Monthly Archives: January 2016

The heat is on – and it stays on, when the power fails

A Cumbrian business has been hailed for keeping the power on across the region during the winter storms.

Draper Generators, whose own property in Kendal was hit by floods, has been thanked by businesses, farmers and hoteliers whose premises were affected by the December deluge.

The company sells back-up diesel-powered and gas-powered generators which start automatically when electricity supplies fail. One hotelier told them: “Your wonderful generator literally saved our bacon.”

Martin Oakley, owner of the Ravenstone Manor hotel at Bassenthwaite Lake near Keswick, said that the Draper generator enabled them to stay open when a fallen tree brought power lines down during the floods.

“Thanks solely to that we were able to keep our guests warm, fed and in the light where others had to send their guests home,” said Mr Oakley.  “We were without mains power for three days and guests were asking me if the power was back on because they were so unaffected by the lack of it.”

ravenstone manor hotel

Ravenstone Manor hotel: the lights stayed on

Mr Oakley, a southerner from Oxford who moved to the Ravenstone Manor last summer, said that having the generator fitted was the first major job he did on moving in. “All the locals told me I would never need it,” he said. “I had the last laugh. It’s a vital piece of equipment for us.”

The tribute was paid to managing director Kevin Draper, who also runs Draper Fire and Security, and is an expert in providing peace of mind as well as state of the art equipment.

“The floods were unprecedented, but we have been planning for severe weather and the possibility of power cuts,” said Mr Draper. “We have businesses whose minds are now at rest because they know that they won’t be affected.”

He highlighted one customer living in a remote area whose disabled wife needed a power supply for her wheelchair, specially-adapted bed, and breathing apparatus. “It is literally a life-saver to have a standby generator for emergencies such as that,” said Mr Draper.

Kevin Draper pic

Kevin Draper: maintaining peace of mind is crucial

“Care homes are particularly vulnerable when there are power cuts; elderly and unwell people need to be kept warm. In another area, a farmer was able to keep his biomass boilers running when the power went off.”

Mr Draper’s company supplies a range of generators costing from £600, and he now imports, supplies, maintains and services a wide range of back-up generators from Asia, UK and also the   American-designed Champion standby generator which runs on LPG or natural gas. He also loaned a generator to flood-stricken Burnside paper manufacturing company, James Cropper PLC after the December floods.

“We can advise clients what would be the best generator for them,” said Mr Draper. “Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and power reserves being at there lowest, so to be without power at the busiest and coldest time of the year can be dangerous as well as disruptive. We want to help provide security and peace of mind.”

For more details see


Lake District young poets asked: has the Gap affected your lives?

School pupils across Cumbria are being invited to enter a prestigious poetry competition.

The annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets is organised by the descendants of William Wordsworth, and is open to students at all schools in the county.

The poems this time will be on the theme: Mind the Gap. Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, who is organising the contest on behalf of the Wordsworth family, said: “The writers can interpret the theme in any way they wish, but we thought that it would be an opportunity for some of them to consider how the winter storms and the Gap on the A591 have affected their lives and their family lives.”

Christopher and the winners small

Christopher Wordsworth with last year’s winners

The winner will receive a £50 cash prize, a personal trophy, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour on the plaque at Wordsworth’s former home at Rydal Mount near Ambleside. There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories.

Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the descendants of William Wordsworth.

Last year’s winner was 13 year old Jessica Dickinson, a pupil at Keswick School, with “I wandered into my childhood”, a tribute to William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. Her poem was deemed to be the best from more than 150 entries from school pupils across Cumbria by members of the Wordsworth family, who will judge the entries again this year. Her poem has been framed and displayed at Rydal Mount for visitors to read.

The closing date for entries is Friday Feb 26, and an award ceremony will be held at Rydal Mount later in the spring when the winner will be announced.

Entry forms can be found at

or via the Cumbria education department schools’ information portal.


The Rydal Mount Wordsworth Prize for Young Poets 2016 entry form


Dear Head Teacher

The descendants of William Wordsworth invite entries from your pupils for the annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets.

All students at Cumbrian schools are eligible to take part. The theme this year is “Mind the Gap”, which can be interpreted as the writer wishes, but might well inspire those whose lives have been changed by the winter storms and the Gap in the A591.

