivated to learn about the natural world and respect and preserve the environment for themselves and future generations. The prize money has enabled us to fast track our plans to build our pollination project, which is now an environmental haven and beautiful, outdoor learning space.’

The DCAA is proud to host the awards and present the first prize at their flagship event, the Devon County Show, in May. Richard Maunder, Chief Executive said: ‘As an organisation, we are committed to supporting all aspects of life in our county. Community projects that educate and involve young people are essential for the sustainability and future of Devon. We very much hope the 2019 Awards will encourage even more people to come forward with inspirational ideas with a strong community benefit.’

Entries are now available to download from the website at www.devoncountyshow.co.uik. Entry deadline is March 29th 2019. The winner will be presented with their prize at Devon County Show 2019 on Friday 17th May.

Wynstream School celebrate winning the Prince of Wales Award 2018 at Devon County Show

Wynstream School celebrate winning the Prince of Wales Award 2018 at Devon County Show

Prodigal Swan Returns to The Bishop’s Palace

Exciting news on The Bishop’s Palace Moat in Wells this morning as a lone swan has been spotted swimming happily around.

Palace staff spotted the animal early this morning and believe it to by Wynn, the widowed Palace Swan who was last seen on 18th October 2018 when she took leave of the moat with her remining four cygnets.

It is thought that she has been living on the Somerset Levels with her juveniles, but that as they will now have started living independent adult lives, she has returned to her former home.

Wynn was the recipient of much media attention earlier this year when she was left widowed by the death of her life-partner Brynn whilst she was nesting. She battled on bravely and hatched 5 beautiful cygnets in May which she successfully reared to adulthood.

Wynn seemed happy to be back on the moat, happily feeding from Visitor Operations Team member Jane Lawrence’s hand this morning! Palace Staff are hopeful that Wynn will choose to return to her picturesque home full time but are also holding out hope that she might entice a new partner to share her home and breed some more cygnets.

Wynn and former life partner Bryn had lived at the Palace since 2013 when they travelled from Wales to take up residence in Wells. Wynn had successfully reared 45 cygnets since living at the Palace, and the swans and their cygnets have been an extremely well-loved feature of the Palace Moat, with tourists waiting to see the Gatehouse bell rung when the swans are hungry.

The tradition began in the 1850’s, when Bishop Eden’s daughter Maria, taught a pair of swans to ring a bell on the Gatehouse when they wanted to be fed.


New Wells Partnership Offers More for Less

Wells Heritage Pass – launch date 1st December


If you’re a fan of the stunning heritage in medieval Wells, from now on you can get more for less with the newly launched Wells Heritage Pass.

Wells’ newest collaboration sees three of the major players in the city’s tourism economy working together for the very first time.

Wells Cathedral, The Bishop’s Palace and Wells & Mendip Museum have joined up to offer residents and visitors the chance to enjoy unlimited access to these three historically significant sites all year round with one annual pass.

The Bishop’s Palace and Wells Cathedral already have annual pass schemes in place, allowing holders to visit as many times as they wish all year round, but the new Wells Heritage Pass offers a significant discount on these and adds in the wonderful Wells & Mendip Museum,  which has an annual programme of exhibitions, workshops and talks to keep visitors wanting to come back throughout the year.

The Wells Heritage Pass starts at £40 for an individual, and also offers Joint and Family options. If you’re struggling to find a gift for someone who has everything this Christmas, the gift of 12 months of Wells Heritage could be your perfect present!

All funds raised from the Wells Heritage Pass will be invested in the conservation of these significant heritage landmarks and will ensure that the doors of these sites are kept open to the public now and for future generations.

To find out more and to purchase, visit The Bishop’s Palace Shop, or the Wells Cathedral Donations Desk and Shop.

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Buy assured British-grown Christmas trees this festive season, CLA urges

The CLA and Grown in Britain are encouraging the public to buy UK-grown Christmas trees this festive season, in a bid to support rural businesses and boost the environment by cutting ‘tree miles’.

Christmas trees are bought in a relatively short period, usually starting from the first weekend of December. But of course, the trees require care throughout the year, which has been particularly challenging with the weather conditions experienced in 2018. This is so that the tree keeps the correct shape, with no distortions and are in perfect health for harvesting.

CLA South West represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

CLA South West Regional Director John Mortimer said: “Buying a locally grown tree means that it may only have been cut a short time before arriving at the retailer, reducing the likelihood of needle drop. Treating the tree with respect by placing it in a water bearing stand and keeping it topped up with water is also important.

