Friday, August 17, 2007

Teenagers die in Watchet car smash

POLICE are appealing for witnesses after a road traffic collision at Washford Cross which has left two teenagers dead.
Police were called at 9.20 pm on Thursday, August 16, to the B3190, between Washford Cross and Five Bells, to the collision which involved a Mitsubishi Shogun and a Peugeot 205 car.
It is believed the Peugeot was travelling north towards Watchet when it has collided with a roadside verge before colliding with the Shogun.
The driver and passenger from the Peugeot, both aged 18 from the Watchet and Minehead area, were both pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Shogun did not suffer serious injuries.
Police collision investigators have been at the scene throughout the night and the B3190 currently remains closed, but is expected to open in the near future.
Police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the road at the time.
Anyone who can help is asked to call the collision investigation unit on 0845 4567000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Anyone who can help should contact us through our secure Crimestoppers contact form at
Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You do not have to give your name and you could receive a reward.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Change of name for The Crier - now it is the West Somerset Post

THE Crier newspaper is changing with effect from the August, 2007, edition and will now be known as the West Somerset Post.
A new company has been set up to publish the paper, which has been developed during the past six years by Minehead businessman Mike Padgett.
Mr Padgett has decided for personal reasons not to continue publishing The Crier and has put the title up for sale.
In the meantime, members of the editorial team and the sales team have decided to continue the business with a title of their own.
The West Somerset Post is being published by the Post News Group Ltd and the editor of the paper will continue to be John Thorne and the advertising director will continue to be Dudley Seale.
Mr Thorne said: "From a readers' and advertisers' perspective it is business as usual and they should hardly notice any changes from the paper which they have become used to seeing over the last few years.
"Apart from using another name, and, of course, having different contact details, the changes that are being made are all behind the scenes.
"We have in effect picked up the baton from Mr Padgett and we intend to continue with the development programme for the paper which he had already put in place.
"It is only thanks to the time and resources which Mr Padgett has invested in The Crier that we continue to be able to offer the people and businesses of West Somerset and Exmoor an alternative newspaper which gives them the best value-for-money advertising combined with professional journalism and a non-partisan take on the area's news.
"We look forward to developing The Post along the lines of the vision of Mr Padgett and hope that he will be proud of the way we take the paper into the future."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Harbour jump boy drowns in front of holidaymakers

A MASSIVE air-sea rescue search off the West Somerset coast ended tragically in the early hours of Friday, August 3, when a teenager was found dead.
The youngster, thought to be aged about 16, apparently jumped into Minehead Harbour shortly after 7 pm the previous evening and was heard to shout for help before disappearing under the water.
He was found nearly seven hours later after an exhaustive search which involved coastgaurds, lifeboats, a helicopter, police divers, fire and rescue teams with thermal imaging cameras, and local boat owners.
Some reports said the boy, thought to be local to the area, may have been tombstoning – a craze where groups of mainly young people jump from high walls or cliffs into water.
The tragedy happened in front of hundreds of holidaymakers who were enjoying an otherwise pleasant sunny evening on the harbourside.
But one witness to the drama dismissed the suggestion as the boy was fully dressed and appeared to have been on his own, while nobody had been noticed jumping into the harbour earlier.
The youth was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, and was pronounced dead on arrival.
A spokesman for the Coastguard Service in Swansea said: “We know he jumped into the harbour off the harbour wall.
“He swam for a short distance, then all of a sudden was crying for help and then apparently sank like a sack of potatoes.”
The West Somerset Coroner was being informed of the incident and an inquest will be held into the boy’s death.
  • Our library photograph above shows a group of youngsters ‘tombstoning’ in Minehead Harbour some time ago. Photo submitted.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rescue services launch massive search for missing harbour youth

