Dawlish College Donation

6th December 2018

We were delighted to recently support Dawlish College in their charity endeavours by donating stationery packs to be included in their Christmas shoeboxes destined for Moldova.

Well done to the students who were able to hand over an incredible 71 shoeboxes to the Dawlish Water Rotary Club who were arranging the collection in association with

Christian Response to Eastern Europe (cr2ee). In total the Club collected over 1800 shoeboxes which have now been loaded on to the lorry and are on their way.

These shoeboxes contain vital resources and treats, and will no doubt be bringing many smiles to young and old alike on Christmas Day.

You can find out more about the work cr2ee do and a lovely Powerpoint presentation showing images of people opening their shoeboxes in previous years here

Christmas Shows!

29th November 2018

Christmas time is always a great excuse to indulge in bit of fun theatre and at Gilbert Stephens Solicitors we like nothing more than supporting our local productions, especially when staff members are part of the cast.

This year we are excited to be supporting both Robin Hood which will be performed at the Barnfield Theatre, and the traditional pantomime Aladdin being performed at the Exeter Corn Exchange.

Robin Hood runs from Thursday 20th December to Saturday 5th January and we are very much looking forward to seeing Josie Tapp one of our Support Administrators who has the role of Maid Marian!

“We all know the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Little John, Will Scarlett and Friar Tuck – or at least we think we do.

What if we were to tell you the true and unadulterated truth about who really wore the tights in Sherwood Forest?”

This production will no doubt keep you laughing throughout as we discover the true story of Maid Marian and her feisty and impetuous Girlpower Gang, the true story of Robin Hood and his love of wearing green tights and feathers in his hat, his troubles of keeping his wardrobe neat in a hideout in a forest and the true story of the Sherriff of Nottingham ‘Clarence’ who, as it turned out, was a much misunderstood man.

We asked Josie how she was finding preparations for the show: “I am loving being a part of ELTC’s pantomime. I feel very lucky to be working with such a welcoming and lovely group as this is my first ever pantomime! So far there have been lots of amusing moments as 6 hour rehearsals can make us a bit stir crazy! Steve (Snotty Notty) putting on his heels for the first time was a truly fabulous moment.”

Full details and tickets are available here

Aladdin runs from Saturday 8th December 2018 to Tuesday 1st January 2019 when you can join a host of classic characters for songs, laughter – the perfect Christmas show!

“The most magical and adventurous of all pantomimes will be lavishly presented, with all the fun our pantos are now famous for!  The festive tale is told with merriment and melody- plus a big dollop of slapstick fun and silly sing-alongs!”

What more could you want?!

Full details of Aladdin and how to book tickets can be found here




Christmas Shoebox Appeal

26th November 2018

This Christmas, Gilbert Stephens Solicitors have again joined forces with an Exeter Primary School and Dawlish College to send gifts and Christmas spirit to some of the poorest families in Europe.

Children at Kenton Primary School have shown great compassion, collaborating with staff at Gilbert Stephens to arrange dozens of shoeboxes filled with quality gifts and clothing, and decorated with Christmas cheer, for those living in poverty in Moldova (formerly part of Romania).

Two students from Dawlish College have also taken it upon themselves to organise donations for this appeal. We think this is an incredible effort of empathy and encourage those in the Dawlish area to donate towards the students’ campaign. We have collected many items for the boxes, including sets of stationery in collaboration with Devon Commercial Stationers.

The shoebox appeal is organised by registered charity, the Christian Response to Eastern Europe (CR2EE). They campaign for families and organisations to get together and make up these Christmas gifts throughout the months of October and November. After collection, a gargantuan voluntary effort takes place to pack and drive these boxes to be stored in Europe before being distributed to the children and grandparents of poverty-stricken families.

CR2EE suggest that people who want to donate boxes fill them with basic items such as soap, toothbrushes and facecloths, warm hats and gloves, as well as items such as notebooks, pens, coloured pencils, and sweets. Boxes for children can contain good quality small toys and games.

Kenton Primary School has collected gifts for the boxes for over 10 years. Gilbert Stephens’ Exeter office became involved eight years ago through solicitor Helen Clegg, whose eldest son attended the school.