Entries should be typed in 12 or 14 point font, double spaced, and no longer than one side of A4 paper. They should be saved as individual Word documents and emailed as attachments to rydalpoetry@gmail.cowinner framed 2015m

Entries should include the name and age of the entrant, and the contact details of the student’s school. The closing date for entries is Friday March 11, 2016.

The poems will be judged by the Wordsworth family and an award ceremony will be held at Rydal Mount, near Ambleside, the poet’s home for most of his life, on Thursday April 14. There will be signed book prizes for the entries highly commended by the judges from the primary and secondary school categories. A trophy will be awarded, along with a cash prize of £50, to the overall winner.  The winner’s name will be added to the plaque on the wall at Rydal Mount.

Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the descendants of Will1am Wordsworth

Adventure swim experts join the team for world’s toughest triathlon

The world’s toughest extreme triathlon, The X, is teaming up with Lake District open water swimming experts Swim the Lakes.

The Ambleside-based firm, which runs guided adventure swims and training courses as well as selling specialist equipment, will be based at race headquarters at YHA Ambleside for the event in June.

ed byrne and pete in ullswater 1

Pete Kelly of Swim the Lakes with comedian Ed Byrne swimming in Ullswater

They plan to hold swim events in Windermere alongside the triathlon, working with wetsuit specialists BlueSeventy who are also sponsoring the race.

Director Pete Kelly said: “Swim the Lakes is really excited to be involved in this flagship event which is bringing elite athletes to our area from all over the world. We have worked with the race organisers when this event was staged at Wasdale, but it is great to see it now being hosted on our home territory.”

Competitors in the race, the world’s toughest extreme triathlon, will swim two miles in Windermere, before cycling the 112 miles on the “Fred Whitton” route, and then running a mountain marathon of 26 miles to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

Swim the Lakes join other sponsors of The X, including Lakeland UK and Heart of the Lakes (who are each providing £1000 prize money for the first man and first woman); BlueSeventy, the world’s leading wetsuit company who are offering vouchers for the veteran category winners; and Hawkshead Relish who are providing hampers for the winning teams. Also on board as partners are Romneys Kendal Mint Cake, and Keswick-based Mountain Fuel who will be at race HQ with a stall and nutrition advice.

The X is supported by YHA England and Wales, and a percentage of each entry fee is going to the YHA’s bursary fund, Breaks for Kids, which provides adventure holidays for disadvantaged children.

Race director Mark Blackburn said: “Swim the Lakes have supported all our events and we know that they are the experts in organising the best experiences for open water swimmers, as well as being water safety experts. It’s great to have them join our team this summer for The X.”

A few places remain for the event and entry forms can be found at

The fantasy sheep are taking shape in the Lakes

Herdwick sheep are set to roam across the Lake District – but this is a fantasy flock being created by artists.

The sheep are about to be decorated and glazed before going on display this spring at a string of more than 50 locations between Windermere and Keswick. And one of the first on the route will be at the Cedar Manor Hotel in Windermere whose sheep has been painted by Kendal artist Thuline de Cock.

It’s a charity initiative by the Lake District Calvert Trust who hope that the sheep will become as iconic as the cattle of the Cow Parade – and bring in funds for a good cause. The Trust run challenging outdoor adventure breaks for those with disabilities and money raised will help fund the £1.3m capital redevelopment of Old Windebrowe, in Keswick, a grade 2 listed farmhouse and tithe barn which is thought to date back to the 1550s and was once used as a home by William Wordsworth.

thuline caroline and jonathan with herdy

She started life like this….

Businesses were asked to sponsor a sheep – life-size blank Herdwick ewe sculptures made of glass-reinforced plastic – and then have it decorated into a distinctive work of art.

From Easter the sheep will appear in unexpected places; in parks, gardens, in the street, on buildings, in shops, cafes and restaurants – all paying homage to the Herdwick’s iconic home in the Lake District. An art trail map, posters and brochures naming all the sponsors and artists will be sold throughout the life of the project.

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye who run the Cedar Manor Hotel are long-time supporters of the Calvert Trust; Caroline is going to run the London Marathon in April to raise funds for them. “We thought it was a brilliant idea,” said Caroline. “The sheep will stand under the Cedar tree by our entrance so everyone will see it when they pass by.”