A HUGE search was underway by rescue services on Thursday evening, August 2, for a youth who fell into the waters of Minehead Harbour.
The boy, believed to be in his early teens, was seen to fall from the harbour wall in front of shocked holidaymakers shortly after 7 pm.
He was heard to shout for help before disappearing under the water
Coastguards, lifeboats, a helicopter, police, firefighters, other emergency services personnel, and local boat owners totalling around 50 to 60 people were all involved in the search, which was continuing as darkness fell.
The town's harbourside was packed with visitors and local people enjoying a pleasant sunny evening when the tragedy occured.
It was not known if the youngster was local or a visitor to the town.
He was not thought to have been involved in any 'tombstoning', a practice which has been condemned by coastguards as dangerous - which involves jumping into deep water from harbour walls.
One local youth who witnessed the incident and who did not want to be named, said: "He was just sat there one minute and then we heard him shout 'help' and he was going into the water and went under."
Photo of Minehead Harbour submitted.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

'If I die, blame hospital', says retired GP Sandy

RETIRED GP Sandy Jordan has taken the extraordinary step of instructing lawyers to demand the West Somerset Coroner holds a full inquest in the event of his untimely death.
The move reflects the concern held by Dr Jordan over his treatment by medical staff as a patient in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, going back over 18 months.
Dr Jordan, aged 78, told The Crier: “Every year, the British Medical Association say about 1,100 people die in hospital because of the wrong treatments - and I do not want to be one of them.
“It is really quite frightening.”
Dr Jordan, who retired from general practice in Minehead in 1996 after 40 years as a GP and who lives in Alcombe, Minehead, has been involved in an on-going dispute with the management of the hospital since being treated for a broken hip in December, 2005 and which has left him with anaemia.
He has demanded an apology from acting chief executive Dr Peter Cavanagh and wants amendments made to his medical records.
Dr Jordan fears a note presently included in his medical records could lead an unsuspecting doctor to cause his death by applying the wrong treatment.
The issue concerns a reaction to the blood thinning drug Heparin which he received in December, 2005, while recovering from a broken right hip.
Dr Jordan said he was kept on an intravenous infusion of Heparin for 18 days despite his protests and at a level twice as high as necessary.
He then suffered a severe skin rash which medical staff told him was shingles but he believed was an allergic reaction to the Heparin.
Dr Jordan said eventually one doctor researched the problem and agreed that he was sensitive to Heparin and made a note in his records.
Then, in July of last year, Dr Jordan fell and broke his other hip and found himself back in Musgrove Park Hospital, where he was given a synthetic form of Heparin called Fondaparinux despite his protests.
Doctors told him there was nothing in his records to indicate a problem with Heparin, despite the incident which occurred eight months earlier.
Consequently, Dr Jordan said he suffered prolonged internal bleeding, became jaundiced, his liver was damaged, and the stress also caused heart complications because his Pacemaker began to fail.
He was reduced to a state close to death and needed 11 pints of blood in transfusions in a period of eight days.
He said: “Unbeknown to me, my family were saying ‘good bye’ to me because I was so ill. My son-in-law said I looked like a corpse. I did not get back to normal until nearly Christmas.”
Dr Jordan later discovered that despite being in a confused state he argued against being given Heparin but doctors were about to use it when he was saved by a stroke of luck.
A duty pharmacist at the time had decided to seek advice and spoke on the telephone with a more senior colleague who cautioned against Heparin and advised Wolfarin instead.
Following the incident, Dr Jordan complained to Dr Cavanagh and eventually he was allowed to see his medical records – and was shocked at what he found.
He said: “There was nothing about sensitivity to Heparin and Fondaparinux, and also the medical notes had gone, there were only the nursing notes - my notes had been stripped.”
Dr Jordan said the discharge notes made no mention of how he had been seriously ill and needed blood transfusions – and he also discovered matters were even worse than he thought, as a written note said Heparin could be safely given if used with Piriton.
“I said if another houseman read that, I could be killed,” he said. “Then they asked me to write my own discharge notes.”
Dr Jordan said he prepared his own summary containing the Heparin sensitivity and the skin rash incident, but the hospital refused to accept them even after about four re-drafts.
He said: “They will not yield an inch. The hospital will not admit that I had this skin rash, even now.”
Dr Jordan said he had been advised by the hospital to go through the official complaints procedure if he remained unhappy.
But he said: “All I want is an honest answer and my notes properly written. They think if they apologise I will be in for litigation, but I am not looking to sue them, I am doing this to help my fellow man.
“My life is now precariously balanced. I am passing the papers to my solicitor, who has been instructed to request HM Coroner to have a full inquiry into the conduct of my case at Musgrove Park Hospital between December, 2005, and this moment of time, should I die.”
A statement issued to The Crier by Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital, confirmed Dr Jordan first contacted the trust in relation to his latest complaint, in September, 2006.
The trust said: “He has received both formal written responses from, and has had discussions with the trust’s acting chief executive and the acting medical director.
“The trust takes all complaints very seriously and has robust complaint procedures in place, which aim to resolve the anxieties of any patients, relatives, carers, or visitors of the trust.
“The trust has advised Dr Jordan, should he wish to take his complaint further, of the second stage of the complaints procedure, which involves an independent review undertaken by the Healthcare Commission.”

