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Newcastle in Bloom 2019

Congratulations to the Apedale Community Partnership for their success in this year’s Newcastle in Bloom completion. Awards this year are; a certificate of achievement in the Food and Craft Show, Best Individual, Silver for Community Gardens and Best Community Group. They are part of the Apedale family and some of the produce that they grow is often available at the Heritage Centre, (including jams at this time of year!)

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Deputy’s Sticks in the shop

We’re trying out some thing new in our Shop – Deputy’s Sticks – to see how they go. £15 each. These are Yorkshire style sticks, the ones that were used around the Staffordshire area were thinner.

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Half Term

The bank holiday and half term break is upon us, here’s whats on at Apedale…
Monday 27th – Teddy Bears outing on the Apedale Valley Light Railway, kids with bears ride for free. And we’ll be running mine tours as usual.
Tues 28th and Wed 29th – Mine Tours
Thurs 30th – unfortunately we will be closed
Friday 31st – Mine Tours

Apologies for not being able to open on Thursday, this is due to volunteer availability, but it is the first time we have been unable to open for a very long time. If you are interested in joining our merry band, do get in touch!

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Pits and Pots Tours

We’re excited to be partnering with Middleport Pottery to offer the “Pits and Pots” tour. This is a whole day experience that highlights coal’s importance in firing the pottery industry’s growth, from coal face to finished plate! For more information and booking details, head on over to Middleport Pottery’s Facebook or web page.

https://www.middleportpottery.org/events/tours-heritage/

 


Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middleport_Pottery_-_panoramio_(1).jpg

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New Books

Two of the more recent publications that we have on sale in our shop; “Pit Life” is a selection of articles recalling an ex-miners experiences of working underground. “Silverdale 1792-1914” is a history of the North Staffordshire mining village. As they say in the adverts -“While Stocks Last!”

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Museum Heating Project

We’ve recently completed one of our biggest self-funded projects; Heating in the museum along with Solar Panels. During the year and especially summer the Solar Panels will generate power to offset the cost of heating the museum on cold days. As well as making the museum more comfortable for visitors in cold weather it also improves the conditions for the collection.
As a self-funded project, all of the money came from sales and donations in the heritage centre, so everyone who has visited has contributed to the project in some way.
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Good Luck Mine and Caphouse Colliery

Our mining team have been on a couple of field trips to see other mines.  It’s always great to get out and experience what other organisations are doing.  A few weeks ago the folks at Goodluck Mine near Matlock were kind enough to let us visit them, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.  Goodluck is a lead mine run by volunteers and is available to visit by appointment, or on one of their open days. Parking is in a lay-by and after a climb up a footpath leading up a wooded hill side you get to the mine entrance.  The volunteers from Goodluck will be visiting Apedale soon, on a reciprocal visit.

we’ve also recently had a trip up to the National Coal Mining Museum for England, and as always we were made very welcome by the team up there, and got to see some of the less well travelled parts of the mine.

Goodluck Mine – http://www.goodluckmine.org.uk/

National Coal MIning Museum for England – https://www.ncm.org.uk 

 

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Woodsmith Mine Training at Apedale

This week we have hosted CFB Risk Management who have been training to support Sirius Minerals PLC in their Woodsmith Polyhalite Mine near Whitby. This is the largest mining project in Britain for a long time, production starts in 2021 and is expected to eventually peak at 20 million Tonnes per year.
The polyhalite, once processed is a valuable fertilizer and will be shipped all over the world to support food production. CFB will be with us for another two weeks and you can read more about the project on Sirius’ web page – https://siriusminerals.com/our-project/

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Newcastle in Bloom 2018

Congratulations to the Apedale Community Partnership on being awarded the Overall Winner Gold in the Community Gardens competition in Newcastle in Bloom 2018. The ACP is made up of a group of organisations at Apedale including Action Apedale and the Countryside Project and they are involved in gardening and crafts around the site.
If you’ve been down to the centre, you may have seen their table with fresh fruit and veg and sometimes bird boxes which are available in exchange for a donation. The money collected from this stall goes straight back to them to buy seeds, tools and craft materials.
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Thai Cave Rescue Account

Over the summer the world was gripped by a drama unfolding in the caves of Thailand, when a group of twelve children from the Wild Boards football team were trapped underground by rising floodwaters.  They were exploring the Tham Luang cave complex in the Chang Rai district of northern Thailand in the mountains bordering Myanmar when unexpected rainfall caught them out.  This was on June 23rd.

A British Caver living in the area, Vern Unsworth, recommended to the Thai authorities that British cave diving expertise would be needed to have the best change of a successful rescue.  The British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) was approached for assistance.

One of our volunteers, Graham Smith, is part of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and was asked to help out with the logistics of the operation, and this is his account of the rescue.

In the UK, the BCRC acts as an umbrella organisation for the 15 British Cave Rescue teams. One of those is ” Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation”, of which I am both Treasurer and a call out warden. Two close friends Mike Clayton and Emma Porter are also MCRO members and BCRC volunteers, (the BCRC and 15 rescue teams are all made up of volunteers).

