Express & Echo: Feniton will fight to save its village

In case you didn’t know, last week I wrote my first column for the Express and Echo. I’m delighted to be contributing to the paper, but for those of you who may have missed it here it is…and make sure you pick it up tomorrow (Thursday) to read the next one!

This time of the year for me is the equivalent of other peoples’ ‘Spring Clean’.

Finally, Halloween (which, by the way, was bigger than ever this year!) is over and now we are hurtling towards (dare I say it?) Christmas.

Suddenly, my thoughts turn to organising my home. I like to clear out the kids’ toys before the new ones arrive, courtesy of Santa, and of course I then have to hunt around the house looking for those ‘January bargains’ – Christmas cards and decorations, bought in the sales when I thought I was being oh-so clever!

This time of year also means I have to start organising my diary with military precision, there are Christmas functions, meals with friends and plenty of children’s’ parties for me to play taxi for.

In fact, last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the exclusive launch of Rolex at Michael Spiers in Exeter. It was held at Exeter Castle and was exquisitely hosted with delicious food from Topsham caterers Posh Nosh and a wonderful firework display to end the evening.

Unfortunately, I didn’t leave with a Rolex, but the whole night was great fun and the watches and jewellery on display was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

But, my week’s antics didn’t stop there. On Saturday a dear friend of mine, Lucie-Grace, hosted a Halloween-themed party to raise money for The Eve Appeal. Sadly, she lost her mum a few years ago to gynaecological cancer, so the cause is one that is close to her heart.

Held at Payhembury Village Hall, plenty of locals donated their time and efforts to help arrange the kids’ party which featured a disco, face painting, glitter tattoos and a raffle. On the day around 100 children boogied away to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and raised £300 for The Eve Appeal.

Not content with spending nearly every evening out, I showed my support by attending an emergency planning meeting held by Feniton Parish Council on Monday. Feniton, in case you are unaware, is currently one of a few East Devon villages under siege by zealous developers – and also my home.

Unfortunately, Feniton is one of the worst affected, and recently – following a failed appeal – building for 50 new homes started and now the village faces a ‘Super Inquiry’ in January, when the Planning Inspectorate will hear a case for development in three other areas – increasing the size of Feniton by 40%.

The meeting was well attended, and more than 180 residents came to ‘have their say’. It was announced on the night that Feniton Parish Council has hired the services of a legal professional to help in the fight to prevent more mass housing – at a cost of £10,000. Remarkably, following the end of the meeting there was a queue forming for villagers to pledge money towards the cause, with £2,000 being raised on that night alone.
I don’t think there can be a stronger, or clearer, message sent to the planning inspector and the developers that Feniton will fight to save its village.


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Who’s afraid of the big, bad letter?

The-Eve-AppealI received THE letter last week. The one that all women, past a certain age, get and promptly announce to themselves “I’ll make that appointment next week.”

It was a reminder from my GP that I am due for a cervical screening. Like most I know that it is important, but something keeps me from doing anything immediately, “it can always wait,” I say to myself.

But then I was reminded on Twitter of the Eve Appeal…a charity which works hard to raise money to fund the world-class research programme at the Department of Women’s Cancer…and it made me stop and question why?

Why is it something women put off? Why will we undergo the torture of a bikini wax but not the smear test? Why is it not like booking an appointment to get birth control?

Cervical Screening Awareness Week is taking place in the UK from June 9th to 15th  2013 – and shockingly, twenty per cent of women in the UK still fail to attend cervical screening when invited. This is a statistic that shocks me.

Cervical cancer has attracted much media coverage in recent years, largely because of Jade Goody’s sad death from the disease – but have we learned enough? Apparently not. Immediately after Jade’s death there was a rise in the number of women attending screening but I am informed that this number is now falling again.

Each year in the UK 2,900 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than half of these are in women under the age of 50. Although very rare in women under 25, it is the second most common cancer in women under 35.

The screening procedure it relatively harmless, and whilst not the most pleasant experience, it is one which very important. So, with renewed vigour I’m off to make my appointment, but while I’m at it I might just treat myself to a manicure after…to recuperate of course!