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22-24 November - the final weekend of the festival

Updated: May 3, 2020

By Graham Rawlings and Diana Wackerbarth

The final weekend of November - just before the actual anniversary, on 26 November, of Keble Martin's death - was a busy few days, which featured the premier of our documentary film, an exhibition in Woodbury Village Hall, and a family service at St Swithun’s.

Friday 22nd saw the launch at Friday Flix of 'William Keble Martin and Woodbury: a changing landscape', a short film which includes interviews with villagers who knew Keble Martin and archive footage of Keble Martin himself, and reflects on landscape and wildlife changes in the parish in the 50 years since his death.

Saturday 23rd brought the final exhibition in Woodbury Village Hall, packed with nature-related art, writing, film, books and memorabilia, and sprinkled with talks and demonstrations. There were expert talks on 'Wildlife Ideas for Green Space', 'Weeds and Wisdom', and 'Wild Woodbury'. The short documentary film was projected in the main hall, along with historic and present-day photographs of the local landscape, flora and pollinators - sadly severely disrupted by power cuts throughout the day.  Despite atrocious weather and localised flooding, the exhibition was well-attended and we are grateful to everyone who visited.

We are indebted to the huge number of individuals and different organisations that took part, including

  • Festival Steering Group members and friends;

  • individual researchers, speakers, creatives, ecologists, workshop leaders and participants, and Keble Martin's family;

  • local organisations Wild Woodbury, Woodbury Camera Club, Woodbury History Society, Woodbury Community Orchard, Woodbury Garden Club, Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton Schools, and Exeter Beekeepers Association, all of whom were represented;

  • and also to keen supporter Cllr Geoff Jung for opening the exhibition.

Photographs by Malcolm Randle and Graham Rawlings.

In the Family Church Service on Sunday 24th at St Swithun's, Caroline Keep treated us to a thoughtful and stimulating reflection on Keble Martin’s life and work as a priest and a lover of plants. The children were very engaged in her highly interactive service, and her portrayal of Keble Martin was a wonderful tribute to a great man. Several people have mentioned that he would have been thrilled about the encouragement of children to become familiar with the natural world, so this was a fitting ending to the Festival - in a place and manner that would have been close to his heart.

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Since the start of the Festival in April, hundreds of people from within and without the Parish have joined in one or more of the 32 events: walks, creative workshops, talks, family activities, musical performances, the highly successful St Swithun's Flower Festival, and the final exhibition.

There have also been several related projects. Most notably, the ongoing wildflower survey was featured on Radio Devon during the week of Keble Martin's anniversary, in an interview with presenter David Fitzgerald, who has asked to be kept in touch with developments. It has also been taken up by wildflower charity Plantlife in its discussions with Devon County Council. Our short film is on YouTube and has been circulated widely.

Other projects included unearthing and documenting Keble Martin's remarkable ancestry. Various photography projects included one to digitise some historic landscape views of the parish and rephotograph them in the present day, and another to document visually the wildflowers growing in a single small meadow. At the exhibition we displayed the archive of all the designs for the kneelers in St Swithun's Church - wildflower paintings made by parishioners and inspired by Keble Martin's book - with an explanation of how the kneelers were made. We also commissioned greetings cards based on those designs (still on sale through the church), and an embroidered version of the Woodbury News cover designed by Keble Martin.

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The weekend's events were a fitting conclusion to eight months of hard work by the Woodbury Wide Awake Festival team, with the very welcome financial support of our sponsors East Devon AONB, Woodbury Parish Council, Woodbury Salterton Residents' Association, Woodbury Tuesday Coffee Mornings, and a great many individual donors. We are incredibly grateful to the many individuals who gave their time for free, or for expenses only, and to the various volunteers, friends and venues who supported us throughout the festival, and in the long planning period beforehand.

Although the 2019 Woodbury Wide Awake Festival has now finished, its legacy is likely to continue in some form or another - with a feast of information still available here on the website, and an ongoing programme of events and projects that we didn't fit into the first year. Updates will be published on the website, on our Facebook page, and through the Woodbury News and Wild Woodbury.

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