With the Referendum for the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan approaching we were keen to ask people how they feel about living, working and playing in Exmouth. Exewake’s Ria Ball has discovered a new passion since moving to Devon…
“What I’ve learnt about life in Exmouth: 1. Everyone is into something… When I first moved to Exmouth from Bristol I remember a new, local friend asking me ‘so, what’s your thing?’…. It made me stop and think because at the time I didn’t actually have a one-word answer for her. It’s not that when I lived in the city I didn’t ‘do’ anything, it’s just that the things I did do (eating out, visiting museums, band gigs, bars, shopping etc) couldn’t really be classed as an active hobby. We’re so lucky living here because you can still do all of the above in nearby Exeter, but because of the natural environment surrounding us there’s also the opportunity to try a huge variety of sports and activities, many of which are hard to access from suburban locations. Almost everyone I know in Exmouth is into something. Whether it’s kitesurfing, windsurfing, running, cycling, water skiing, rowing or walking, there’s a load of sports to try right on our doorstep. It didn’t take me long to have a go at several different water sports before finding my passion for water skiing. I just love that since moving here I’ve discovered a brand new hobby that I now combine with work. And over the years Exmouth has produced several world-class water sports champions, no surprise really given the upbringing you can have. In the summer my children are lucky to be able to spend all day on the beach before being happily bundled into pyjamas and lifejackets for an evening boat ride out to the Exewake barge to watch us water ski. I hope they don’t ever take that for granted and I also hope it’s a lifestyle they continue into their own adulthoods. I believe that all youngsters in the area should get the chance to take advantage of what’s on offer, not just those whose families are involved with it. At Exewake we run reduced rate youth sessions to try and make the club accessible for all ages. But the town needs to work in line with individual businesses in order to support this. The Neighbourhood Plan highlights that the provision of sport and leisure facilities should be a focus for Exmouth’s development, one of the many reasons I’m supporting it.
2. We should embrace the environment all year round… Having spent my life living in the UK I’ve always been aware of the changes in seasons but there is something about being in Exmouth that makes me even more in tune. From stormy seas and sub zero temperatures to migrating birds and moving sandbanks, the seasonal changes in nature are so apparent when you immerse yourself in it. I think this adds a wonderful dynamic to Exmouth’s offer and gives the town a huge advantage over other seaside resorts that are hemmed in by built up areas. During the summer months I spend loads of time out on the water, and for the first two years I lived here that was all I did...a summer of fun followed by a winter of battening down the hatches. But for the last couple of years I’ve embraced sea swimming over the winter months which puts me right in the depths of nature all year round. A friend I swim with went out for a dip in January and swam for more than 30minutes with a seal right by her side - how amazing is that?!! We don’t all need to go to such extremes in winter but I do believe that the town’s development should carefully embrace the natural elements in every season, not just in summertime.
3.	We’ve got to improve employment opportunities…    In order for my family to move here we had to make a compromise in that my husband Tim commutes up and back to Bristol three days a week to run the business he’d already set up there.  It works at the moment because he gets the majority of the working week in his office, yet the majority of the entire week back in Exmouth.  But of course in an ideal world we’d have him here all seven days.   We’re not the only family I know that embraces some sort of travel in order to live here; it seems fairly common that people seeking higher salaries and career opportunities commute further a field.   I think this alone highlights the need for improved employment opportunities within the town which in turn will help to make it more self sufficient and sustainable.       I got involved with Exewake because when we moved here I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to replace the digital agency job I’d had in Bristol with the equivalent in Exmouth.   I knew that I’d have to be creative with what my next career move looked like so I considered various options and ideas before Exewake became a possible reality.   I think a lot of people living here will find themselves in the same situation.  I hope that over the next few years more and more people are able to start something new that benefits them as much as others in the town. Working life has changed so much over the past 15 years and towns like Exmouth are perfectly placed for offering new businesses the tools to grow.  The Propeller work hub on Victoria Road is a fantastic recent addition as it provides a venue and network for start-ups but without the crazy overheads a city equivalent would demand.  If the Neighbourhood Plan goes ahead then part of it will focus on improved employment and economy, surely something we all want to see.
4. That said, good businesses thrive... Many of my friends in Exmouth are self employed or run their own businesses, several of which are award-winning enterprises. It just goes to show that if you do get your offering right, you can succeed. I think that there are obvious gaps in the market for certain types of businesses to open but the whole town offering needs to be modernised, especially for retail projects. The Neighbourhood plan supports the regeneration of the Magnolia Centre and this is something I’d love to see over the next few years.” Check out what Exewake offers at https://www.exewake.co.uk/ and if, like Ria you’re keen on supporting the Neighbourhood Plan, don’t forget you’ve got a chance to vote at the referendum on March 21st.
© Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group website: Rob Masding