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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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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Pilton Festival is back this weekend

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Pilton Green Man 2014. Picture: Andy KeeblePilton Green Man 2014. Picture: Andy Keeble

Pilton Green Man Festival is back on Saturday, illuminating the streets of Barnstaple with light and colour.

Proceedings will begin with the vibrant procession dancing its way down the High Street, launching from Barnstaple Square at 11am, with the popular pageant featuring the Green Man in the grounds of Pilton House at 12 noon and 3pm.

En-route, the parade will pause and applaud in memory of the late Albert Linacre, Laurie Wedge and Dave Butt, who have all played key parts in organising the festival over the years.

As usual, a wealth of local musical talent will be performing all day from 10am across three stages on Pilton Street, in addition to an open mic stage in the grounds of Pilton House.

Pilton Green Man 2014. Picture: Andy KeeblePilton Green Man 2014. Picture: Andy Keeble

Acts on the bottom stage include up and coming talent from Pilton Community College and The Stolen Page, as well as Sam Dowden on the middle stage and folk band Rakes Adrift on the top stage.

Pilton Arts Group will again be opening its studios at the top of Pilton Street, exhibiting works from more than 40 entrants from 10am until 4pm.

A new feature this year will be a local author’s book stand, where the public will be able to meet the likes of local crime novelist Ruth Downie and children’s author Rosie Godfrey.

Also on offer is local food from a street market and outlets such as Monty’s Caribbean Kitchen, drinks from the beer and Pimms tents, charity stalls and children’s activities.

Festival organiser Martin Haddrill said: “It’s a community festival for Pilton, celebrating local people and heritage and we hope that everyone enjoys it.”

He added that the Green Man Day is dedicated to keeping the area green, and therefore encourages all to avoid bringing glass bottles and dispose of any litter in the bins provided.

* For the full programme go to http://www.piltonfestival.co.uk

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North Devon theme park named in UK’s top 10

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Fun on the dodgems at the Milky Way. Picture: Contributed
Fun on the dodgems at the Milky Way. Picture: Contributed

A North Devon attraction has beaten the likes of Legoland and Thorpe Park, to be ranked among the UK’s top 10 amusement parks.

The Milky Way Adventure Park near Clovelly was awarded seventh place in this year’s 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards – for the second year in a row.

The awards, based on reviews and ratings from customers over a 12-month period saw Legoland placed ninth, Alton Towers third and Brighton Pier fifth.

Paultons Park, Home of Peppa Pig World, was named the UK’s best amusement park.

Fun for all ages at the Milky Way. Picture: Contributed
Fun for all ages at the Milky Way. Picture: Contributed

Owner Trevor Stanbury, who transformed his dairy farm into one of the country’s first working farm parks in 1984, said: “We’re delighted, and a little stunned, to be considered up there with the best in the UK.

“We really focus on providing a good family day out and are extremely proud of our friendly, helpful staff; we’re so pleased that our visitors on Trip Advisor think we’ve all done a good job.

“We don’t aspire to be like the big theme parks; we offer good old fashioned fun with a wide range of indoor and outdoor amusements designed to encourage adults to have fun with their children,” he added.

To see the top 10 in full, click here.

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