Author Archives: Just Regional

Estate to host Jubilee party

The Blickling Estate is to stage Broadland’s Party in the Park event to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Booking for the free event, on Saturday, June 4, opens soon and Broadland residents are being invited to attend and help celebrate the momentous occasion.
“We are excited to bring together our communities in celebration of The Queen’s amazing reign and service to our country,” said Broadland District Council’s deputy leader Trudy Mancini-Boyle. “Blickling Hall provides the perfect setting for such an historic event, and we’re delighted to organise what promises to be an enjoyable outdoor event for all members of the family.”
The event will start at 5pm and guests will be able to enjoy the live-streaming of the BBC’s coverage of the Party in the Palace on the big screen.
There will be a range of food vendors and bars on site, and picnics available to purchase from the National Trust.
Guests are also welcome to bring their own picnics and advised to bring their own chairs and blankets.
The Council’s Tots2Teens crew will be there in the early evening providing crafts and activities for children aged five to 12 years old.
The event is accessible for all and limited tickets will be available.

The hall from the lake at Blickling Estate, Norfolk. Blickling is a turreted red-brick Jacobean mansion, sitting within beautiful gardens and parkland.

For more information visit and keep a close eye on Broadland District Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Aylsham Town Council is also hosting a range of Jubilee events and there will be a full round-up in the next edition of Just Aylsham. Also see the council’s website at

Donations make all the difference

Donation points have been set up locally to help collect goods and money to help people in Ukraine and those who have fled the country.

Bakers and Larners, in Holt, Budgens and Budgens of Aylsham have all set up areas where donations can be left after being approached by Norfolk Support Ukraine UK.

Jess Read, of Bakers and Larners, said: “We are collecting essential items such as first aid and toiletries. We have been overwhelmed with the kind donations given by the local community, and we have sent 12 cages full of goods since our collections started on March 8.

“We also had a school minibus full of donations dropped off by St Andrew’s school in Aylmerton.”

Volunteer Andy Homer has been clocking up the miles, filling a trailer twice a week and taking clothes, food and medical necessities from Holt to the group’s sorting hub in Norwich, and Jess said the enterprise would not have been possible without him.

Andy’s Trailer

So far more than 300 packs of nappies, more than 2,500 packs of paracetamol and more than 1,000 bandages have been gathered along with clothes, books, toys and other items. Jess said Holt’s donations have added up to 28,838 items in total and were still ongoing.

Some will go help those still in Ukraine and some to those settling here.

Funding will pay for special toilets

North Norfolk District Council is set to receive £300,000 to fund additional Changing Places accessible toilets in the district, including a second in Sheringham.

The funding will enable the council to develop five new Changing Places facilities, providing further support for those with accessibility requirements and making sure that even more destinations can be enjoyed by everyone, without the worry of finding facilities.

The council already has two Changing Places facilities, one at the North Norfolk Visitor Centre in Cromer and the other in The Reef Leisure Centre in Sheringham.

Two more facilities are set to be constructed in Wells and Fakenham, with further plans to develop them at The Leas, Sheringham, and Vicarage Street in North Walsham.

Changing Places facilities allow people with limited mobility, disabilities or specific care needs who cannot use standard toilets to use a facility with advanced equipment, including moveable hoists and changing benches.

Many visitors have to plan their trip around their accessibility requirements and these facilities allow visitors to have a day out
they may not otherwise have been able to have.

Emma Spagnola, NNDC’s accessibility champion, said: “Inclusive toilets like the wonderful Changing Places facilities are an essential public service.

“They allow those with accessibility requirements to enjoy destinations and days out without worry.

“I’m delighted we will see more facilities in North Norfolk and all the opportunities they will bring for our residents and visitors.”

The Changing Places facilities in Wells and Fakenham are expected to be completed by July and August, with the others to follow.

“These people could be us”

When Darren Ward saw what was happening in Ukraine following the Russian invasion he knew he wanted to do something to help.

