Brixham Youth Enquiry Service

A Neighbourhood Challenge Project

“Dare to Dream”……one word……….INSPIRATIONAL!

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A day in the life of Rachel Shears’ – This blog has been written by Rachel Shears (YES Support Worker)

This week, on Monday and Tuesday (23rd & 24th January), around 150 people attended such a fantastic conference with key speaker Cormac Russell. This all began because Angela attended a similar conference in Manchester back in November 2011, and she was so inspired that from the moment she returned to Brixham, she began to organise a similar conference for Torbay (to be held in Brixham). As we all know, organising a conference is not an easy task………but somehow Angela managed to do it, with the support and help from a lot of us here at YES, as well as amazing support from Play Torbay, and of course, NESTA! Within a couple of weeks of being back from Manchester, Angela had already met with Tanny from Play Torbay and Ralph  then designed and printed the leaflet for the conference……..Dare to Dream Leaflet, as well as sending out invites to hundreds of people, and organising a venue and planning EVERYTHING for the two days of the conference, which included table decorations, photographers, happiness props, games and activities, music, lighting and sound!

Everything was going fantastic, the venue had been booked (at The Yacht Club) and Angela (and the rest of us) were starting to get excited, as these conferences do not usually come about very often, especially in Brixham. However, one minor problem occurred……we had such a fantastic response of people wanting to attend that Angela had to change the venue. After a few days of running around and numerous phone calls, she confirmed with us all that it was now being held at The Berry Head Hotel – much bigger venue.

Before we knew it, it was the weekend before the conference, and usually I like to be pro-active at the weekend, and go for a bike ride, or play a bit of tennis, or anything really! Instead though I was at The Edge helping with the preparations, which involved me finalising a presentation that was going to be used at the conference, luckily I had lots of patience, but in the end (to me) it was perfect and ready to go! Xu was cutting out leaves and decorating the trees (table decoration), whilst Ian was finishing the name tags for all of us to wear on the day whilst Sean was making wooden gifts for 150 people, from recycled firewood.  It wasn’t necessarily a ‘mad rush’ but we were all working at lightning speed to ensure everything was done.

It was finally the day of the conference, and I woke up at 6.30am (I was quite worried that I wouldn’t wake up in time and would end up missing the entire first day-lol and probably would not have been very popular!) After a few hours of attempting to get ready and after several coffees, I was ready to go to The Berry Head. All I can say is that from the moment I walked into The Mulberry Suite I was amazed at how awesome it looked! I could see how everyone had worked so hard and that it had paid off, and from this moment the next two days were going to be fantastic.

Check out the table decorations 🙂

Throughout the course of the first day, I met so many new people, some from Torbay Council, British Red Cross, Play Torbay and so many more than what I can even mention. The atmosphere was so relaxed as we were all there to ‘make change happen in our community’ and now we had the ability to network and build partnerships with lots of other organisations which we might not have been able to have before! When Cormac began speaking, we could all hear the enthusiasm in his voice and that what he was talking about was something that he has a deep passion for.  Usually at conferences (in my experience) the keynote speaker barely even makes eye contact with you! However this was the complete opposite with Cormac, as on the break we were all outside talking (and getting some fresh air) and he joined us and was asking questions and making conversation as if we had known each other for years.  One conversation was based on how stunning the view here at The Berry Head was and that we should all go for a swim after lunch (my input into the conversation, which for some reason no one took me up on), although Cormac was very encouraging towards me to just ‘go for it’ – in the end I came to the decision not to go for a swim 😦 which to some was quite disappointing!!

The Lovely Cormac 🙂

Anyway, going back to the conference……….throughout the first day we all listened to Cormac and took part in a few activities (World Cafe style) which to me were awesome! We all saw them on the table when we first got there and they looked extremely exciting! Some of the activities involved reading off cards in small groups (around our tables) and then discussing them as to what we thought were either most important, or relevant or what we felt a strong passion for. After this we had a very large pile of cards which we had to separate into categories of what we could do on our own, what we could do in partnership with the local council, and what the local council could solely do on their own! As there were so many cards, we only managed to get through a few of them but from this we came to the conclusion that it was best to work with other organisations in partnership to ensure a better future for everyone!

