Author Archives: Gay Webster

Restaurant plan for Clarkes Aylsham

Plans have been submitted to convert the former Clarkes store in Aylsham to a restaurant and Air BnB.

An application has been lodged with Broadland District Council for change of use of the ground floor to restaurant with kitchen and use of the first and upper floors for nine rooms for holiday letting.

The application also includes alterations to the roof and partial demolition and construction of new pedestrian entrance to serve the first and upper floors.

The town council will discuss the plan in detail at an extra meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 2, at 7pm in the Town Hall.

There will be the opportunity to receive comments from the public before the councillors discuss and agree the response they wish to make to Broadland District Council, who will make the final decision.

The plans are available to view in the town council offices above the Town Hall from 9.30am-3.30pm (Monday to Thursday) and 9.30am-12.30pm on Fridays.

They are also available to view on the Broadland website via planning application searches. Enter the planning application reference 20181362.

Talented youngsters perform Great War musical drama

Young actors have stepped back in time to the First World War for a musical drama about conflict and comradeship – on the battlefield and in their home town.

The Battle of Boat looks at the friendships and tensions among youngsters in a seaside community as their friend goes off to fight for king and country.

The cast, mostly aged between 16 and eight, are from the Sheringham Little Theatre’s youth group. They have been putting the finishing touches to the drama ahead of opening night this Thursday (September 22).

An all-action script, brimming with powerful music, looks at how the teenagers’ desire to join their soldier friend sees them try recruitment, an air ship and a home-made boat – amid opposition from a suspicious rival gang.

The show, directed by the experienced Adrian Connell, runs from September 20-22 (7.30pm and Saturday 2.30pm matinee). Tickets and information from 01263 822347 or

Youngsters rehearsing The Battle of Boat.


Delight at Anglia in Bloom ‘gold’ for Aylsham

It’s Gold for Aylsham’s entry into the Britain in Bloom Anglian regional competition!

The awards day was held in Bury St Edmunds and Aylsham in Bloom team members were delighted to receive the award on behalf of all the many people of Aylsham who had helped make it happen.

Chairman Wendy Sadler said: “I am thrilled to report that Aylsham was awarded a gold Medal at the award ceremony. Thank you so much to all the folk who worked so hard to achieve this outstanding result.

“As well as entering the general competition we also put forward several projects for Special Awards.  We did not win any of these but I am pleased to report that two of them got to the shortlists. They were:

  • The Weavers’ Way conservation project
  • The Aylsham High School “Green Plan It” challenge

“This was a significant achievement. We saw pictures of all the shortlisted projects and the standard was very high so we should be proud that these projects were included in the shortlists.”

The judge’s comments on Aylsham’s entry were very complimentary. They particularly highlighted the outstanding displays arranged and sponsored by the businesses, which included the Unicorn Pub, Broadland Consultants (by the “blue loos”) Postle’s Henry’s and Budgens new display. They were also amused by the Inside Out displays such as the floral frames outside Broadland Framers. Aylsham Heritage Centre and the parish church’s Repton200 Festival were also highlighted, as was the Repton-themed Humphry Hare.

Marks also went to children’s and young people’s projects so the judges were pleased to see the Cub’s Drill Hall planting, the work the Scouts had done on Weavers’ Way and the Aylsham High School pupils joining in the Marriott’s Way work.

The Aylsham in Bloom members attending the awards – Wendy, Shelley, Judy and Ian – thought Aylsham should be doubly proud of its achievements as it is all done on a voluntary basis with minimal funding.

They said, “It was obvious that many of the entrants were run and funded by professionals via their local authorities. These spend thousands and thousands of pounds to achieve the same result as us so we ought to be proud that our small number of Aylsham volunteers can encourage so many of Aylsham’s residents, businesses and organisations to contribute to Aylsham’s brilliant offering. You are all Gold Stars!!”









CS Lewis satirical comedy comes to Drayton

Searchlight Theatre Company returns to Drayton in October with the The Screwtape Letters, written by CS Lewis, most famous as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Screwtape Letters have been adapted for stage by Nigel Forde.

The award-winning satirical comedy brings to life CS Lewis’s classic book, in which a senior devil, Screwtape, instructs his junior apprentices in the fine art of temptation.

The story is set in Professor Screwtape’s study. It remains faithful to the original text, characters and themes created by Lewis and holds three Edinburgh Fringe Sell-Out Show awards.

The Screwtape Letters is a thought-provoking entertaining, bitingly satirical and comedic exploration of profound issues of right and wrong.

Sly and funny, it will appeal to theatre-goers of any or no religious persuasion and has been described as “Everything you could want from a night out at the theatre!”

Drayton-based Together Loving Christ is hosting The Screwtape Letters on October 4, 7.15pm, at Drayton Hall, Hall Lane NR8 6DP. Tickets are £10 and are available by emailing or telephone 07778 065639.

Macmillan event among Salvation Army dates

A Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event is taking place in the Mile Cross Salvation Army’s hall, on Vera Road, Hellesdon, on Friday September 28, from 10am-noon with all proceeds going to the cancer charity. The morning will include tea, coffee and homemade cakes.