“Buying local, whether it is Christmas trees or other seasonal festive produce, helps to contribute to our vibrant rural economy. There is certainly a wide variety of suppliers of local products in our region, from fruit and vegetable growers to award-winning gin distilleries.

“Many people will already be regular visitors to farm shops and farmers markets across the region and be familiar with the products available to them for the festive season. These businesses provide jobs, goods and services for local communities, attract tourism and provide a real boost to our rural economy.

“Small Business Saturday, a campaign which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to shop local, takes place on the first Saturday in December. It provides an important impetus for consumers to support small businesses in their communities, not just in the run up to Christmas, but throughout the year.”

Grown in Britain Chief Executive Dougal Driver said: “The UK has a flourishing Christmas tree growing sector and buying a home grown tree will support rural businesses in Britain and help reduce ‘tree miles’. Last year, £3 million worth of real Christmas trees were imported into the UK, according to Government statistics.

“The Grown in Britain Christmas tree licensing scheme operates throughout the supply chain from growers to retailers and provides the customer with an assurance that the trees are definitely from the UK; grown in a responsible manner with regard to the environment and meet a strict forest floor to shop floor freshness test.”


For further information: Kim John, CLA Communications Manager South West, 01249 700200 or kim.john@cla.org.uk

CLA Rural Business Conference: Government must commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter for strong post-Brexit countryside

As 500 farmers and rural businesses gather in Westminster today to discuss the post-Brexit countryside with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, the CLA is calling for Government to commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter.

The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales. Today’s CLA conference will examine how rural businesses and countryside communities are embracing change and how new policies are required to give them the ability to adapt and the confidence to flourish.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “I am delighted to be speaking alongside Tim Breitmeyer at this year’s CLA conference, which always takes a fresh look at the challenges and opportunities for rural businesses that are so vital to the economy and local communities.

“As we leave the EU there is tremendous scope for change and I’m confident that rural businesses will seize this opportunity. Within government we will also continue to deliver on the things that matter to rural communities, including £200 million funding for full-fibre broadband, increasing the availability of affordable housing and creating more than 6,000 new jobs in rural communities.”

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “With Brexit fast approaching and the new Agriculture Bill going through Parliament, those of us living and working in the countryside should be ready for rapid and significant change. We have a thriving entrepreneurial and creative rural business sector which is up for the challenge and ready to make the most of the opportunities Brexit presents.

“Rural businesses currently invest around £13bn each year in, for example, new technologies, generating renewable energy, start-ups such as restaurants on farm, and vineyards. This business investment is crucial for local communities, creating new rural jobs, food production and the environment, and Government must not overlook it as plans are drawn up for post-Brexit Britain. By committing to the Enterprising Countryside Charter, Government can create a more positive environment for rural businesses giving them the confidence to make the new investments needed for a strong rural economy as we adapt to life outside the EU and well beyond.”

The CLA’s “Enterprising Countryside Charter” comprises five policies essential to rural business growth post-Brexit (see attached for further details):

1. Rural Roaming between networks for better 4G mobile coverage in the countryside

2. New Rural Enterprise Frameworks for better business growth support locally

3. Use of Rural Enterprise Plans to improve consistency in the planning system

4. Bringing the current outdated criteria for a ‘sustainable village’ into the 21st Century

5. Extending the remit of the Minister with responsibility for rural business across both Defra and BEIS.

New CLA survey data underlines the need for Government to commit to these policies. Of 1,600 landowners, farmers and rural businesses surveyed, the majority are planning to invest in business growth in the next five years, such as setting up a rural visitor attraction or converting a redundant farm building for new use. However, many feel limited by major barriers such as lack of broadband / mobile coverage, the complexities of local planning policy, and uncertainty about Brexit outcomes. The new data also highlights a lack of Brexit contingency planning in the rural sector.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Only 21% of rural businesses, including farms, have started making Brexit contingency plans despite the far-reaching impacts anticipated for the countryside reflecting the uncertainty many are feeling. However, transformation in farming, land management and rural business is also being driven by longer-term influences such as social change, the digital revolution, and the need to tackle climate change. Today is a crucial forum to come together with Michael Gove and discuss how our businesses and communities will adapt to ensure a strong future for the countryside and for all its vital contributions to our nation.”

