Community Spirit and ‘Lockdown Learning’

Find out what Devon’s Top Attractions have been up to during ‘Lockdown

Read about what Devon’s Top Attractions are doing in the community and how they are helping parents with home learning

Ever since the UK was placed in lockdown on Monday 23rd March, we’ve had to acclimatise ourselves to this temporary new way of life and get accustomed to spending an increased amount of time at home and indoors. Whether working from home, home schooling the children, ticking off the ‘lockdown list’ of to-do jobs, essential shopping and caring for elderly family and neighbours, or just trying to fill our time, we have all had to adjust quickly to this new way of living.

Members of Devon’s Top Attractions are all currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there’s no date yet when they can re-open their doors for the season, but there’s still plenty going on behind the scenes and the member attractions have really got into the community spirit of things.

They have been quick to adapt and to rally round and jump feet-first into helping in the community, supporting the NHS and all the local heroes in these most unprecedented of times. And they are finding some very innovative and interesting ways of reaching out and engaging with the public. Attractions are finding new ways to entertain and bring Devon and its best days out right into everyone’s homes and onto our sofas.

Before lockdown, Devon’s Top Attractions were all gearing up for a busy Easter and with plenty of Easter eggs at the ready! However, what do you do with thousands of Easter eggs and no visitors? Well, Crealy Theme Park and Resort gave away 12,000 Easter eggs to local food banks and did a competition, whilst The Donkey Sanctuary also donated their stock of 3,000 surplus eggs to local food banks too.

The Big Sheep in North Devon was quick to diversify and help in the community. They sprang into action and have been making hand sanitiser in their gin distillery for the NHS North Devon hospital and, for when they reopen, they have set up a home delivery service for the award-winning ale from their brewery. Plus, the Big Sheep are keeping us all supplied on social media with the cutest of pictures of all their new-born animal arrivals.

Big Sheep -Hand sanitiser bottle - community spirit during lockdown

Pygmy goat new born adoring image Big Sheep - community spirit in lockdown

Clovelly Village’s response to COVID-19 has been remarkable. They soon formed a ‘Care in Clovelly Community’ group and connected with their 220-strong village residents and, collectively, have worked together to take care of everyone in their community. Clovelly organised a community essential supply, collection and delivery network for the entire parish, and this has now been extended to include surrounding villages. They also have a Clovelly Response Team that has been delivering milk, groceries, fish and chips, and parcels throughout the village. They have put the two traditional red telephone boxes to good use which have been transformed into two village pantries, stocked full of essential food, cleaning and cosmetic items, toys, games and books.

 

Parish pantry Clovelly community spirit

Parish Pantry Telephone box in Clovelly - community spirit

In addition, Clovelly has launched a ‘Pledges on Sledges’ campaign to deliver a cooked meal to every household which needs help in the community, such as the elderly, the isolated, and those who may feel lonely, thereby providing emotional support too.

There has been no ‘lockdown lethargy’ at Devon’s Top Attractions either and they have been quick to provide parents with learning aids and resources to help support local children learning from home. Through social media, they have also come up with daily or weekly video diaries which are educational and full of ‘lockdown laugher and fun’. There are daily educational animal keeper sessions at Wildwood Escot which have ranged from wild boar food enrichment videos to ice cube bath-time for otters and feeding time in the red squirrel enclosure.

There is a popular weekly virtual Saturday craft session online with Seaton Jurassic, part of Devon Wildlife Trust. The Donkey Sanctuary has been busy providing tasty recipes ideas from their chef and they have donated any spare PPE equipment to local NHS staff. They have also created a series of ‘Sanctuary from your Sofa’ broadcasts bringing the adoring Donkey Sanctuary right into your own home.  Other attractions are using social media to post inspirational and beautiful images and videos of Devon and its endless beauty, its glorious gardens, scenery and wonderful wildlife.

Other attractions are offering virtual tours and history lessons linked to the curriculum and Exeter Cathedral and Buckfast Abbey are both offering live streaming of their services.  Quince Honey Farm has shown its appreciation for key workers and has run a competition where you could nominate a key worker and they could be rewarded with some honey.

Stuart Line Cruises have run a poetry writing competition to inspire hope and positivity and they have been inundated with the number of entries. They are currently posting all the entries, one-a-day on their website. They have also been inspired to launch a discounted ‘Lockdown Loyalty Card’ unique for 2020 which is a generous gesture from them.

From ‘Fun Fact Friday’ video slots to entertaining keep-fit sessions, or just a simple download colouring sheet, all of these top Devon attractions continue to fill a much-needed gap in troubled times. All are delivering online and through social media to help to keep our county’s children engaged and keeping boredom at bay.

The Chairman of Devon’s Top Attractions Dick Wood said:

“We know this is a bleak time for everyone in Devon and the whole country at present, and our tourism industry is facing the worst crisis it’s ever known, but we’re not going to beaten by this virus.

 “Some of our attractions are animal-based with hungry animals to feed but have no income, and others are heritage-based and costly to run, so they have had to set up ‘SOS’ survival appeals.

 “I want to thank the public for their generosity and all their donations in helping to try and keep these attractions from closing their doors for good.

 “During these difficult times – and even though our doors are closed just now – our members are still going the extra mile to help and, when we finally reopen, we look forward to welcoming our visitors back again.”

 

 Notes to News Desk

 Wildwood Escot Appeal – https://wildwoodtrust.org/support-wildwood/support-an-appeal/

Exmoor Zoo Appeal – https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-our-zoo

SOS South Devon Railway Appeal – https://www.southdevonrailway.co.uk/fundraising/

 Find out more about these attractions here