All posts by simon oldridge

This year, Staverton Playing Field hits 50. Here’s the story of its creation by Kieran Farrell

Ten Men Went to Mow

by Kieran Farrell

An innocuous dive at the feet of Terry Hughes during a soccer game between Watcombe Villa v Newton Dynamo’s on the Dynamo’s Centrax pitch resulted later that evening in a visit to Torbay Hospital where a badly torn cartilage and excessive fluid was diagnosed.                        The fluid was drained off and my leg was quickly encasing in plaster from ankle-to-groin.

It was only early January but my football season was already over. The cast remained insitu for several weeks and finally came off at a time when the South Devon League season was reaching its climax.                                 I was far too nervous to risk kicking a football anytime soon though. Still, summer was just around the corner. I could rest, recuperate and set about building my calf and quad muscles back up in my own time and at my own chosen speed.

At the time, I worked at Staverton Bridge Mill on the banks of the River Dart.        It was only a brisk walk away from the Sea Trout Inn and, it seemed to me, was the ideal place for recuperating at leisure.

A more picturesque and tranquil location I have yet to encounter.                               As a rule, lunchtime would find me exploring the nearby river banks behind the storage sheds, office outbuildings and staff canteen whilst taking photographs of the ever curious swans and ducks as they paddled close to the river bank to check me out.                                            However, with the pressing need to get my strength back I set about exploring the many fields in-between work and the village on a daily basis.

Some days I’d rest under the shade of the trees in the apple orchards. Other days I’d plonk myself down to eat my lunch in one of the meadows and wait, expectantly, to hear the ponderous thud of hooves as two or three nosy milking cows ambled over to inspect the intruder. Irresponsible I suppose, especially when I could hear the bull-tethered in the adjacent field-starting to get restless. Some days I’d walk up river as far as I could go before having to turn back and make my back to the office. On occasions I even saw some dead animals bloated with gasses floating on the Dart’s currents.

It was during this period I had the idea to form a work’s soccer team-ostensibly to play in the Torbay Sunday Football League.                         Several colleagues expressed interest and so, with this in mind, our personnel manager Sam Lewis agreed to try and persuade our managing director Jack Hazlehurst to subsidise the team, provide kit and pay rent for a soccer pitch.

Decent soccer pitches were in short supply.     Dartington United’s pitch was good but I knew their manager John Gallon wouldn’t be keen to share it with a bunch of amateurs!     Thanks to my recent explorations of the Dart Valley between Staverton Bridge and the Sea Trout though, I knew of just the place.   It would need a bit of work doing to it but it was big, almost level and what’s more, in all the days I’d walked through it on my journeys to somewhere else, it was rarely being used for grazing or any other farming activities.                                      I reported my observations to Sam Lewis and he said he would make enquiries next time he went for lunch at the Sea Trout.

Sam was as good as his word and only days later he confirmed the farmer who owned the field had agreed to rent it to our fledgling team.   He also confirmed the MD’d agreed to pay all costs and expenses.   So it was then that whilst older colleagues Colin Smith and Frank Hext were both helping with the restoration of Staverton Station and the Dart Valley Railway, ten men went to mow a meadow somewhere along New Lane.     Work colleagues Colin Hoskins,  Martyn Paddon,  Ray Prout,  Mike Cheakley,  David Crayshaw,  Martin Hodge,  Dave Bannister,  Terry Glanville and myself all set about transforming the field into our very own Wembley.            Refreshments and encouragement were provided daily by Pauline Little, Angela Sly and Deidre Keyes. It was a labour of love but we all sighed with relief when the pitch was finally marked out.       For the first time in 6 months I kicked a ball competitively at the start of Staverton Contractor’s very first game on what is now known as Staverton Playing Field.

The pitch-just like my old torn cartilage-is still in existence and that, I think,is a legacy of which us former employees of Staverton Contractors [Totnes] Ltd have a right to be proud of.

Staverton & Landscove FC who used to play elsewhere back in those days but they took over the playing field as their new home ground.                                             I understand they folded several years ago though.    The pitch was taken over at some time by SHDC and was then once more to the good use it was originally intended for.     In more recent years it was taken over by another generation of footballers in the guise of AFC Staverton.    They were managed by James Stopporton and were very successful for several seasons but, I understand, they too have also disbanded.