The extent of change for the countryside in the longer term is also highlighted by the new survey data – 30% of rural landowners are currently considering using less of their existing landholding for agriculture in the next 20 years. Of those, alternative uses could include:

o 42% are considering using more land for environmental enhancements

o 32% are considering using more land for housing

o 30% are considering using more land for recreation / visitor attractions

Beware mis-selling in the solar and storage markets

Small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and battery storage are looking increasingly attractive as capital costs decline and energy prices rise, but farms and estates should beware mis-selling in the market.

According to the independent power and energy consultancy Roadnight Taylor, the cost of solar technology has fallen by over 30% this year and will drop further following the EU’s abolition of its minimum price for Chinese imports. Alongside more than an 80% rise in wholesale energy costs since 2016, this has made investment increasingly viable for businesses.

“Depending on your on-site demand, generating your own power could pay back in as little as seven years, even without Government support,” says chief executive Hugh Taylor.

Installing batteries to absorb and deliver energy can also pay back quickly. “As well as benefiting from considerable energy cost savings, rural businesses can generate income by storing electricity to sell back into the grid during price spikes, and also by helping the National Grid balance supply and demand in real time. However, not all situations will be viable – yet – so it’s important to understand the intricacies of a specific project before committing to it.”

Mr Taylor suggests profiling the energy demands on-site – both on a half-hourly basis and throughout the year – to ascertain the feasibility and the correct size of any installation. “Some solar and battery installers are recommending that landowners install much larger schemes than would be appropriate, falsely justifying investment in larger schemes and inflating income projections for unviable sites.

“There are many sites which are not yet financially viable, but as technology prices drop and energy prices rise, many are likely to become so in the next few years, so it’s important to know where your site stands.”

To help farms and estates who are considering such projects, Roadnight Taylor has developed a ‘TrafficLight’ study, which profiles the energy demand, considers generation volumes and tariff structures, and ascertains the viability of a project based on leading and independent energy market projections. A green result means it’s worth investing now, amber means it is likely to be viable within three years, and red means it’s unlikely to be viable within that time.

“If you have an amber project we will monitor it for you over the succeeding three years and notify you when the site turns green,” explains Mr Taylor. “As our pool of green and amber sites grows, it is giving our clients more tendering power so they can also achieve higher revenues for lower investment.”

  • The TrafficLight study costs from £350 + VAT. For more information contact Roadnight Taylor on 01993 830571 or visit www.roadnighttaylor.co.uk

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Samaritans of Yeovil, Sherborne and District are delighted to announce they will shortly be moving into a new home.

Morley House, located on West Hendford, will become the new branch centre next year, once it has undergone a refurbishment programme.

Sarah Coote, Branch Director is delighted at the news. ‘It’s been a whirlwind year for our branch. We were extremely fortunate to be left an incredible legacy from a local resident which is going to help us to achieve our vision for this Branch of Samaritans – to increase our volunteer numbers so we can contribute to the national 24/7 service even more effectively and to offer more space for face to face callers.

We now have 116 listening and support volunteers at the Yeovil Branch. Our current base at 25 The Park is lovely but becoming too small for our needs. The location is also difficult for some people to find. We want to be right in the heart of the town centre, firmly embedded in the community, so we can be right there for when people need us, and Morley House delivers on all fronts.’

Morley House occupies just over 5,000 square feet over 3 floors. Formerly owned by South Somerset Council, the building came up for sale in late September and final bids were submitted in October.

Sarah said ‘The South West has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK’. ‘Whilst pressures on mental health services increase, there is an urgent need for safe, low cost venues to be made available to local organisations. We will be in a position to offer such a space at Morley House.’

‘We would like to thank everyone who was so supportive of our Branch in the bid process. It’s lovely to know so many people value our contribution to Yeovil and the surrounding environs. Of course, our biggest thanks go to Mr John Grant whose generous legacy has made this purchase possible.’

Could you volunteer with Samaritans? If you are over 18, why not join us at our information evenings on the first Wednesday of every month which will be held at our current premises at 25 The Park until we move to our new centre. You will be fully trained and become part of a supportive, friendly and worthwhile organization working in a fantastic new building. To find out more, call our information line on 01935 414015, email recruitment@yeovilsamaritans.org.uk or visit our website at https://www.samaritans.org/branches/samaritans-yeovil-sherborne-and-district

New Royal Welsh Winter Fair Commercial Hide Competition

New, for this year’s Winter Fair, the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has joined forces with an up-and coming Welsh entrepreneur, Hayley Hanson, to launch a new and exciting competition for the most commercial viable cattle hide at the fair.

With the emphasis on quality Welsh produce, Hayley established her own business, Hayley Hanson, back in 2016. By utilising the hides of her own commercial beef animals sent to slaughter, Hayley makes luxury leather goods from hides produced to the highest welfare standards. The hides are then tanned and processed within the UK - a fully traceable and sustainable process from farm to arm!