Gilbert Stephens’ staff get together to donate all other items needed for around 30 boxes before delivering them to Kenton Primary School in mid-November.

Central to the Gilbert Stephens Moldova Appeal operation is Exeter office manager Julie Besley, her office begins filling up with piles of donations from October onwards. Julie volunteers her own time to pack the 30 boxes and put together the stationery packs, which have now been delivered to Kenton school in time for CR2EE to receive. Their volunteers are now working tirelessly, packing gifts to drive to Moldova!

Julie said, “Every year around this time the office gets very crowded with gifts and boxes, and there is a lot to do to get everything arranged, packed and wrapped. I now collect toiletries and other basics for the boxes all year round!

“It’s very much worth the effort every year though, to know that we are giving quality gifts and that special feeling of being cared for at Christmas, to children who have so much less than ourselves.”



Budget 2019

16th November 2018

This year’s Budget certainly won’t be going down as one of the most exciting. With Brexit ongoing it’s certainly difficult to make too many changes until we can be sure of the future landscape for Britain, but was there anything we should be taking note of? Well no, not really – but that is good news for now as very little will change and an emergency budget next year has been promised if we crash out of the EU without a deal.

Something that you will have heard being bandied about in connection to this budget is a possible end to austerity, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Today I can report to the British people their hard work is paying off and the era of austerity is finally coming to an end.” In theory, this means we won’t have to cut back quite so much in the coming years, but the reality remains to be seen.

Below is a summary of a few items you may wish to be aware of:

Income Tax

  • From April 2019 the personal allowance will increase to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000.


  •  From April 2019 the Pension Lifetime Allowance will rise to £1055,000.

 Capital gains tax

  • From April 2019 Capital Gains Tax Allowance increases to £12,000, a rise of £300.

Inheritance tax

  • From April 2018 the residence nil rate band increases from £125,000 to £150,000.
  • The IHT nil rate band will remains frozen at £325,000 until April 2021.

Trust taxation

  • A consultation is planned to consider how to simplify and make trust taxation fairer.


  • Annual ISA limits remain the same at £20,000 per person.

We warned you it wasn’t very exciting! If you have any questions or concerns about how the latest Budget might affect you, feel free to contact us.

Gilbert Stephens Inspires Exeter Students

15th November 2018

Potential young lawyers of the future have been receiving advice and inspiration from staff at the Exeter branch of Gilbert Stephens Solicitors, who represented the firm at Exeter School’s annual Careers Convention.

The law firm was among over 40 organisations who attended the event on Thursday 15th November to share their professional experience and expertise, as the students are considering their future career paths and finding out about the qualifications and training they will need.

This year, partner Kim McDonald and Cheryl Bolt attended the convention. They were also able to advise the pupils on the A-level subjects that would be most useful if they were considering a career in law, and the academic qualifications and training required to become a solicitor.

We particularly enjoy representing the firm at these sorts of events. They are a great opportunity to meet bright, aspiring and ambitious young people, and encourage and hopefully inspire them to consider pursuing a challenging yet extremely rewarding career in law.

The pupils were particularly interested in hearing what a day in the life of a lawyer actually involves. They were surprised to learn that there are so many different specialised areas of law, including Litigation, Private Client, Conveyancing, Commercial and Family, which are all covered by our firm.

The students were also keen to hear the variety of tasks that solicitors perform on a daily basis such as writing letters and emails, answering calls, drafting legal documents, and meeting and advising clients in person, sometimes in the office or even by going out to visit them in their own homes or residential care homes.

Of course, young people are always excited to hear about what it is like to go to court!

We were very pleased with the interest from Exeter School’s students, it demonstrated the motivation and ambition of the young people coming through the school, and we hope they and the parents we spoke to during the evening gained a better understanding of what we do here at Gilbert Stephens and what we have to offer.

Among the many other professions and occupations featured at the careers convention were medicine, the media, science and engineering, the charity sector, finance and the armed services.

Many pupils and families attended, and Exeter School’s careers advisor Ruth Cheesman thanked all the exhibitors for giving up their time to share their career journeys with the pupils.

We wish them all the best of luck in whatever career path they choose!


