Author Archives: Gay Webster

Bouquet of praise for Aylsham from judges

Anglia in Bloom judges visited Aylsham this morning, Friday July 20, and were delighted with the town’s efforts in the annual regional competition.

The pair, Chris Durham and Nolan Mills, toured Aylsham in bright sunshine to view its many displays, sustainable planting and other projects.

“It’s all very, very good indeed – I’m very impressed with how you’ve kept the centre of town so clean and tidy,” said Mr Mills.

And his colleague added: “Community spirit and enthusiasm were on show right through our route – the schools, traders making an extra effort to make it look so attractive around the Market Place – so much drive and pride everywhere, it’s such an achievement.”

Their judging route included Marriott’s Way – where Aylsham High School pupils have helped clear brambles to allow wild flowers to grow – the new Bure Meadows pill box memorial garden, the allotments, Humphry Repton’s grave in Aylsham churchyard, and ended with lunch in Aylsham Heritage Centre.

Wendy Sadler, chairman of Aylsham in Bloom, is crossing her green fingers that the town has done enough to earn more recognition in the strongly-fought contest. Aylsham’s first entry, in 2016, saw it take home a prestigious Silver Gilt award.

“We thought we’d have another go at getting top marks this year as so much has been going on, especially with the Repton Festival,” she said.

Aylsham had played a key role in celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the death of Repton, the famous landscape gardener, and the judges had taken away a festival guide packed with events.

“Keeping everything watered when we haven’t had rain for so long has been a struggle,” she added. “We’ve had as many people involved as possible doing extra.”

The judges said they would be making allowances for all entrants’ drought-hit outside areas such as parks.

Aylsham will have to wait until September 12, when the regional results will be announced at Bury St Edmunds’ Apex Theatre, to find out whether it’s won another award in the Small Towns category.

Pictured: Wendy Sadler, chairman of Aylsham in Bloom, with Anglia in Bloom judges Nolan Mills (left) and Chris Durham. Also pictured: a post box and flower display outside Aylsham Town Hall.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students put MP in the hot seat

Norman Lamb is known for his strong beliefs on topics from Brexit to mental health. Work experience students Sophie Smith and Evie Cowling, from Aylsham High School, interviewed him to find out more.

 

Norman Lamb is not known to follow the crowd. The North Norfolk MP stands up for what he believes in and speaks out on those beliefs.

We chose to talk to him about some of the issues which affect young people today, including Brexit and the problems facing teenagers with mental health problems.

Norman campaigned to stay with the EU. He said: “Brexit is a dangerous time, a big mistake and now the government has no plan for how to reach an agreement with the EU.”

He believes Brexit will be hugely damaging to young people, as it could affect those who wanted to travel, work abroad or move to another part of Europe. “Brexit creates barriers,” he said.

Norman has been a massive advocate of improving provision for mental health, which is seen as a big issue within our generation.

He agreed it was an important priority but said care quite often fails young people and families, with services not understanding and treating complex conditions.

“It’s wrong that families and individuals can be left waiting for long periods of time to receive health care and in some cases being turned away if, for instance, with someone with an eating disorder, their body mass index is not low enough to be treated, in terms of having an eating disorder,” he said. And one step we should take, he believes, is to get the subject onto school curriculums. “We can then tackle mental health with young people so that they can understand causes and recognise signs.”

Knowing which career path to take is another big issue for teenagers as they choose school and college courses and universities and we wanted to find out what inspired Norman to become an MP.

He told us he had been interested in politics since a young age and when he was a teenager he got involved in an election and then worked for an MP after leaving university. He loved it but wanted to represent his own beliefs. Most importantly, Norman wanted “to fight for change and make an impact on the world” and he feels privileged that he is able to do what he is doing.

His advice to young women our age was to “reach beyond as there is no glass ceiling”. He added: “In your lives you will have many opportunities and you should learn to reach for the stars.”

One issue for young people is student university loans. Norman explained his party’s ambition had been to make student finances “fairer”. But he accepted that his party had made a big mistake in making a pledge and not sticking with it.

He explained that, in his opinion, the system was fair in that those who went into high-paying jobs paid more and those who were in low paid jobs would sometimes never get to the point where they had to pay.

