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  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

"World's Oldest Sheep" lives in Sussex

At the age of 23, Dolly is taking it easy; living the life of riley, mostly sleeping or eating, or just pottering about. Dolly, you see, is a sheep - and, it's thought, the oldest sheep in the world.

Normally sheep live to about 10 or 12 so at double that, Dolly's doing remarkably well. A bit doddery on her feet but in good voice and with a ferocious appetite, she's looked after on a farm in East Sussex. We send our own doddery reporter, David Johns, to meet her and her keeper, Sharon Moore.

To make a donation to Moore Racehorse Trust, where Dolly and the other animals are being kept, please visit their page on Facebook (click this link to visit).

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Badger sett destroyed in targeted attack

An entire badger sett has been destroyed at Bourne Valley Nature Reserve in Poole.

On examining the scene, police found that the multiple sett entrances had all been blocked and the surrounding area flattened. I

t is believed that this location was purposefully targeted, with the offenders bringing builders sand and tools to carry out the act.

The incident was reported to police by a local dog walker on Monday 9 February 2015.

Officers have been investigating this crime and are now appealing to the public. Credit: Dorset Police

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, a Wildlife Crime Officer for Dorset Police, said: “Disturbing or damaging a badger sett is a criminal offence. Badgers have legal protection because of the sheer brutality of crimes against their species

“This is a sickening act. Badgers normally give birth to their cubs at this time of year. Any family in the sett would have suffocated. The offenders have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure all escape routes were blocked.

“I am appealing to the local community to report any information regarding this incident to me.

“I would also like to ask the many dog walkers, who use this area regularly, to keep their eyes and ears open and remain vigilant to acts like this. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately.”

Communities in South East to benefit from government cash injection

Hastings Borough Council receives £500,000 to improve the seafront and visitor attractions and amenities in Hastings, including bikes to hire, improved signage, information walks and trails and landscaping. It will create 260 jobs.

This is excellent news and really fits with the seafront strategy which we recently agreed. The restoration of the Pier is well underway, White Rock Baths will re-open this year as a BMX centre and we are putting money into refurbishing Bottle Alley and now we have succeeded in attracting an additional £500,000 to improve the seafront further.

– Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader Hastings Borough Council

The Conservation Volunteers receives £360,000 to improve the Solent Way coastal path through Hampshire, develop nearby routes and better signage. This will create 8jobs.

We’re delighted that we’ve been awarded this grant. The Solent Way runs for 60 miles along the Hampshire coast and passes through some beautiful and wonderful locations. We are looking forward to working with our local authority partners and local people, to help improve and highlight this special place and through this create and support local jobs and businesses.

– Paul Forrest-Jameson from the charity

Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, near Brighton, receives £2.3 million to restore the outside area and pools of Saltdean Lido (the UK’s only Grade2* listed lido) to create a unique tourist and leisure destination and community hub. This will create 60 jobs.

Today's news is a massive boost for both the lido and our local economy. We will now be able to restore and refurbish the pools and outside area and provide local residents and visitors with a beautiful place to swim, relax and enjoy being outside.

I would like to thank the volunteer directors of our group who continue to dedicate hours and hours to restore this unique space and also our local MP Simon Kirby who has supported the project from the outset.

– Rebecca Crook, chair of Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company

Gravesham Borough Council receives £1.8 million to refurbish and revitalise Gravesend's Borough Charter Market to transform it into a thriving retail centre and creative hub. Will benefit 40 local businesses and create 35 jobs.

It is very good news that the merit of the council’s initiative to refurbish one of the oldest charter markets in England has been recognised with this award. The council will now be able to progress our plans to rejuvenate and transform the market so it can once again take its place at the very heart of this riverside heritage town.

– Gravesham Borough Council’s leader Cllr John Burden

Worthing Council, West Sussex receives £245,000 to transform a landmark building and establish a Creative Hub, providing affordable workspace for the creative community together with exhibition and retail space. It will be a focus for business support that can both create and sustain new jobs in the creative industries.

Thanet District Council in Kent receives £247,000 to develop tourism along Thanet’s unique coast in Margate, that will draw visitors throughout the year and encourage people to stay. The project will create two full time and two part time jobs.

