Devon County Cllr Sara Randall-Johnson

Innovative event run by Active East Devon, District, Town and County Councils gives local projects a boost

Over 30 people from six Honiton based community groups packed the town’s Beehive centre as they took part in the third annual Honiton Dragons’ Den – a community funding event, which took place on 26 October 2016. Representatives from Action East Devon, East Devon District Council, Devon County Council and Honiton Town Council, were also present.

Funding for the 2016 event –totalling £4,000 - came from Devon County Councillors (DCC) Cllr Sara Randall-Johnson and Cllr Paul Diviani, Honiton Town Council, and the remaining Honiton Together funds (£1000 from each).

This year’s winners were Honiton Youth Group, who asked for £500 for a painting sleep-over - an idea generated by members of the youth group. One of the three young people pitching included Connor, a severely disabled young man whose confidence has grown enormously since the youth group won funding for a ramp at last year’s Dragons Den.

In close second place was Honiton Community Action Trust who gave a moving pitch about The Olive Grove project, which helps individuals and families suffering from a variety of addictions, whether to drugs, alcohol, food or gambling. The Olive Grove won £750 towards their start-up costs, which will help them provide a free service to those most in need of their support.

In third place was Honiton Brass Band whose pitch included three young people playing their trumpets. The band requested £750 to support the purchase of beginners’ instruments, which they will use to provide free lessons for beginners who join them.

Three other groups were also awarded funding:

  • Hands on Horticulture, who provide unusual day care facilities in the form of gardening and outdoor crafts, won £750, which will enable them to purchase an outdoor compost loo and to widen a caravan door for wheelchair users.
  • Honiton Community Church won £720 for tables for a new building, which they will be using near Streamers Meadow, Honiton. This furniture will mean they can run everything from lunches and games afternoons to arts and crafts sessions.
  • Branching Out, a vegetable growing project for people with Learning Disabilities based at Bicton College, won £530 towards waterproof clothes (to be kept on site, to enable users to keep working once bad weather sets in).

Each of the groups had three minutes to pitch for funding and had brought props and even scripts for their performance. After the three minutes were up, the four Dragons had five minutes to interrogate each group. The Dragons on this year’s panel were Councillor Sara Randall-Johnson, who had contributed £1000 towards the funding pot, Jamie Buckley, Community Engagement and Funding Officer for East Devon District Councillor, Dave Slocombe, Project Manager for Devon County Council, and Honiton Town Councillor Anne Mountjoy.

This innovative event, which was organised jointly between Ali Eastland, Locality Worker for Devon County Council, Alex Gibson, Community Development Worker for East Devon District Council, and Sarah Reeves, Development Worker for Action East Devon, has come about thanks to the Honiton Together scheme, which two years ago secured over £15,000 of funding for developing partnership working across the voluntary and statutory sector in Honiton. It is hoped that the Dragons’ Den initiative will prove a lasting legacy for the Honiton community.

Councillor Paul Diviani, the Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

I’m delighted to have contributed from my DCC Locality Budget to the increasingly popular Dragons’ Den at the Beehive. It amazes me that a relatively modest contribution generates so much enthusiasm and achieves so much. Well done everyone!

Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said:

I welcome the Dragons Event as a very successful event organized in partnership by Alex, one of our excellent Community Development Workers, along side Action East Devon, Honiton Town Council and Devon County Council. It enables Honiton Charities, who work with local people to achieve their individual potential, self esteem and to be more confident. These charities are also able to 'network' allows them to learn about each others' work and to work in partnership to gain best value from their fundraising activities and the excellent services they provide.