Bonkers Conkers Championship

15th November 2018

Some of our Young Professionals Network (YPN) team enjoyed an evening with a difference last month thanks to Brewin Dolphin. The Bonkers Conkers event hosted at Lloyds Kitchen in Exeter, was their annual conker championship. It proved to be an entertaining – if a little competitive – evening of conker battles and gin! Though sadly our team didn’t retain the King Conker Trophy, they did at least come away uninjured and are already looking forward to next year’s event.

The event was hosted to help raise funds for Brewin Dolphin’s Charity of the Year HeartSWell, there was also a fun Guess How Many Conkers in the Jar. HeartSWell South West is committed to supporting heart patients, their families and carers across the Westcountry. They do this by helping to provide life-saving heart equipment to local hospitals, information booklets for cardiac patients, funding towards nurse training and a counselling service. If you would like to find out more and/or donate you can do so here:

Gilbert Stephens’ Cheryl Bolt tells us “the food buffet was brilliant, which was good because we worked up an appetite. Unfortunately, the conkers weren’t actually breaking and we had to change the conventional conker rules, but there were only a few bruise casualties on the night. There was a great atmosphere!”

Here’s a few photos of the event, we’ll get practising our technique for next year – if you have any tips then do pass them our way.

Want to join in with our Young Professionals Network? Then get in touch. We host and attend events throughout the year offering our members a chance to network with like-minded professionals on an informal basis. Find out more on our website here:

Exeter Dementia Action Alliance 2019 Calendar

13th November 2018

We were excited to receive a delivery of the 2019 Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA) calendar last month which will be taking pride of place amongst our offices next year. The calendar is a collaboration between Gina Awad of the EDAA and the award-winning Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband and highlights the need for people living with dementia, and their carers to receive understanding, compassion and support to enable them to live well and to shine a light on dementia.

We are proud members of the EDAA and jumped at the chance to sponsor one of the months within the calendar. In the month of October, you will find an image raising awareness of the need to plan ahead, for peace of mind; after all talking about a loved one’s possible gradual loss of memory and future care is not something that’s easy to face.

At Gilbert Stephens we can help you with these difficult discussions, help ensure desired future choices are recorded and will be put in place and followed when the time comes. We will listen and work with you and your family to ensure the outcome for your loved one is just as they want. We want to ensure they can feel secure in the knowledge they have been heard and their future is as they would choose it to be, even if their ability to make that decision passes.

Huge thanks to Gina and Tony for making this very special calendar happen – we look forward to spotting it throughout Exeter in 2019!

To find out where to purchase a calendar contact Gina Awad moc.k1550820338ooltu1550820338o@aad1550820338retex1550820338e1550820338  Website:

#shiningalightondementia #EDAA  #Exeter #DementiaFriendlyExeter

Running Flames through Guy Fawkes Night Streets

12th November 2018

The scene on the night of Monday 5th November in Ottery St Mary is always something to behold.

Men and women and youths run through the high street dressed in thick layers, their hands and wrists wrapped against the heat of flaming barrels of burning tar that they carry on their shoulders.

The barrel rollers each run, whilst safely carrying the barrel as far as they can before passing it, progressing through crowds who part and flow around them again as the barrel of fire moves on.

This is an incredibly exciting event, supposedly born from an ancient Westcountry tradition of rolling lit barrels of tar through the streets and houses each year for fumigation.

Gilbert Stephens are very proud of Deanne Cummings, from our Sidmouth office, and her daughter Zoe, who have now been ‘rolling the barrels’ for 37 and 18 years respectively. Deanne wore a bright green Gilbert Stephens t-shirt – the bright colours helps them to pick each other out in the commotion and see if they can help or get the barrel to each other.

Deanne tells us, “We had a great evening and it was a bonus with it being dry and mild. A lot of people attended but it was kept under control by having two tar barrels going at the same time and splitting the crowds.

The t-shirt colour was great. The film crews were out last night and filming the women’s barrels.

The event is special to myself and family as I have generations of family going back over the years who have rolled the barrels.”

Deanne explains the Tar Barrel lingo: “We do not roll the barrels anymore, only to warm them up. Then we pick them up from the front, up over our head, and put the barrel on our shoulders wearing special sacking gloves. Then we run safely through the town with them, looking out for each other. Fantastic fun and we were all worn out at the end of the evening!”