I am delighted that the council’s funding bid has been successful. This particular funding will enable us to maximise Thanet’s unique assets. The aim of the project is to enable residents and visitors to engage with the coastline and heritage assets, allowing them to take greater pride in and learn more about Thanet. This crucial funding will also resource the creation of a support network to capitalise on the fantastic volunteering spirit of locals and also mean new people are introduced to Thanet’s stunning coastline.

– Leader of Thanet District Council and Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Iris Johnston

Eastbourne Borough Council in East Sussex receives £1.8 million to regenerate the Devonshire Ward in Eastbourne through developing new leisure and business facilities, improving public realm and promoting local artists and providing training. It will create18 jobs.

This is fantastic news for Devonshire. The £1.8m will deliver many projects across the ward,including improvements to Princes Park, refurbished fascias in Seaside Road andpublic realm enhancements to Seahouses Square.

The residents and businesses of Devonshire will benefit greatly from the investment, and the area will draw in even more tourists.

– Councillor Steve Wallis

Deer rescued after being caught in baler twine

A Sussex animal charity has issued a warning about discarded baler twine after a dramatic deer rescue today at Hellingly in East Sussex.

Volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) jumped into their ambulance after receiving a call about a Fallow Deer buck with full palmate antlers caught in baler twine and a barbed wire fence. Rescuers Trevor Weeks MBE his partner Kathy Martyn, both from Uckfield, and rescuers Chris Riddington from Eastbourne attended on site.

The rescue was not an easy one, although the deer was restricted in how far it could move, the fact that it was in a hedge made our rescue attempts very difficult. Our first few attempts to pin the deer to the floor using the walk-to-wards net did not work with the deer managing to get up every time. We just couldn’t get the right angle and coverage of the deer to pin it down. We had to take the more risky approach of threading the long net through the fence either side of the deer where we were then able to restrict the deer’s movement. From behind a small tree I was also able to grab on of the back legs safely and full the deer to the floor. From there I was then able to get the deers head covered properly, pin the deer to the floor, and my colleagues Kathy and Chris were then able to start cutting away at the bailer twine.

– Trevor Weeks, founder of WRAS

From start to finish the rescue took 15minutes.

It certainly felt like the rescue was going on and on, we struggled to gain control of the deer. The twine was also very difficult to cut being so tightly attached to the antlers. Your heart really races when doing these rescues because you know you are causing stress to the deer and just want to get it cut free and released safely and as quickly as possible. The poor creatures obviously doesn’t realise we are trying to help it.

– rescuer Kathy Martyn

East Sussex WRAS is asking anyone walking, visiting or working in the countryside to keep an eye out for baler twine and pick up any discard twine and dispose of it properly and safely.

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Public rally against building in rural Oxfordshire

A coalition of community groups and campaigners is holding its first major rally in David Cameron's constituency of Witney, to protest against the construction of housing developments in rural areas.

Campaigners have gathered in Witney this morning

The Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally are protesting against a planning system which they say has been "defectively changed" over the past two-and-a-half years, to "allow a rash of rampant cynical developer driven building projects which would have been refused permission under the traditional planning criteria."

It comes after a planning application was submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council last year for 200 homes between Witney and Hailey.

Fatal motorway collision prompts ministers to consider 'Beware of Boars' road signs

Ministers are considering bringing out 'beware of boars' road signs following a fatal motorway collision involving one of the wild animals last week.

The new sign could be put up on stretches of roads near 'infested' areas, along with barriers to keep out the 20 stone animals.

One of the areas considered a hotspot for wild boar is thought to be Kent where hundreds of them live.

Revival of ancient wassailing ritual

Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst in Chatham has hosted an ancient Wassailing ceremony which dates back to Saxon times.

It's performed to awaken fruit trees and bee hives and to drive away evil spirits to help ensure a summer harvest.

Keith Gulvin, a Trustee at Fort Amherst for over 30 years, said: "‘it’s reassuring to know that there is such an appetite for these authentic events, and that the time and energy it takes to ensure these ceremonies aren’t forgotten is not in vain."

Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst
Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst
  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Boxing Day Hunt rides from Lewes

Ten years ago, the Hunting Act made it illegal to hunt foxes with hounds across England and Wales. Many said the Act would destroy a countryside way of life. But from the turnout at Boxing Day trail hunts across the South East, it seems the tradition is far from dead.

David Johns reports, speaking to spectators, hunt protestor Marina Pepper and Jonathan, a huntsman.

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