Pictures: ‘You’re not welcome here’ say Barnstaple Trump protesters

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Around 100 people gathered in Barnstaple Square tonight to protest against the Donald Trump’s visit to Britain, “standing shoulder to shoulder to say go away Trump, you’re not welcome here.”

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Rapturous applause at festival to honour Pilton’s late greats

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Pilton let its hair down on Saturday at an emotional Green Man event that paid homage to some of the festival’s late greats.

Thousands braved the showers to support the annual festivities, held for the first time since the deaths of Albert Linacre, Dave Butt and Laurie Wedge, who have all played key parts in organising the festival over the years.

The traditional parade to Pilton from the Square paused outside Albert’s house to allow for rapturous applause and cheer in honour of the gone-but-not-forgotten trio.

Pilton Festival organiser Martin Haddrill said it was a day to remember.

Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville

He said: “This festival has been a real tribute to Albert, Laurie and Dave in its different ways; they saw it evolve into something which is a really special community festival.

“Unexpectedly, it’s been an amazing day because very often the rain dampens things,” he added.

“We thought this year’s numbers might be a bit less than last year, but actually they have been right up where they were so we’re really pleased.”

Alison Rickman, from Northam, who makes costumes for the event, said: “I came first in 1998 and love to make costumes so asked to join in, and have been coming now for 12 years.

Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville

“It takes me about an hour to put on my costume and has taken me a few years to make it.”

Duncan Walsh, a visitor from London, said: “Coming here – there’s no security, people just enjoying themselves, drinking in the streets; the atmosphere is amazing.”

“For a street festival it’s very busy, much busier than some of the festivals you get in London.”

The endless factory-line of musical talent in North Devon was showcased once again across three stages, with Tyler Prouse booming his voice from the bottom stage, and the Dambuskers keeping everyone on their feet on the top stage.

Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Molly Davies, who performed with her dad John on the bottom stage, said: “We had lots of fun even though it was raining and everyone was really welcoming.

“It’s such an individual festival and tight-knit community; it felt like everyone was connected when we applauded outside Albert’s house.”

Jennie Tomlinson, who ran the middle stage, said: “It’s gone very well – despite the rain everyone’s turned up, played exceptionally well, we’ve had a great crowd and as usual we’ve had a wonderful time.”

Stalls peppering Pilton Street and the Pilton House grounds included local charities, the Rotary Club, freshly baked cakes and cookies, ethnic clothing outlets, barbecue grills, and the brand new local authors’ book stand.

Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Michelle Woollacott, who initiated the idea, said: “We thought it would be more personal if our readers could come and talk to us; we’ve had a lot of interest and it’s been an interactive day.”

Ruth Downie, who has had numerous novels published in Britain and the USA, said: “This is the first time I’ve ever done a stall at Green Man and I’m so impressed.

“I would urge anyone who is thinking about starting writing to just have a go as you never know what could happen.”

Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Pilton Green Man Festival. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Virtual monsters pop up all over North Devon as Pokémon craze sweeps Britain

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Virtual monsters are being discovered hiding around Barnstaple as viral sensation Pokémon Go takes Britain by storm.

Fans of the cult 1990s media franchise have been downloading the brand new smartphone game in their droves, with the number of daily users already eclipsing Twitter since the app’s launch in America last week – and in Britain yesterday (Thursday).

New ‘augmented reality’ technology merges the digital and physical worlds, enabling players to catch Pokémon using their smartphone camera.

Many users in Barnstaple have been glued to their mobile screens, with ‘Pokéstops’ – special places to gather supplies – in abundance all over the town, including at the Post Office and pannier market.

Gotta catch 'em all! Pokémon spotted on Barnstaple High Street. Picture: Ewan Somerville
Gotta catch ’em all! Pokémon spotted on Barnstaple High Street. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Other places to gather vital Pokémon-catching supplies include the bus station, Christ Church and the Queen’s Theatre.

The central aim of the game remains in its original format – to catch and train Pokémon for battle to progress levels.

So-called ‘gyms’ – where gamers can battle others with their Pokémon – can be found at a number of locations, including the parish church and Castle Green.

In Ilfracombe, Damien Hirst’s Verity statue and the Landmark Theatre are among the many ‘gyms’ listed in the town.

Gotta catch 'em all! Pokémon spotted on Barnstaple's Tesco Extra. Picture: Matt Smart
Gotta catch ’em all! Pokémon spotted on Barnstaple’s Tesco Extra. Picture: Matt Smart

Jake Slee, 26, a Pokémon Go fanatic from Barnstaple, said: “I can catch an Abra down my road – how good’s that?”

