The Project To Buy Back Penhale As A National Covid19 Pandemic Memorial By Kevin Bennetts

02 / 06/ 2020.

The North Coast of Cornwall from Pendeen Watch to Trevose constitutes some of the finest seascapes to be found anywhere in the UK, there are wild majestic cliffs, various offshore islets. surf pounded strands and extensive dune systems that support highly vulnerable flora and fauna all of which are under serious threat due to mass tourism and seemingly endless housing developments.

The clear and present danger being that without sympathetic stewardship the vast numbers of tourists and the seemingly insatiable demand for coastal accommodation they generate threatens to destroy the very beauty they seek in this very special, very fragile place.

In order to ensure the majesty of this coast is there, unsullied for future generations, those who love the place as deeply as I do need to be vigilant, events have proven that in the case in question the National Trust and Cornwall Council cannot be trusted to act in our collective best interests, indeed they have failed us all by standing idly by while a speculative developer bought up an absolutely crucial area of habitat at the former Penhale Army Camp when the MOD sold it off.

Mass development has reached the point where there is a need to push back against the developers and given the significance of Penhale this seems the ideal location to do it, where there is an unassailable case for a managed return back to nature of a classic brownfield site originally developed as an exigency in WW2, the development currently proposed is simply not right adjacent a spiritual peninsula of big windy skies that recently returned Choughs have chosen to repopulate.

The idea is to launch a national Crowdfunder appeal to raise the considerable funds that will be necessary to buy Penhale back from the developer at a fair market price, where the developer would not be out of pocket, in order to re wild it as a national memorial to all victims of the 2020 Covid19 Pandemic and the frontline workers involved in its control, a wild place where those who wish to could visit, reflect and heal.

This would give added weight and relevance to the appeal for the tens of thousands of victims, their families and all the frontline staff who have done so much to fight the pandemic who should be remembered in a meaningful manner.

Were the developer amenable to the proposal as well as a fair profit they would gain the potentially massive kudos that would come from facilitating such a unique project on behalf of everyone if a successful appeal gifted Penhale to the nation as a Covid 19 pandemic memorial in perpetuity.

Soundings have been taken locally, Perranzabuloe Parish Council appear favourable and within minutes of mooting the possibility of an appeal £11k was pledged locally should it proceed.

To demonstrate my commitment and passion for the area the following is an extract from a book entitled the ‘’Tresean Eel’’ that I am currently completing.

The poverty stricken 1930’s were made harder with the purchase of Plemens Farm from Redruth Brewery as well as thirteen Bennetts children to feed and clothe, if nothing else due to the grandparents hard work and thrift they may have worn hand me down clothes but they never went hungry, after the war with the children grown away and working and the farm paid for things got a little easier.

Like most farmers the war years were good to grandfather after the poverty of the previous decade, then tragically at the age of 62 in 1947, just as the fruits of all that labour came good, they were threshing when Grandfather who was cutting the binds atop the machine dropped where he stood and was gone before he hit the ground from a massive heart attack.

I often try to picture the sombre scene as six of the Bennetts Brothers, not long returned from the war, bore their father (known to all as the Cap’n) on their shoulders from Tresean up to Cubert Church about a mile distant.

He was laid to rest in a grave looking out over Ellenglaze where father had first worked for Sam Phillips for a short while as a 14 year old boy on leaving Cubert School in 1933.

Cubert Church is ancient and lichen covered testifying to the purity of the bracing sea breezes it is constantly buffeted by, it is a rarity in Cornwall, in having a spire instead of the more usual tower, to a child viewing it from afar it looked like a rocket awaiting launch, I still see it that way today.

Looking beyond Ellenglaze across the broad expanse of Gear Sands towards St Agnes, standing by grandfathers grave looking around makes one realise how high and exposed Cubert Village and the surrounding agricultural parish actually is, while fully appreciating the glory of my beloved North Coast spread in front of my eyes.

Stretching away South West beyond the brooding hump of St Agnes Beacon and the outlying Cow and Calf in the middle distance the indent tucked out of sight behind the Beacon known as Bassets Bay ends at Navax with Godrevy, St Ives Bay with the high Galvas of Zennor terminating at Pendeen Watch in the far distance.

To the North East beyond Penhale and that queen of Beaches Holywell, along with its little sister Polly Joke hiding coyly beneath the Kelseys lies Crantock and hidden from view, the mouth of the Gannel, even the ragged eyesore of the Newquay skyline cannot subdue the beauty of the rounde hump that is Trevose, while offshore the Quies lie low and menacing in the tide, like battleships frozen in time, defying the very worst the Atlantic can throw at them.

To the East the high granite butress of Hensbarrow and the man made Clay Country burrows dominate the landscape which forms a dramatic backdrop for the rich farmland between.

As a child everything within that vista became my country, with the grave of my paternal grandfather who I wish I had, but never knew, as its epicentre.

I have always felt that deep sense of belonging, an unbreakable bond that has always reinforced a desire never to leave it, my childhood roots in this land became deep and strong as I grew up to be a true North Coaster and Perraner, that place blessed by the legacy of St Piran that truly nurtured me as a child.

It is something I am prepared to fight for, will you join me?

Yours very sincerely
Kevin Bennetts
Geor Chapel
TR16 6BN

01209 862783