Wednesday, 24 February 2010

WEYMOUTH MATTERS with Harry Walton

Too interesting at the front of the pub

THERE is nothing quite like relaxing in a hostelry with a nice pint in a seat which gives you a clear and interesting view of life passing by outside.

I felt that way until recently when, as a friend and I enjoyed a quiet drink, a man walking by suddenly thrust his face up against the window and peered inside before stalking off.

My friend and I were halfway through some comment about “It takes all sorts” when lo and behold we saw the man cross the street and do exactly the same thing at the pub opposite, thrusting his face up against the window to peer inside.

This was not a simple premises check to see if friends were inside but clearly the actions of a man who was one card short of a deck.

My view then got instant confirmation when the man moved a few yards on to a doorway where there was a tumble of empty cans and wine bottles.

We couldn’t believe what happened next because the man peered closely, reached out to pick up a bottle and immediately drank from it!

It looked like a water bottle and the contents were clear but it could have contained anything from paintstripper to urine.

It was disgusting and suddenly the pint in my hand didn’t look so tasty. I’ll be sitting at the back of the pub for my next one because sometimes life at the front can be a little too “interesting”.

Green lung looking good

ATTEND any Weymouth and Portland planning meeting and the expression “green lung” is bound to rear its head.

Green spaces are a must in any town and cemeteries are among some of the best.

One I walk through has recently had a lot of work done to it to rip out overgrown bramble areas, get rid of dead wood and generally tidy things up.

It looks much better and the wildlife seems to agree because a host of squirrels were out prospecting over the recently turned earth and investigating some of the newly revealed nooks and crannies.

They are so confident in human presence that one on a head-high branch let me get well within touching distance while another bumbled about in grass less than a yard from my feet.

There were a number of people besides me in the cemetery and several mentioned how good the area was looking, so those responsible should take a bow.

Too late to take him back now

AN elderly couple were in a Weymouth store browsing round to get him a new coat.

He was heavily wrapped up against the cold and his wife was fingering the lapels of the old coat he was wearing.

She said: “Got this in Leeds in 1973.”

Another elderly woman walking by smiled and said: “Well it’s too late to take him back now. The guarantee’s run out!”

In contrast to this warmth was the stand-off between a female security guard and a group of half a dozen 13-year-olds who had just been warned away from the store.

No humour here, just the youngsters showing a nasty grasp of the dirtier sections of the English language as they sauntered brashly away.

Get the right house!

A SIXTH cigarette butt tossed into his garden was a puff too far for one Portland householder.

The man didn’t smoke, neither did his wife and they had two young children and a dog using their garden.

There was no close access to the neighbour responsible for the butts at the back of his property, so the man walked off and round through a series of roads before knocking on the offender’s door to discuss it with them.

While angry, he stayed calm and in clipped tones asked the person to stop doing it because of the mess in his garden, the threat to his children and dog and the fact no one in his family smoked.

“Neither do I,” said the elderly woman he was talking to.

The man then realised that he had knocked on the wrong door!

A danger to both

HER mother might not have been able to bear being parted from her little daughter for a second but letting a toddler clamber round a moving car was little short of madness.

This youngster was completely unrestrained and trying to climb from the back of the car to get in the front with Mummy.

Never mind breaking the law, never mind every unchecked second putting the child’s life at risk, Mummy just didn’t seem at all bothered, didn’t slow, didn’t do anything.

Off she went and for all I know the child arrived safely at their destination. Let’s hope so and let’s also hope that Mummy activates a brain cell and next time secures her child in a car seat.

LYME MATTERS with Philip Evans

Local showstoppers

I SHUDDER to think how many hours I have sat in draughty halls and theatres over the years covering local variety shows, plays, operettas and musicals .

My critiques have not always been appreciated. One member of Lyme Regis Operatic Society, long since passed, was so incensed over one of my reviews that he told me quite forecably when he saw me in Broad Street that I didn’t know the difference between a good song and an elephant’s backside.

Whilst the analogy might have escaped me at the time, he was probably right.

In the main, I have enjoyed most of the dozens of shows I have covered and have always been a great admirer of those who have the guts to get up on stage and entertain.

A few years ago local singer and songwriter Steve Black, who appears regularly in Lyme, got together a group of youngsters and formed ARMS (Axe Rock Musical Society).

He produced a number of shows written by himself and coached and coaxed hitherto inexperienced young singers to perform some magnificent shows.

One of them, “Cherkazoo” was so good it nearly made it to the professional stage. I have seen worse in the West End.

I was reminded of these productions when I attended the opening night of “Summer Holiday”, the first show to be staged by the Charmouth-based MAD (Marvellous Amateur Dramatics) at Axminster Guildhall.