One of the games.....SUCH FUN 🙂

As I mentioned  earlier, the only preparation for Dare to Dream that I really did was the presentation. Now I had actually produced this for a completely different reason, however when Angela looked at it she wanted to use it at the conference. Therefore during the conference, as part of the schedule, Angela and Play Torbay were going to talk about ‘citizen led action’ in the south west. After my presentation was watched by everyone, Angela preceded to talk about me for about 5 minutes and explaining to everyone how I came about joining YES and what sort out things I do as part of my job here. It was so nice to be fully appreciated and one of the best things that came out of it was that people who I didn’t even know were coming up to me after saying ‘well done’ and wanting to know more! Play Torbay (led by Sarah-Jane and Tanny) were then up next and showed us a professional video of their work at Indigo’s.  These were both really inspirational stories of what people can do when they work in partnership and have such a passion about something!

Angela 🙂

Sarah-Jane & Tanny 🙂

At this point in the first day……we were all feeling much more relaxed and had built some strong relationships which would help lead us to community development. Cormac then delivered another one his inspirational speeches, and we all worked in small groups to help promote more citizen led action and develop some of the ideas that we all had. This gave us all a chance to get our point across to everyone, and as we were all from different organisations, it was so good being able to listen to what other people are doing, and we would still have a ‘shared passion’ for community development but on different levels. Now we could have all stayed at The Berry Head Hotel all evening (if we could) but unfortunately  day one of the conference had come to an end 😦 – although it would not end here, as I went home and did not stop talking about the conference until I eventually went to bed at midnight, (at this point I was very very tired, but was looking forward to the next day… much!)

It was now the morning of day two (I didn’t need quite as many coffees), but the day before must have had a major impact on me as I woke up thinking about what else I could do in the community and to help support YES as much as I could. Once again, everyone at the conference was so friendly, and the moment we walked in we immediately started to talk with our ‘new friends’, and I don’t think it really bothered anyone that we were all pretty tired! One of the things I noticed is that Cormac kept asking us, and kept mentioning “what do you care enough about to act upon?” – now this was put into the conversation so naturally that it got everyone thinking about how important all the work we do now is, and what else we can offer, without us even knowing!

Lots of discussions 🙂

One of the first activities that we did on the second day was to use ‘post-it notes’ (much to my excitement) We had to write down ‘What we care enough about to act upon’ and the ‘what qualities we have to produce this’ as well as ‘what else’ and ‘who else’. Now as I have been playing sport since I was three years old, I obviously chose to write something about this (surprise surprise)! In my free time (well not actually free time, but anyway) I run my own sports programme, and have started my own tennis club in Brixham (from scratch I might add), and am qualified to coach a wide variety of sports……this is what I have a passion for, and would like to do something about! Now when people hear me talking about sport, I know that they will think it’s all about being the ‘best’ – however my attitude to it is completely the opposite, and all I want to try and do is make sport a part of everyone’s life at local level….just for fun!! I have spent the last 7 years (although it feels like a million years) at university studying sports development, therefore I have the knowledge and the passion to use this to my full advantage and to help make change in the community through sport (even though it takes some persuading)!  After we all did the ‘post it note’ activity we put them on the board and before we knew it, there were hundreds of comments that people had written.

The Post-It note it 🙂

Now as this is being written from my perspective of the two day conference, I am slightly biased towards it……..this is only because I love going to conferences (bit sad really), not just because I want to have the day off work, but being able to meet new people, sharing your ideas and actually taking the time to act upon things that you might not necessarily had been able to do in the past. Out of the both days, I would personally say that ‘day two’ was the BEST.  The reasons for this are that I felt much more relaxed (as probably did everyone else) and we all had a general idea what to expect throughout the conference.  Some conferences I have been to are usually ‘death by powerpoint’ and I love powerpoint as much as the next person (especially putting it all together….great sense of achievement   at the end) but when the speaker is just reading from the slides it gets very very dull!  However, Cormac was the complete opposite, and I could just listen to him for hours (as could everyone else).  I have never met anyone who is just so easygoing, confident and who has such a passion to help facilitate change! Although the games and activities were not your typical ‘fun and games’ – in all fairness I’d like to think we weren’t all expecting to play Mario as part of the conference…….but I would definitely say that the ‘post-it note’ exercise was the most effective as we all had the opportunity to write something down and then watch people linking them all up and grouping them together and it was easier to get your opinion across (without having to stand up and talk in front of lots of people…..which I am not the biggest fan of doing).

