Stitch It, Don't Ditch it

Stitch It, Don't Ditch it

At Sandy Hill Studios


During the Planet Purbeck Festival, Jane Colquhoun and her friends organised a mending session at Sandy Hill Studios; it was a gentle way to sit for a while, stitch and find out about sustainability in the fashion and textile industry.

Jane explained: “We’re trying to open up a sort of awareness about the fashion and textile industry and how polluting it is and how fast fashion is responsible for a lot of destruction of the planet”.  It’s not just about mending clothes but a chance to get together and think about how we wash things and sustain the life of the clothes we already have. In short; how to buy less.

The group creates beautiful darns on clothes that don't hide the fact they’ve been repaired, “it’s a way of owning your clothes” Jane says, like the scars of our skin, the darns on our clothes tall a story and remind us of our past. It’s easy to see that it’s not just about the end product either “I find it incredibly hard to be slow and to be mindful of what I'm doing. I think stitching this is a good way into that. You're in the now and you become present which is part of mindfulness, and you can't do it quickly, you can't rush to the end of it. You can only do it in its own time.”

It’s was a privilege to be around this group of friends and watch them reclaim this lost activity; once commonplace in the past, it actually enabled the planet to be more sustainable and It’s clearly better for their well-being too.

You can find more information about Jane’s work at http://janecolquhoun.com

With thanks to Sandy Hill Studios


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021

MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN

MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN

RETIRED LIGHTHOUSE ATTENDANT   


Michael was about to start a career in the merchant navy when he saw a job advert.  ‘Would you like to be a lighthouse keeper?’ it asked. Michael liked the sea and enjoyed the idea of giving service, but he wasn’t sure whether he’d cope with the isolation of the job.  He took up his first post at the lighthouse on Orford Ness and, he says, the following 45 years flashed past.  In 1991, after spells on some of the most remote, rockiest light stations around our shores, he became the attendant at Anvil Point in Swanage.  He and his wife, Doris, lived at the lighthouse but loved that Swanage was so close.  When at Whitby, in the northeast, by comparison, he had to cross three farms just to get to a metalled road.  

Before lighthouses were automated, offshore attendants had to spend 8 weeks on and four weeks off. Everyone was taught how to cook and how to bake bread, he says. There was no such thing as a frozen meal back then. In his early days, Michael would move regularly from one lighthouse to another to relieve the permanent keepers. It helps build up experience because no two stations are the same, he says. Eventually, he was stationed for longer periods.  Some, like Royal Sovereign off Eastbourne, were modern and comfortable; others, such as Eddystone, were tight for space, with a circuit of bunk beds, each curved to fit inside the tower.  On the so-called ‘rock’ stations, there would be three attendants.  You soon learn how to get on with other people in such isolation, he says. It’s not always rosy, and it’s strange, but you get used to it.

When Michael fully retired, he and Doris decided to stay in Swanage, because they liked it so much.  Doris had her own job and was well-known in the town.  Sadly, she passed away in 2004.  

When I ask Michael about memories of his time looking out to sea, he recalls seeing pods of dolphins and porpoises and then tells me a Razorbill once bit him on the nose. Michael had been trying to rescue the bird; it was lying halfway down the cliff, its feathers clogged with oil. He held the razorbill out in front of him, as he climbed back up, but did not realise how far it could stretch its neck. A Razorbill is well named: it took a lump out of Michael’s nose. Despite this, Michael carried it to the top of the cliff, but the bird was unfortunately in too bad a state to survive. Michael was more than touched by the experience. It seems to be entirely in keeping with his kind and generous nature. 


Interviewed by Sue Western - DEC 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

LIZZIE CONSTANTINE

LIZZIE CONSTANTINE

NHS PULMONARY EXERCISE SPECIALIST and NORDIC WALKER   


Lizzie Constantine describes her move to Purbeck from Buckinghamshire, three years ago, as the best decision she’s ever made. Last year, during the lockdown, her partner proposed to her in a flower meadow above Durlston. 