Here was a group of young people, many of whom had never stepped onto a stage before, discovering new skills and levels of confidence, having a great time and producing a thoroughly entertaining show.

Not once did one of them stumble over their words and despite it being a first night the only hiccup was a slight problem with the microphones.

I’m slightly biased, of course, because the leading role was taken by one of my reporters, the multi-talented Tom Glover. He was great but he wasn’t the only success - they all were.

I know how hard Tom and his fellow cast members worked and co-producers Bernie Fallon and Maria Herbert are to be congratulated on achieving such a high standard in their very first show.

I would like to contrast this group of young people with the impression left by recent sensational press coverage (not in this newspaper) of the drugs problem in Lyme Regis.
Coverage that the led the headmaster of the Woodroffe School, Dr Richard Steward, to descibe as “hysterical”.

The local police reject such criticism and say such dramatic reporting is necessary to give the parents of Lyme Regis a wake-up call.

No one wishes to underestimate the drugs problems in this town, which is probably no worse or better than our neighbours. Our police have a very difficult job in educating today’s young people about the dangers they are exposing themselves to.

But I think from time to time we ought to also publicise the fact that the vast majority of kids in and around Lyme are responsible young citizens, far more so than in my day, and not all of them spend their winter nights sneaking down alleys.

Dennis would have been so proud...

SUNDAY lunch for Jackie and I was spent at the Uplyme Village Hall where family and friends celebrated the 80th birthday of Sheila Applebee, ten times mayoress of Lyme Regis.

It was a lovely occasion, organised by Sheila’s daughter Sally, and great to meet up with some of the cricketers from North London who shared their sporting glories with Sheila’s late husband, Dennis.

After moving to the town to run the WTA at St Alban’s, Dennis soon got involved with Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club which was going through a very barren period at the time. Dennis was responsibile for reviving a whole generation of young sportsmen’s interest in cricket, including my own, and we had two decades of comradeship and unbelievable fun which cemented many lifelong friendships.

Dennis would have loved Sunday’s occasion and would have been very proud of how Sally organised the whole day. A real chip off the old block.

Sheila, of course, was no mean sportswoman herself, excelling at table tennis, Dennis’ other great love, and being ladies’ captain at Lyme Regis Bowling Club on five occasions.

Sheila has given wonderful service to the town over the years and her record of being mayoress on ten occasions, four with Dennis as mayor and six supporting her great friend, Barbara Austin MBE, will never be equalled.

Tributes to 'angel of our youth'

IF there was any doubt about the esteem in which landlord Joe O’Donnell was held by successive generations of young people over the past 40 years, a quick glance at Facebook will confirm the stratespheric level of his popularity.

The tributes are many and touching with a number of ideas being put forward for a permenant memorial.

Journalist Geoff Baker described him, very appropriately, as “the angel of our youth”. Former Lyme resident Dave Hercock, now living in America, spent many a long night at Joe’s Ship Inn in his younger days. He has come up with the idea of an inscribed cornet as a prize for young musicians, recognising Joe’s great contribution to the reformation of the Lyme Town Band.

Music played a big part in Joe’s life, playing in the Rowland Haliday Orchestra as well as his work for the town band.

Playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight on New Year’s Eve outside the Ship then at the Volunteer became a ritual for over 30 years.

Joe’s other great love was football, of course. He was the Seasiders’ number one supporter and the football club committee is considering organising a memorial match at the Davey Fort as close to St Patrick’s Day as possible with invitations to some of the old players who Joe admired so much to pull on their boots again.

There will be no lack of takers - but, sadly, there will be no Joe filling the cup afterwards as he did so often over the years. Step forward, Tom O’Donnell!

Fundraising success

CONGRATULATIONS to Lucy Coombe and Jess Chapple, two local young ladies who organised the winter ball at Uplyme Village Hall on Saturday, raising nearly £5,000 for the FORCE cancer charity and Exeter Hospice, two very worthy causes.

It was, by all accounts, a splendid evening with around 250 present, one of the biggest turnouts at the village hall for a social occasion. I’m told the evening was superbly organised.

VIEW PROFILE: Mark Culme-Seymour

Making his mark with the arts

MARK CULME-SEYMOUR always felt he would like to spend more time carrying out voluntary work for the local community. And after retiring as a comoditiy broker, Mark has fulfilled his dreams by helping to launch the Bridport Literary Festival and as Director of the Eype Centre of the Arts. Here, he tells View reporter TOM GLOVER about his passion for the arts.

