The age old adage that when a storm passes waters are clearer and that a sense of calm and tranquillity follows is most definitely the case across the South West of England. Here at HomeAway along with Visit Devon, the Devon Tourism Partnership, local businesses and Teignmouth and Dawlish Community Interest Company would like to share how Devon coped with the spectacular storms and showed a huge energy, commitment and passion to get things up and running again.
Journalist Brian Jackman commented in his article for the Telegraph that “the South West has shaken itself off like a wet dog and is ready to play again”. I’d like to add to that it is looking sleek and well groomed and most certainly ready to welcome visitors this Easter.
Dawlish Railway Line – re opening 4th April, ahead of schedule and ready for Easter
Dawlish was hit by a huge storm on the 5th February that caused the sea wall supporting the railway line to be washed away. A massive repair operation has taken place and the line will open ahead of schedule. Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnerships revealed on Thursday the “green makeover” taking place prior to the Station opening. Station Manager Ian Mundy summed up nicely the impact of the overall team effort:
“This project shows how much can be achieved when the railway, volunteers and local businesses work together to improve the station environment for all. It’s a fantastic way to welcome passengers back to the railway.”
The local business man behind the “green makeover” is TV gardener and local horticulturalist Toby Buckland. Having a nursery and plant centre at Powderham Castle, Toby put his green fingered volunteers to work – the group planted a variety of plants and Citizens Rail organised the gardening day. Not only is the station about to re-open for business, it’s looking greener than ever!
If you are a budding horticulturalist or just looking for a great family day out Powderham Castle is hosting Toby’s new Garden Festival on 2nd and 3rd May which also promises to be a blooming success.
Helga Beer, Manager at Jack Sprat Café was another local business owner who got stuck in with trying to help those affected:
“Rarely, if ever, have I seen a community pull together as effectively as Dawlish did after the storm. As soon as we heard about the damage and the fact that people had been forced to evacuate their homes, we put a post on Facebook offering a place to meet and food. Within hours nearly 4000 people had seen the post which sparked off a chain of positive reactions: suppliers started donating food, customers dropped in gifts and donations, even people from out of the area sent in cheques. In fact, it seemed like everyone wanted to do something to help, however small”.
Along with a coffee morning and auction evening nearly £2,500 was raised, a staggering achievement that all involved should feel proud to be part of!
Support from Visit Devon and Visit England
Visit Devon organised a series of conferences financed by the government and supported by VisitEngland last week. The aim was to ensure that tourism businesses affected by the storm floods were offered the best advice to enable them to keep functioning and be ready to welcome visitors over Easter and the coming months. Amazingly over 350 businesses across the region were affected and the majority stayed open for business.
Carolyn Custerson, Chairmain of Visit Devon spoke for one and all when saying: “After a challenging start to the year Devon is now very much looking forward to welcoming visitors with Devon providing some of the country’s best beaches, attractions and places to stay in Britain.”
The Visit Devon website is fully updated with events, attractions and travel information: Easter is just around the corner, my children break up at the end of this week and many schools follow suit over the next week or two so now is the time to start planning your Easter days out or break away. Devon promises to deliver an Easter Egg-stravaganza!
Emma Kay: Town centre development manager for Dawlish and Teingnmouth gave me an overview of what to look forward to in her part of Devon:
“With over 350 businesses, play areas, sandy beaches, amusements and parks in the centre of the towns, Teignmouth and Dawlish have something for everyone. Did you know Teignmouth is home to Britain’s oldest passenger ferry to neighbouring village Shaldon, and Dawlish is home to black swans and Brunel’s famous railway line? We also have fantastic events taking place all year round, including week-long Carnivals in each town, Teignmouth Regatta and the spectacular Dawlish Air Show with the Red Arrows.”
Looking forward to Spring and Summer: there is already talk that the forecast for the UK this Summer will be one of the hottest on record. No need to book flights, worry about passports and all that extra expense: with great transport links, beautiful beaches, historical and cultural attractions and vibrant cities; Devon really does have it all.
Babbacombe bay and Blokarting images by Onshoremedia