On the 2nd June the team was found by two divers; Rick Stanton (diving officer for MCRO) and Jon Volanthen. The world felt relieved and amazed they had been found alive but to anyone familiar with caving and, in particular, cave-diving the next question was “how the hell can you get them out?”. The group was approx. 2.6km from the entrance in chamber nine and there were eight flooded sections (or sumps) to negotiate in order to reach them. The total dive length was approximately 1.5 km and the divers reported visibility in the region of eighteen inches.

On the evening of Weds 4th June I received a phone call from Mike advising me that he was flying out to Thailand the next morning, to assist with surface support to the dive team. Emma was helping the BCRC run logistics in the UK to help get requested kit and personnel out to Thailand as the situation and plan unfolded further. Could I help Emma with the logistics? Fortunately, my employer is very understanding and allowed me to take time away from work.

The next six days then became a huge emotional roller coaster as the plans to dive the boys out were devised and put into practice. The sad loss of the Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan served as a real reality check. In total the BCRC deployed a total of seven divers to Thailand along with three surface support staff.

Back in the UK I was one of seven people handling the logistics side of things. I was involved in helping to get equipment and Cave divers rounded up and onto Thai airlines flights from Heathrow. I also helped in keeping a channel of communication to the team in Thailand open helping them with requests and decisions, along with keeping a log book to record what was done when and why. The response we received from the BCRC member teams when requested to help collect people and equipment and turn them round to get back to Heathrow was overwhelming. Companies across the U.K. and Europe went out of their way to help where possible.

We had some fantastic support from the Thai embassy in getting equipment and personnel on planes out of Heathrow. One example is that on Saturday 7th at 2:20pm there was an urgent request from our team in Thailand to ship out a further two positive pressure full face masks to them. Two were identified as being available, one in Bristol and one in Cardiff but one needed servicing. By 4pm they were both in Cardiff, serviced and ready to go but needed to be in Heathrow for 6:30pm for the last flight out. They made the trip in 1:55mins! A caver and his car was blue lighted under police escort all the way down the M4 after the police helicopter we were promised  had to be diverted elsewhere.

Over the course of the six days sleep became  a luxury due to the time difference, Thailand is 6hrs ahead of GMT, so when we were thinking about sleep, the team on the ground were just starting to send through plans and requests for the day ahead. Fifty minutes sleep was managed on the Saturday night before the rescue plan began in earnest.

The rescue plan worked brilliantly and is testament to the sheer skill and commitment of the divers involved. Weather permitting, we knew they team could get them out, but nothing was certain they would be rescued alive. In some respects, as each successful day concluded, the pressure mounted as hope and expectation grew. So, on day three, when the last of the five surfaced it was a fantastic moment. But we still had the last four Navy Seals underground who had stayed with the children. Just prior to the last one surfacing we had a message that the pumps had tripped, which caused us some uncomfortable minutes until we got the message that everyone was out safe! The pumping operations had made a big difference as far as chamber three and when the pumps tripped the water was rising 10cm in 10 minutes.

On Friday 13th we travelled down to Heathrow to collect the Team from Heathrow and prepare them for the worldwide interest A press conference had been arranged to try and manage the situation! I’m hiding at the far side of the group holding my neck in thoughtful pose!

From left to right: Graham Smith, Mike Clayton , Gary Mitchell , Emma Porter, Toby Hamnett, Chris Jewell, Tony Haigh , Vern Unsworth , Peter Dennis , the UK Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Theresa May, His Excellency Mr Pisanu Suvanajata, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand, John Volanthen , Josh Bratchley , Rob Harper, Bill Whitehouse, Heather Simpson and Connor Roe.

 

On Tuesday 24th July we were invited to 10 Downing street to meet the PM. Not all the team were able to make it sadly.  Arriving at our allotted time of 15:30 apprehension and nerves were quickly put to bed. Once passed security on the gates, the whole team were very welcoming and put us at ease. It turned out that not only the PM, but staff had been looking forward to meeting us! We spent a very pleasant two hours in number 10 drinking tea and eating cakes, having had a tour of some of the key rooms, we were even allowed to sit at the cabinet room table. The Prime Minister met with us for around twenty-five minutes talking about our experiences and trying to convince our rather humble band that we were indeed hero’s. A couple of the team had taken their children and she was very accommodating in having a couple of selfies that should put paid to any teachers doubts as to the reason for none attendance at school!

BCRC vice chair Bill Whitehouse being introduced to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

In addition the Thai Ambassador is hosting a reception at his house in London for the team. The Thai authorities really have been most gracious in expressing their gratitude for what the worldwide community helped them achieve. Also, later in the year the Speaker of the House of Commons is opening up his rooms at Westminster to host a reception for us and Westminster to recognise what was achieved both by the team and also the wider community of suppliers and employers etc.

All in all life has been both busy but very rewarding in recent weeks. It all seems a bit surreal to of been involved in such a successful global event. From the inside view I can honestly say it was heart-warming to see the collaboration that went on across the world in these seemingly troubled times. On a personal level I’ve simply helped by utilising my skills which are an offshoot of my hobby! Being a caver, you quickly realise that the only people who can help you if something goes wrong are your fellow cavers. Invariably that leads to getting involved with your local rescue, the love of being underground and desire to help others in trouble underground is something that any caver or miner can equate too.

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