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News from Sharpham

Spring to life is relaunched

03/09/2014 10:54 am

Following a successful funding bid, the  Spring to Life  project, is being relaunched from 8 October. This innovative outdoor approach, run by the Sharpham Outdoors Project, aims to help young people, aged 16 – 25 years, who are experiencing mental distress, recover by encouraging them to participate in activities outdoors.

Christine Carol from Ambios, partner of the Sharpham Outdoors Project, said: “ Spring to Life has been running for  three  years and during that time over 100 young people have benefitted. The project, a ten-week programme, combines outdoor and natural history activities with mental health support from qualified staff and peer volunteer help from people who have had direct experience of mental health distress. 

“Based in the beautiful environment of the 500-acre Sharpham estate, the programme combines our specific awareness approach, called Take A Moment, with activities to allow participants to fully experience the natural world around them, which then helps them through their difficulties.”

The national mental health charity MIND states that introducing just five people with mental ill health to this kind of project (known as ecotherapy) saves the state more than £35,000 each year in medication, Jobseekers allowance and healthcare.  

A survey conducted by Ambios showed that half of a group of 16 participants studied had progressed from the project onto employment and volunteering, and still used the outdoors as part of their self supporting coping strategy.  The South Hams alone has around 78,000 people aged 18-64 with diagnosed mental ill health and this project has become recognised locally as a beneficial and positive health care referral option for young people with mental distress.

Christine added: “For one day a week over the course of ten weeks, participants learn new skills, help conserve the natural environment or simply enjoy the surroundings and take time out by the outdoor fire with others. They work towards achieving the John Muir Award, a recognised and certificated environmental scheme focused on awareness and exploration. On completion of the programme, they are able to continue with us as wildlife volunteers.”

“Programmes are designed in consultation with a mental health specialist and other young people, and delivered by our trained staff team alongside volunteer mentors who have direct experience of mental health distress. To assist with practicalities, we are able to provide lunch and some travel costs.

“It’s encouraging that, because of the funding, we can continue this vital project for another two years.”

On the trail of cheeses

20/08/2014 11:23 am

With the help of the British Cheese Board, Clare Bourke looks at some of the county’s cheese producers including Sharpham and Ticklemore and discovers why this humble food will always be a firm favourite.

For full details of this article see the  online version of Devon Life  magazine.

New Sharpham Programme out now

01/03/2013 3:35 pm

The new Autumn 2014 Events Programme covering Sept, Oct and Nov is now out. You can download it here or request a printed copy.

We have lots of opportunities for you to get out and about, enjoy something new or to be creative. 

Events include our Apple Pressing Day and Autumn festival, foraging, making and preserving for your Autumn larder, enjoying poetry in the wonderful atmosphere of Sharpham House, finding out about the night sky, using mindfulness to boost your well being, and joining us to celebrate All Souls' Day.

Please check the website for the current availability for all our courses and events to avoid disappointment as occasionally we have to make changes after the publication of the Programme.

All of these events are aimed at helping you enjoy Sharpham and its estate and sharing with us what makes Sharpham such a special place. 

If you would like us to post you a copy, please let us know.

Parzival is triumphant!

11/08/2014 10:40 am

Over 600 people took the opportunity to enjoy an exciting new outdoor theatre version of the ancient myth of Parzival at Sharpham recently. Funded by Arts Council England, the promenade performances allowed audiences to join Parzival on his journey seeking the Grail and took them on their own quest through the exceptional setting of the Sharpham Estate and the House, beside the River Dart.


Here's what members of the audience said:

"I love the story of Parzival, It's an incredibly rich and deep story - and I'm so glad that Martin, Harry, Peter et al did it such justice. It is without doubt, to date, the most enjoyable piece of theatre I have ever seen. I was completely enthralled from start to finish. Sharpham House was the perfect location and I thought the mix of locations that we moved around really suited the story. The acting was thoroughly engaging, moving effortlessly from lighthearted humour to heart-felt drama. Martin's narration worked really well to give the story extra poignancy where needed. The whole cast were brilliant I thought. I know I will treasure the memory of it for the rest of my life!"

"My daughter and I recently went to see Parzifal. Amazing, brilliant venue for Outdoor theatre! Couldn't understand why this hasn't happened before. Perfect, and the bus from the station was great! A wonderful evening, please keep doing them. We need more theatre in and around Totnes, and this was just the place."

“Thank you. Cannot remember when I last enjoyed theatre so much. More, please.”

Parzival 2

“I thought that the performance yesterday was absolutely outstanding. The setting was breathtakingly beautiful and used so well. I felt truly transported to the world of myth and privileged to witness the action from my invisible, highly visible position as spectator. We were brought in and out of Parzival’s story with skill and grace. We walked the journey, too. Martin Shaw kept our feet firmly in the 21st century and rooted in our real lives, while the myth spoke to the deep, ancient places in us..  I know many people who were disappointed that it sold out. Shame it didn’t run for longer... I think I may have even gone back a second time!  Please do more! And I’ll be in the next one..”. 

“The show was fantastic: magical in feel yet also speaking to the reality we're living now. I felt like I was entering myth by the front door.  I hope there will be other, similar productions.”

“The actors, the script, the direction and the music all met the power and beauty of the location and of the myth, which was no small achievement. The grounds and house at Sharpham were used to maximum effectiveness - I know this myth well but I now have images in my head of forest dwellings; the Fisher King in his skeletal iron rowing-boat on the tree waves; a woman nursing the severed head of her husband on a pillar of a gate/threshold; Parzival breaking down in the hermit's hut; the fabulous sword fight on the decking under the trees; the pilgrims with lanterns winding their way through the woods; the court of King Arthur waiting for a feast and the truly extraordinary pageant of the Grail offering in the stairwell of the house with acoustics, lighting and setting that invoked the awe, mystery and otherworldliness of the scene.

Parzival 4

"The masks and minimal costumes, along with the ever-moving procession/quest, allowed the stunning landscape of Sharpham to play a major part in the successful evocation of the myth world - a heightened reality that is not easy to access. It was a visual and aural treat and an intellectual one - the narrator role taken by Martin Shaw, who wittily and dramatically juxtaposed the old myth with modern day reality, brought it sharply to life, made everyone think, encouraging the audience to engage in their own quest/questionings and proving the relevance of Parsival to 21st century.”

Parzival 3

School children sow seeds at Sharpham Meadow

28/07/2014 3:38 pm

Last week, three classes, over 60 children aged between 8 and 11yrs, from The Grove School in Totnes took part in a seed collecting and sowing event at Sharpham, run by the Sharpham Outdoors Project.  

The children first collected wild native flower seeds from the estate's organically-farmed Lower Sharpham Barton Farm and then walked up the hill to Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground to sow them. The Trust aims to gradually increase the wild flowers at the meadow by stripping the turf off in sections and sowing the bare ground with wild flower seeds. 

At this event, a strip of soil was removed to make a seed bed where the children were all able to sow their gathered seed. 

Chloe from Year 4 said: “I had a great day. My favourite bit of the day was when we planted the seeds and made a wish on them.”

The children took their responsibilities to heart and were quiet, respectful and thoughtful as they planted the seeds and decided on their wishes.

It was hard work for them but really useful, and Bob the Bus was on hand to take them back to Totnes after a hot day in the sun. 

Teacher Adrian Gude said, "The children had a great time and learnt a lot about conservation issues.” 

Get in touch

If you would like to know more about the information on this page, please contact:

Name: Programme Administrator Tel: 01803 732708 Email:marketing@sharphamtrust.org

Address: The Sharpham Trust, Ashprington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 7UT