In 2019 it will be 50 years since the first incarnation of a ‘Staverton’football team turned up at the Sea Trout to change into their pristine new kit of sky blue shirts and black shorts before the first game on that pitch.

Well, all I can say is here’s to that 1st group of players who mowed a meadow 50 years ago and created a legacy-and here’s to all those that hopefully follow for another 50 years!


Good Friday at Staverton Church

St. Paul de Leon, Staverton. 
GOOD FRIDAY 19th April 2019 at 5.00pm.

The Passion of Christ 
read from the Gospel of St. Mark with slide illustrations 
Staverton Church usually tells the Passion story in dramatic form, but this year we have something a little different! 
In the nave of the church we are to project a series of pictures which together with readings from St. Mark’s Gospel and Passiontide hymns will illustrate the story in a distinctive and hopefully inspiring way . 
All are welcome – please join us and bring your friends 

For further information contact Richard Clark, 01803 762681

Council Tax Changes Offer Help for Working Age People


Important information for working age people about changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme from 1 April 2019.

Following consultation with the public, South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils will be introducing a new scheme to help those on a low income to pay their Council Tax.

The Councils have looked carefully at the support scheme and designed something that offers extra assistance to the most vulnerable residents while dealing with the ever changing landscape of welfare reform.

Under the current scheme, some people claiming Universal credit were getting a new bill each month when their circumstances changed.  The Councils understand this makes it really difficult for people, already on low incomes, to properly plan or budget their money.

 The new scheme leads the way, as the first of its kind in Devon, and will assess how much support a person receives based on their net income.  The design means that a change in someone’s income won’t necessarily create a new assessment and Council Tax bill.  The scheme has been designed not to react to changes unless they are big enough to take residents into a new income band.  Residents will be able to look at a simple table and see what support they are allowed.  It’s really simple and easy.

The joy of the new system is that the Councils are fully in control of the scheme and can now do what they can to ease the pressure on residents.  What this actually means, is that the Council will make sure that workers are not put off from doing any extra work when they can, because of the difficulty it has taken in the past to pay their Council Tax.

Hand-in-hand with the new scheme, is the Exceptional Hardship Fund, which is already available for those people who are really struggling to make ends meet.Now the Councils will work out how much money is coming into the home and will ignore any money from Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and War Disablement Benefits.  As usual, they will continue to also ignore any Child Benefit and Child Maintenance Payments.  With all of these changes in mind, most residents would see an increase in their awards, making it much easier for them to live more comfortably.

South Hams District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer First, Cllr Hilary Bastone said:  “This new and improved scheme will go a long way to supporting vulnerable residents through these challenging financial times.  The major reason we are changing the scheme is to make it easier and less confusing for those residents who are struggling, to be able to claim a discount in their Council Tax.” South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils are the first councils in Devon to respond to the changing needs of residents, and to make sure that wherever possible, the most vulnerable are protected and helped.

The way reductions in Council Tax are given to pension-aged people is unchanged, as this is set by central Government. 

The Councils are pleased to announce that the new scheme, in most cases, will see an increase in amounts awarded to those in the greatest need.  

West Devon Borough Council’s Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Tony Leech said:  “Cutting all the paperwork and having less bills going out will make it much easier for our customers to manage their budgets.   We will protect our most vulnerable residents even further, by using our Exceptional Hardship Scheme to support those in the most need.”

To find out how these changes will affect you, go to:



Please find attached a link to a video about the new scheme.

Update on Phone Box Consultation


There were 12 email responses to the public consultation about the unused phone box in Landscove; of those 10 supported selling the phone box and 2 wanted it kept.

There were also comments on the Parish Council’s Facebook page which suggested using the phonebox as a book swap.

The Parish Council has been approached directly by a parishioner who lives close to the box and is very keen to keep it, and to this end has volunteered to maintain and look after it.

The Parish Council decided it was only fair to allow this Parishioner suitable time to make this kind offer work and the matter will be reviewed once again in a year’s time.