MARK Culme-Seymour has been influential in the local cultural scene as a driving force behind the inception of the Bridport Literary Festival and now as Director of the Eype Centre for the Arts.

Mark’s passionate support of cultural development in West Dorset is in many ways the realisation of a repressed dream of his youth.

“I remember thinking once on the underground, that I wouldn’t mind retiring in my early forties and doing some more charity or voluntary work. I remember that thought crossing my mind on the tube on the way to work and I forgot until I stopped working and now I find myself doing totally voluntary work. Maybe it was planned I don’t know,” he said.

That thought lay dormant in the back of Mark’s mind until the end of his highly successful career as a commodity broker.

Having left school aged 16 Mark moved to Australia to begin a career in the media as a lowly copy boy on the Australian Daily Telegraph.

After working his way onto a small group of newspapers Mark began to get itchy feet and got a job as an unpaid crew member on a Brigantine headed back to England.

After a brief spell as a driver Mark fell back into the media working for a Bond Street based public relations firm.

In less than a year Mark knew this wasn’t for him.

He said: “I didn’t want to go back into newspapers because of the hours. You are always off work when everybody is at work and I decided I wanted a bit more of a social life.”

Mark eventually settled in a career beginning work as a trainee with sugar brokers Czarnikow.
After working as a commodity broker for nine months Mark was moved into the cocoa department.

“After nine months I was in tears,” he recalled. “It was so mind-bogglingly repetitive and boring. I went to see them and they said I could go and work for the cocoa department.”
Mark was working with the biggest cocoa crop in the world and worked his way onto the futures market as a floor trader.

After ten years Mark moved to the American firm E F Hutton where he soon found himself running the cocoa department.

Mark eventually left the company to pursue his own venture but when the financial climate changed in the late 1980s, he and his partner were forced to sell their business as banks became increasingly reluctant to lend money to commodity houses.

During his time in the industry Mark became Chairman of the Cocoa Association in London and Chairman of the London Cocoa terminal and futures market. He was an influential figure who saw the rules of the cocoa organisation changed and opened up the membership to Europe.
Despite being a long time behind him now, Mark still has a good word to say for his favourite trading commodity.

“I’m not sick of chocolate at all,” he said. “It’s my favourite thing in the world and I have some everyday. I highly recommend it to everybody. Not the milk stuff but the plain chocolate is very good for you and for your brain, it’s full of antioxidants.”

After settling in Dorset, and with a successful career behind him, Mark became the director of the Eype Centre for the Arts in 2004, realising the repressed dream from his early days as a London businessman.

The previous director, Dr Ray Shorthouse, had retired and the running of the centre had become highly disorganised and this was something that attracted Mark.

He said: “I went to this meeting and we sat round the table and discussed what was going to happen and who was going to run it. They all looked round and they seemed to be looking at me all the time. There was no organisation and that is something that I am particularly good at, so that’s how it all started.”

Mark’s involvement has seen the centre’s membership increase ten fold from 120 to 1,200, calling on his public relations skills honed in the sixties.

A highlight of Mark’s time at the centre is undoubtedly his involvement with the launch of the Bridport Literary Festival.

“When I first got involved my brother’s partner Josceline Dimblebey had just written a book and was telling me about literary festivals and I thought it sounded like a fantastic way to raise money and it would be interesting for people to come and hear all the authors,” said Mark.
He shared his plans with Bridport based author Gijs van Hensbergen whose wife Alex Coulter had recently become chairman of the Bridport Arts Centre.

A few weeks later Mark attended a meeting at the arts centre with artist Tanya Bruce-Lockhart and it was agreed that the Bridport Literary Festival would be launched to coincide with the already established Bridport Prize.

The first festival was a great success and attracted the likes of Louis de Bernières, Elizabeth Jane Howard and Fay Weldon to St Peter’s church.

When the literary festival decided to keep all its events within Bridport, the Eype Centre for the Arts started its own festival. It now hosts two festivals a year, in April and October.
Mark said: “Books generally come out in the first half and second half of the year so we thought we would have one in April and then one in October.

“Some people find it a bit strange to have two literary festivals so close together with ours in October and Bridport’s in November, but actually it works very well. People like Kate Adie, who we had last year, always draw a full house and I understand that the Bridport event always draws good crowds too.”

It’s not just the literary world that is attracted to Eype. Mark also launched “Artists of the Jurassic Coast” an exhibition, which attracts around 1,000 people a year during the month of September.

As an international trader, with offices across the continents, Mark is a well travelled man. But for the time being at least, he has found a haven in which he has settled.

“At the end of 2000 I went for a walk down here and looked at all this amazing West Bexington landscape and thought what a wonderful place to have a house.

