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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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’.

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.”