Express & Echo: We all pull together when it counts

Last week’s column for the Express and Echo:

It never ceases to amaze me how generous we (and I’m using the Royal ‘we’ here!) can be, when called upon. Take Children in Need last Friday, as a nation we managed to raise an incredible £31 million to help children throughout the UK.

My two boys did their part, dressing in their pyjamas for school and eating Pudsey bear biscuits all week – oh well, it’s for charity right?

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I was also humbled to hear that their school, Feniton primary, would be collecting for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines during its Christmas productions this year. I can always count on head teacher Mr Butler and his staff, to lead by example for the pupils and already the kids are keen to help, in any way they can.

This last week has been humbling closer to home too, with the Pride of Exeter awards – a great initiative of the Express and Echo and Exeter City Council. The awards honoured our local heroes and I was particularly pleased to hear that double lung transplant survivor, Kirstie Tancock, was among the winners on the night. I have followed her story for some time and continue to be amazed at her courage and strength. She is an inspirational young woman who is a real fighter and an example to us all.

On a different subject, I think I might be the last person in East Devon to discover the wonder of Haldon Forest! We ventured up there on a cold but bright Sunday, to burn off some energy before a delicious roast dinner, and it’s fair to say we will definitely be returning.

Whether you just want to amble around the easy 1.5 mile Discovery Trail – perfect for all the family, with regular resting points to take in the stunning views over Exeter and Dartmoor – or if you’re more adventurous and fancy the Raptor Trail, with its steep ascents and descents, there really is something for everyone.

I was pleased to see it so busy. When we visited there were plenty of people all out in the fresh air, enjoying a fun activity with their family and friends. I think we’d timed it pretty well as we arrived after lunch, just as most people were heading home for the afternoon and it started to quiet down – but if you want a more peaceful cycle or walk you might want to plan to visit at a less busy time.

And, while I didn’t try it this time (the pull of the roast lamb awaiting us at home meant we didn’t hang about) I have it on good authority that the coffee and cake at The Ridge Café is pretty spectacular too – cycling has never been more enticing!

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