“I just absolutely love it down here,” he said. “I take the dog out and it’s an amazing place to live. You’ve got to like the sea and being slightly apart from everybody but it’s completely different from Bridport and Netherbury. All the birds are different, the climate is slightly different; it’s very strange.”

Mark seems very settled at his home in West Bexington but he does have a tendency to live on the spur of the moment.

He said: “The plan for the future is to live day to day, that is the best way to live. You have to have some vague plan but you never know what’s going to happen to you.

“I’d like to carry on out in Eype for a little while longer but I always find I have a threshold of about 10 years and towards the end of that, and sometimes I haven’t earned it, I tend to get quite bored.

“I like building things up and I like creating something and that in a way is the challenge, so who knows what I will want to create next. I’m halfway through my memoirs so if I had a bit more time I might be able to finish the second half.

“There are always new things to get involved with and do and it’s fun.”

Mark is certainly a man who gets things done, but whether he will continue to do that in England is another question.

Mark spent seven years of his childhood in Paris and he is still very fond of France. He said: “There are times when I go over and French people think I’m French because I have somehow retained the language. I have to say there are times when I think a nice place in Paris wouldn’t be too bad, but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”


HAVING recently set up his own business, with help from the government’s New Deal for Disabled People scheme, 50-year-old Glenn Willis is enjoying life in Lyme where he lives with partner Catherine and their seven-year-old Staffy, Buster.

Having had a variety of jobs during his life, mainly in the electronics or engineering industries, the internet DJ has also been a key figure in Lyme’s youth work, a sector he has been part of for the past 25 years having started as a volunteer in youth café.

From there he ended up running all 14 Information, Advice and Guidance Centres in Northamptonshire.

This experience has not only benefitted InSPARation, but the voluntary youth sector in the county.

AS chair of InSPARation Cafe, do you feel it’s important to reopen the youth club on Church Street?
I think it is important that we get some form of full-time youth facility open in the town. The Church Street premises would seem to be the logical option, given that that is what it is intended as.

IS there enough provision for the youth of Lyme Regis, especially after recent newspaper reports?
There is nowhere near enough youth provision in the town. The newspaper reports have highlighted what those of us involved with young people in the town have known all along. As well as a dedicated youth club, I’d like this to be the year that Lyme Regis gets the skate park that it’s been promised for 20 years. I’d also like to see a dedicated information, advice and guidance facility for the young people in town, in parallel to the youth club, servicing the physical, emotional and mental well being of the young people.

WHAT things would you like to see changed in the town?
Obviously I would like to see the young people of the town given better provision. It would be great if, as well as a youth club, we could put up some “Pods” for young people to congregate and meet in. I’d also like to see the Three Cups Hotel re-opened as a hotel. It’s a big shame that this beautiful building has been allowed to deteriorate.

WHAT is it you most enjoy about living in the town?
The main thing I enjoy about living in Lyme is the friendliness of the town and the people. In Kettering, where I come from, if you were to say hello to a stranger in the street, they would look at you like you have two heads! The people of Lyme have been very welcoming towards me, especially after my accident 18-months-ago.

YOU lost a leg in a motorcycle accident 18-months-ago but are keen to get back in the saddle. What draws you to the motorcycle?
I’ve been a biker since I was old enough to ride my first motorcycle. I enjoy the freedom that you get in the saddle and the camaraderie of bikers in general. Following my accident, I joined the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD). A camping field full of bikers with arms and legs missing (I have the bottom part of my right leg missing) is not a good advert for biking, but it underlines the determination of bikers to just get on with life. Also, bikers do a lot of work for charity. Having that freedom makes you more appreciative of the good things in life and more determined to help those less fortunate than yourself.

YOU also host a weekly show on the internet for bikers. Can you explain a little bit about the show?
The show is a rock show on, on Tuesday evenings from 6 till 9pm. It’s not a heavy rock show, but it covers everything from Bon Jovi to ZZ Top. The ethos is that people can email or MSN requests in to the show and I’ll play what they want, as long as I have it. I do the show from my lounge and stream it on the Internet. We have listeners all over the world. Like-minded people who can get together online for a few hours. The station was set up by a chap from Chippenham and we have DJs all over the country. It’s one example of how computers have made the world a smaller, friendlier place.

WHAT is your favourite band and why?
That’s a hard one. I have so many ‘favourite’ bands, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Meatloaf. I love his voice and I love the lyrics, written by Jim Steinman. Their songs have got me through a lot over the years!