They chose artist Thuline to decorate their sheep as she has already exhibited her paintings, and run a workshop, at the hotel. “We love her paintings of animals, and we love what she’s done with our sheep,” Caroline said.

The Calvert Trust project will deliver six specialised apartments suitable for stroke survivors and those with acquired brain injuries or physical impairments, including a communal area allowing guests to receive occupational therapy and rehabilitative support on-site.

Photos by Richard Gill, Great Impressions

shes out on the road

…and now she’s like this

Fuel for athletes as nutrition experts join the tough triathlon team

A Cumbrian sports nutrition company has joined forces with the world’s toughest extreme triathlon which will be staged this summer at Windermere.

Keswick-based MountainFuel is the latest partner of Triathlon X which will see hundreds of elite athletes from across the world heading for race HQ at YHA Ambleside at Waterhead.

MountainFuel is a Multi Sport System that is nutritionally balanced to ensure the body is fuelled for maximum performance.  Rupert Bonington, co-owner and son of the mountaineer Chris Bonington who is Vice-President of the YHA, says its products have been successfully used in some of the world’s most extreme environments.

rupert bonington

They will be providing nutrition advice for athletes in the build up to the event, and at race HQ, and providing samples of their products for the competitors.

They join other leading sponsors of The X, Lakeland UK and Heart of the Lakes (who are each providing £1000 prize money for the first man and first woman); BlueSeventy, the world’s leading wetsuit company who are offering vouchers for the veteran category winners; and Hawkshead Relish who are providing hampers for the winning teams. Kendal Mint Cake makers Romney of Kendal are also providing goods for the athletes.

The X is supported by YHA England and Wales, and a percentage of each entry fee is going to the YHA’s bursary fund, Breaks for Kids, which provides adventure holidays for disadvantaged children.

Race director Mark Blackburn said: “We are delighted to have a local company join us to provide nutrition advice and products for our swimmers, cyclists and runners. Mountain Fuel is an ideal partner.

mountain fuel logo

“They were the first company to exclusively specialise in the formulation and development of nutritionally balanced supplements targeted at individuals and teams involved in extreme and  endurance sport. In collaboration with nutritional consultants, they created a range of products for people who subject themselves to conditions way beyond the physical and psychological demands of many other sports. That describes our triathletes exactly.”

Rupert Bonington said: “We are really pleased to be working with Triathlon X. This is our home territory, and the Lake District provides some of the best adventure sport in the whole world. Whatever your sport or activity, Mountain Fuel powers you to achieve your goals.

“Our nutritionally loaded supplements, which were under nearly two years of intensive research and field trials, have been tested in every condition conceivable. We teamed up with some amazing individuals and teams from the UK, including the inspirational North and South Pole ‘Walking with the Wounded’ teams along with their patron HRH Prince Harry, and Adam Harmer who kayaked 1000 miles to win the Yukon 1000.”

The X will be staged at Windermere on June 25. The event will have steeper ascents than any “ironman” triathlon anywhere in the world. Competitors will swim twice round Seamew Crag island in Windermere, and then cycle all the Lake District passes on the route of the Fred Whitton challenge, some 112 miles. The marathon run of 26 miles will take the athletes out and back to the top of Scafell Pike via Elterwater and Great Langdale.

The total ascent on the cycle and run routes is 5150m, the highest in the world, with a projected winning time of four hours longer than Norway’s Norseman extreme race.

One local athlete, fitness instructor Ursula Brendling, from Ambleside, has decided to tackle the X as her very first triathlon, to mark her 50th birthday next summer. She is being sponsored to raise more money for Breaks for Kids.

Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s head of operations, said: “As the UK’s Adventure Capital the Lake District, Cumbria has an adrenaline fuelled calendar of outdoor challenge events every year and this event is no exception. There are plenty of events for the first time competitor, and others for more experienced athletes that require total endurance and dedication.

“Hosting TriathlonX on Windermere will allow even more people to access this high level event and allow them to come and embrace their adventurous side here in the Lake District.”

There are still a few places left for The X; entries at The organisers are also staging the half-ironman triathlon at Windermere this year on Sunday September 25.


Brightening up Blue Monday in the Lakes

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Art appreciation: young visitors from Grasmere school at the Heaton Cooper studio. Photo by Richard Gill/Great Impressions


Money for the mental health charity MIND was raised at two events which came together on “Blue Monday” in Cumbria this week.

