Some of the successful bidders in the Dragons’ Den event celebrate with (far left) Alex Gibson of EDDC and (second from left) Sara Randall Johnson, Devon County Councillor. The bidders are (l-r) David Bibby from Honiton Easy Read, Heather Penwarden of Dementia Friendly Honiton, and Zoe Reed of SPS Kickboxing.

Discovery day gets community project off to a flying start

Community groups in Honiton came together in impressive numbers for an event organised by a partnership of organisations, led by East Devon District Council, at the Beehive Centre in Dowell Street.  

The Honiton Together discovery day featured a number of opportunities for groups to share experiences and best practice, discuss the future of community initiatives in the town and, for some, to pitch for funding through a ‘Dragons’ Den’ session.

Honiton Together received funding from central government to support local people and organisations to:

  • Feel that positive local change is something they can engender and be part of.
  • Take small and regular steps towards that positive change.
  • Be inspired by smaller and bigger ideas.  

The aim was to open doors to funders, commissioners and decision makers; share great grassroots projects and innovative thinking; run inspiring networking events, and give the network an online, interactive presence.  

Inspiring

Over 60 people from the local voluntary and social sector attended, including the Police, a number of social enterprises and charities, and town, district and county councillors.  

Representatives from Honiton Community College, the Federation of Small Businesses and Public Health Devon were also there.   There were inspiring talks from the Big Lottery, who were there to advise local groups how to get initiatives off the ground, and from Transition Town Totnes, who promote the idea of all citizens playing an engaged, active role in creating a more positive future for local people.  

There were informal workshops on the how to make the local economy work better for local people, and what would a healthy Honiton look like. There was a funding spot, where people could pick up ideas and advice from Heritage Lottery, the Big Lottery, and East Devon Volunteer Support Agency.  

A local artist designed trees that indicated each of the informal workshops around the room. The Funding tree was sprayed in gold, and hung with chocolate coins. The Healthy Honiton tree was packed with fruit and silhouettes of sporting figures. The Local Economy tree was on loan from Terry from Trim Plants in Combe Raleigh, and local business cards were attached to its branches.  

There was a ‘future of Honiton Together’ spot, where people could comment on how this project might continue.  Little clay tea pots and tea cups were hung on the tree branches, to represent Honiton’s history with pottery, and the tree was decorated with lace. 

Pledges

Following the Dragons’ Den pitching events, the following organisations were successful in receiving pledges of funding (listed in order of judging):

  1. Honiton Easy Read (£900)
  2. Dementia Friendly Honiton (£1,000)
  3. Honiton Learning Community (£600)
  4. Joint between Otter Rotters (£1,000) and SPS Kickboxing (£1,250)
  5. Growing Together – wanted £1,000 but only £250 remained in the fund  

Afterwards, Councillor Jill Elson, the district council’s cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities, said:

I’m delighted that this ground-breaking event was such a resounding success. I’d like to congratulate all involved in organising the day, including EDDC’s community development team. The feedback from the day has been very positive and I’m confident that community cohesion in Honiton will go from strength to strength as we move forward with some of the projects that were showcased at this event.