IF you could invite three people from throughout history to a dinner party, who would you choose and why?
I would start with Albert Einstein. For a man with little formal education to begin with he achieved so much in his life and is a true inspiration to me. I would also like to meet Boudicca and find out first hand the truth behind the legend. Finally, I’d love to have met Erwin Hubble. Hubble was the man, after whom the famous space telescope was named.

IF you won the lottery, what three things would you buy first and why?
The Three Cups Hotel, to get it re-opened, the old Boys Club on Church Street, for the same reason and a new Harley Davidson, because I miss mine.

IF you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to take with you and why?
My mobile phone, which has my life in it, some books because I can’t get by without something to read and my partner Catherine, who has been my rock since my accident.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


ROY GREGORY is the mastermind behind Bridport’s increasingly popular Vinyl

Last month the world’s leading authority on all things vinyl Record Collector Magazine recognised it as Fair of the year 2009.

Having only begun in November 2008 the event has grown rapidly. Roy spoke to View From reporter TOM GLOVER about why he thinks the event is so popular and where it is set to go in 2010.

GROWING up in 1960’s Merseyside it would have been hard to escape untouched from the thriving music scene.

Although a little young to have seen Liverpool’s most famous export, The Beatles, Roy Gregory found plenty of live music to keep him entertained, naming Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead as a few of his favourites.

As a teenager Roy and his friends were all music lovers but it was something he aimed to appreciate and not emulate.

“I’m incapable of playing any instrument and I can’t sing but I think early on a lot of my friends were in groups,” he said.

“As I couldn’t play I was a bit more interested in listening to stuff and very early on I did a bit of buying and selling records and I built up a reasonable collection of records.”

It was in the late sixties with the arrival of the psychedelic era that Roy really found a genre that spoke to him. As times changed so did the music but Roy has always found something to interest him, from punk to Elvis Costello and from The Smiths to Britpop.

Roy moved to Bridport just over three-years-ago bringing with him an extensive collection of records and CDs built up over a lifetime.

Feeling he needed to free up some space at home he combined his love of records with that of the market, which had played its role in attracting him to the area.

Roy found his record and CD stall to be very popular and soon spotted charity shops and other stalls picking up on the opportunity.

This sowed the seeds of what would later become “Vinyl Saturday”.

“I had seen something about Hay-on-Wye being the town for books and I thought that was an interesting concept. There is actually nowhere that I have seen in Europe where a whole town gets behind music in terms of selling it,” he explained.

“We have a lot to offer in Bridport for tourists and visitors but we could always do with a few more because the way the economy is. The more people we bring in the better.

“I thought why not try and create this environment four times a year when people come to Bridport to look for records and CDs. I realised that just me on a market stall wasn’t going to do that and it needed actually to encompass more of the shops and the market traders and the venues.”

Roy was wary of similar towns to Bridport that had lost their individuality with the arrival of large shops and supermarket chains.

He felt sure that an attraction like this would bring people into the town not only to shop for records but also to support other local traders.

His enthusiasm was shared by Bridport Town Council who actively encouraged other traders to take part in the event.

“The first fair took a great deal of legwork to put on but I got a great deal of support from the town council and the tourist board in promoting it,” Roy said.

“The first one seemed to go very well and everyone enjoyed it. You could judge that because when we said we were going to do another one, all the sellers said they wanted to do it again. Over time more of the traders remember and get into it.

“A lot of the shops have done window displays and everyone recognises that it brings people into the town.”

In just a year “Vinyl Saturday” had become a regular and popular feature in Bridport’s events diary. Its success peaked in August last year when an estimated 450 people travelled to Bridport in search of the elusive album to add to their collection.

“A lot of the people who sell believe that if we can keep the momentum going and keep getting more people involved then it will soon become the premier event in the south west of England for record collectors,” said Roy.

Roy is not exclusively a vinyl enthusiast and has his fair share of CDs too, but it was the arrival of the MP3 that re-kindled his love for the fallen format.

He said: “Eventually you start to think in terms of ‘what are you doing?’ It’s almost become no different to standing in a lift, its music in the background,”

“I have noticed the difference since selling vinyl again. If you choose to put a record on you actually go and select it, you put it on the deck and you’ve got 20 minutes where you know you’ve got to sit and listen to it because at the end you’ve got to lift the stylus up. It’s a conscious decision, like picking up a book, so you listen to it.

“I think with a CD you put it on and you wander off, with iPods it’s on constantly in the background and I think it’s a different type of listen personally.”

For Roy the transition to an MP3 file may have made music more accessible but he felt something had been lost.

“It didn’t occur to me when CDs first came out but it did later,” he said.