Those involved in the Tar Barrels work hard all year round to raise funds to help this event continue. Ottery St Mary is the only town left that has refused to let this tradition fall into history.

The arranging and insuring of such a unique and special event is no mean feat – like wielding the Tar Barrels themselves – and we hope that as many people as possible look out for and support the Tar Barrel Fundraising activities that go on throughout the year.

For more information, click here


We Will Remember Them

11th November 2018


This year is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

A century ago, the First World War changed the face of history and international relations as we knew it.

This formative event in our world history ended with the laying down of arms at eleven o’clock in the morning; the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
Following the horror of WWII, when nations across the globe again allied to fight for their freedom, Armistice Day became Remembrance Day, and we now mark this date by remembering all of the veterans and those who sacrificed themselves in all conflicts.

The laws that came from war
The effect of such catastrophic suffering and loss of life led to many changes in our society at home, and indeed in our laws.

Because so many men had gone to war during WWI – and so desperately many never returned – women took up roles that had until that time been filled by men. The first female police officers served during WWI, and the need for women in munitions factories meant that the government began to provide funds towards day care for children.

This sudden upheaval of traditional roles enabled our society to see possibilities for change that might have been expected to take many more generations.

A combination of the effort of woman’s war work and lobbying and debates about re-enfranchising men who served in the armed forces abroad, led to parliament passing the Representation of the People’s Act in 1918. This was a landslide victory in favour of granting the vote to an estimated 14 – 20 million more women and men, with parliament voting in favour to the tune of 385 to 55.
These new voting rights began a chain of events in the legal history books. By 1928, women gained an equal right to vote, regardless of their education or property, and in time this contributed to changes in education and healthcare provision.

Other interesting transformations in the law included the institution of British Summer Time. This was meant to maximise the daylight working hours, most particularly for the still vital agricultural sector. Pub opening times were restricted so as to keep the reduced workforce in order, and possession of non-prescription drugs became an offence.

Because of the security concerns regarding the war effort, press and postal censorship was introduced. At the time, the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914 was an essential move to safeguard our troops, their morale, and the success of military manoeuvres. Since then we have established an appropriate level of freedom of speech for peace time. This is formalised in the Human Rights Act 1998, allowing freedom of speech whilst still making provision for national security and public safety.

Echoes throughout the ages
The First World War was an horrific episode in our world history, and the suffering of the troops in all countries, their families, and the echoing consequences have shaped our identity and interactions as much as they have our laws.

One of the ways in which we can honour the sacrifice of all those men and women who have laid down their lives for others, is by our respectful remembrance on 11th November, at 11am.

Gilbert Stephens will be at the ceremony in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens from 10am to pay our respects and observe the 2 minute silence.

There has been a vast array of social and political changes, some for the good, that came out of each of the wars we have experienced as a nation and globe.

There is so very much to be said on the subject, but there are some sobering words that describe the fundamental feeling of loss, and which surpass all other debate:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon


Renting Minefield Event

7th November 2018

We were delighted to have a stand at the Renting Minefield event to offer information about our services to local landlords, letting agents, investors and anyone interested in renting property. One of our partners, Kim McDonald attended and was offering a prize draw to win a free property valuation! We were also pleased to see a sea of green on the seats, as we gave away Gilbert Stephens tote bags as a free gift to attendees.

Organised by Exeter City Council in association with ARLA, the NLA and Monitor BCS UK, the event was a busy and successful one, with the 120 tickets that were available to local landlords and letting agents being claimed a month before the event!

Kim McDonald said “the event was extremely informative with excellent speakers, who clearly had a thorough understanding of the subject matter. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly lending to an enjoyable event.”

There were talks from Dick Scott from Monitor BCS, a property tax update from the Director of Peplows Chartered Accountants Debbie Franklin, a talk about the implications of the ‘major market shake up’ for landlords from Phil Keddie of Sunshine, The Property Letting Experts, and an informative and engaging short seminar from Hannah Darling of the National Landlords Association, explaining the new regulations that landlords need to comply with.