Connor Balment, a 16-year-old Pokémon fan from Combe Martin, said: “It is great fun to play to be able to walk around and visit places you never been to before.

“Seeing Pokémon in the real world is something different.”

However, the game hasn’t gone without incident.

In America, there have been numerous reports of players injuring themselves while playing the game, including two players who were rescued after walking off a 90ft cliff in California.

Children’s charity NSPCC has also warned of the child safety concerns arising through the app’s geolocation features.

Nonetheless, the reception from fans in the North Devon area has been largely positive.

Have you downloaded the app? How many Pokémon have you caught? Email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk

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Sky is the limit for North Devon theatre stars

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Two members of a North Devon theatre group are heading to top performing arts schools to develop their talents.

Tolley Angell, founder and chair of All Starz theatre society, will be heading to the Guildford School of Acting whilst 14 year-old youth committee member Dan Gray is set to embark on his GCSEs at Tring Park School of Performing Arts.

All Starz, established in 2007, started out with six cast members performing in local schools, but has since gone on to perform to sell-out audiences at the Queens Theatre with casts of more than 60.

Following the success of The Phantom of the Opera last year, the All Starz will be dazzling audiences once again this month with their production of Barnum, running from Thursday to Saturday, July 28-30 at the Queen’s Theatre.

The show, which tells the true story of a circus novice who built a circus company that is still in existence today, will be dedicated to Dan’s father Jon and local teenager Ellie Easton, who both lost their battles against cancer last year.

Tolley, who will be directing the show before leaving for Guildford, said: “They have both shown me how precious life is and the importance of living it to the full, making me want to follow my dreams.”

Dan, who will be taking the starring role of PT Barnum, said: “I wanted to be in Barnum because I’m full of circus, song and dance just like the production.

“Being accepted at Tring is a great achievement for me and a massive step for the future I want on stage and screen.”

Tickets are available from the box office on 01271 324242.

Bideford woman hopes to share 40th birthday party with Gary Barlow

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A Bideford woman is making a last ditch plea for Gary Barlow to make a surprise visit to her 40th birthday party.

Rachel Pusey, from Londonderry, has been campaigning for five months for the Take That star to appear at her party – a secret location in Barnstaple – on July 22.

Ever since the singer announced on Twitter in March that he would be attending a number of milestone birthdays this year, mum-of-three Rachel has been raising her hopes.

“I would really love him to come, now that it is getting closer and everyone’s so excited,” she said.

“I want him to come as much for the guests as for me because they’ve helped so much in the campaign.”

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Rachel Pusey, from Bideford, with a lifesize cut-out of her idol, Take That star Gary Barlow. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Rachel, who works at Colour Distributors in East-the-Water, said she’d been a big fan of Take That from the beginning and had seen them several times in concert, but had never met Gary.

“My favourite songs have to be Do What You LikeA Million Love Songs and Greatest Day as that’s the one he sings at the milestone parties,” she said.

“I think Gary is a lovely person, especially to his fans – he surprises us all the time and when he announced he was doing milestone birthdays, I went ‘I’m going for it’.”

Rachel has been battling against thousands of other fans, making thousands of posters, sending the star around 100 tweets a day, and heading out and about with a lifesize cardboard cut-out of her idol.

Her online petition – Help me get Mr Gary Barlow to sing at my 40th – has so far attracted 224 signatures.

“I’m in it to win it,” she said.

“I send him lots of messages – hundreds so far – and I’ve done 16,000 tweets; I try and do roughly 100 or more a day,” she added.

“At first my family thought I was crazy, but as the campaign progressed they were like ‘ah actually she’s really serious about it’.

“I’m trying to convince myself that he isn’t coming, and remember that I’m celebrating my 40th with my family and friends. But if he does come, it will be a bonus, the icing on the cake.”

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Brexit hate crime steers clear of North Devon

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Police have assured people the Brexit melting pot has not boiled over into North Devon.

North Devon Sector Inspector Roger Bartlett said: “There has been no appreciable rise in local hate crime reporting.”

Insp Bartlett said local police are aware of national tensions following Brexit, and are making efforts to engage with EU visitors such as the Eastern European community to ensure they are not victimised.

“But nothing has been reported so far,” he added.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has identified a surge in racist incidents since Britain voted to leave the European Union, with a 42 per cent rise in reported hate crime nationally between June 16 – 30.

Last week, a Polish family in Plymouth had their shed ignited in the middle of the night, and said they received an abusive note telling them to ‘go back to your country’.