Lizzie brings a burst of energy to Purbeck. If you can stretch to a hill-climb, Lizzie’s Nordic Walks can help you find muscles you never knew existed. Her Power of the Pole sessions explains the techniques that make Nordic walking such an effective, full-body workout. It’s more impactful for your top half than ordinary walking, Lizzie explains: it better engages your core muscles, and it balances you out. She tells me of someone whose painful hip limited her to an hour’s walk, but who is now doing 12-mile hikes without painkillers. It helps combat osteoporosis, says Lizzie, it can help shed pounds, and it releases endorphins which improve mood. Many people are taking it up for the social side, and why not discover lesser-known parts of Purbeck at the same time: Lizzie’s themed hikes could take you through the world-renowned geology of the Jurassic coast, tread in the footsteps of dinosaurs, or delight in Purbeck’s new cider orchards. 

Lizzie not only leads walks across the hills and along the coast path. She inspires people to re-find their feet in the first place. She’s also an NHS Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Exercise Specialist: she encourages patients with lung conditions or who have had thoracic surgery, to get mobile again. People are understandably anxious about becoming breathless, says Lizzie, but that can lead to an unhelpful cycle of staying put, and making the condition worse. Lizzie coaxes patients through their fears and has seen spectacular results, such as a wheelchair-bound patient, needing oxygen, who can now walk independently. Patients sometimes present at a very low ebb. Lizzie’s enthusiasm and energy are infectious; with her help, they can build confidence, lose weight, join clubs and, in effect, turn their lives around.

Exercise is clearly medicine. Lizzie can’t fully take away a health condition or lung damage, but she can help make you happier. Whatever your baseline or level, Purbeck has a mood-enhancing walk for you.


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

Rhiannon Shutler

Rhiannon Shutler

Autor, Illustrator and Conservationist


Rhiannon is a busy person; along with raising two children, she is currently working two jobs and somehow finds time to write books and poems in her spare time. The natural world has always been an important theme in her life, she is often seen taking home abandoned small animals to look after until they are strong enough to release back into the wild. Her career has taken a similar path; working with rescue centres around Dorset and further afield in Vietnam and Australia too.

“I like to write when the mood takes me,” she says, “talking about why I write and what it has done to help me through tough times”.  Her most recent published book “The Ghost of Make-Believe” is a fantasy centred on acceptance and belonging set in Swanage and was written while her father was ill with cancer. She says she likes to do something that actually makes people think and gives an ecological message. This message has been inherited by her two children also; they absolutely adore animals and have a healthy respect for wildlife and empathy for the natural world.

Find the Book

Rhiannon is getting ready for another “Find The Book” event this Sunday, she will be hiding two personally crafted book boxes somewhere in Swanage and is encouraging people to go out and find them, “I always tell everyone that they're always hidden in safe accessible places, so no one should be trying to go somewhere that's not safe” and this isn’t the first time she as hidden her book boxes in Swanage; “Last time I hid four book boxes, I monitored the Facebook page just to see what people were doing and gave hints when people were having trouble finding them. last time they were all found on the same day. Interestingly, the last one found was at Sandpit Field right after I posted a riddle on Facebook; “I’ve got a pit in my stomach and the beach at my feet.”  A lady found it because she knew that it was in memory of my dad, she knew it had to be where he used to operate the swing boats during the summers.”

So, what's inspiring her to do this again? “I love my childhood stomping grounds,” she says, “ I have a soft spot for Purbeck and a lot of families got in touch after the last event to say that they had a lovely day out looking with their kids. It was great to hear that even though they didn't find a box, they still had a nice day.”

What are we lightly to find in these book boxes? Well one of them is inspired by the current plight of the Albatross and you can find more information in the slideshow below that Rhiannon has made. Inside the other, is a poem about a Crow and the experience a person has with this animal, “It’s about a relationship with nature, and allowing it to take its course rather than just sort of taking over” she explains.

Book Boxes

The Big Picture

Rhiannon’s message is one of gratitude; “If we all start seeing ourselves as guests in the natural world, it is a privilege to enjoy what nature has to offer, we will all have so much more to enjoy in the future. Today's Earth, as many people know, needs a lot of crisis management in how things are run. It's weird because even though we are often the problem, we are also the first to complain when things go wrong.” 

