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Steve’s Nature Diary

With names like Amethyst Deceiver, the Blusher and the Sickener you would be excused for thinking I am writing a piece about the latest comic heroes, but no these are all examples of mushrooms or toadstools, call them what you will. With more than 15,000 species in the UK, fungi make up an entire kingdom of their own. These curious beings are neither plant, nor animal, and their diversity is stupendous. Chicken of the woods and King Alfred’s cakes, pink ballerinas and scarlet elf cups, blewits and boletes; are some of the more delightfully named, some delicious, and others poisonous. Every habitat is home to a great variety of fungi, and autumn is the best time to explore this little-visited world: you may well be surprised at just how many you come across!

If you visit sites like Hardwick Park, Castle Eden Dene, Lockwood Beck and Derwent Reservoirs, all have a number of habitats from woodland to grassland both of which are good for finding fungi. In grasslands which have been managed the same for a long time or left undisturbed, a particular group of fungi can be found - these are the Waxcaps. Waxcaps are one of the groups of grassland fungi known to be excellent indicators of unimproved grassland, i.e. grasslands of low-nutrient status. All species belong to the genus Hygrocybe.

As well as waxcaps, several other fungi groups are also found in this habitat. The main ones are Entoloma (pink gills), the Clavarioids (fairy clubs) and the Geoglossaceae family (earth tongues). Collectively, an assemblage of these species is known as a waxcap grassland. At Derwent Reservoir, which lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, after Kielder, is the second largest reservoir in the region, parts of the surrounding land are managed for wildlife, including some areas of waxcap grassland. An autumnal walk to look for fungi can be a wonderful experience, but as well as many delicious wild mushrooms, fungi also include some of our most poisonous species, aptly named species such as the sickener, poison pie, death cap and the destroying angel.

NEVER eat any fungi you find unless you are 100% certain about their identity. Unless you are with an expert, it is best to leave mushrooms where you find them - that way, others can enjoy their beauty - & go home with a photo instead.

100 years on, Sedgefield Remembers

Friday 9th November at 10.30am beside St Luke's Church, Winterton After a short parade of the Sedgefield Veterans' Standard, children from the three schools (about 70 in all) will join in a short service, along with The Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Andrea Flynn, the Mayor of Sedgefield and staff from nearby workplaces. Everyone is welcome.

Sunday 11th November, 6am at the Lych Gate, St Edmund’s Church
Although the 1914 Armistice came into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it was actually signed 6 hours earlier, at 5am Paris time. Exactly 100 years later, Northumbrian piper, Anthony Robb will join pipers across the UK to play the tune, ‘When The Battle’s O’er’ by Pipe Major William Robb. Each in their own chosen location, pipers will strike up the tune in strict tempo in a special memorial organised by the College of Piping in Glasgow, to mark the Centenary of the First World War. Anthony became involved after a successful appearance at The Pipers’ Gathering in America.

Sunday 11th November, 10am: Civic Service
A Service for Remembrance Sunday in St Edmund’s Church will be conducted by Rev. Martin King and Rev. David Hall. The service will be followed at 11 am by the Act of Remembrance and wreath laying at the war memorial. Uniformed organisations of all ages will be present and taking part.

WWI commemorations and a new exhibition

October saw two commemorations for Sedgefield men who lost their lives in World War I. (report on page 2.) Now, as we come to the close of the 100th anniversary of the Great War, four more Sedgefield men will be commemorated. Richard Robinson, who lost his life to Spanish flu, shortly after the armistice, will be remembered on Saturday December 17th. Three men about whom little or no information has been found - Robert William Acomb, Reginald Wheeler Hines and Richard Rainbird - will be remembered together on Friday November 16th.

Please join us at 10.45 am at the war memorial on both dates to remember those Sedgefield men lost in the Great War.

‘In Memoriam’

Sedgefield LHS present an exhibition in Ceddesfeld Hall over the weekend of November 17-18th from 10am-4pm daily. Entry is free, although visitors may wish to make a donation to the Royal British Legion. Sedgefield Local History Society is very grateful to the members of Sedgefield Village Veterans, who have given staunch support over the last four years, as well as those Sedgefield residents who have regularly attended our WWI commemorations.

A commemorative book paying tribute to all 42 Sedgefield men who lost their lives in WWI can be ordered at the exhibition. A book by Alison Hodgson of Sedgefield LHS describing life in Sedgefield during the war will also be available to buy.

Saturday 3rd November. ‘It's Up To You’

East Durham Rural Corridor AAP funding event. The Woodland & Wildlife Project needs your vote! Please help us to secure funding in the ‘It's Up To You’ Public vote. Why? We are bidding for an on-site 10 foot container to store tools and some money towards the purchase of tools. Being able to store tools and resources in the container will mean volunteers can arrive at site on foot or bike, as cars will not be needed to carry equipment. Where? Active Life Centre, Coxhoe. When? Sat 3rd November, 10am - 2pm.

GP services are changing

Most readers will have received a letter from Skerne Medical Group, outlining the changes that they need to make in order to continue delivering a high standard of service to patients. They have struggled to recruit GPs, and following retirements and resignations, there has been a significant decline in the consulting time available for patients. The proposed changes are designed to secure GP services here in the long term.

Skerne Medical Group currently operates in Sedgefield, Fishburn, Trimdon Colliery and Trimdon Village. The split across multiple sites is one of the reasons for the difficulty in recruitment, so the intention is to reduce the number of locations to two. Practice partner, Dr Hearmon comments “This is not a position that we wanted to be in. Unfortunately, we are facing a perfect storm and unless we act now, our ability to continue providing GP services will be significantly compromised.