But initially he didn’t envisage that he would be driving to Poland with more than three tonnes of aid and replacing it with Ukrainian families fleeing the country to live somewhere safe.

“We were on holiday and saw the news that Russia had invaded,” he said. “We thought we had to do something to help these kids and women. We couldn’t just sit and do nothing.”

An appeal was started around the area, with clothes, toys, medical items and toiletries and sanitary goods flooding in. Darren took a week off work at 24-7 Taxis and, together with his friend Adam, set off in a van and a minibus bound for Medyka, a town on the border between Poland and Ukraine where thousands of families have ended up.

“We got there and there were all these people. Droves and droves of people,” said Darren. “An old guy and his wife had walked 67 miles with just a handbag. He looked me straight in the eye and asked if we could take them. We already had mums, kids, dogs… that was the worst bit, the look on that guy’s face.”

The two men did manage to take several families away and on to Krakow or to railway stations, where they made sure they got safely on the train. He said they were also constantly reassuring them that they were not like the people traffickers and other “shady” men with vans he saw at the aid centre

“The kids were on their phones to their dads and we were telling them that they were safe, that they were OK,” said Darren. “It’s a real hot mess out there. They came out with nothing – one young mum and her kids came with just a Trunki and a rucksack.”

The following day they went back to take more families from Medyka. “I hadn’t driven all that way just to get two people out,” said Darren, who has accused the UK government of not doing enough to get more of the displaced families back here or sending more aid where it is needed.

“There’s so much space there – they could easily land a helicopter with loads of aid.”

And with flights from Krakow to Luton costing “about £12” he said more people could be helped if visas were easier to get.

But in the meantime he plans to do more. He flew back, leaving Adam and the vehicles there to help others, but with diesel for the one-way trip alone costing £2,000, he is turning his attention to helping people when they arrive here.

“We have appealed for things which they need when they arrive. They have left with nothing and need all sorts of things. Anything unwanted can be sold to raise money to buy what is needed.”

He has not ruled out another trip – this time with more people.

And to make this possible he is hoping to get sponsorship from local businesses and hear from others who would like to join him.

“I’d like to have two teams of a bloke and a woman, which is more reassuring,” he said. “You can’t see it or smell it or feel it here in Norfolk and we can’t keep turning on the news and doing nothing. These people were going to work, having a coffee, living their lives one day, and the next they had nothing. They are just like us. It could BE us.”

To offer to help Darren, or to see what donations are needed, email or call 07916 247247. There is also a GoFundMe page – https://gofundme/3ee09901 – where you can donate and find out more about how local people are helping.

Award for taking the lead in sustainability

The Bure Valley Railway won a top honour at the Heritage Railway Association Annual Awards last month for its work on sustainable steam.

The railway was the winner of the HRA Award for Environmental Innovation thanks to taking a leading role in the development and trialling of e-coal – a project becoming increasingly relevant with the end of UK coal supplies and European supplies restricted following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Andrew Barnes, managing director, said: “We are proud to be taking a leading role in the environmental sustainability of steam railways and at the same time be recognised as one of the top steam railways in the country.”

E-coal is made of waste biomass from the olive oil production process, which is blended with coal dust – both of which would otherwise go to landfill – giving a 42pc reduction in carbon dioxide.

The trials, which are ongoing, have the engagement and support of The Advanced Steam Traction Trust, the Heritage Railway Association and Network Rail.

The railway was also runner-up in the HRA Outstanding Visitor Attraction category.

At the other end of the line, at Aylsham station, The Whistlestop Café has reopened with a new menu of homemade cakes and a loyalty card for frequent travellers.

It will be open seven days a week, with special events also lined up.

Coal Trials at Bure Valley Railway

Hugs all round from new support group

Nothing makes you feel as welcome as a hug, and a group of people in Sheringham who were concerned that host families and their Ukrainian guests might feel isolated and need further support are offering lots of them – Hugs in this case standing for Hosting Ukrainians Group Support .

