Search

Couple from Scole, near Diss, get dowsing award for finding wells in Africa

17:57 23 October 2012

John and Liz Baines with the Roy Talbot Award from the British Society of Dowsers for their work finding water for villages in Africa. Photograph Simon Parker

John and Liz Baines with the Roy Talbot Award from the British Society of Dowsers for their work finding water for villages in Africa. Photograph Simon Parker

Archant

A couple have received an award for finding clean sources of water for villages in Africa using an ancient art – dowsing.

Over six years, John and Liz Baines, from Scole, near Diss, took part in a Rotary Club campaign to provide clean water for poor communities in Zambia. Using their dowsing skills, they worked in a team which established 100 wells in villages where disease was rife because of contaminated water supplies.

Now they have been recognised for their lifesaving efforts (locating almost 30 wells themselves) by receiving the prestigious Roy Talbot Award from the British Society of Dowsers because of their work in Africa from 2006-11.

Mr Baines, 87, a retired chartered surveyor who has been dowsing for more than 40 years, said he was introduced to the art through geologists and farmers he met, but one experience in particular set him thinking.

“I was asked to go and look at a house a chap wanted to buy and I said, ‘Don’t take it, there’s water running underneath.’ There was water running down a nearby hill and it was obviously flowing somewhere under the property.

“He got a couple of copper dowsing rods out and said, ‘You’re right.’ Then he put a line of rods into the ground outside, directing the water either side of the house. I couldn’t understand why, but it worked.”

Seeing a connection with the bow wave of a boat (Mr Baines served in the Navy), he was hooked and started to find out more about this traditional skill which, he said, was used by the Romans to find minerals and the Phoenecians to find tin and probably dated back to early civilization.

Then, a few years ago the Rotary Club decided to focus on helping poor communities to access clean water and Mr and Mrs Baines, along with fellow Rotarian Richard Pither, who was then president of the Diss club, linked up with a charity called Village Water and headed out to Zambia in 2006.

Mrs Baines, a retired lawyer who has been dowsing for about 20 years, said: “When we first got there it was quite an eye-opener. The children had diarrhoea and eye infections because of the poor sanitation and contaminated water.

“The water table in Zambia is quite near the surface, but the trick is to find the right location, near the village, but not affected by the latrines.

“They used to just dig a hole in the ground and scoop out the water, but the water in these scoop holes was very contaminated.”

Mr Baines said: “We look for the best place to sink a well, ascertain what depth they need to go down and what the quality of the water is likely to be.”

Local research and a good knowledge of geology were important, he explained, but dowsing helped to pinpoint the best site.

First, he assesses the lie of the land, then uses copper rods to dowse for water courses and tributaries (a water flow of 10 gallons an hour is the minimum; at least 20 if water is also needed for irrigation), and a pendulum to check its depth and quality (including mineral content).

Mrs Baines added: “We dowse for minerals because, for example, one village had a well but they wouldn’t use it because there was too much iron in the water, so we found them a source away from heavy iron deposits.”

Once a good spot was found, a concrete ring was sunk around it and then local workers dug out the middle until they hit water, the well was finished off and it was ready for use.

Mrs Baines added: “The people were so friendly and welcoming. When we first arrived, you could see the huge difference in the quality of life and incidents of illness between the villages with wells and those without.”

As part of the project, health visitors also went into the villages to teach hygiene and sanitation.

Asked how dowsing worked, Mr Baines said: “I can’t explain it – it just works. But you have to be open minded and, like any skill, practise.”

If you would like to find out more, call Anne-Marie Clark, of the Society of Dowsers, Diss and District, on 01953 887424 or email ivan@ivanclark.orangehome.co.uk

Other news

08:39
The church of St Nicholas, North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

They are sites which tell the stories of our rich historical past – but more buildings, churches and conservation areas are now deemed at risk in the region.

09:31
Greater Anglia train on the Norwich to London service run by Abellio.  Photo: Bill Smith

Rail services on the Norwich-London mainline have been delayed this morning after a vehicle struck a bridge at Needham Market.

07:58
Chris Ball, pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, who is part of a new campaign urging patients to cut down on wasted medicines. Picture: Supplied

Patients have been urged to help save the NHS millions of pounds after it emerged that almost £5m was being lost every year in Norfolk through unused prescription medicines.

Yesterday, 11:44
Jamie-Lee Weller opens up J W Core in Long Stratton.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan

A fitness instructor has started a new gym teaching exercise, martial arts classes and massage therapy.

Most Read

08:39
The church of St Nicholas, North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

They are sites which tell the stories of our rich historical past – but more buildings, churches and conservation areas are now deemed at risk in the region.

Read more
07:58
Chris Ball, pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, who is part of a new campaign urging patients to cut down on wasted medicines. Picture: Supplied

Patients have been urged to help save the NHS millions of pounds after it emerged that almost £5m was being lost every year in Norfolk through unused prescription medicines.

Read more
Tue, 22:23

Emergency services have been on the scene of a crash near Diss.

Read more
09:31
Greater Anglia train on the Norwich to London service run by Abellio.  Photo: Bill Smith

Rail services on the Norwich-London mainline have been delayed this morning after a vehicle struck a bridge at Needham Market.

Read more
Monday, April 22, 2013

We called on Canaries fans to make as much noise as possible in their match against Reading.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 14°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Diss Mercury e-edition today E-edition