News from across Dorset this March 2014

Bridports Highlands End Holiday Park with their Gold from the South West Tourism awards

Bridports Highlands End Holiday Park with their Gold from the South West Tourism awards - Credit: Archant

All the latest news stories from across Dorset this month

Dorset Magazine editor Helen Stiles present Alton Pancras with the Best Hamlet awards at last year'

Dorset Magazine editor Helen Stiles present Alton Pancras with the Best Hamlet awards at last year's Dorset Village of the Year - Credit: Archant

Is your village a prize-winner?

The search has begun for Dorset’s best villages. Entries are welcome from parish councils and parish meetings, village hall committees and any other active community group. Last year, 55 villages took part in the Dorset Best Kept Village competition which is run by Dorset Community Action and sponsored by Magna Housing. Categories include Best Hamlet, sponsored by Dorset Magazine, and new for 2014 Best Village Shop. The deadline for entries is 7 April 2014. More details can be found at the DCA website or call 01305 216407 for a copy to be posted.


New Bridport Prize for aspiring novelists

The Bridport Prize has announced a new category for aspiring novelist. Named after the Bridport Prize’s founder, the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel is aimed at talented writers who are yet to be published or represented by a literary agent. All you need to enter are the first chapters of your novel, up to 8,000 words, with a strong synopsis. Those longlisted and later shortlisted will need to submit further chapters at the relevant stages. The closing date for entries is 31 May 2014. Find more details at

Sir Tom Jones performs at Larmer Tree Festival

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Going for a Song

A series of fundraising events to provide bursaries for more young people to attend Dorset Opera’s world famous residential summer school are planned as part of the opera company’s 40th anniversary celebrations. On the 8 March Dorset Opera Patrons Mr & Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers will be hosting a special charity auction at their Tithe Barn in Hinton St Mary. Duke’s auctioneers will be selling more than 200 donated items including a fine early 18th century ‘cello case, a first edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, an 18th century portrait of a young David Garrick and a vintage Ferguson Tractor. Previews are on Friday 7 March at 6.30pm with wine and canapés to include catalogue at £15. The auction itself starts at 11am the following day. For more details visit

Bridport holiday business gains another gold

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Tourism businesses from Dorset were celebrating after the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013-14 were announced at a glittering ceremony in Plymouth. A record 350 entries were considered for this year’s awards, which included winners from the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards, held late last year, as well as regional winners from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Isles of Scilly, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Bridport’s Highlands End Holiday Park added another gold to the one they gained at the Dorset Tourism Awards. The Dorset Seafood Festival, Brownsea Island and The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne all won silver. Full details of all winners can be found at


Step out on the Great South West Walk

Whether you love the views, the exercise or a combination of both, the Great South West Walk: Loving the Coast initiative aims to fulfil both those pleasures and will raise vital money to maintain and improve the South West Coast Path (SWCP) which has taken a terrible battering during the recent violent storms.

During the eight-day festival in September, there will be 100 circular walks along Coast Path, with expert guides to ensure participants get the most from their walk.

Now in its second year, the event aims to raise £250,000 for 50 projects across the Coast Path. In 2013, funds raise from the inaugural event was used for a wide range of projects including putting in 70 new steps for Swyre Head’s link path. Other improvements included interpretation boards, improved drainage and stepping stones across streams.

“The idea is to have a high profile event every year,” says SWCP project leader, Ken Carter. “Last year, people said this was a fantastic way of putting something back – and people who had been on the walks wanted to know what we were going to do next.”

Almost three-quarters of the South West Coast Path runs through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or national parks. Already named as one of the world’s best walks, the organisations involved – which includes the various county councils and the National Trust, which own around 50 per cent of the land traversed by the coastal path – plan to make the South West Coast Path the UK’s favourite walk and of the world’s greatest walk. With your support hopefully we can keep it that way too.

For more information on the Great South West Walk go to


Cycle to commemorate World War centenary

Dorset-based cycle touring company Green Jersey French Cycling Tours are organising a fundraising cycling challenge for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

On 4 August, exactly 100 years to the day after the outbreak of World War One, 200 cyclists will depart from London to ride the Western Front to Compiegne where the Armistice was signed four years later in a railway carriage.

Charlie Bladon, director of Green Jersey, says: “This will be a challenging ride both physically and emotionally. The overall distance is 350 miles, which over 5 days works out at about 70 miles a day. Everywhere you look is another cemetery or memorial to someone’s husband, father or son – all of them carved from Portland stone.” Some places still remain for those who would like join this unique challenge.

For further details visit or call Charlie on 01300 350555.


Real Tennis Champion defends national title

Darren Long, the coach at Canford Real Tennis club, will be defending his national title at the 2014 Browning Cup which is being held in Dorset this month. Enthusiastically played by Henry VIII at Hampton Court, Real or Royal Tennis is often described as the original racquet sports from which the modern game of tennis developed. The Browning Cup, which will be held at Canford School’s own Real Tennis Court which dates from 1879, features around 50 professional Real Tennis players from across the UK including Darren, who hails from Portland. The tournament runs from 14 – 16 March. To book a free seat, or for more information, contact Steve Ronaldson on 01202 881232.


Rare butterflies attracted to Weymouth Relief Road

An amazing 20 species of butterfly have been recorded by the side of one of the busiest roads in Dorset after wild flower seeds were planted on its flanks. Butterfly Conservation, which has been monitoring the Weymouth Relief Road, which links the seaside town with Dorchester, says it has even attracted rare species such as the Adonis Blue and Small Blue.

The road, which was constructed for the 2012 Olympics and opened in March 2011, had cuttings on the roadside left bare of topsoil and seeded with wild flowers such as kidney vetch. There are hopes that other butterflies, including the rare Lulworth Skipper and the Dingy Skipper, may colonise the site in future.