“The things you miss are the experience of actually having something almost organic in your
hands, an LP cover. If you look at classic album art they are a statement in their own right, they were artistic. Once you condense it down to a CD it loses some of the effect and then even more once you move it to your iPod and it’s just a visual on the screen.”

“I think people miss going to the record shop and getting something with an intrinsic value and that has been my experience from Vinyl Saturday.”

The success of Vinyl Saturday has snowballed in its short existence and following its praise from the vinyl enthusiast’s highest authority, Record Collector magazine, Roy hopes that it will grow and grow.

“The next stage is to try and make it a weekend event so that the town benefits even more with people staying over,” he said.

Roy is planning to create a “Brid Music Weekender” which will take place on the weekend of this year’s August fair. The idea being to create a banner under which venues around the town can host live music.

Roy has already been in talks with The Electric Palace about hosting the main event on the Saturday night and has been on the hunt for bands to headline the gig.

“I went back to my psychedelic, proggy days to find something that was a bit different. That came when I saw this band ‘Achilles Sound’ at the Larmer Tree Festival. It was the first band I had seen in 20 years where there were loads of teenagers sat crossed legged and nodding their heads like in the prog days.

“At the time they were voted the best unsigned band in the south west, but they have now just signed a deal and have been on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 6music. I am expecting by the August that they will have quite a prominence so I think we might have picked quite well there.”

Having secured his first act Roy has since booked the Gilbert Quick Orchestra, the band of Simon Barber formerly of The Chesterfields. Roy is hoping to confirm Pineapple Thief to complete the line up. The Yeovil based band has sold more than 35,000 records since the launch of their debut album.

For someone with such a rich knowledge of music I couldn’t go without asking him the question that every music lover has contemplated.

“What would be my three desert island discs? The Grateful Dead – Dark Star, Traffic – Mr Fantasy and Love - Forever Changes. I think it was because they were the first tracks I heard where I really appreciated music and it really grabbed me to think I needed to hear more.”

The next Vinyl Saturday event will be held in Bridport on Saturday, February 20th.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Sally Vaughan

A JOB exchange to Texas was a life changing experience for Sally Vaughan that prompted her move to West Dorset 18-months-ago.

After a 12 year teaching career in South London she decided it was time for a change and moved to Bridport in 2008 to be re-united with the open countryside.

After years of evenings spent planning lessons Sally found a job which she didn’t have to take home with her.

She now works as an Emergency Care Assistant for South Western Ambulance Service, and is based locally on Bridport station.

Despite working irregular shifts, Sally now has more spare time which has allowed her to take an active role in the Bridport Gig Rowing Club where she is responsible for PR and Communications.

Sally still has a love for the Wild West and enjoys playing Country and Western music both on her guitar and her ukulele. She has also recently begun giving lessons on both instruments.

BRIDPORT or Texas?
I honestly couldn’t choose between the two. I like to think of the area around here as being “Wild West Dorset”. And Bridport to me is like “Texas-on-Sea”. Believe it or not, there are lots of similarities. West Dorset is actually a lot like parts of Texas, but on a smaller scale. I fell in love with the openness of both the landscape and the people. I’ve definitely found that here in Dorset too.

WHY do you think Bridport and West Bay will benefit from a gig club?
It’s a community sport that’s so clearly perfect for a place like this. Gig clubs are springing up all along the southwest coast and to be out rowing alongside this gorgeous coastline can only be good for mind, body and soul. For people who are not as fit as they’d like to be its an opportunity to do something that’s going to get them fit, keep them fit, get them outdoors and provide a social side as well. It’s not all about competing either. The club is dedicated to creating strong links within the community. Recreational rowing will be equally important and we encourage people from all backgrounds to get involved. It’s a very inclusive sport.

WHAT is your role in BGRC?
Well, I’m the ‘Information Lead’ which means it’s basically my job to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and when. I liaise with the local press and act as a link between the membership and the committee. The club is really gaining momentum now and we currently have over 60 members even though we don’t even have a boat yet. It’s meant that members have had to take a real leap of faith this past year and trust that things will come together. And they are.

IS IT something anyone can do?
It is, although we do have a lower age restriction of 16, and that’s because of physical limitations based on the size of the boat. You can be as old as you like though. There are men’s and women’s crews, veterans crews and even super-vets. There was a team that rowed in the Isles of Scilly Championship last year with a combined age of 400 - their oldest rower was 84.

WHAT is the goal for the club?
This year, it is to get a boat on the water and next year we aim to be at the World Championships in the Isles of Scilly. The club will also be Bridport and West Bay’s legacy for the Olympics, and ultimately our vision is that the gig boats will become as much of a feature of West Bay as the cliffs themselves - it promises to be a huge attraction for tourists and that can only be a good thing for local businesses too.