The final part of the conference was definitely out of my ‘comfort zone’ and once Cormac explained what we were about to do, all I was trying to think about was excuses of how to get out of it and to just follow everyone I was with (apparently I’m a sheep-lol!) We all separated into groups in which we had a passion for. These included : Inter-generational, Play, Education, Creativity, Inclusion, Localism and Resources (I think there might be a few more but I can’t remember them – silly me!) But anyway, in theory with my past experience and my apparent love of sport, physical activity and play, it was best that I should go into the ‘play’ group! However there were a few problems with this : 1) I’m not very confident and the thought of having to sit and talk with people that I don’t know scares me (quite a lot) and 2) I tend to not really talk at conferences (which is also another part of the confidence thing) – now taking all of this into consideration, I was just going to follow the people I know into a group that they were passionate about, but then at the back of my mind I knew that if everyone realised I wasn’t in the ‘play’ group then they would know that I didn’t follow my heart! Taking all of this into consideration, I decided to ‘get over myself’ and just go for it (now this sort of thing definitely does not happen in my life, as I usually try and hide behind everyone else…!)……but I managed to do it 🙂

After about half an hour in our groups, we all had to choose at least three ‘action points’ which we like to attempt to act upon! Now in our group (Play) we chose the idea of having a ‘play forum’ for young people, a ‘play bus’ to get easier access to Indigo’s and other play destinations, and having a process of ‘self sustainability’ – these were all extremely positive ideas, which in my opinion will be acted upon as long as we all stay in contact and work together!

Our group presentation

Each and every group presented what they came to a conclusion with. It was really positive to see that although the majority of us were probably out of our comfort zones, we were still able to discuss and realise what everyone could offer to help build a better community for everyone.  We listened to each of the groups and every now and then Cormac would say something even more inspirational!

Some photos below which show a few of the groups talking about their chosen subject:

From listening to everyone discuss what they have a passion for, was so inspirational and we could all see (and hear) how much everyone wants to work together in order to further develop our communities through a wide variety of factors! Now up next was Richard Williams (Director of Children’s Services for Torbay Council) who I have only met once (by complete accident, as we were both at a workshop at The Edge, and I had absolutely no idea who he was and how important he is) but I was still getting my point across whilst he added in some tips (at this point I still did not know who he was, just presumed he was a very nice man – silly me!!) I only found out a short while later that I was talking to Richard Williams (and just thought that no one else seems to be this unaware of everything, maybe I should start reading more). Back to the conference though, Richard Williams delivered an excellent speech and it was so positive that I actually did not stop talking about it all evening (as well as everything else that had happened at the conference)! He was so inspirational and you could really hear it in his voice how he wanted to act upon some changes as well as helping everyone in the community!

Richard Williams

Now unfortunately we are very close to the end of the blog (lots of sad faces). I hope you have all enjoyed reading from the perspective of ‘a day in the life of Rachel Shears’. All I can say is that the conference was so inspirational (and that was just my opinion), I know that I have been making a difference in my community, and that I can do much much more with the networking that I developed whilst at the conference. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cormac for coming down to Brixham and delivering two extremely successful days 🙂 and a massive, massive thank you to NESTA and The Big Lottery for allowing us to provide this in Brixham. Once again a huge thank you to everyone who helped prepare the conference (in the weeks building up to it) I had such an awesome time and I can’t thank you all enough for allowing me to be part of it!

Happy blogging everyone 🙂 See you all soon x x x



Written by andrewbxyes

February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

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Update of The BEST Programme

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I have had a very busy few weeks, in fact I have hardly stopped!!! Every Sunday I have lots of children who came and play sport at Brixham Sport Centre!! Its a big difference from playing tennis in the rain (last summer)! Using the kick start cash from The Neighbourhood Challenge, I have bought lots of new equipment to run the sessions successfully, as well as being able to offer a wider variety of sports!

Every week, we play a wide variety of sports including tag rugby, indoor football, tennis, hockey, basketball and some times I will combine them all and we play a mini-circuit of sports (which proves to be very popular)!!! We have played a tennis tournament, basketball tournament, tag rugby tournament…..and in the next few weeks, I will be putting together a mini Olympics session 🙂 using a wide variety of sports and implementing the ABC’s of multi skills 🙂

This first block of The BEST Programme is 10 weeks, and we have only 3 weeks left!! It has gone really really well, and some sessions I even get the parents involved who actually enjoy it lots!!! Once this first block is finished with, I am going to spend another month doing some more publicity!! I have had a lot of leaflets made, which have been distributed around Brixham, which has generated a lot of interest for the programme!! Here is a link to my leaflet……………….. The BEST Leaflet

I have also built lots of links with organisations around Brixham, and have contacted some very important people in the community 🙂 My next task is to build links with Paignton Sports College about using their hub, and having The BEST Programme as part of Torbay’s Holiday Sports Programme!