Hayley and her husband Mike, who rear cattle on their family farm, nestled between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, will be judging the new competition on Sunday night (25 November).

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Inspecting all eligible animals whilst they are settled in their stalls, ready for a busy few days of Winter Fair competitions ahead, Hayley and Mike will be looking for the animal which potentially has the best hide for turning into luxury commercial leather products, such as handbags, wallets, upholstery, etc. The intention will be that Hayley will use the winning hide for some of her future products, perhaps producing a range of Royal Welsh leather goods.

Eligible cattle will have a Welsh passport and will be sold for slaughter at the sale on the Tuesday of the event.

“We are always looking at ways of keeping our events and the competitions up-to-date and this new hide competition is perfect” says Will Hanks, Winter Fair Director.

“This is the first competition of its kind in the UK and we are delighted that not only does it showcase the versatility and quality of our excellent Welsh livestock, it also highlights the importance of diversification and sustainability within our sector in these uncertain times.

“The Winter Fair really is the place to see the Welsh livestock farming in its entirety. Whether it’s the animals in the show rings, the carcasses on display, the finished products in the food hall and our new taste test competitions or now… high quality Welsh leather!”

For more information on Hayley and her diversification business, Hayley Hanson, please visit www.hayleyhanson.co.uk

Seaweed science to boost crop yields

Seaweed technology could be the answer to boosting crop yields at a time of declining chemical efficacy, with scientific breakthroughs revealing the multiple benefits of algae.

The Olmix Group, which has invested tens of millions of euros into algae research and innovation since 2012, recently hosted a visit to its Brittany-based laboratories and manufacturing site. Following the acquisition of UK-based Micromix – a firm specialising in foliar nutrition and biostimulants – it invited four agricultural journalists from the UK to learn more about the science behind the technology.

“A lot of seaweed is being simply processed and sold as a plant booster, but Olmix has a scientific understanding of what the molecules are actually doing,” says Chris Gamble, sales manager at Micromix. “Now we know the plant genomes we can see exactly what the different active ingredients are doing.”

Olmix harvests seaweed from the Breton coast once it has reached the end of its lifecycle – so it is a sustainable product. Given the high tidal reach of the area the seaweed is particularly strong, which is reflected in its biochemical make-up and stress tolerance.

When broken down into its components: Carbohydrates, proteins, sulphated polysaccharides and nutrients, the seaweed can then be used to boost crop and soil health, explains Didier Blin, plant care manager at Olmix. “Each has a different action on the plant, from growth stimulation to boosting the plant’s natural defence mechanisms against stress.”

Combined with micronutrients, inorganic acids, or clay, the products can be applied at different growth stages for maximum effect, says Maria Matard-Mann, research projects manager. “We are using seaweed as a complement to crop and soil health, not the only part of nutrition. That’s what makes the difference – having both a nutritional and biological activity.”

There are more than 9,800 species of seaweed, with a greater genetic diversity than fungi and animals combined. Many elements – such as sulphated polysaccharides – are not present in land plants, which is what makes them so useful, she adds.

“As crops don’t recognise marine sulphated polysaccharides they respond with immune aggression, which improves their resistance to stress or disease.” Algal hormones stimulate root growth and nutrient absorption, while biological activators boost humification in the soil.

“Farmers have to produce more and better with less, to feed the planet in a sustainable way,” says international director Jean-Marie Bocher. “We believe algae can be the answer.”

John Swire, editor of the Agronomist & Arable Farmer, reckons it’s essential that alternative approaches are explored given the lack of new chemical controls. “Reducing inputs has got to be the right thing,” he says. “We’re looking at the end of the chemical revolution in agriculture. The technology is fascinating and I really do believe there is a place for such innovative approaches to the growing of crops in the future.”

Lucy de la Pasture, technical editor at CPM, agrees. “Seaweed extracts have been around for a long time but their action is not well understood. The investment and R&D Olmix is pouring into harnessing the properties of marine algae is a reassuring injection of science into a field that has been a dark art.

“I firmly believe that understanding the complex interactions between a crop and its environment, together with supporting the plant’s own defence mechanisms, will provide the backbone for crop production in the future.”

©OLMIX Récolteuse algues - Olmix Group - DJI_0046 (Small).jpeg

Julius Longman Appointed as the New Chairman of the British Cheese Awards

Julius Longman has been appointed as the new chairman of the British Cheese Awards.