“We changed the system to get students paying more but only if they went into higher paying jobs as a result of their degree.” Norman then explained: “I see no problem with people who go on to receive very high salaries paying the full whack for their degree.”  He stated that if you don’t earn sufficient income to pay back your university loans they will be written off. “I completely understand why people get worried and anxious about the size of the loan, but the loan does get written off if your salary throughout the year hasn’t been high enough to repay it.”

His toughest question came at the end of the Facetime interview. We asked: “If you reached the final of I’m A Celebrity, what would you have as your final three-course meal?”

So, if you are cooking for him anytime, Norman likes a starter of scallops or Norfolk crab, for main Indian or Thai food and for dessert strawberries and ice cream.

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Young Aylsham YouTuber’s success story

How do you cope when all of a sudden your life completely changes? From a quiet schoolboy to a worldwide famous YouTube star, this is the reality for Dom Lawrence, DomVlogs. He spoke to classmates Sophie Smith and Evie Cowling.

 

Young vlogger Dom Lawrence has gone from an unknown schoolboy to a national name due to his pranks, challenges and personal stories filmed for the internet.

Dom has been filming since 2010 and, so far, his channel has attracted 322,000 loyal subscribers.

Dom is a 15-year-old boy who lives in Aylsham and goes to Aylsham High School as well as being a YouTuber.

He said: “I have been interested in YouTube since I was young, watching various different YouTubers such as Shane Dawson and Saffron Barker.”

He was inspired by his friends and people he was watching at the time and his skills and content have become more advanced over the years, gaining him more and more followers.

Dom describes his channel in three words – fun, creative and exciting – and describes himself as fun, adventurous and creative. That’s all present in his videos.

Dom worries that his channel affects his school life, with late-night editing and attending YouTube events when he should, perhaps, be doing homework or focusing on school.

But sometimes his attention on school and exams isn’t his main priority when his channel is involved. Dom admits that school hasn’t been the easiest since he started his channel and, despite him receiving a lot of nasty backlash and negative comments, he says he “wouldn’t change it for the world”.

He has had plenty of support, especially from his family who think what he is doing is “incredible”.

With his most successful video reaching more than six million views, his work is very popular and this is just the start. Dom has gone on to have many partnerships and collaborations, and has attended the most famous YouTube event ever this year, pushing him and his career further into the spotlight.

In 20 years’ time Dom hopes to be presenting and acting and still creating content for his 322,000 fans with that figure still rising. For new and upcoming YouTubers Dom’s advice is: “Be yourself, be confident and don’t follow the crowd.” He also said from experience: “Never let any hate or backlash affect you.”

For our final question in our interview we asked Dom: “If you could be any Disney character, who would you be and why?”

“The genie from the movie Aladdin released in 1992,” he said: “Because I could finally be free.” This is how Dom feels about his channel being open to the world and having opportunities for him to express himself without being confined in a bottle.

New exhibit to raise awareness of wetland habitats

A Norfolk visitor attraction is doing its bit to help save wetland habitats by launching a new Wetland Discovery Area for visitors.

On Thursday, July 19, Pensthorpe Natural Park, in Fakenham, opened the doors to its latest new attraction, the Wetland Discovery Area, which is intended to educate visitors about the importance and fragility of wetland habitats and to inspire them to help protect them.

The new £70,000 educational area demonstrates the different wetland habitats around the world such as lakes, rivers and garden ponds, and has been part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A large pond-dipping facility, thought to be the largest in Norfolk, gives visitors a ‘hands on’ opportunity to see domestic wetland habitats in action, whilst the popular Pensthorpe flamingos are back on public display as their new home, illustrative of tropical lagoons more commonly found in southern Spain, takes pride of place within the new area.

Wetlands occur on every continent of the world, except Antarctica. Many of these wetland areas are home to species which both permanently live there or travel to take advantage of their food supplies. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years about half of the world’s wetlands have vanished yet they are still hugely valuable for wildlife. Whether for water provision, hunting territory, breeding sites or plant growth, wetlands are vitally important.

Bill Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe, comments: “We want to tell the story of wetlands as a habitat. They are diverse, complex, teeming with life, yet, most worryingly, under threat, so the more we can do to make people aware of their unique place within the ecosystem the better.

