Thursday, 15 May 2008

Appeal by police to help find vulnerable woman missing on Exmoor

AN urgent appeal has been made by police for people to help to trace a high-risk vulnerable missing woman on Exmoor.
Celia Speirs, aged 75, went missing from an address in Dulverton, where she was staying on holiday with relatives, on Wednesday afternoon (May 14).
Mrs Speirs, who is from Scotland, was last seen at about 4.30 pm in Milham Lane, in Musgraves, walking in the direction of Brushford.
She is described as a white woman of slim build, about 5 ft 2 ins tall, with straight collar-length grey hair, and wearing glasses.
When she went missing, she was wearing a navy blue blouse with short sleeves, a navy blue skirt, and navy blue shoes.
Police are concerned that Mrs Speirs suffers with a short-term memory and would not know the area in which she went missing.
Although she might appear confused, it is likely she would speak to people.
She has a Scottish accent.
In addition to police officers and police community support officers searching for Mrs Speirs, the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team and police helicopter were also involved in trying to find her.
Police were concerned because it was believed Mrs Speirs did not have a coat or jacket with her when she went missing and could be vulnerable in bad overnight weather.
They are appealing for anybody in the Dulverton and Brushford area who spots a woman answering Mrs Speirs' description to contact them immediately.
Anybody who is able to help should call Taunton police station on 0845 4567000.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Medals presented to Marines who fought in Afghanistan

ROYAL Marines from 40 Commando will today be awarded their campaign medals following a six-month tour of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Operation Herrick 7.
The Commandos will take part in a ceremonial parade in front of hundreds of friends and family.
The parade will be followed by a barbeque for the families, and a number of displays which aim to show the conditions in which the Marines lived and the kinds of tasks they faced while deployed.
The Royal Marines from 40 Commando, based in Norton Manor Camp, worked alongside the Royal Marines of the Armoured Support Group and their colleagues from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm as part of 52 Infantry Brigade.
Lt Col Stuart Birrell, Commanding Officer of 40 Commando, said: “This day for families is hugely important to us because without their support we simply could not do the job we do.
“It is their letters and parcels that keep us going when times are hard and we have missed them over these past months.
“Today, we have a chance to thank them, with the entire 40 Commando community invited to join us at Norton Manor Camp.”
40 Commando took on the responsibility for Battle Group North in Afghanistan’s
Helmand Province from September, 2007, until April of this year.
They operated from forward operating bases in the Gereshk and Sangin valleys during which they conducted numerous operations and were instrumental in the taking of Musa Q’ala.
Lt Col Birrell said: “The unit worked extremely hard in challenging conditions over a long period, so I am pleased that families have an opportunity to see the men presented with medals they richly deserve.”
After the parade, the Commandos go on a second period of post-operational leave before returning to duty in late June.
The Marines will also parade through Taunton on July 31, having been invited to exercise their Freedom of the Town.
  • Our photograph shows 40 Commando Royal Marines at Exeter Airport on their return home from duty in Afghanistan. Crown Copyright/MOD 2008.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Council offers exclusive 'walk on the wild side' for Exmoor visitors

AN exclusive weekend getaway for people wishing to ‘walk on the wild side’ is being launched on Exmoor.
Visitors will experience a red deer and Exmoor pony safari led by the National Trust, and can also enjoy an otter and bird walk in the stunning scenery of Hawkridge with the Somerset Wildlife Trust.
Exmoor National Park will lead a bee and butterfly walk over the moors, while Porlock’s unique coastal and inland flora and fauna will be explored with former park ranger Brian Pearce.
Blue Motor’s vintage Exmoor coach will transport visitors to the locations.
The weekend break is being organised by Porlock Tourist Association and Exmoor Events, and numbers are limited to 30 places.
Visitors are offered a choice of bed and breakfast accommodation in the stunning Vale of Porlock.
Lunches at the Lorna Doone Hotel and at the Anchor Hotel, overlooking picturesque Porlock Weir, are programmed into the action-packed weekend and included in the price.
In the evening, the Home Cook will be serving a three-course meal made from delicious local produce.
Exmoor Events organiser Jill Homewood said: “This is a fantastic, one-off opportunity to for people to experience many aspects of Exmoor and its wildlife.
“The walks and safari are led by experts so it is a great chance for people to learn what makes Exmoor so special.
“Places are strictly limited, so we are advising people to book early.”
The weekend break starts with guests arriving on Friday, July 4, and staying until Sunday, July 6.
The break, including all events, costs £195 per person. Accommodation is allocated on first-come, first-served basis.
To book, contact Porlock Visitor Centre on 01643 863150 or email
For more information visit
The new initiative to promote Exmoor has received financial support from Exmoor National Park’s sustainable development fund, provided by DEFRA and SWRDA.
It was organised by in conjunction with the Exmoor Events project, which is funded by the West Somerset Strategic Partnership and supported by West Somerset Council.
  • Our photographs show (TOP) an Exmoor pony overlooking Bossington Bay, at Porlock, (MIDDLE) a view of Porlock Weir, (BOTTOM) a group of young red deer stags and hinds. Photos submitted.

Excursion trains and motorcyclists bring visitor boost to Minehead

TWO of the busiest days of the year so far were experienced on Saturday and Sunday by the West Somerset Railway as it welcomed 1,000 visitors on excursions to Minehead.
With the sun shining and its own steam trains also running with excellent loadings, the railway’s staff and volunteers had a busy build-up period and weekend which also provided an economic boost for other local businesses.
Saturday was enlivened by the arrival of two excursion trains from the national main line network.
Two Class 67 diesels worked a special from Altrincham on behalf of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Group, which was making its second trip to West Somerset.
The second train was a First Great Western local excursion from Westbury, Bath, Bristol, and Weston-Super-Mare, which was a charity fund-raiser for the Railway Children charity which helps orphaned and homeless children who live at railway stations in the developing world.
First reports suggested the special train, where First Great Western staff worked for free, had raised more than £8,000.
On Sunday, there was a return by the members of the Westland Vintage Motorcyclists, whose 2008 visit was in total contrast to last year - exchanging the hottest Sunday of the year for the wettest.
The bikers began their day with a snack breakfast at Bishops Lydeard station at 8 am before riding to Minehead, some by WSR trains and others on their own machines. The railway also ran a special train from Minehead to Blue Anchor and back for the club members, who, after spending time in Minehead, continued their ‘Spirit of the 60s’ day out with a run over Exmoor before heading back to South Somerset and Dorset.
WSR general manager Paul Conibeare said: “We had to do quite a lot of stock movements and shunting before the weekend.
“This was to clear enough space in the sidings at Minehead to allow us to welcome the trains and then keep their stock stabled while the passengers were enjoying themselves in the town and our own steam services were coming and going, bringing in more visitors.
“However, when we saw the platform full of happy faces it felt a very worthwhile exercise and a nice foretaste of the busy summer to come.”
The next special event on the Minehead Station platform will be on Saturday, May 24, when the railway will host a jazz evening featuring the Tone Valley Jazz Band. Later in the summer, the first of the year’s two steam-hauled excursions to Minehead will arrive.
  • Our photographs show (TOP) two excursion trains and platform full of people at Minehead on Saturday. Photo by Martin Southwood; (BELOW) the First Great Western charity train passing through Crowcombe Heathfield. Photo by Cameron Walker.