HOW close are you to getting a boat in the water?
We are halfway to our grand total of £50,000. This week we ordered our first boat and it will be launched this spring. It won’t be a wooden boat because that will take time to build, it will be difficult for novices like us to row, and we don’t have a boat shed yet. We have opted to get a plastic fibre gig, which means it can stay outside, and in the meantime we can continue raising money to get a wooden racing gig and build a boat shed. By then, our crews will be ready to start competing in regattas.

WHAT events do you have coming up?
We are going to begin holding regular social nights for members, and then in the summer we are going to have a huge pledge auction to bring in the lions’ share of the cash. We already have two great auction prizes for that. One is a painting by Trish Wylie who is a very successful local artist, her work is highly collectible. Another of our members has pledged to auction the use of his yacht on the Mediterranean. Right now we are looking for more pledges to add to these.

HOW long have you been playing guitar?
About 15 years. It’s is a spin off from teaching. It’s the one thing I miss about teaching actually, having a reason to pick up a guitar every day. As an infant teacher it was a tool of the trade for me.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
Definitely Dolly Parton. I love her music, but also how she manages to combine over-the-top glamour with down-to-earth, homespun wisdom. Then I’d invite the writer Bill Bryson, an American Anglo-phile whose powers of observation are astonishing. He’s so clever, I don’t know how his brain fits in his head. Last but not least, I’d invite Jenny Eclair for an injection of British wry-humour.

LYME MATTERS with Philip Evans

Youth to the fore...

THIS Friday (February 12th) will be an important day in the long running campaign to improve the unacceptable level of youth facilities in Lyme Regis.

I have asked many times in this column why Lyme is the only major town in West Dorset not to have its own county council-financed youth club.

Parents have been campaigning in recent weeks for the re-opening of the young people’s club in Church Street, formerly the church hall. But they will be disappointed to read on our front page that neither the county council nor the Woodroffe School are interested in pursuing plans to re-open the facility following a damning survey on the condition of the building.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Discussions are taking place on the possibility of using the county library in Silver Street as a youth club if an alternative venue can be found for the library service. St Michael’s Business Centre is one option being considered.

At present the only out-of-school school facilities available to the young people of Lyme are the youth nights run by the Baptist Church and the InSPARation café in Church Street, which is very popular with a section of the town’s young people but suffers greatly from the lack of qualified supervisors.

All those interested in making sure the youngsters of Lyme are treated with equal importance as those in Bridport, Beaminster and Dorchester have been invited to a public meeting at St Michael’s Primary School in Kings Way on Friday, February 12th at 5.30 pm.

The meeting will be chaired by West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin who has given his full support to efforts to improve youth facilities in the town. Representatives from the Dorset County Council Youth Service and the Woodroffe School will be present.

I interviewed Sally Holman, chairman of the Lyme Youth Consortium, a body formed to try and bring all interested parties together, on Lyme TV last Friday evening.

Whilst she did not wish to elaborate too much on the library idea, for fear of pre-empting Friday’s discussion, she was very candid about the problems of getting all intersted parties to co-operate in going forward.

The former young people’s club in Church Street is administerd by a group of trustees who have said all along that the building is not fit for purpose.

I understand they are proceeding with their original plans to sell the building and the question that will surely be asked at Friday’s meeting is that if a buyer is found will that money stay in the town or go to the National Association of Young People’s Clubs?

Opening recital ‘history in the making’

WITH the church packed to capacity - the biggest number of people I have ever seen in St Michael’s - the scene was set for a very special evening when top organist Philip Scriven performed the opening recital on the new £350,000 Skrabl organ. Neither Philip nor the organ disappointed even those of us with, shall I say, an unrefined ear.

It was a stroke of genius to ask Philip to perform at this special event and to put the organ, which he described as “magnificent”, through its paces.

Philip is no stranger to Lyme, having grown up in Chard and being a regular visitor to the town as a child. He spoke touchingly of how proud he is of his dad, Peter, well known in local musical circles and a founder, with the late Pat Perry, former Lyme Regis Town Band musical director, of the Perry Brass Quintet who played at the opening concert with Peter on the trumpet.

I am probably the least qualified to comment on the tonal quality of the organ or the playing capabilities of Philip Scriven, but I felt a great sense of history being given the privileged position of watching the proceeding from the clergy stalls. The organ is expected to serve St Michael’s for the next 200 years and I think everyone in the audience was aware that we were witnessing history in the making.

Philip made the evening more interesting with some facts on his chosen programme and a few organist anecdotes. Like all musicians, he tells a good story.

