Anne Beer, a long time supporter of our campaign, an artist who has exhibited in our Art Exhibitions and a writer whose poem Manning’s Pit Fever was one of those Highly Commended in our Poetry Competition, has just published her Autobiograpy. She tells us it includes a mention of Manning’s Pit!
Going for a walk in Manning’s Pit is of course one way to cope with lockdown, and it can be very beautiful on a frosty morning. – but when it is dark and wet what better way of spending time could there be than writing a story to be entered in our new competition?
The Friends of Manning’s Pit are now launching their new Literary venture – the Saki Short Story Competition. Entries can be accepted any time after November 20th, and the last date for entries is June 30th, 2021. The Judges who will decide the winners are Sir Richard Eyre, James Lovelock and Peter Christie.
As we enter the second lockdown we have put a new statement up on our website.
Here it is:
We have decided to call a halt to our fundraising efforts for now as we are able to access extra funds on top of the amount (£123,000) raised already. Thank you all for your magnificent efforts, every donation large or small has helped us on our way.
We remain in negotiations with the seller and ask you all to be patient as this is a long process. As soon as we have more news it will be posted here.
The donation links on the website remain live for the moment, but we are not asking for more donations at present.
With all the pressures of the Auction, this competition didn’t get the attention it deserved, but we had very worthy winners. Tansy Ward and Hope Gleeson shared the 7 – 16 years old Prize, while Jack Robery, age 3 won the under 6 competition. Well done to all of them.
As featured in this week’s North Devon Journal, three year old Jack Robery first came to Manning’s Pit with his mother, Marianne Hunt, about three weeks ago, and they fell in love with the place. When they heard Manning’s Pit could be sold and lost to the public, they decided to do a fund raising walk.
They set up a fund raising page for us about a week ago, and money came in fast. By around 11 oclock this morning Jack had passed his target of £500.
Before the start, Jack was presented with a prize by Friends Of Manning’s Committee Member Kate because he had also won First Prize in the 6 and Under Category of our Poster Competition.
There were joint first prize winners in the older category of the Poster Competition. One of the joint winners, Hope Gleeson, wasn’t able to be there, but the other, Tansy Ward, came to receive her prize from Committee member Kate Shaw.
Jack was eager to start his walk, and he and Marianne set off down the hill towards Manning’s Pit bridge.
Marianne had also kindly donated a hamper of sweets to a Raffle so that each person who donated to Jack’s walk received one ticket into the Raffle. After spending some time on the bridge, watching the water rush by underneath – the river is higher than normal after all the rains we have been having – Jack was asked to pick a ticket out of the container. The owner of the winning ticket was Brian Mulholland.
Tansy and her brother Alex came down as well and the three children had a great time running around together. Tansy was only four when our campaign began, and now she is nine – let’s hope we have managed to buy Manning’s Pit before she is a teenager!
After the other children had gone, Jack’s grandfather turned up and here are the three of them:
We had thought this walk would be enough for a three year old, but it wasn’t enough for Super Hero Jack – just like our motto of Onwards and Upwards, he was soon up and running off to do a full lap of all the land that is for sale.
Our last photo shows Jack at the far end of the field, having finished a complete tour of the land that is for sale. Not a bad trek for a three year old! Let us all hope and pray that sometime soon this land will be owned for ever for the benefit of the wildlife and the people who love this very special place.
We have posted information about all the politicians from all the parties who have shown support (we value them all whatever party they come from) and we also thought it would be good to give a mention to all the local Churches and Church members as well.
Nigel Dilkes and Marion Sanders from Pilton Church were partners in last year’s Environmental Exhibition and have been invaluable supporters all the way through the campaign.
Other churches such as the Catholic, Baptist and Methodist Churches may not be based in Pilton, but many of their members have been terrific supporters as well.
So many people have told us that they never walk in Manning’s Pit without saying a prayer that it will be saved. We think that even the non-believers among us are happy to thank them for that. Miracles can happen, whatever your definition of the word is.
Apologies for being late putting these photos up – we have been so busy since the Auction, trying to raise more money, that we haven’t had much spare time for anything else.
The rest of our report on the event on September 20th follows below:
Here are the Gomez family, about to start their walk – grandmother, parents, children and family dog. They are great supporters and had been out delivering leaflets for us a few days earlier. This photograph demonstrates perfectly how much Manning’s Pit means to people of all generations. One thing we know for sure – however long we have to keep on fighting, at the point where some of us have to hand over the metaphorical relay baton there will be plenty of younger people coming along to take over from us.
Next came one of the heroes of the campaign, Ryan Vowles. Ryan was the winner of the 18 and Under Category in the nationwide Inaugural Manning’s Pit Poetry competition. His poem Together remains so inspirational and here is a link to him reading it at the Competition Presentation evening. He also helped us launch the Buy Manning’s Pit campaign.
Another star of our campaign to be out walking was Graciella Sillence-Dreyfur, who won a Joint First Prize in the CPRE Devon Painting Competition with a beautiful painting of the alder tree that can be seen from the Old Stone Bridge. Although just beyond the land for sale, this tree has become quite symbolic to many people as its setting would be so spoiled if houses were close by.
One of the great things about Manning’s Pit is the fact that even when there are quite a lot of people using it, it doesn’t feel crowded. Even at its busiest – during lockdown – there was always plenty of space to isolate.
While we were there most of the day, we didn’t manage to take photographs of every stage of the Relay – and not everyone had the right kind of phone to take selfies.
Here is one though, which included – in the background – more campaign “stars” Asha Cartmell and her mother Pip, with their new rescue greyhound Paddy. Asha and Alena were in both of the films made during the campaign, and you can see Alena on our website front page, in the photograph taken with the developer’s representative. Pip and her husband Mark run the very popular Pilton Cinema, which has had to be closed during the pandemic unfortunately.