So in the next few weeks I have lots of networking to do as well as promoting the programme even more! I am also waiting to hear from some funding applications which I have put in for, which will help to offer more sports, and to offer training opportunities for the volunteers who help me 🙂 Also, after the xmas break I am going to try and organise a regular sport for the Young Volunteers of YES to play sport, whether this is monthly or just when they want to play 🙂 as the first session we did with them was a huge success 🙂

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog everyone!! Keep checking back to find out any new developments 🙂 x x x


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February 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

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Cromwell Alert – World War 2 Exhibition @ The Edge

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On Saturday 19th November, Brixham Battery’s Cromwell Alert Neighbourhood Challenge project held a very successful World War 2 Exhibition at The Edge. It started at 10am and went through until 4pm. Throughout the day lots of people came through the doors to look at the exhibition!

There were tables of newspapers (one of the oldest I saw was dated back to 1938…wow!!), there was a table with real machine gun on it, and the bullet!! There were screens of photos and even a video on our massive TV here at The Edge!

It was an extremely successful exhibition and The Brixham Battery Group would like to thanks everyone for their support, especially Chris who helped on Friday evening and Angela who supported them on Saturday 🙂

The day produced a lot of interest including items of memorabilia and veteran memories that have been recorded for their CD/DVD!!

If you would like to find out more about the execellent work that The Brixham Battery Heritage Centre Group do, then please check out their website at

Thanks for reading the blog everyone 🙂 speak to you all soon 🙂 Rach x


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February 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

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Community Celebration – Monster Madness – Part 2

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As a follow on from the previous blog……………After such a long day (with hundreds of little children running around and eating lots of sweets and hotdogs), we closed for about an hour! Through this time we all relaxed (for a short while) and cleaned up the mess to get ready for the evening’s party!

Once again, the cafe was completely packed and very hectic for Mara and her volunteers (Dragan and Ashley)!

Loving the costume Will 🙂

We were luckily enough to have Harry Bower DJ for us in the evening 🙂 he wasn’t overly impressed with the songs that I was requesting (but they were all pretty much Celine Dion or Glee….lol, which apparently not a lot of people like…hard to believe I think!) Anyway, ignoring my taste in music……Harry did get each and every one of us dancing which obvioculy was extremely funny 🙂 even I got up to dance at one point…….but decided I was hungry again (what a surprise) so decided eating was a better option than dancing!

For the majority of the evening, we were all split up either in the cafe (eating) or in the main are (dancing and listening to cheesy music)! Lots of us were just taking the evening as an opportunity to chill out and catch up with our friends!

Monster Madness in the evening was thoroughly planned (as was the entire day), but it was so much more relaxed and everyone who was involved in the organisation of the event was able to relax and have a good time! Now in true spirit of a costume party, we had a mini fancy-dress competition. Even though everyone was not dressed up, we all still came together in the main area and the competition was judged by Sophie Bower, Millie Bower and Ben Williams. We had organised prizes and before we knew it, we had already organised ourselves into groups (based on age) and were starting to receive the prizes!

The next part of the evening were the bands! We were lucky enough to have MIU come and play for us (now in my opinion they were awesome, and I just wish that I could play the guitar like they did!)


Now even though this was a very difficult part of organising the event, we still had one band who were happy to play for at least 40 minutes. Although the main problem with this was getting everyone out of the cafe…… you can see below there were lots and lots in the cafe!


The evening of Monster Madness was extremely successful and from what we could all see, everyone was having a fantastic time 🙂 and as it was in the evening (therefore was dark outside), Ross had set up a spotlight outside, which could be seen all over Brixham – love it! Ross worked extremely hard to set up all the lighting and the music for our communtiy event….. A MASSIVE THANK YOU TO ROSS!!! We could not have done it without him, as I even struggle to change a light bulb…lol!

Our Lovely Ross 🙂

We all decided that it was an excellent time to crack the ‘sparklers’ out! Now I do not like sparklers, and before I knew it, I was surrounded by lots of people holding sparklers……it was definitely time for me to go inside (probably time for some more food…he he he!) Even though it was raining, everyone had a wonderful time playing with the sparklers and listening to even more cheesy music!

It was now getting rather late (considering I had been up since about 6am) and it was now 9.30pm, everyone started to wind down and I began cleaning and tidying up The Edge. Lots of the young people had decided to stay for a sleepover at The Edge – although the majority of us went home to our comfy beds!!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped with the organising of Monster Madness, I hope you all enjoyed the day, and there will definitely be plans for another big event next year (2012)…..thanks again everyone!!

