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

North Devon Gazette

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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.”

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

North Devon Gazette

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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’.

Heritage steamship begins voyage to Bideford

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Heritage steam ship, SS Freshspring is towed along the river Severn in Gloucestershire from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness, the first leg of the ship’s journey to Bideford. Picture: Contributed
Heritage steam ship, SS Freshspring is towed along the river Severn in Gloucestershire from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness, the first leg of the ship’s journey to Bideford. Picture: Contributed

Heritage steam ship SS Freshspring has made the first leg of her voyage to Bideford.

The vessel, one of the few small steam coasters left in the country, has been towed along the River Severn in Gloucestershire, from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness.

It was towed by the Appledore-based marine contractors, Keynvor Morlift Ltd.

The Steamship Freshspring Society has secured a £155,000 National Heritage Memorial Fund grant to bring the boat to Bideford, where it is hoped she will be eventually restored.

Heritage steam ship, SS Freshspring is towed along the river Severn in Gloucestershire from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness, the first leg of the ship’s journey to Bideford. Picture: ContributedHeritage steam ship, SS Freshspring is towed along the river Severn in Gloucestershire from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness, the first leg of the ship’s journey to Bideford. Picture: Contributed

Chairman John Puddy said the condition of the ship’s hull would be assessed at the drydock in Sharpness, before works are carried out to enable her to be towed to Bideford towards the end of August.

“This is the first major step in bringing the ship back to operating condition,” said Mr Puddy.

“She will become a static maritime heritage exhibit in Bideford while the trust works towards major funding for the full restoration of the vessel.

“Once the ship is berthed in Bideford, she will be worked on by volunteers who will carry out restoration work and prepare her for opening to the public.

“The trust is already working locally to inspire and support young people into careers in the maritime sector and in engineering.”

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North Devon Athletes compete on national stage at Gateshead

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Isabel Wakefield came third in the under 17 women’s long jump at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan SomervilleIsabel Wakefield came third in the under 17 women’s long jump at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Eight North Devon athletes shone at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships last weekend, with two setting club records.

Competing in Gateshead, Isabel Wakefield of North Devon Athletics Club (NDAC) came third in the under 17 women’s long jump with a club record distance of 5.80m.

In the same age group, Maia Dart battled tough conditions to place sixth in the javelin with an NDAC record of 40.31m.

More stand out performances landed in the sandpit as Caitlin Gallagher came 18th in the under 17 women’s triple jump with a distance of 10.45m, and Emily Tyrrell placed 11th in the under 15 girls’ long jump final with 4.98m.

Caitlin Gallagher competed in the under 17 women’s triple jump at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan SomervilleCaitlin Gallagher competed in the under 17 women’s triple jump at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Elsewhere on the field, Emma Sharpe, who is a first year in her age group, placed 14th in the under 17 women’s discuss with a distance of 30.80m.

On the track, the 1500m steeplechase saw under 17 Evee May Banbury finish 10th with a personal best time of 5 minutes 21 seconds, whilst Martika Gallagher of the under 20s finished 11th in 5 minutes 20 seconds.

Caitlin’s sister Megan also excelled, reaching the final of the 300m hurdles and crossing the line sixth in a time of 45.80 seconds.

Reflecting on her feat, she told the Gazette: “I’m happy that I got to the final, but upset I didn’t get podium position as my personal best time would have placed me second.”

Megan Gallagher reached the final of the 300m hurdles at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan SomervilleMegan Gallagher reached the final of the 300m hurdles at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships in Gateshead. Picture: Ewan Somerville

Issy Wakefield, who will be relocating to London for heptathlon training this September, said: “It was a great surprise for me as the long jump isn’t my main event, so to pull out a PB of almost 20cm on competition day was the icing on the cake.

“I never become overwhelmed by the occasion of a big championship; if I take everything one step at a time and be consistent, I know I will have a good chance of reaping the rewards that I deserve.”

Pilton Festival is back this weekend

North Devon Gazette

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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

North Devon Gazette

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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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For young people, there’s more to the EU Referendum than just statistics

Indiependent

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I know I’m not the only young person who is sick of all this petty squabbling over the European Union. As we saw in the BBC’s ‘How Should I Vote’ debate aimed at those aged 18-29 in Glasgow last Thursday, students across the country want answers, they want certainty, they want prosperous futures. As one undecided audience member put it to the panel: “I have no idea what to do, and I blame you lot entirely for that”.