When talking about solutions she explains that a change in attitude is necessary; “As guests, we need a different mindset; instead of blaming nature itself when it doesn't fit, we need to take a step back and see how we are possibly the difficult customer that always leaves before paying. Maybe it's about time we started recognising that nature knows what it's doing and we are the ones who need to 'check in' to nature and listen to the rules during our stay. We can't keep taking and expect nature to restock, we are effectively making the natural world bankrupt, and the crazy thing is it keeps us alive.”

The next “Find the book” starts this Sunday 21/11/2021 visit https://www.facebook.com/daydreamersbook for updates throughout the day.

Find the Book 2021 from PlanetPurbeck

Interviewed by Dean Storer - Nov 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

Liv Cooper

Liv Cooper

BIRDS OF POOLE HARBOUR OSPREY PROJECT


Liv Cooper has one of the most unusual mothering roles in Purbeck. Liv lives near Wareham, but through summer months, she preps fish for osprey chicks on the shores of Poole Harbour. She and the team at the Birds of Poole Harbour Osprey re-introduction project, hope these chicks will make the area home. Ospreys haven’t nested or bred in Poole Harbour for nearly 200 years. Thanks to the project, that could all change in 2022. 

A ringed female, CJ7, has caused a sensation. She was born in Rutland, 6 years ago, and mature birds tend to return to where they fledged. Unexpectedly, she has shown signs of wanting to breed around Poole Harbour. CJ7 is pushing the boundaries of what we know about Ospreys. Liv couldn’t be more surprised or excited, but she is equally delighted by the joy CJ7 has created locally and internationally.

Liv feels her deep connection to nature was in-built.  Everything in nature has always felt honest and simple, she says.  You can try to better understand what’s going on, but it’s always going to be bigger than us. She believes that feeling of wonder leads to a sense of calm. 

Last year was a turning point for all sorts of reasons. Liv’s colleagues at Birds of Poole Harbour had placed a live webcam looking onto a nesting platform – not really knowing what it would reveal.  During lockdowns, it became a source of delight for house-bound people everywhere; especially when it became clear CJ7 was showing interest in a male, 022. He had been released as a chick in the Harbour in 2019 and happily for the team, returned in May 2021 after his migration to West Africa.  The webcam captured not just the remarkable sight of CJ7 laying (unfertilised) eggs, but unusual views of Tawny Owls and Nightjars that revealed the bird wealth in the area. 

Liv and her colleagues work closely with local landowners and she is impressed by how open they have been to the prospect of a ‘Schedule 1’ bird species nesting on their patch. There is every good reason Ospreys should be here. Special animals should not just be corralled into parks or reserves, Liv believes; everyone deserves to have them on their doorstep. There are so many good things happening locally, says Liv. She hopes the many fantastic projects in Purbeck will come together – like pulling the cords of a bag – so that living and working more harmoniously with our surroundings will become the most natural thing to do.


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

The Corfe River Wildlife Event

Gen and Steve by the Corfe River

In this short film, we speak with Steve Oliver (Dorset Wildlife Trust) and Gen Crisford (National Trust) as they host an event inviting locals to explore wildlife in the Corfe River.

Steve explains that events like this engage local people by helping them to understand the biodiversity around them. He goes on to say; “Most of our rivers out failing, sadly, so organisations like Dorset Wildlife Trust and the National Trust are working with landowners to find out how they can improve land management and how that will improve the water quality. The result will be more biodiversity, more wildlife; more life! Times are changing and we all need to do something about it, It’s so important that we appreciate what’s around us and that we are connected with living things.

Gen Crisford, who works on restoring wetlands within Purbeck says; “Our wetlands do all sort of wonderful natural processes; they help with climate resilience, they protect against flooding and drought. Wetlands are a valuable habitat for many other species; around 40% of species need wetlands to survive, so we need to work on restoring these natural habitats so that nature can benefit from that” 

Local attendees said that they enjoyed being able to go into the river and explore it with someone guiding them to show see all the different creatures. It really made the kids day to discover what they have around them.