  • Dr Sandy Jordan is pictured in the garden of his Alcombe home with his notes. Photo by Mark the Photographer, ref TCP0545. Order image reprints online at

AA rewards bed and breakfast couple for friendly welcome for guests

GUEST house owners Sandy and Steve Poingdestre are officially among the most friendly in the country.
The couple run the six-bedroom Kenella House, in Tregonwell Road, Minehead, and were judged runners-up in a nationwide contest.
More than 4,500 bed and breakfast providers were involved in the competition, which was sponsored by the AA and the Daily Telegraph.
And Sandy and Steve were placed in the top 15 in the country as they were also awarded four out of five of the AA’s coveted yellow stars.
They received an engraved decanter and certificate and a £100 Harrods gift voucher when they attended the presentation evening held in The Galleries, in South Kensington, London.
The couple moved to Minehead in 2002 after running a public house in Lymington, Hampshire for 12 years.
They bought Kenella House in a run-down state and completely renovated it before starting to trade in 2003.
Sandy, who started her career as a silver service hotel waitress 29 years ago, said the decision to move to West Somerset was taken after spending holidays in Dulverton and Lynton and falling in love with the area, and also because Steve’s health had been deteriorating.
She said: “There was a Jamiroquai song at the time with a line which goes ‘I love this corner of the earth, it smiles on me’ and that was how I felt. I only found out later that he wrote it while staying along the road between Minehead and Bridgwater where you can look across the bay and see Minehead.”
Reaching the finals of the AA award came as a complete surprise to Sandy and Steve as the annual contest is initially judged by mystery guests and telephone callers without the owners’ knowledge and 100 accommodation providers are nominated.
Sandy said: “I did not even know we were entered for it. We were very pleased, and it is good because we love what we do and this shows some appreciation for our hard work.”
A second Minehead guest house, the 11-bedroom Glendower House, also in Tregonwell Road, was also awarded four AA yellow stars.
The AA four-star award signifies attentive staff who provide a good level of service with at least half of the rooms having an en suite bath and a shower and at least one restaurant available offering a good range of hot and cold skilfully-prepared food.
  • Our photograph shows Steve and Sandy Poingdestre outside Kenella House with their AA certificate. Photo by Mark the Photographer, ref TCPKH0015. Order image reprints online at

'World debut' performance at Alcombe soloists' concert

FOURTEEN pupils of music tutor Mrs Jeannette Owen performed in a soloists’ concert in Alcombe Methodist Church on Wednesday, July 25.
Mrs Owen stages concerts for parents and friends for all her pupils, usually at Christmas, but this was the first soloists’ concert with pupils being selected for their motivation and continued hard work throughout the year.
The evening started with a presentation of the Associated Board of Royal Music Schools examination certificates - the most senior pupil, Ellie Stone having achieved grade five theory with merit, and the most varied, Wilfred Owen, having achieved grade three bassoon with distinction, and grade two piano with merit.
Five flautists, two clarinetists, one bassoonist, one trumpeter, one saxophonist, and one violist gave solo performances, with piano accompaniment from Mrs Owen.
There were also three piano solos.
The music varied from early music - Sarabanda: Corelli, through
Allegro: C P E Bach, Les Roseaux: Couperin, Malageuna: (Trad) Spanish, to Promenade: Musorgsky and Easy Winners: Scott Joplin.
The audience was delighted to see the enthusiasm of the young soloists, and were in for a final treat to conclude the evening - the world debut of Minehead’s Alternative Quartet, dressed in black with a colour (pictured above), who played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: Mozart, from the string quartet music, with the violins being replaced by 1st flute - Ellie Stone, 2nd flute - Jeannette Owen, viola (in its rightful place) - Abi Owen, and for the cello, bassoon - Wilf Owen.
Mrs Owen said: “It worked - these young people only having had the music for a few days have had such fun in practising the quartet.”
Further soloists’' concerts will be held each term, with the concert for all pupils being held as usual during the Christmas season.
Photo submitted.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Minehead armed robbery - man arrested in Birmingham