Speaking to fellow students in Devon, there’s undoubtedly a general consensus that spurious and unfounded claims from Remain, such as ‘Brexit would leave families £4,300 a year worse off’, are pointless and unintuitive. Likewise, the blunder on the battle bus has left Boris Johnson’s pocket more than £350m lighter when it comes to trust from young voters. Indeed, a Treasury Select Committee recently concluded that these respective claims were “mistaken” and “deeply problematic”. Even those on the Remain and Leave sides in Glasgow admitted they had been confounding; one young pro-Leave voter said it was “appalling”.

Although the sentiment behind the BBC debate was fantastic, many of Britain’s students are still perplexed. So who knows what to vote? What choice is best for students? Recent polls by the student union at Petroc, the college I attend, and King Edward’s School in Bath found that 80% want to remain in the EU. I agree with them, and I firmly believe that all the evidence shows that students would lose out if we voted to leave on June 23rd.

Victoria Derbyshire hosts the BBC referendum debate
Victoria Derbyshire hosts the BBC referendum debate

It almost goes without saying that there will be better future job prospects for the current young generation if the UK is a member of the largest trading block in the world. Access to the European single market, the free trade area of the EU, is vital for thousands of businesses across our country and hence many jobs rely on it. This is particularly significant for city jobs; as Sadiq Khan said in his speech on Monday, over 500,000 London jobs will be at risk if we leave. Also, however sensationalist they may be at times, we cannot ignore the dire economic forecasts in the event of a Brexit. Do we really want to narrow the amount of job opportunities for our future workforce?

Then there’s migration, a topic that is increasingly being used by each campaign as a political knife, when actually it’s incredibly important to young people’s futures. It was revealed last week that the UK’s net migration has increased by 20,000 in the past year, reaching 333,000 in the year ending December 2015, 184,000 of these from other EU countries. Since 2004, when many ex-communist Eastern European countries joined the EU, the UK has seen an influx of thousands of skilled workers. The latest Leave video exclaims: “If you want to save the NHS, Vote Leave.” This is somewhat ironic as the current recruitment crisis in the British health and education sectors is making hard-working immigrants all the more vital if these cornerstones of society are to be strong for our futures. It‘s also a fact commonly overlooked that the UK’s population would be declining if the rate of immigration were lower.

HARD-WORKING IMMIGRANTS ARE VITAL IF THE NHS IS TO SURVIVE

Then, of course, there’s education. The education sector is likely to pay one of the highest prices of a Brexit, a fact that even Stuart Robertson, North Devon UKIP Chair, couldn’t deny when I presented it to him. It goes unnoticed, yet a large number of school facilities are at least in part funded by the European Union, particularly new builds. The website of the further education college I attend clearly states that the facilities are funded by the European Social Fund. The EU also subsidises numerous trips, such as the £150 five-day visit to Brussels I was lucky enough to go on with my secondary school.

Crucially, however, current or aspiring university students could really lose out if we choose to leave the EU. The Erasmus Grant is a European Commission initiative that accounts financially for any added costs incurred by UK students studying abroad and ensures tuition fees are completely free at the host university. This also means foreign students can more easily study in the UK, enriching our universities with multicultural diversity. A 17 year-old GB volleyball player I know told me that the Erasmus Mobility Programme fully funded her team of sixteen to travel to and stay for seven days at an Austrian volleyball academy in February. She was also given 530 Euros through Erasmus to cover all living expenses.

And let’s face it – our government hates students. Since 2010, tuition fees have trebled and deluded University Minister Jo Johnson announced in May that they are increasing yet more. Maintenance Grants have also been scrapped and the government is proposing to backfire on yet another promise by retrospectively freezing the student loan repayment threshold at £21,000, despite over 100,000 students signing a petition opposing such a move. For many students in England, Erasmus is one of very few ways out of a debt exceeding £45,000, simply for studying at university.

Employment, cheaper data roaming, migration, education, stability of the population, workers’ rights, the position of women… the benefits for us – young people – in voting to remain are endless. Ultimately, this is about our futures as we will be the demographic most affected by the nation’s decision on June 23rd. We must look beyond the lies, damned lies and statistics and get our voices heard. Politicians will engage with us if we make them.

Words by Ewan Somerville