For information on forthcoming events check out the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s website: https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/events

Interview and film by Sue Western September 2021

KEVIN KEATES

KEVIN KEATES

(KEATES QUARRIES)  - QUARRYMAN and STONEMASON


Among the huge slabs of honey-coloured Purbeck stone near Acton, Kevin Keates is a real gem. He’s warm, kind and a great storyteller, but he also has a secret skill: he can read the rocks under our shoes like a book. He can tell which ones are lying too close to a fault-line to be sound, and which ones will shape up into a perfect building stone. That’s because quarrying is in his blood; he’s the thirteenth generation of his family to work here. His son and grandson make that fifteen.

 Kevin says he feels easy in his skin up here on the hill, and, like many people in Purbeck, can’t put his finger on why he loves the place so much.  He just loves it! 

Quarrying is hard work, especially when the wind and rain blow in during the winter months, but it’s been, literally, the bedrock of the Purbeck economy for centuries. Kevin feels proud to be part of this long tradition. When stonemasons need to make repairs to beautiful buildings such as Salisbury Cathedral, it’s to Purbeck they must come. The ‘marble’ that adorns most of the great cathedrals in southern England is only found under these hills.  It’s why Kevin believes quarrying must be slow and steady - sustainable for the long term. Life, he tells me, should not be driven by greed. He has a framed picture in the office, captioned in Dorset dialect: “Contentment is a constant feast. He is richest who do want the least.”

This must be the only quarry in the world that has a poem inscribed in stone outside the works office. It was written by his dear friend and fellow quarryman, Geoff Hooper, who died in 2003.  Geoff told him that working the stone was a meditative experience. Kevin agrees that it makes for a particularly deep connection to the Purbeck landscape. 

As work shuts down for the day, rabbits start bounding through the quarry. Kevin tells me there’s a fox that sometimes lies down and watches him work; that pied wagtails are regular nesters; and that he’s seen stoats and badgers on site.  One spring morning, the crew discovered tiny wren fledglings flying about in the cutting shed. Outside, was a hungry carrion crow. They decided to keep the shed door closed so the wrens could better get their wings. In these - sometimes unexpected - ways, Kevin is a custodian of Purbeck life.  An hour in his company is an hour well spent.


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

JULIE HATCHER

JULIE HATCHER

MARINE BIOLOGIST


Julie Hatcher fell in love with Kimmeridge a long time ago. She was studying marine biology at the time but was imagining her career would take her somewhere like South America; ‘Dolphins were my thing,’ she says.  It was while volunteering at Kimmeridge, during her first year at uni, that she realised she didn’t need to go overseas to get a job caring for exciting marine life.  It was right there, under her nose. 

Julie’s stunning photographs of Yellow fringed Nudibranchs, iridescent Cuckoo Wrasse and Jewel Anemones prove that Purbeck’s Marine Conservation Zone can keep a marine biologist occupied for a lifetime.  She has been the head warden at the Marine Centre in Kimmeridge since 2004.  Julie loves surprising and enthusing other people about marine life and she’s very good at it! 30 people turned up for one of her famous rockpool rambles during half term week. 

‘There’s a perception that our seas are barren, grey and cold,’ Julie tells me.  ‘Well, they can be grey and cold, but they are certainly not barren!’  They are full of colourful animals, pink plants and some of the strangest life-forms you’re likely to see.  Purbeck is a World Heritage Site, thanks to its geology, but unusual tidal patterns and proximity to the vibrant waters of the south-west, create a unique marine mix.  Julie thinks it’s more interesting than a tropical coral reef.  ‘Coral reefs are contained spaces. Around Purbeck, there’s life everywhere,’ she tells me.   

Purbeck’s remarkable geology extends out to sea.  What we can’t see, are the cliffs and ancient river channels from when sea levels were lower. Many of these micro-habitats are yet to be fully explored: they provide different landscapes for vibrant communities of wildlife.   In fact, there is still so much we don’t know about what lives around our coastline and Julie reminds me how important all of it is to us. Without it - for a start - we wouldn’t have that miraculous balance of oxygen in our atmosphere that keeps us alive.  