Happy blogging….Rach x


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February 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

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Community Celebration – Monster Madness – Part 1

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On Saturday 29th October 2011, Brixham YES held an awesome Monster Madness party! It started at 12pm and as soon as the doors opened lots of families came flooding in 🙂 and from this moment it was non-stop for everyone who was involved! The Cafe was so busy with all the activities as well as Mara and her young helpers constantly serving food and drink!

Looks like Mara has got her work cut out 🙂 x

The above photo shows an example of what it was like on that day……and I believe this was very early on (so you can imagine what the rest of the day was like!) We had pumpkin carving, cake decorating, apple bobbing as some of the activities, as well as lots of yummy food!!!!

Throughout the day, I (Rach) was wondering around with a megaphone!! At one point I was standing outside the building and was bringing a lot of attention to The Edge and what was going on here 🙂 I also decided to talk to EVERYONE using the megaphone…..even if they were stood next to me 🙂

In the main area, it was used as a space for parents to relax and watch their children run around everywhere (high on sugar I might add) and listen/dance to the music which we had put on for them 🙂 We also had a variety of activities which included a skeleton relay, pumpkin ring toss and fun drama games put on by Jade and Abigail Campbell of ‘Juicy Theatre’.

Oooooooo…..he definitely won a prize in this game 🙂

Throughout the day, all of the games and activities had prizes which we were constantly giving out! They ranged from bags of sweets (more sugar) and scary toys to glow sticks and little games that they all decided to open and play here 🙂 One of the best parts of the day was the ‘Fancy Dress Competition’ where we had about 40 children in total competing in the variety of age categories! The prizes were very exciting, and everyone who took part received a bag of sweets too (even more sugar)!

Lots of awesome costumes……check out the little boy dressed as a pumpkin 🙂

The activities of the day even spread outside………we had Jack Tree and Sadie Shrub making goblin heads and witches brooms with the children! This proved to be extremely popular and before we knew it every child had a broomstick (which their parents were carrying around) and the garden was filled with little goblin heads!

awwwww, they’re so cute 🙂

In the middle of all this ‘Monster Madness’ we even had the room upstairs packed out too! We had a local artist come and do face painting for everyone (she did not stop from 12noon until about 8pm) and everywhere we looked someone had their face painted….thank you Elizabeth, you were awesome! We also had a creepy colouring corner which was very popular whilst waiting in the queue to have their face painted!

The day was such a huge success, with so many people coming through the doors, including the berserkers who were dressed in awesome costumes! Lots of young people were here to support YES throughout the day and many parents were telling us how positive the event was in bringing the community together!
As a closing statement to this blog, I would like to express my appreciation to all of those who helped throughout the day! A very big shout out to all the young volunteers who gave their time (all day) to help manage the day, you are all such a valuable asset to YES and we are so very proud of you! I would like to say a massive thank you to Chris, Angela, Mara, Jeff, Ross, Sean and so many others who helped the day run perfectly 🙂
Me and Sarah enjoyed the day so much, and by the end of it we were so proud to be part of (or organising) such a big community event for YES! We both really enjoyed the day and would definitely do it all again next year 🙂
Sarah and Rach 🙂

Thank you all for reading the blog 🙂 and once again a massive thank you to everyone who helped throughout the day!! Happy Blogging!! Rach x x

Written by andrewbxyes

November 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

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Brixham Battery Newsletter

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Hello everyone 🙂

Please find attached a copy of Brixham Battery’s latest newsletter………………….

Brixham Battery Summer 2011 Newsletter

Make sure you click on the link above to read their newsletter 🙂

Don’t forget about their WW2 Memories Day Event on Sunday 6th November!!

Happy blogging everyone!! x x

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November 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

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The Cromwell Alert – WW2 Memories Day Event!

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Brixham Battery’s Neighbourhood Challenge project – ‘The Cromwell Alert’ is holding a WW2 Memories Day Event on Sunday 6th November at Brixham Battery Heritage Centre, Fishcombe Road, Brixham. It starts at 11am until 4.30pm

Everyone is welcome to this FREE EVENT – please bring along a friend/family member/personal World War 2 memory!

Throughout the day, volunteer stewards will record your memory for future generations and photos, documents, memorabilia will be photocopied/scanned and added to the memory. The recordings will be  made on CD/DVD for circulation to local schools, colleges, libraries etc.

All information collected will be exhibited in Brixham next year!

Permission will be sought from all the donors before public exhibition/circulation of material!

Refreshments will be served throughout the day!

If anyone would like to help the please contact Phil on or phone 01803-752239 or you could visit the website on

'Brixham Battery's 200 year history' event

We hope to see you all on Sunday 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog everyone 🙂 x x

Written by andrewbxyes

November 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

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