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A Lofty Picture of Funding Success

16 June 2022

Man in blue suit stands next to woman in blue and yellow floral dress and show a small colouring book in a large room filled with adults and children.

Community Recovery Grants opened in November 2021 to support local businesses that were impacted during the lockdowns. Awarded by the District Council, they were available for businesses of all sizes, from the Government's Covid Recovery Fund.

The crucial funding helped to boost the local economy and kick-started a chain of positive business activity across the District supporting 31 schemes with a total of £243,000 in funding.

One of the businesses to benefit from a Covid Recovery Grant was Dartmouth-based business, Devon With Kids, who used their grant to produce and market a children's colouring book based on the South Hams' area.

Cllr Hilary Bastone, Deputy Leader of South Hams District Council, along with children and staff from nearby Kingswear Primary School, who helped choose the book's narrator (Sammy the Seal), attended the book's launch event held at The Sail Loft in Dartmouth.

The South Hams Colouring Book for Kids is the newest in a range of children's colouring books created by Claire Hall, a Dartmouth content creator and editor of the Devon with Kids' website. Together with Sarah Smither, local business owner and co-creator of the first book, they decided to create a children's colouring book featuring Dartmouth town.

Intended as a children's activity book and as a guidebook for visiting children to the area, it also promotes local tourism and hospitality businesses that families may wish to visit while they are in the area. The idea for the books started during an online networking event during lockdown at the beginning of 2021.

The Dartmouth book was so popular that Claire decided to continue creating more books on her own and created another covering the whole of Devon. This came out in December 2021 and is raising money for Devon Air Ambulance Trust with a donation from every copy sold going to the charity.

When Claire heard about the Community Recovery Grant she decided to apply for funding for a third book in the series, this time about the South Hams. Everyone involved in the project, from the illustrator to the printer, is based in the South Hams or South Devon area, so this is a real community project.

South Hams District Council's Executive Member for Economy, Cllr Hilary Bastone, said: "It is really satisfying to see one of our local and smaller businesses taking a grant and really making a difference with it. Claire and Sarah have used their funding to engage children locally and to support our visitor economy.

"The book encourages our visitors to go out and about to see what the South Hams has to offer, so it benefits the whole region. Their campaign has even encouraged Kingswear school to get involved too, along with supporting numerous local businesses. What's not to like? It's a fantastic success story and we're thrilled that we awarded the grant to Devon with Kids."

The South Hams' colouring book features Sammy the Seal who takes children on a tour of the must-see places to visit in the South Hams such as Burgh Island, Berry Pomeroy Castle and Start Point with plenty of fun facts along the way and great tips on free things to do. There is also a map and a list for children to tick off as they explore.  

Claire Hall, the Devon with Kids creator, said: "Expanding my product range to three books in a year wouldn't have been possible without the grant funding. I'm delighted to have been able to use this project to support other creative businesses in the area and highlight so much of what makes the South Hams a wonderful place to explore."

 The book is on sale online via devonwithkids.co.uk and in local shops, as well as being available to accommodation providers and hospitality businesses to buy and share with their guests. 

[photo credit: Claire Gillo Photography]

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