Julius says: “I am honoured to have been appointed chairman of the British Cheese Awards. Having been involved with the awards for many years, over the past few years as vice-chairman, I’m looking forward to steering it into 2019 and beyond.”

“The British cheesemaking industry is vibrant and diverse. We’re fortunate in this country to have such a great number of dedicated, expert and skilled cheesemakers that are renowned for their commitment to quality. It will be interesting to see the cheeses entered for the 2019 awards on 29th May.”

Julius was born into the world of British cheese. His family have been dairy farmers and cheesemakers for over four generations. His day-to-day life involves running his family dairy farm as well as being the sales director of his own company, Longmans, where he created the company’s main brand “The Vale of Camelot Cheddar and Cheese” range.

In his spare time Julius loves to spend time with his wife and two boys, walking his dogs and has a keen interest in sport, particularly rugby.

This year’s British Cheese Awards, its 25th year, attracted over 1,000 entries from 147 makers, with 77 judges reviewing 123 classes of cheese. Cheeses entered came from over 54 counties that covered the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland.

The 2019 British Cheese Awards will take place on Wednesday 29th May 2019 at the Royal Bath and West Show (29th May - 1 June 2019) at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Sponsors for this year’s awards included the following companies: Atalanta Corp, Atlas Packaging, Aubrey Allen, Barbers, Berkshire Labels, Bord Bia, Charlton House, Coombe Castle International, Delamere Dairy, DuPont™ Danisco®, Fine Food Digest, Harvey & Brockless, Marks & Spencer, Murray’s Cheese, Paxton & Whitfield, Peter Green Chilled, Rowcliffe, Anthony & Son, Somerdale International, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Speciality Food Magazine, Tesco, The British Organic Dairy Company, The Fine Cheese Co., West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Wookey Hole Cave Aged and Wyke Farms Ltd.


Pig & Poultry Fair wins national award

The Technical Events Team at Grandstand Stoneleigh Events were delighted to be awarded the organising team of the year at a prestigious event at London’s Honourable Artillery Company last week.

The team won the award for organising the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair, the leading professional business event for the sectors which takes place at the NAEC Stoneleigh.

The judges praised the collaborative approach of the team who constantly strive to deliver the greatest possible value for visitors and exhibitors alike, keeping the event relevant and working closely with industry bodies and organisations.

“This award is well deserved and recognises all the hard work which goes on behind the scenes to deliver the Fair to such a high standard,” says Andrew Lazenby, chief executive at the Royal Agricultural Society of England. “We know our events are in good hands with Alice and her team.”

Feedback from the 2018 Fair has some very impressive statistics; 97% of visitors rated their visit to the event as good or excellent and 80% planned to make changes to their business as a result of their visit – testament that the Fair is working for pig and poultry producers.

Exhibitors had a good event too with 100% of exhibitors meeting most or all of their objectives of exhibiting and 95% rating the organisation of the Fair as good or excellent.

“We feel extremely privileged to organise the British Pig & Poultry Fair and are really pleased to win this award for the industry as a whole,” says Alice Bell, Head of the Technical Events Team. “We might be a specialist sector, but it is great to see our industry event getting recognised at a national level. We really want to thank everyone who helped make the 2018 Fair such a success, from all the exhibitors who built fabulous stands, to the visitors who travelled to Stoneleigh and everyone in between.”

Held in May at the NAEC Stoneleigh, the Fair attracts over 370 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors, who attend to see what is new, gather advice and hear from the experts. Planning is already under way for the next Fair taking place on 12th & 13th May 2020, which promises to be even better still!

The divorce overhaul and protecting your farm assets

Everybody hopes their marriage or partnership will last forever – but divorce is on the rise in the South West, and proposed changes to the law could make it easier to bring a divorce about.

This means that, while no one wants to put a dampener on the romantic mood, it really is worth considering putting various protections in place, especially when there are family-owned assets such as a farming business or land which have been passed down the generations.

Figures show that couples in the South West are going against a national trend, with an increase in the number seeking divorces. There was a 16 per cent rise in the first four months of 2018, when compared to 2017 - this equates to an extra 1,200 divorces across the region in the past year.

Meanwhile, changes to divorce law could have far-reaching effects. These would involve the introduction of a concept of ‘no fault’ divorce. At present, a divorce must involve one party blaming the other (and proving it) on the grounds of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

But if government proposals are agreed – and they generally have wide backing – then neither party would have to prove anything. Simply wanting a divorce would be sufficient.