We highlighted some of the issues that we are facing back in June 2017 and since then our team has been working very hard to recruit new GPs, but, as is the case in practices up and down the country, that is proving to be very difficult and our position has actually worsened. We now have to undertake a serious, comprehensive review of what we do, how we do it, and where we do it.” Dr Hearmon continues “Our overriding message to the public is that any changes we make will be in order for the group to continue providing high quality and safe care to patients. The process that we have now started is essential to be able to continue serving the community, but it is important to reassure the public that whatever the outcome is, everyone who is registered with Skerne Medical Group will still have access to GP services.”

The practice is keen to hear your views. Public events are to be held during November. Residents near all four sites (and surrounding areas) will be able to see the proposals in detail, and talk to doctors and practice representatives, about ways in which they can work better with patients, becoming more efficient and taking pressure off GPs. Public Events take place as follows:
Sedgefield Parish Hall
Tuesday 6th November 7 - 8.30pm
Sunday 18th November 2 - 3.30pm
Thursday 29th November 1.30 - 2.30pm
Trimdon Station Community Centre
Friday 9th November 7 - 8.30pm
Trimdon Village Hall
Thursday 15th November 7 - 8.30pm
Fishburn Community Centre
Thursday 22nd November 7 - 8.30pm

October 2018 WW1 commemorations

Members of Sedgefield LHS, the Village Veterans and other local people came together to honour the memory of William Henry Todd and Alfred Coates. As children, both lived in the Tenements, mostly now demolished, the area renamed Rectory Row. Born in 1899 in West Hartlepool, by 1901, Alfred Coates was living in Sedgefield with his mother Elizabeth Ann, a Sedgefield girl, and father James Thomas, a cartman.

By 1911, the family had moved back to West Hartlepool, father was working on the railway and Alfred had gained two sisters, Emily and Annie. Alfred Coates enlisted with the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment and was just 19 when he was killed in action on 23rd October 1918, during the final weeks of the war. He is remembered at the British Cemetery at St Souplet, his gravestone bearing the epitaph ‘His duty nobly done’. Alfred’s boyhood neighbour on the Tenements, William Henry Todd, born in 1894, lived with his mother and grandmother, both called Elizabeth Todd. By 1911, aged 17, he was living and working at East Close Farm, as a farm hand. When war came, he enlisted, but, despite extensive research, his regiment, the exact date of his death and the location of his memorial remain a mystery.

It was another north-eastern man of the same name who lost his life on October 3rd 1918. The search for details of the military service and death in action of our William Henry Todd continues, but there is no doubt about his young life in Sedgefield and, at our brief ceremony he was remembered with gratitude and pride.

Blooming marvellous

Sedgefield struck gold once again in the recent Northumbria in Bloom awards, winning Best Small Town. Council gardener Ben Gray has done sterling work during the sick leave of head gardener Stephen Young, planting and maintaining attractive flower beds, tubs and hanging baskets around the town. He was grateful for the help of Sedgefield in Bloom volunteers, who gave him a hand as well as working hard on their own project areas.—some of them are pictured below, preparing for work.

The Bloom team won gold for the series of gardens they have created at Ceddesfeld Hall. Gold awards also went to the Manor House garden, Hardwick Country Park and the Dun Cow Inn. Sedgefield Racecourse won Silver Gilt.

The Early Years classes at Sedgefield Hardwick Primary School were also awarded silver gilt on their first entry into Northumbria in Bloom. The children regularly enjoy visits from ‘Mrs Bloom’, aka Bloom secretary Norma Neal, who received the Community Champion Award for her outstanding commitment to the work of the team.

Sedgefield in Bloom chairman Howard Smith said, ‘Sedgefield has a proud tradition of success in Northumbria in Bloom and was one of the top three entries in this year’s competition. Work goes on all year round to maintain such high standards, alongside tremendous community support that helps to keep Sedgefield blooming so beautifully.’

The Parish of the Upper Skerne

Is to have a new Rector, the Revd Geoffrey Short, currently Team Vicar in the Parish of Christ the King in the Diocese of Newcastle; and Team Vicar, the Revd Elizabeth Bland, presently Team Vicar in the Aycliffe Team ministry. Full report in next month’s edition.

Smart Clothing Project

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at NETPark is collaborating with Pireta Limited, on a project to support the development of next-generation smart clothing, using its industry expertise in the printed electronics sector to aid scale-up of wearable technology in textiles. The technology coats individual fibres with metal on fabrics in selective patterns without changing its physical and mechanical properties. This enables wearable electronics to be more discreet, as the electrodes are integrated into the fabric. Wearable technology is an intrinsic part of the Internet of Things, allowing devices to send and receive data via an internet connection. Its long-term development is supported by the UK Government through Innovate UK-funded projects.

Story Homes Sponsors Sedgefield Squash Club

A local squash club has secured sponsorship for the next three years from Story Homes, builder of the St Edmunds Manor Estate off Stockton Road and Thurlow Road, Sedgefield. The sponsorship will enable the club to subsidise new, high quality shirts for members. Currently over 130 members make up teams which compete in the Durham and Cleveland squash leagues up to Premier Division level. The club also has a strong junior section with two members competing regularly at national events. Both parties are pleased with the sponsorship arrangement.

Neil Bunney, club chairman, feels the sponsorship will help raise the profile of the club both at events they regularly attend and within the Sedgefield Community where they are keen to have “a strong focus on encouraging people of all ability levels to enjoy squash and racquetball in both friendly games or competitively.”

Story Homes sales manager, Lyndsey Walton, explained that the company is pleased to help local organisations through their ‘Future Story’ scheme and are “delighted that members of Sedgefield Squash Club are happy with their new shirts”. She continued, “We look forward to supporting them for the next few years.”

Sponsorship applications can be made via the website. Organisations should complete the online form at