Purbeck’s beaches and coves are also reminders of how interconnected we are with the rest of the world. Many are Atlantic facing, so prevailing winds and currents encourage litter to snag here.  Most of the rubbish that washes ashore wasn’t dumped here – it comes from across the ocean – but there’s a long, forensic tail to it.  It includes bead-like plastic nurdles, the raw material for all our plastic goods. Even the recycled stuff.  Julie and her husband have even traced lost fishing gear back to specific boats in North America. Some items may have drifted for over 18 months – they wash up with exotic creatures attached, which tell Julie a lot about the item’s origin and route.   

Julie never tires of Kimmeridge because there’s always something new to find. A new species might move in from down the coast, or she might discover something that hasn’t been seen for 10 or 20 years.  Even on her days off, she goes diving and photographing the underwater world. And she has realized her original dream: she studies dolphins, as a volunteer for the MARINElife charity. 

‘Purbeck is amazing. I feel very connected to this place,’ she says. ‘Every day, I feel privileged to work here.’


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.

Respond to the Beaver Consultation

Residents in Purbeck have until 17th November 2021 to take part in a consultation to reintroduce beavers to England

After around 400 years of extinction in England, in August 2020 a wild population of beavers were officially given permission to remain in the River Otter, Devon. The government has now launched a landmark consultation regarding their wider reintroduction to the country.

The Purbeck Beaver Project is currently working with stakeholders to draw up plans for a phased reintroduction of beavers to Purbeck. The National Trust and other partner organisations will submit responses that incorporate local feedback, but this is a public consultation and individuals are also encouraged to take part. So now it's your opportunity to share your feedback directly with the government!

If you are supportive of beavers and would like a say in the conditions for their reintroduction; if you have concerns that you would like to highlight; or if you would like to comment on how they are managed in the future, now's the time to have your say!

Follow our easy help guide to complete the consultation

A document has been created to help stakeholders for the Purbeck Beaver Project to understand local feedback collected, relating to the government consultation about the future management of beavers in England.

For each question presented in the consultation, general information has been provided, followed by questions you can consider in your answer, and the Purbeck project’s view based on our local consultation and lessons learned throughout the feasibility phase of our work. This has been colour coded for easy understanding.

If you have questions about the consultation or would like to better understand any of the issues that local people have raised during our stakeholder engagement, please do get in touch with gen.crisford@nationaltrust.org.uk

What does Rewilding Britain think?

Rewilding is a crucial tool when it comes to tackling the nature and climate emergency that faces us. Beavers can do much of the rewilding we need completely free of charge in river and wetland environments! Planet Purbeck agrees with Rewilding Britain, it really is a ​‘no-brainer’ that with the right local community support and management strategies in place, beavers should return!

What's so special about beavers?

FRANK ROBERTS

FRANK ROBERTS

VOLUNTEER at HERSTON HALT & SWANAGE ARMY LINK


Frank gets things done. During the 40 years or so he’s lived in Swanage, he’s installed signalling along sections of the Swanage railway line; he’s helped join the Swanage line into the national rail network; renovated and maintained the Herston Halt stop; initiated community litter-picking with Litter Free Purbeck and more recently, with Swanage Army Link; purchased solar panels and a massive battery to store renewable energy; and helped raise money to build the Hero’s Haven holiday home, which gives military veterans and their carers respite in times of need. This is a man hell-bent on not retiring! 

Frank’s energy, competence and organisational star qualities are grounded in a successful Army career and a period working for SouthWest Trains, but Frank also has a compassionate understanding of the need for community and how better mental health can be nourished through community involvement. Care for the community is at the heart of all he does. In taking a lead, he opens the possibility for other people to get involved, and to take an active role in being kinder to others and to the environment.  

He and fellow volunteers might be keeping a historic rail line alive, but Frank believes they are also making history: looking ahead to when the rail line could be the backbone of a more sustainable transport network in Purbeck, and one that supports better job prospects and the local economy.   

One of Frank’s proudest moments was carrying the Olympic torch through the centre of Swanage in 2012, after being nominated for his community work. He’s a local legend – full of ideas -  who is helping to engineer a better future for people in Purbeck.


Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.