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Barking Mad, West Bay Discovery Centre & St Mary’s School Orchard

Barking Mad, West Bay Discovery Centre & St Mary’s School Orchard

Barking Mad

My thanks to Roz Copson, Dee Fenton (Arts Centre), volunteers, participants, and all those who attended (including several town councillors) for their various contributions towards making the Barking Mad such a successful fundraiser last Sunday. Apart from being able to enjoy an enlightening, mesmerising and entertaining event we managed to raise over £400 for the Cupboard Love Foodbank and Burrough Harmony Centre which were my charities for 2020/21 (the event was delayed from the previous Mayoral year).

Everyone who took to the stage brought something different and special to the event. From Barry Irvine sharing a deeply personal account of his own mental health experiences, the stunning acapella singing from Geraldine Baker to Carrie Gamble giving us an insight into the operation of the Cupboard Love Foodbank. Jo Millar’s interesting thoughts on mental health and cancer were informative; the Big Foolini’s magic tricks warped the brain; Lyn Smith’s monologue and poetry reading struck a chord with many present about being the one left out, and as a finale a great trio, The ConSessions lifted the spirits and sent us all home smiling.

Will Austin, a man often to be found behind a camera sent me this subtly cropped image which he took at the event that is a timely reminder of how careful anyone involved in public speaking needs to watch where they stand! Thanks Will!

Rob Jayne, who in the guise of The Big Foolini, ( magician who managed to scramble not only my brain with his tricks, has put together a short film of the event which can be viewed by clicking the link below.

West Bay Discovery Centre

It is always a pleasure to visit the West Bay Discovery Centre which in a short time has become one of the highlights of a visit to West Bay. It is interesting watching people as they make their way around the exhibits, even the most reluctant in a party is quickly engaged by something on display and pointing things out to others with them.

My latest visit links nicely with Plastic Free July, and the Plastic Free Bridport and Bridport Litter Free Streets Champions campaigns, details of each can be found here:

The West Bay Discovery Centre currently has a fantastic, informative and thought provoking exhibition devoted to plastic. You can find out all about where it comes from and how it is made and the impact it is having on the environment and our own health and wellbeing. I met with Lis Bryant. the Centre Manager and Sarah West who told me all about the exhibition and some of the outreach work linked with it. The photographs below give a quick insight into what you will find there.

The first set of images give some general information about plastics and the impact they are having. Simon Jordan’s plate of plastic makes a strong statement about the way in which our plastic waste has become a lethal source of food for marine life. I also liked the metal crabbing bucket – a much friendlier way to indulge in this much loved pastime, by adults and children alike. Why are the plastic crabbing buckets treated as throwaway items and found discarded around the harbour, whereas the metal ones seem to be valued and kept?

The second set of images show some of the amazing creations produced by children from Symondsbury Primary School. All of the plastic used was collected from local beaches and turned into these wonderful sea creatures as part of a workshop led by Peter Margerum.

The third set of images was inspired by JMW Turner’s painting, Bridport Harbour, the original of which was recently the focus of an exhibition at Bridport Museum. This wonderful contemporary copy was created by Bridport Community Shed, a project bringing people together to make, mend and share experiences in a friendly supportive environment. A beach clean with Transition Town Bridport provided the material used to create this interpretation of Turner’s painting on display. The artwork illustrates the wide variety of colours and textures that can be found in all corners of our everyday lives whilst at the same time highlighting the care that needs to be taken by society as a whole in how we use and dispose of it. I love this picture and it is now the background image on my computer.
For more information about the Bridport Community Shed contact Ed Brand on 070402 409891.

The final set of images tells a very simple story about a very hungry shark. How do you think it should end?

Like so many places the West Bay Discovery Centre is manned by volunteers. Just as many hands make light work you can never have too many volunteers. If local history and contemporary issues are something you know and care about why not join the team and share your enthusiasm with others. Have a look at their website or simply call 01308 427288 to find out more.

St Mary’s School Orchard.

Bridport’s St Mary’s C of E School has for some years had an allotment in the school grounds where the children can learn first-hand where their food comes from and how it is grown. Building on the success of the allotment the school has now planted a small orchard and I had the pleasure of officially opening it on Friday. As you will see from the words I spoke before unveiling the sign, food and its provenance is something very important to me.

As someone who grew up on a farm and has had an allotment for more years than I can remember I am very aware of the work that goes into the production of the food we consumers expect to appear in our shops, markets and restaurants as if by magic.

The provenance of the food we eat is something that has become increasingly important to increasing numbers of people. Whether it is meat or vegetables the way in which it is grown and how it is processed matters greatly. The use of artificial fertilisers, chemicals, pesticides and drugs is something that can no longer be tolerated and thank goodness organic farming is increasingly becoming the norm.

Martin Luther the German theologian and religious reformer who was the catalyst of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, is quoted as saying, ‘Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree’.

In so many ways the world around us is going to pieces and yet here we are today celebrating not just the planting of an apple tree but the planting of an orchard.

Planting an orchard is an act of faith. It not to be taken lightly. By planting this orchard you are investing in a long term project which the children here with us today will be able to tell their children, grand children and perhaps even their great grand children about. A well maintained orchard is potentially productive for one hundred years plus.

Just as with us humans the first five years are crucial in the development of fully formed adults. During this period the trees will need to be fed and watered and carefully pruned in order to establish a strong shape that will see them through to their mature years. For example being prepared to remove almost all of the fruit in the first couple of years in order to let the trees establish themselves is a sacrifice that needs to be made. This short term pain will prove to be a well worth long term gain.

It was with great delight that I declared the orchard well and truly planted and unveiled the beautiful hand painted name board. Long may it be fruitful.

Following on, master storyteller Martin Maudsley entertained and enthralled all those present with a highly interactive tale, that even included a song made up on the spot.

Children were then invited to attach a metal tag to each tree listing the type of fruit and its name, and the name of the family that had sponsored it.

I will let the images below tell the rest of the story.

Images taken by Robert Golden
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