South West Branch News

From Jane Wills

On Friday 14 December the Branch held its AGM at the Saunton Sands Hotel in Devon, which was well attended. During the meeting, Members reflected about the year’s varied events and informative and topical presentations. Looking forward to 2019 and onwards, the Branch is very aware of the importance of maintaining the interest of existing Members and of the need to continually attract new Membership. In line with this, a questionnaire had been circulated to gain Members’ views about what they felt was good about the Branch and therefore needs to continue, and what ideas they had for further development. This proved to be a successful exercise and was discussed at the AGM, and the comments will be used to help plan the next stage of Branch business.

The day prior to the AGM, several early arrivals enjoyed a fabulous afternoon tea with a backdrop of the dramatic coastline behind. In the evening the group enjoyed a cocktail party and a festive dinner, with some Members dancing their way into the small hours.

The Branch was treated to two very successful and interesting days and our thanks go to David Kavanagh from Tillery Valley Foods for proposing the event and for the staff at the hotel for looking after us so well.


For general interest some background to the hotel. It was built in the 1920s in an art deco style by the Christy family, who still own a lot of the land locally. They took advantage of the view across the superb beach of Saunton Sands, which has seen Vikings, a tsunami and was repeatedly invaded by the American Forces in preparation for their part in the D-Day invasions.

During this period, the hotel was seconded for the war effort, serving as a military school and hospital. It was bought as a very run-down property in 1970 by the current owners, who have spent a great deal of money restoring it to its former glory: the art deco restaurant is modelled on the Titanic and is a great feature.

In 1987, Pink Floyd had photos for their new album, A momentary lapse of reason’ taken on the beach, with 700 Victorian hospital beds fully made up on the beach; however, being Devon it promptly rained so they took them back in and did it again the next day.

In more recent times, surfing in the area has rejuvenated the tourist industry and drawn people to the area. The Burrows, which the hotel overlooks, is a world biosphere with some unique flora and fauna (and a great golf course).

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