Lots of north Norfolk people have registered to host refugees from Ukraine and Hugs will provide community support for families in Sheringham, Upper Sheringham, West Runton, Beeston Regis, Bodham, Weybourne and West Beckham.

“So many people want to help the Ukrainian refugees by hosting and offering their homes as safe refuge. We felt that one thing we could do was to help support the families who were hosting and also bring them together and their guests to help them support each other,” said Liz Withington, who is a town and North Norfolk District councillor.

“The people coming to Sheringham from Ukraine will have experienced things way beyond anything we can imagine. I felt it was really important that we helped the hosting families and their guests come together and be able to support each other.”

Fellow councillor Colin Heinink added: “There are people in the community who will be able to help those who have been offered sanctuary in our community. This group is a way we can bring those people together to provide the wider support that our families and refugees from Ukraine may need.”

The first meeting, to find people who want to help, will be held on Thursday, April 21, at the Lighthouse Community Café at 7pm.

Ukrainian and Russian speakers who are willing to help families with interpretation and form filling are particularly asked to come along, as well as any TEFL teachers willing to provide support.

Social events will also be arranged as more families arrive to help them make friends and settle in.

Email for more details and to register an interest in the group.

Folk favourite makes a return

Having been put “on ice” for the last two years due to the covid-19 pandemic, Cromer’s popular Folk on the Pier festival is now set fair for the second weekend of May.

Since its last outing in 2019, festival producer Scott Butler has managed to keep the majority of artists and bookings on the programme and is delighted to be back with the final preparations for its 22nd show.

A new team will be running the Fringe events – Folk off the Pier – as a not for profit organisation, which will make sure both arms of the festival get the best attention.

Renowned as “the Best Gig on the North Sea”, Folk on the Pier attracts a mix of well-known and up-and-coming folk, folk-rock and acoustic artists from across the UK.

This year’s line-up is once again a who’s who of award winners including BAFTA Nominated TV Entertainer of the Year Richard Digance and Wizz Jones, who picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The ever-evolving folk-rock band TRADarrr will play music from their latest album, Strange News, and festival patron Ashley Hutchings will present one of his latest special projects – Dylancentric.

Other acts include the Gerry Colvin Band, Feast of Fiddles, the Spikedrivers – collaborating with Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke in a performance of their concept show Saints and Sinners – Kevin Dempsey, Alan Reid, and the Urban Folk Quartet.

Newcomers Linda Watkins, Martin Harley, and the Redhills will be joined by local acts Christina Alden and Alex Patterson, the Shackleton Trio and Klezmerized.

Closing the festival on the Sunday evening is the band without whom there would probably not be a Folk on The Pier – Fairport Convention.

Fairport Convention who will be playing at Folk on the Pier.

Little did they know when they invented British folk-rock that it would become the inspiration for what has become a very popular and enduring music festival.

There will be a Folk on the Pier warm up event at the Belfry Centre, in Overstrand, on Friday, April 22, featuring festival favourite, singer-songwriter Anthony John Clarke with local act Anto Morra in support.

Visit for more information on this and the festival itself.

Come and meet these woolly wonders

After missing out on two years, the Felbrigg lambing events are back, with lots of mums-to-be and new lambs to see.

“We should be welcoming more than 500 lambs into the world this year so there is a good chance of seeing a live birth,” said Emma Pell, of Felbrigg Hall Farm.

The events will be held over the weekend of April 9 and April 10 and over the Easter weekend – April 15, 16, 17 and 18. The farm will be open from 10.30am until 4pm each day.

Other attractions include Moorend Moisturisers, with their herd of goats and rescue donkeys, vintage tractors and, of course, the chance to cuddle a lamb.

Emma added: “Over the Easter weekend we will also be offering free horse and cart rides to and from the farm.”

For more information and updates visit the Felbrigg Hall Farm Facebook page.

Adult tickets are £7, under-16s are £5 and under-threes go free.