“We want to take our visitors on a journey of both guided and self-led exploration, starting with interactive pond-dipping in the Wetland Discovery Area and finishing at the Wetland Hide where they can observe nature in action. If we can communicate the beauty of these habitats effectively, we hope to inspire a passion in our visitors to protect them.”

The new area is the latest addition to the 700-acre reserve since it opened its Wetland Hide in April this year.

The new Wetland Discovery Area opening comes within the same month as Pensthorpe Natural Park sees its 30th anniversary and its 15th under the care of current owners Bill and Deb Jordan (pictured below).

For more information about Pensthorpe visit pensthorpe.com or call 01328 851465.

Visit Hellesdon History Live! on Saturday, July 14

Medieval firepower, a costumed re-enactment group, crafts and many other historical activities and displays will be on show in Hellesdon Community Centre tomorrow, Saturday July 14, from noon to 4pm., The Hellesdon History Live!  event, organised by Hellesdon Community History, is celebrating the 600th anniversary of the first Paston letter.

The Pastons were Norfolk’s most influential family at one time and their correspondence through the Wars of the Roses years has helped historians understand the period. The Pastons’ manor house in Hellesdon was besieged by the Duke of Suffolk in 1465.

Other attractions at the event include Hellesdon Community Choir, Hellesdon High PTA , UEA, and board games with Hellesdon Youth Club. Refreshments will be available.

 

 

 

 

 

Dentist home after helping Syrian refugees

Earlier this year Drayton resident, dentist Dr Gautam Sharma appealed to Just readers for toothbrushes, toothpaste and toys to take out to Lebanon where he was due to volunteer his time treating Syrian refugees with the charity Dental Mavericks. He’s back from his trip and reports on his experiences.

“As many of you in the community will know, I recently took part in a special mission to provide dental treatment and advice for displaced families in Syria.

“I want to thank each and every one of you from the Drayton and Taverham area who contributed donations to the local collection point, and in doing so, made such a difference to the lives of those I met.

“My experience has been absolutely humbling, emotional, exhausting – and a very stark reminder of why we all need to live our lives with more compassion and kindness.

“With a huge 40kg of luggage, I arrived in the Bekaa Valley, and began slowly taking in the enormity of the project I was involved with, and the huge level of need among families and individuals.

“I spent two weeks delivering treatment and education within the area’s hospitals, clinics and schools – always receiving a grateful (and hugely heart-warming) smile and handshake from those I assisted.

“In total, our group mission helped some 1,000 patients during that time, and I am utterly privileged to have been invited into the homes of those living in the camps.

“My overwhelming learning from this experience was that there is so much misconception around the way people are managing their lives in this part of the world.

“Every facility or home I saw was meticulously maintained, and the level of pride and gratitude was shining from every single person with whom I had contact. Will I go back? Absolutely. I now feel part of a journey in the lives of these people. I realise more than ever how fortunate myself and my own family are, and how someone like myself has a potential role to play.

“I thank you all – from the bottom of my heart – for your support and donations in recent weeks and months.

“Of course, if you would like to know more about the ongoing mission, or think you may want to contribute in the future, please do get in touch with me at my surgery.

“I would also be delighted to share my experiences further with you.”

Contact Dr Sharma at: smiles@westearlhamdental.co.uk

 

Ex-pro player to open Hellesdon Wild West fete

 

 

 
An ex-professional footballer will open a Wild West-themed fete open to all at Hellesdon Hospital on Saturday, July 14.

Staff and service users from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) are making the final preparations for the fun-packed fundraising spectacular.

It will be opened at 11am by former professional footballer Cedric Anselin, who has opened up about his own experiences with mental health.

The day will also feature a large arts marquee offering interactive art activities for all ages and a bucking Bronco, complete with a leader board to encourage friendly competition.

Fun runs will take place to mark 70 years of the NHS, while craft stalls and traditional fete games will also be on offer. In addition, visitors will be given the chance to pan for fool’s gold, enjoy a range of food and refreshments and watch live performances from Opening Night Ensemble and Mind The Gap.