Kendal businessman Neil Corrigan, owner and MD of Creative Lakes, the marketing and branding specialists,  donated £100 to the charity after encouraging website visitors to read his ideas for cheering up what’s alleged to be the most depressing day of the year.

And he presented the cheque at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere where a one-day exhibition of bright and sunny paintings was staged to help beat Blue Monday.

The exhibition was organised by the studio’s manager Becky Heaton Cooper and included paintings of Provence by her grandfather, William Heaton Cooper,  and of Morocco, by her uncle, Julian Cooper.

There were also pictures by the youngest artists in the Heaton Cooper dynasty, Becky’s five year old twins Alfie and Ophelia. Visitors to the free exhibition were encouraged to donate to MIND.

“It is the gloomiest time of the year and if there’s anything we can do to brighten people’s lives for a day, then it has to be worthwhile,” said Becky. “We have many works of art that we can’t put on display so it’s a very good excuse to choose some of the brightest featuring the most sunshine.”

MIND chief officer Jonathan Ingram said: “We are delighted that the studio did this to raise awareness of the work of South Lakeland Mind. Good mental health is so important, and our local provision for those people who need support can only continue if other people keep supporting our work.

“’The past few weeks have been harrowing for many people, with the floods bringing headline news to our own doors. The impact of this will last for a long time to come, and it looks like being a much harder January than usual for many people.”

His colleague, Celia Forsyth, accepted the cheque from Mr Corrigan and chatted with visitors about the work of the charity.

Blue Monday was initially identified according to a formula devised by happiness and motivation expert, Cliff Arnall, then a lecturer at Cardiff University. His “equation”, taking into account distance from Christmas, debts and the weather, is now being used by mental health charities to highlight the need to change our routines and give our psychological well-being some attention.

An annual campaign to “beat Blue Monday” was established by Andy Green, a leading expert in brand storytelling, creativity and PR strategy, to raise awareness of the work done by MIND and help people suffering from depression.

The Heaton Cooper initiative was hailed by Mr Green who said: “This wonderful exhibition shows that you can transform the symbolically most depressing day of the year into a celebration of life, and all that there is to enjoy.”


Kendal mint cake firm “enters” triathlon

A Kendal mint cake firm which was badly hit by the December floods is to plunge back into the water as a supporter of the Windermere-based Triathlon x.

George Romney Ltd, whose factory on Mintsfeet Industrial Estate was flooded before Christmas, will supply packs of mint cake for some 300 athletes from around the world at the event in June.

Competitors in the race, the world’s toughest extreme triathlon, will swim two miles in Windermere, before cycling the 112 miles on the “Fred Whitton” route, and then running a mountain marathon of 26 miles to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

John Barron, Managing Director of George Romney Ltd, said: “We know that our mint cake has provided sustenance for endurance athletes for many years, and they don’t come any tougher than these. We are more than happy to support this event and hope it also raises awareness that the Lake District is most definitely back in business”.

Romney’s mint cake was sent to celebrities before Christmas in a bid to tell the world that Kendal was still open for business after the floods. The stars – including a number of West End actors – then posted selfies on social media with the mint cake.

les mis tweet smaller

Romney’s join other sponsors of The X, including Lakeland UK and Heart of the Lakes (who are each providing £1000 prize money for the first man and first woman); BlueSeventy, the world’s leading wetsuit company who are offering vouchers for the veteran category winners; and Hawkshead Relish who are providing hampers for the winning teams.

The X is supported by YHA England and Wales, and a percentage of each entry fee is going to the YHA’s bursary fund, Breaks for Kids, which provides adventure holidays for disadvantaged children.

Race director Mark Blackburn said: “Kendal mint cake is known the world over by people taking part in endurance events. We are really pleased that Romney’s are joining us, and generously giving their products to our athletes.”

A few places remain for the event and entry forms can be found at

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Race HQ at YHA Ambleside. Photo by Steve Ashworth, Lake District Images

TV pottery champion to open art show at Bartle Hall

TV’s Top Potter winner Matthew Wilcock is to open an art exhibition at Bartle Hall near Preston.

Matthew, who took the top prize in BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down, will be guest of honour at the opening of Preston Art Society’s spring show. It is being staged for the first time at Bartle Hall Country House Hotel.

