This quote sums up the views of the more than 35 groups and organisations from across the town and villages who attended the Dartmouth Together Community Event on Saturday 27th April.  In addition to these 35 groups, nearly 200 visitors popped into the Flavel to see what all the fuss was about.

By 9.15am, all of the exhibiting groups and organisations had their stands ready and then gathered round to hear from Nick Hindmarsh, co-ordinator of Dartmouth Together, about Dartmouth Together’s hope for the day and the future.  Nick started by thanking the many groups who were participating on the day and commented on the tangible enthusiasm he could feel in the room.  He said, “Evidence across rural communities in the UK and overseas is that we thrive where we support ourselves – we know how Dartmouth has lost services, banks, garages, shops, and our hospital.  We cannot control some of those things, we can lobby but we cannot control them, however, how we support one another we can determine – we can ‘Control the controllable’.  To achieve this, we need to be better connected, both formally and informally and today is a significant step on this path”.

Dr James Mottram, a G.P. from Kingsbridge and lead of SHAW (South Hams Area Wellbeing) then spoke about their journey to develop similar opportunities for local people in Kingsbridge and surrounding villages.  SHAW is about a year ahead of Dartmouth Together, meaning James was able to speak with genuine knowledge about what they are doing, have done and what they still have to accomplish. He stated that, “The critical part of making this work is the buy-in from the community and the new Community Connectors who are the glue that hold this together.”  James and Nick both referred to some new money coming through the NHS this year that will help to provide support to help individuals and groups become involved.   James’ comments were backed up by Sandy Gilbert, who works very closely with the Quayside Leisure Centre in Kingsbridge and is responsible for running many of the exercise classes to which people can refer themselves or be referred by GPs and physios.

Finally, Craig Davidson, a Governor at the local NHS trust and a trustee at the Indoor Swimming Pool, spoke about the Swim4Health programme, which has been running at the indoor pool in Dartmouth since September.  He commented that it was great to see Fusion at the event and of their willingness to develop similar opportunities at the Leisure Centre here as they provide at Quayside.  “Essentially, active people have fewer physical and mental health issues; boosting activity improves both, whilst socialising is an important protector from anxiety and depression – and opportunities to make this easier for local people to access is what we are all about!” said Craig.

The groups represented sent their informal feedback over the weekend and this was overwhelmingly positive.  A more formal feedback will follow to find out what can be done to improve the experience for all involved. Here are some of the comments already received:

  •  “It was really good to be present to help kick-start your journey with this exciting work…..”
  • “It was great to meet at yesterday’s event at the Flavel and thank you for an inspirational talk.”
  • “Just a quick thank you for today.  It went really well and all power to you for organising an event that brought so many organisations together.”
  • “A great success all round. “
  • “Thank you for including me in today’s event. It was well worthwhile, and it must have been most gratifying for you to have welcomed such a good footfall.”
  • “Well done for today – very worthwhile I think, so much was gained from the organisations liaising with each other particularly those working with the physically and mentally handicapped.”
  • “I was able to make some very good connections and get to know others on a more personal basis.”