There will also be a host of top raffle prizes available, including a £200 Intu voucher, £150 John Lewis voucher, days out and hampers.

The day has been organised by NSFT staff who are passionate about raising money towards the £25,000 cost of a much-needed multi-use games area for Hellesdon Hospital.

The versatile outside space will give service users and staff the opportunity to enjoy a range of activities and sports, including basketball, tennis, football and netball, in turn helping to boost both physical and mental wellbeing.

Matron Heidi McKay, who has helped to plan the event, said: “This fantastic fun day really promises something for all the family, including interactive art activities, live music, fun and games with a Wild West theme.

“It will also give us the chance to explain more about our work the range of services our Trust provides every day to thousands of people of all ages across Norfolk and Suffolk.

“We would love as many people as possible to come and join us for a fun-packed afternoon on the 14th and soak up some traditional summer fete fun whilst also raising vital charitable funds.”

The fun day runs from 11am to 4pm and is open to everyone. Parking is free and dogs on leads are welcome.

Anyone who is unable to come to the event but would still like to donate to the appeal can send a cheque payable to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to Charitable Fund Officer (Finance), Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Hellesdon Hospital, Drayton High Road, Norwich, NR6 5BE.

A scene from last year’s fete.

 

 

Drayton garden open for NGS and CF Trust

Palms, pergolas, cannas and cakes will be among the attractions at a National Gardens Scheme (NGS) open garden in Drayton on Sunday, July 8.

This year Chris and Wendy Fitch’s garden is the only one in Drayton or Taverham taking part in the prestigious scheme which sees some 3,700 of the country’s best private gardens opening to the public in aid of NGS charities.

The couple will also be selling plants and refreshments on the day to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Trust, a charity dear to their own hearts.

Jacob Hart, the seven-year-old son of their close friends Lucy and Andy Hart, was born with the life-limiting, incurable inherited condition.

Lucy grew up and went to school in Drayton and Taverham and her dad, former postman Ian Manning, still lives in Drayton.

The Harts, Ian, Lucy’s mum Carol and step-dad, plus Lucy’s sisters Emma and Laura Manning, are all dedicated fundraisers for the CF Trust.

In the past Lucy and Andy have organised three charity balls for the cause at Norwich City FC’s Carrow Road ground.

This will be the fourth year that Chris and Wendy have opened their garden for NGS and the CF Trust, with friends and Jacob’s family helping out to produce a range of homemade cakes and savouries to serve with a cuppa on the large decking area which overlooks their transformed garden.

When the couple moved to Drayton eight years ago the quarter-acre plot was dull, tatty, unloved and neglected with no structure.

But the pair set to work and have created a stunning garden with different areas, and on different levels.

Chris built all the infrastructure – including walls, fences and a pergola – himself, using recycled materials for much of it.

The garden, which backs on to St Margaret’s churchyard, includes a hot, tropical border filled with exotic plants such as the large-leafed tetrapanax, windmill palms, cordylines, bamboos, eucalyptus and acers.

Lavenders, a grapevine and an olive tree are among many Mediterranean plants and there is also a more traditional border with masses of scented roses, plus a shady woodland corner.

A terraced upper garden is planted with fruit trees and vegetables and the garden includes a secluded courtyard area.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

What: NGS open garden

Where: 9 Bellomonte Crescent, Drayton NR8 6EJ

When: Sunday July 8 11am-5pm

Cost: £3 per adult in aid of NGS charities. Accompanied children free.

Plus: Plant sales, tea, coffee, homemade cakes and other goodies in aid of CF Trust.

WHAT IS CYSTIC FIBROSIS?

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition, caused by a faulty gene, that leads to a build-up of sticky mucus in the lungs and digestive system.

The condition gets slowly worse over time, with the lungs and digestive system becoming increasingly damaged.

Treatments are available to help reduce symptoms, but life expectancy is shortened.

People with cystic fibrosis also have a higher risk of developing other conditions including weak and brittle bones, insulin, liver and fertility problems. They’re more likely to pick up infections, and complications if they do develop an infection.

 

Pictured: scenes from Wendy and Chris’s garden, Wendy and Chris Fitch and the Hart family – Lucy, Andy, Jacob and Harrison.