A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out an armed robbery at a building society in Minehead and also a second raid at a building society in Weston-super-Mare a week earlier.
Both raids were on branches of the Nationwide Building Society and in each case the description of the robber was similar.
The Minehead incident occurred on Tuesday, July 24, when a man with what appeared to be a hand gun held up staff in the Nationwide offices, in The Parade, at about 4.45 pm.
The Weston-super-Mare robbery was in the Nationwide branch in High Street shortly before 2 pm on Monday, July 16, and was carried out by a man brandishing a black hand gun.
In both cases the robber escaped with a large sum of cash.
Despite intensive police activity in both Minehead and Weston immediately after the robberies, there was no trace of the offender.
But following extensive investigations and help from the public, police swooped on an address in Birmingham late on Thursday night, July 26.
There, they arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with both incidents and took him into custody to be transferred to Taunton for questioning.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Exmoor love song launches at Dulverton folk festival

THE first Dulverton Folk Festival, which runs from Friday, July 27, to Sunday, July 29, sees the launch of a new song ‘Winsford Hill – A Love Song for Exmoor’.
It has been composed by Exeter-based artists Colin Rea and Juliet Field, with words by Dulverton poetess Atisha McGregor Auld, and is scored for voice accompanied by piano and guitar.
Atisha said: “The emphasis of the composition was to create melodic phrases that encapsulate the beauty and ageless mystery of Exmoor, and to evoke in the listener the feelings of dark and light, earth and air.
“It invites the listener to step out of time for a few moments and marvel at the grand and sensitive simplicity of nature. It is definitely a love song for Exmoor.”
‘Winsford Hill’ is taken from Atisha’s recently-published book of poetry called ‘Eight Rivers – A Tributary of Words’.
The score, which has been published with the cover showing an image of an ancient hawthorn tree laden with red berries sitting gracefully on a rich moorland hill, will be on sale at the festival.
Other artists featured in the folk fest include Vikki Nuttall, Stephen Snow, Maurice Condie, Liz Law, George Papavgeris, Gillian Tolfrey, Terry Conway, Steve Last, Christine Connelly, Jim Causely, Greame Maynard, Tom Oakes and Julian Sutton.
The festival, organised by local musician Dave Towers, brings the best of local and national talent to venues around the town during the weekend.
Mr Towers said: “Dulverton is a great place to hold the festival and tickets are going fast. We have a great line-up for people to enjoy.
“As well as top local talent, we have some great national and Irish singers and musicians. There are plenty of exciting events in venues around the town all through the weekend and I am sure there will be something to please everybody”
Local performers include fiddle player Stephen Snow, 19, from Devon and Dulverton singer and guitarist, Vikki Nuttall.
Vikki said: “We are delighted to perform alongside these acts – they are very well known so it is quite a privilege. We are really looking forward to it.”
Councillor Neil Parbrook, the district council’s leisure, culture and recreation portfolio holder, said: “It is great that the council can assist events like the folk festival.
“They give local people the opportunity to sample new sights and sounds as well as drawing in tourists, which is great for local businesses. It will be a fun weekend for everybody.”
The folk festival is supported with funding from Exmoor Events and ArtLife, in partnership with West Somerset Council, and tickets for concerts are available at The Tantivy in Dulverton or by telephoning 01398 323818.
Full details are on the internet at
  • Our photographs show (top) Vikki Nuttall and Dave Towers; and (below) Atisha McGregor Auld outside Dulverton Town Hall with a copy of ‘Winsford Hill’. Photos submitted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Row likely as Independents claim credit for Conservative projects