“We are delighted to be moving to Bartle Hall, and thrilled that Matthew can join us for the opening of our exhibition,” said Art Society chair, Pam Potter.

matthew wilcock pic

“The hotel is a perfect setting for us to show off our work, and our visitors will be able to linger and enjoy it all the more because there’s plenty of free parking.”

Pam, an accomplished artist and former art lecturer, is working with hotel owners Andrew and Nicola Haworth to design the exhibition space in Bartle Hall’s elegant rooms.

“This is an exciting development for us,” said Nicola. “We think that Bartle Hall will be the ideal backdrop for the works which will be on show.” The hotel is offering a special afternoon tea deal throughout the period of the exhibition, at £28 for two, for full afternoon tea, with a drink on arrival. Coffee and cake at £3.95 will also be available.

afternoon tea pic

Matthew, 23, who teaches pottery at Giggleswick School, was the youngest contestant in the TV competition. Among his tasks in the final was to make a 12 piece porcelain tea set, and create three high-shouldered jugs in just 20 minutes.

“We love his work,” said Nicola. “We are hoping that we might commission him to create some pieces for our gardens here.”

Matthew said: “This sounds like being a great event and I am really looking forward to it.”

The official opening of the exhibition will be on Thursday March 3 at 6pm. The art show will then be open daily until March 24, (not Saturdays and Sundays, or Friday March 18), from 10am till 4pm. Admission is free.

If you wish to attend the opening event, please contact Bartle Hall (01772 690506 / and ask to be added to the guest list. Places for this are limited so please book early.

hall exterior


The art of mountaineering, and mountains in art

A new exhibition in the Lake District aims to explore the aesthetic appeal of rock climbing and mountain environments.

Prominent Lines is a collection of work by climber and artist Tessa Lyons, highlighting the beauty of rocks and crags. It will open at the mecca of climbing art in Grasmere, the Heaton Cooper studio, on January 25.

Sheffield-based Tessa, 27, works in charcoal and chalk, creating pictures which are inspired by Japanese calligraphy and Zen painting. Tessa is a climber and an artist intrigued by the visual appeal of geology. From large-scale charcoal drawings of mountains, averaging two metres wide, to delicate depictions of individual rock climbs in ink, Tessa’s work looks to capture the essence of the places that she is drawn to.

One of her most viewed recent works is on display at the remote Black Sail youth hostel, a picture of Pillar Rock which was commissioned by the YHA in 2014.  The piece is on permanent exhibition in the tiny sitting –cum-dining room for walkers, runners and climbers taking refuge to enjoy.

Pillar mountain, exhibited at Black Sail hostel smaller

Tessa studied illustration at the University of Brighton where she was won the Highly Commended Award by Nagoya University of Arts for her charcoal and chalk drawing Summit of Haystacks, The Lake District. Since graduating she has had gone on to exhibit nationwide in both group and solo exhibitions as well as being shortlisted for numerous awards including the Association of Illustrators New Talent Award, and BITE, the UK’s leading printmaking competition.

Her work is a regular feature in the British Mountaineering Council’s national publication Summit magazine. In 2014 Tessa was invited by Kendal Mountain Festival to commemorate 100 years of the classic rock climb Central Buttress on Scafell in the Lake District.

“Climbers often talk about certain climbs, or lines, as being ‘beautiful’,” says Tessa. “At the crag a prominent line will draw your eye, striking inspiration, leaving you with a burning desire to do the climb. With these drawings I’m looking to capture the essence of those compelling lines with a strong simplicity inspired by Japanese calligraphy and Zen painting, the textural qualities found in printmaking and observational drawings of the rock formations.”

Tessa says that  in climbing you can reach a state of heightened awareness when you become centred in that moment:  “You’re aware of subtleties in the formation of the rock under your skin, your body is engaged in the flow of movement and your mind is right there, present with you. I have found a certain correlation between the mental concentration and calmness I sometimes experience during climbing with this condensed and bold way of drawing. This fascinates me and I feel it’s a fitting way to try and express the nature of climbing and the inspiration that it brings.”

Director of the Heaton Cooper Studio, Becky Heaton Cooper said: “We are thrilled to be showing these striking and memorable works by a very talented young artist. The exhibition will fit very naturally into our permanent collection of landscape art.”

Gallery at the Heaton Cooper Studio

Prominent Lines will run from January 25 until March 6.