Our local Town Councillor Janet Coates was another person to do the walk, and she sent us a photo of her dog Misty instead. We have a photograph of her though from another weekend, posing under the Save Manning’s Pit banner that was hanging from the balcony of a house bordering the field. The banner has had to be moved since because the balcony railings weren’t strong enough to hold the weight of the banner when it became windy, but it is still up elsewhere beside the field.
The Smith family are in the next photograph, Karen , Darren and their father/father-in-law, as well as family dog. They are especially interested in the wildlife, and Darren told us he has spotted kingfishers down by the river six different times recently. Here they are, about to set off down to the river:
Finally – and much earlier than when we did a similar event at the summer solstice – evening came, and it was, like the rest of the day, a most beautiful one. Here are the Redif family, at the finish of their walk. They have been supporters from the very beginning of our campaign, and came to the first ever meeting we held, back in October 2015. Ty Redif (on the left) made the film that we linked to earlier (here’s another link.) The other person in the photo in the white top was simply someone out enjoying the evening.
Finally, as the sun was setting, here is John Lovelock, looking to the West this time. John did a sponsored walk for us in January and raised over a thousand pounds. It was very, very wet and muddy then – how different it was on this day in late September.
Is ‘Mannings Pit’ a Pothole or a Paradise? By Jane Gear I have been totally mystified for a very long time now, by all the signs around the Pilton area saying ‘Save Mannings Pit’. So I decided to go in search of this mysterious place, to see for myself what it is that so many people wish to save. I embarked on a walk down through a wooded rocky path with a small ravine running alongside it. Although I did find out later, that there is another all together easier way to enter this hidden place. The trees lining each side of the shaded path, made the usual dappled patterns with shafts of brilliant sunlight cutting through the shade. As I descended, not far away, on my left, was the constant rumble of construction work, as new builds were quickly nibbling into the beautiful rolling green Devon hillside. As I reached the bottom of the path, the canopy above suddenly opened, and spectacularly presented a lush green valley. A winding river lazily meandering through the green pastureland. A huge tree stood between two bridges spanning to the other side of the water, one of wood, the other of stone. The atmosphere was full of imprints, holding memories of past generations meeting in this special spot, enjoying picnics on the grassy banks , watching happy children giggling as they climbed from the chilly waters. A rope swing dangled from a tall tree a little way further along the water, adding to the feeling of togetherness and fun that this place has seen. Peaceful, natural, the way things should be, and always have been. I met a lady walking, and she told me stories about Mr Manning, a local businessman who used to own the land, and a colourful character he sounded too. His memory lives on in this beautiful place. The ‘friends of Mannings pit’, in my mind are to be admired. They are not swampies living in the trees, are not chaining themselves to machinery or stretching out along the road to stop progress. They are acting in a positive manner, working steadily together with the same proposed destination in mind. Trying to save Mannings Pit for others to enjoy. They need enough money to buy a small field which cushions Mannings Pit from the ever encompassing construction works. They simply wish to preserve this haven of latter times for all who live around it to enjoy, whether from the old housing, the new housing, or even further afield. This kind of oasis is so very needed in these modern times. Especially so, as we go through Covid, and re learn that such places are of even more importance to us. We need green spaces, room to relax, run free, feel at one with nature and recharge our weary souls. Re live our childhoods through the eyes of our children. Watch our dogs laughing as they run through the wind. We need places like this now, even more so than the generations who came along before us did… I was very much taken with the beauty of Mannings Pit, with the feeling of community and togetherness that it represents, and would dearly love to see it saved for generations to come. I truly hope that this space may be saved, that a generous benefactor may come forward, and be willing to add sufficient to the steadily growing pot, which would enable the friends of Mannings Pit to save this little piece of paradise for all of our sakes. By doing this, the gift of beauty, space and enjoyment could be gifted for all those who wish to find it, before it is tragically lost to everyone forever. Anyone willing to make a donation can visit https://manningspit.com or call 01271 376594 or 07812 704694 for more information.
We are still raising money as hard we can, and our Total is now £113,671 (as of Monday evening.) We are also exploring any other ideas we can think of!
Meanwhile, we wanted to add a little more about Victor, the Romanian rescue dog who is well known by many who walk in the fields.
His owner Peter sent us this:
We were devastated at the loss of our 11 year old rescue Sprollie a few months ago and the Covid 19 lockdown made it especially difficult for us to rescue another dog via a UK shelter. We completed adoption requests with many UK rescue organisations but at that time very few of them were actively rehoming dogs.We decided to look further afield and heard about the terrible plight of dogs in some European countries, and especially Romania. We had heard about a UK charity based in the South West that brought dogs across mainly from shelters in Bucharest. Most of these dogs have either been abandoned and roam the streets trying to survive, or are on death row in ‘kill shelters’ run by the State.We registered with this charity and were able to satisfy their criteria to become an adopter for one of those lucky dogs listed on the charity’s website. We chose an 18 month old dog called Victor, and after paying a modest adoption fee he was brought to the UK via specially organised transport, along with eleven other dogs.Once in the UK the dogs were given time to decompress and settle in after their 3 day journey before being collected by their respective adopters.The day came in late July to collect Victor from Somerset, and he appears to have settled in to his new home remarkably well.Manning’s Pit has played its part in providing an essential escape for us all during the last 6 months, and like Victor, we all hope it will still be there to provide this escape for many generations to come.
Following the unsuccessful sale of Manning’s Pit at auction on Wednesday 23rd September we have opened a dialogue with the seller to see if we can agree terms and it is more important than ever that people donate to help us reach a figure that will get the deal over the line.’’