The much anticipated Exmoor Flag has been announced at a unique historic ceremony at the West Somerset Railway Station in Minehead. The new Exmoor Flag rumbled down the track blazoned on a majestic steam locomotive to much fanfare and flag waving.
The winner of the competition to create the official flag for Exmoor is Jenny Stevens with ‘Flag E’. The creation of the flag for Exmoor has been planned to coincide with the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the Exmoor National Park, and Exmoor will be the only area encompassing a national park to have its very own flag!
Jenny’s rationale explains her thoughts behind her creation “The flag tells a story of Exmoor’s varied terrain – sea meets river meets cliff path meets moorland meets forest meets wildlife.”
Jenny’s flag design was one of 5 finalists’ chosen by a panel which included Philip Tibbetts, Community Vexillologist at The Flag Institute, who expertly guided the judges through the shortlisting process. 261 designs were received from all over the world as far away as Australia and America, from community groups and schools to individuals as young as 2 and as old at 93.
Philip Tibbetts commented:
“It is very pleasing to see how the competition has been heartily backed by the community across the region. Through the dedication of the organisers to get the best quality designs, the corporate supporters that have given the flag a joyous launch today, to the multitude of people who had the enthusiasm and creativity to think up designs – which lead to a strong set of finalists and of course a strong registered flag. Exmoor can now represent its pride in the unique local culture and environment which in turn is part of the patchwork that makes up our national identity”.
Jenny, who lives in London with her young family, first fell in love with Exmoor as a child on a school trip and the whole family has a passion for flags so it was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. Her bold and simple design clearly struck a chord with the public as it received 41% of the vote. 858 members of the public voted for their favourite flag design, with 446 votes cast online and 412 received in the post.
As well as the honour of going down in history as being the designer of Exmoor’s new flag, Johnny Kingdom the wildlife photographer, presented Jenny with the amazing prize of the very first Exmoor Flag, hand made in Exford by Robin Ashburner ex-President of the Flag Institute. In addition Jenny received a beautiful wicker hamper especially made by Paul Tuck of Exmoor Baskets & Hurdles, overflowing with Exmoor produce, products and vouchers for shops, visitor attractions and restaurants, along with a day out with an Exmoor National Park Ranger and a year’s subscription to the Exmoor Magazine. The prizes were all kindly donated by local businesses keen to support and embrace Exmoor’s new flag.
And in recognition of their huge achievement of being selected from hundreds of entries, the 5 finalists Jamie Loudon (Flag A), Martin Shoots (Flag B), Kathryn Roseveare (Flag C) and Kevin Sandiford (Flag D) and Jenny Stephens (Flag E) were all presented with a book of ‘British Flags & Emblems’, a case of Golden Ale donated by Exmoor Ales and their very own flag design beautifully reproduced by James Guscott of Active Signs (who has a love of flags having been a runner up in the Somerset flag competition last year).
Johnny Kingdom also presented the Rural Deanery of Exmoor and 5 local Mayors, resplendent in their ceremonial regalia, with an Exmoor Flag for them to fly back in their own towns.
Russell Perkins and Sara Evans on behalf of Rev Stephen Stuckes, Rural Dean of Exmoor; Mayor of Minehead Cllr Les Smith; Deputy Mayor of Barnstaple Cllr Mrs Julie Hunt and Consort Mr David Hunt; Mayor of South Molton Cllr Stephen Lock; Mayor of Watchet Cllr Loretta Whetlor; Mayor of Ilfracombe George Squires
The new Exmoor Flag will now embark on a grand tour of the region in a vintage bus provided by Quantock Heritage and sponsored by local businesses, distributing flags to towns and villages for them to have their own celebration. The first stop on the tour will be at Porlock, where an Exmoor Ranger will take up the challenge to fly the new Exmoor Flag on Dunkery Beacon the highest point on Exmoor.
There will be short ceremonies at Lynton to present the Exmoor Flag to Mayor Cllr Tony Meakin and in Dulverton to present to Deputy Mayor Cllr Judy Ernest and Rev Andrew Thomas for All Saints Parish.