This would make it much easier to get divorced. It would also mean that divorces could happen earlier, because at present couples have to live separately for two years if no blame can be proven. Even then, if one party doesn’t agree to the split then couples have to live apart for five years before they can divorce.

Given all of these factors, it really is advisable to think about putting some protections in place, especially for farmland that has been passed down through generations of a family and businesses where third parties are involved. Nowadays, more and more people are doing just that, in the form of prenuptial agreements (before marrying), cohabitation agreements (for those not actually marrying) or sometimes postnuptial agreements (if already married).

Although not strictly speaking legally binding, the court will give considerable weight to such agreements if they are in place.

In the best-case scenario, the agreement may never be needed and in the worst-case scenario it may save you the emotional and financial drain of contested Court proceedings.

For more information, please visit www.mogersdrewett.com

Victoria Strode, Head of Family at Mogers Drewett

Victoria Strode, Head of Family at Mogers Drewett

Are farmers looking to transform their land?

 You’ll usually find a farm filmed with lots of different animals. Whether it’s pigs, cows, or sheep, farm land is usually a place for agricultural processes. However, the UK’s farms have started to house other projects, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, campsites, and adventure. But the ideas aren’t stopping there as certain farms look for a unique selling point to bring in customers.

However, did you know that Britain has a total of 20 million hectares which accounts for around 64% of the country’s land. While we still produce over five and a half million tonnes of potatoes and two million hectares of wheat is harvested in eastern England each year, weird and wonderful projects continue to ‘crop’ up. Here, with Lycetts, who provide insurance for farms, we take a look at some of the most extravagant and outlandish conversions seen on farm land in the United Kingdom.  

A look towards tank driving

A farm in Dumfries, south-west Scotland has set up a tank driving experience. Scottish farmer Ian Evans had a lifelong fascination with the military machinery and decided to turn his dreams into a reality when he launched Galloway Tanks and offered members of the public a unique tank-driving day.

Evans decided to buy his own in 1998. His Penklin Farm near Newton Stewart now boasts a magnificent cavalry of 20 tanks, including a Chieftain and four 432s. The day-long experience can cost as little as £50 and includes driving the machinery up rolling hills on his 14ha plot of farmland. There are also separate tracks for each vehicle.  

A look towards curling rink

You can’t blame for farmers around Britain that want to make the most out of the land they have. Ernest Fenton moved to Kent in England from Scotland and converted his cowshed into a curling rink when he started missing the sport. Now, the facility just outside of Tunbridge Wells is recognised as England’s only dedicated curling rink.

After speaking to a Canadian curling expert, Ernest began to import from North America to reap great benefits. Fenton’s Rink claims to be ideal for staff outings, team-building events, and Christmas parties.


Are more farmers open to hosting festivals?

Festivals are popping up all over the country, but they require large amounts of land to handle the floods of people who attend. With the likes of Barn on the Farm in Gloucester and the previously popular Wickerman Festival in Dumfries & Galloway, the music scene is taking advantage of the open space offered by farmland. Lounge on the Farm in Kent is another and has been running for 12 years. Although it may disrupt the usual farming activities for a short while, the money that can be brought in from renting out the space for a weekend can go a long way to covering costs for the entire year.


Are more farmers open to creating a holiday village?

More people are interested in staying at home rather than flying abroad — and more farms are offering camping and glamping retreats. Farms such as Glanmor Isaf Farm in Bangor, North Wales, are doing just that, opening up their space to the public so they can experience a taste of the Welsh countryside.

If you’re a sucker for a nice view when you’re away, this mountainous location will definitely make a great Instagram post. If you choose to attend in early summer there’s even the chance to feed the pet lambs, while Welsh Black cattle, pigs, mountain sheep, and chickens are always in the vicinity. For those wanting more of the hands-on experience, why don’t you rent your own private chicken coop?

 If you do go ahead with such plans, don’t forget that you may need woodland insurance

Are more farmers open to hosting sports events?

There are plenty of sporting events that take place on farms around the country. In Peterlee, Thornley Hall Farm has found itself added to the cross-country circuit in the North Eastern Harrier league..

Rapley Farm is home to the Spartan Race too. The series, which tests competitors’ physically abilities to the fullest by pitting them against an array of challenging obstacles, sees athletes travel the country to collect their medals after each run. Obstacles often include a barbed wire crawl, atlas carry, fire jump, and rope climb.

There’s no reason why farmers shouldn’t’ be making more use of their land, as animals can only take up so much space! What idea would you like to see next appear on a farm near you?