Fans of church organ music are in for a feast of entertainment over the coming months with several other top organists lined up to play on the Skrabl in aid of the organ appeal.

Back in the old groove ...

IT was good to be behind the microphone again last week, doing the interviews for the official launch of Lyme TV.

The town’s very own internet television station is the latest venture of one of Lyme’s most colourful couples, Nomad and Mary, who have been running Lyme Regis Radio for many years,

For over a year I did a news round-up and interviews for their popular Friday Night at the Royal Lion programme, the highlights of which were included on a CD that accompanied my Lyme Matters book in 2007 (still selling, by the way).

Whilst I have one of those faces most definitely more suited to radio tham TV, I’m pleased to be back in the old groove doing the interviews for the fortnightly Lyme Live programme which are being recorded at the By the Bay restaurant at least until May.

Among my “victims” last week was John McCallum, Rotary Club president who spoke on the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio, a campaign we will be featuring in next week’s View.

I also gave a grilling to former mayor Sally Holman on her efforts to co-ordinate a solution to Lyme’a appalling lack of youth facilities. To see them, go to

WEYMOUTH MATTERS with Harry Walton

World Cup fever for the price of a small house!

IT would appear that Weymouth is starting to be gripped by World Cup fever with a number of people from the town planning to jet out to South Africa.

Some are going for just a few days while others are planning quite a long stay.

So what is the biggest football tournament on earth going to cost fans from Weymouth and Portland to get there and watch?

Prices do vary, but if you take a simple average of the High Street then six days out there can cost £4,000 while three weeks can cost up to £8,000 depending on accommodation and the number of matches attended.

I suppose it also depends jointly on how keen you are and how much you can afford, but I did shake my head a bit at one tale I heard of three lads going out there.

The bill for their joint trip came to £24,000…. which is more than our first house cost when my wife and I got married in 1983!

I’m sure it will give them the experience of a lifetime but personally I shall be watching matches unfold from my armchair.

Staying neutral doesn’t always pay

DOG mess is not really a subject for a high class column like this but I have been forced to make an exception.

I was careful to stay neutral when I covered a recent council debate on dog orders being proposed right across Weymouth and Portland including a ban on fouling.

My neutrality continued right through a series of passionate comments by both sides. Opponents claimed it was not necessary to keep dogs on a lead in some areas such as the Rodwell Trail while those supporting the orders said owners would clean up more mess if dogs were closer to them where they could see what they were doing.

The result saw proposals adapted to exempt areas such as the Nothe Gardens but not the Rodwell Trail much to the disgust of several dog owners who said that keeping a dog on a lead there wouldn’t stop it going to the toilet.

I remained neutral at the meeting and was still neutral as I walked up Abbotsbury Road and took a picture of the Rodwell Trail to illustrate my story.

There my neutrality unfortunately ended as, camera work finished, I stepped back and trod straight into a large pile of mess on the pavement.

Consider how fortunate the owner of that dog was not to be there because I would have backed their dog being exempt from being tethered…. in favour of using the lead to string the owner up from the nearest lamp standard.

It took me half an hour, an old toothbrush and a lot of disinfectant to remove the smell from my footwear and, if my story and all future coverage will remain neutral, I personally have nothing but total support for the orders.

No turkey or tinsel for me

CHRISTMAS is barely an exploding cracker away yet incredibly we are being urged to book “turkey and tinsel” holidays nearly a year ahead.

I love Christmas with the best of them, but there are limits and this is one of them.

My blood pressure has scarcely had a chance to rise in annoyance at the persistent series of bronzed beauties with white piano teeth smiles fronting adverts for summer holidays on sun-kissed beaches.

Short-sleeved shirts still seem a long way off to me and I certainly don’t want to think about warm clothing before I’ve had a chance to enjoy the rain of an English summer.

So I have a suggestion to make to travel agents. Why don’t you do barbecue and deckchair holidays first and leave Christmas where it belongs… a long way ahead.

Don’t fall for the cactus vodka

ALL too often a trip out to a beauty spot can end in crime with cars rifled of their contents by opportunist thieves.

But one Weymouth couple fell victim to a theft scam while up a volcano on Tenerife.

They’d stopped to admire the view and as they opened their car doors to get out they were immediately approached by a man offering them local honey and cactus vodka from the boot of his car.

They were on holiday, relaxed and it was an unusual local trading offer so they went across and had a look.

But the man had deliberately struck so quickly that they’d been distracted and forgotten to lock their car door, easy meat for the man’s accomplice lurking nearby who stole their bag with passports and a credit card in it.

So the next time you’re out and about for a bit of countryside relaxing watch out for cactus vodka salesman!