A POLITICAL row was looming in West Somerset after Independent district councillors elected only in May tried to claim credit for a series of economic development projects – all of which were started under the former Conservative administration.
A number of the now-trumpeted projects were bitterly opposed at the time when Independents and others on the council sought to attract newspaper headlines criticising the Conservative leadership in the months leading up to the elections.
Now, district council public relations officer Stacey Beaumont has issued a press release pointing out that West Somerset had secured more funding from Objective 2 transitional European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) than any other district Westcountry despite being the smallest council.
It followed the start of work on the development of the Barle Enterprise Centre, near Dulverton, and a £203,193 funding award for Minehead’s new Visitor Information and Interpretation Centre (VIIC), bringing the total of European money for West Somerset to more than £6.7 million.
The council’s economic development and tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Michael Downes, claimed: “We have completed, or are in the process of completing, 15 projects thanks to this funding.
“It has benefited a broad range of projects from developing local workspace, ICT provision and food links support through to tourism development via the organisation of events and festivals and the provision of the new VIIC.
“In all cases, the money needed to complete the project has to be at least doubled by the council and its partners so total funding in the district is much higher.
“For example, we have helped access £1.4 million for the New Horizons project but the actual investment by the council and its partners is in the region of £50 million.
“We know that businesses and tourism in the area need our support and we are doing our best to provide sustainable economic and tourism initiatives.
“We are also ensuring that local people’s social, health, and learning needs will be met by assisting with the provision of the new hospital, health complex, and skills and learning centre through New Horizons.”
The present leader of the council, Councillor Keith Ross – considered to have been an architect of many of the previous attacks on the development projects - said: “In the past we have been criticised for not delivering, but as this list shows, our staff have worked hard to deliver a substantial number of high-quality projects to help improve social and economic conditions for people and businesses across West Somerset.
“The workspace in Williton is nearing completion and work on the Dulverton workspace is now under way.
“Our staff are also putting a major amount of work into the provision of affordable housing for local people which is another area in which we are genuinely starting to deliver.
“We intend to build on our successes and prove ourselves as community leaders who deliver meaningful projects which bring social and economic benefits to the whole district.”
The list of projects for which credit was now being claimed included:
  • Exmoor & Quantocks Foodlinks (£151,688) – project ongoing
  • Exmoor Events & Festivals (£112,500) – project completed
  • Rural Learning & Early Years Centre (£636,488) – project completed
  • Williton ICT (£51,084) – project completed
  • Stage 2 feasibility study into New Horizons (£25,000) – project completed
  • Crisis loans for small businesses that suffered as a result of foot and mouth disease (£120,850) – project completed
  • South West Wood Fuels (£81,450) – project completed
  • Williton Workspace at Roughmoor (£788,672) – project ongoing
  • Dulverton Workspace at the Barle Enterprise Centre (£806,711) – project ongoing
  • Somerset Broadband (£180,960) – project ongoing
  • Technical Assistance for the Broadband project (£84,349) – project ongoing
  • Watchet Esplanade Enhancement (£138,380) – project ongoing
  • Minehead Visitor Information & Interpretation Centre (£203,193) – application approved
  • New Horizons (£1.4m) – application approved

The VIIC on the seafront at Minehead will replace the existing Tourist Information Centre in Friday Street and will be equipped with high-tech interactive touch-screen displays and will provide a centre of excellence for the delivery of tourism information, with the aim of attracting and developing potential and existing customer markets to support the tourism industry of the whole area.
Bridgwater-based H Pollard & Sons has been selected as the preferred developer and contract details are currently being finalised with a view to work starting shortly and being completed by the summer of next year.

  • Our photograph taken at the start of work on the Barle Enterprise Centre shows (left to right) Councillor Keith Ross, Councillor Michael Downes, and site manager Jake Carless, of building contractors CS Williams Ltd. Photo submitted.