The hall is also the venue for a number of other events over the coming months:

  • Fellowship evenings kicked off on September 3 and will be held on every subsequent first Monday of the month, from 7.30pm-9pm. Each month there will be a different speaker, followed by tea or coffee. On October 1 Hellesdon parish councillor, Shelagh Gurney will talk about her role.
  • Saturday November 10 will see an Old Tyme Music Hall afternoon, at 3pm. Artists from far and wide will be taking part including the choir from Mile Cross Primary School. Tickets cost £4 to include refreshments.

Join Hilary on her fundraising hike

Cromer councillor and walking champion Hilary Cox is putting her heart into a new challenge.
Hilary’s Hike 4 Heart 275 mile challenge starts on September 30 and she is hoping friends, family and townspeople will join her .
“People can come along to walk or cycle around the county on the wonderful Norfolk Trails network raising vital funds for the British Heart Foundation,” she said.
She will be leaving Cromer Pier on Sunday, September 30, at 11am, finishing back there on Wednesday, October 10. Walks vary in length from seven to 15 miles per day or cycling from 20 to 30 miles per day.
Hilary’s inspiration for the challenge comes from “the lovely area we live in”.
“We have fantastic trails and paths surrounding us.
“I’m also inspired by a personal desire to stay as well as I can for as long as I can. I have always been an active person. I was lucky enough to have a bike as a child and walking or cycling to school was the norm. Walking doesn’t have to be expensive, you can walk at your own pace even with limitations and mentally to be outside gives you a fantastic feeling of freedom.”
She has chosen a charity close to her heart.
She said: “William, my husband, had a heart attack five years ago. He recovered, achieved by a wonderful team of experts from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the ambulance crew and, of course, excellent research done by the British Heart Foundation which goes on to help even more people.”
Hilary has been preparing for the challenge by walking (a lot) and cycling (a bit). She added: “I try to look after my feet keeping the skin soft and the nails well trimmed. I also look after my boots.”
Any ages and abilities will be able to join Hilary. Most of the trails and paths are pushchair/wheelchair friendly.
There will be a “send off” on the Sunday morning when everyone can join in for as little as they like.
Already signed up to join her are grand-daughter Gabrielle, son Adam and Barry Foulser, who, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with Hilary. He is joining her on the leg from Waxham to Great Yarmouth.
Members of Cromer Walkers are Welcome team are also planning to walk with her.
She is being hosted along the way by friends some nights, B&B some nights, youth hostels and Jason Borthwick at Deepdale is putting her up for a night.
“I am paying my way so all money donated will go to the charity,” she said. “Gin Wilson-North of Margins glamping and walking is helping to transport the luggage and Russell Wilson, from Norfolk Trails, is joining me along the route from Great Yarmouth to Knettishall,” she said.
Contact Hilary for more information on how you can get involved Donations to

Castle to glow gold in Sprowston girl’s memory

A group of friends has arranged for Norwich Castle to be lit up in gold in memory of a Sprowston girl who died from leukaemia.

September is international Childhood Cancer Awareness month, which has a gold ribbon logo, and the castle will be bathed in gold lights from September 8-15 to remember Emily Gibson who died three days after her 10th
birthday in May 2016.

The group includes Deanne Mann whose twins Paige and Abbie were good friends of Emily at Sprowston Junior School.

Last year the twins, now 12, and their little sister Amber, now seven, decided to have their hair cut off to send to the Little Princess Trust which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment.

The idea snowballed and took place in Norwich’s Castle Mall in May 2017. Others joined in, a tombola helped boost sponsorship raised, shoppers were generous with donations and around £1,100 was collected for the trust with a similar amount sent to Beads of Courage, a charity which helps seriously-ill children stay positive by giving them a string of beads spelling their name which is added to, with colourful beads, each time they reach a milestone in their treatment.

“It was an amazing day – phenomenal. I didn’t expect it to be as big an event as it turned out to be. I was handed 24 lots of hair to send to the Little Princess Trust by people who had had their hair cut too!” said Deanne.

She and the other group members all knew Emily’s mum, Mel FitzPatrick. They had wanted to support her and raise awareness of childhood cancers, she added.

“We hope people in the city after dusk during that week will stop and look at what we are doing in honour of our dear friend’s daughter and for the many thousands of other children who are affected.”

The Mann sisters







The girls after their haircuts









Happy birthday international aviation academy

More than 100 guests helped celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the International Aviation Academy, on the Norwich Airport industrial estate, a stone’s throw from the airport terminal in Hellesdon.

And academy chiefs want curious Hellesdon residents to know that the academy is open to the public during the week.

The birthday guest list included senior RAF officers, MPs, local councillors and members of the local aviation, education and business communities. Also taking part were more than 70 air cadets.

Keynote speakers included Norwich North MP Chloe Smith who has, since 2016, supported a seven-point aviation skills manifesto, developed by the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP), which the partnership used to get the academy project off the ground.

The project was made possible by Norfolk County Council, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norse Group, plus supporting partners Norwich City Council, Norwich International Airport, KLM UK Engineering, University of East Anglia, City College Norwich and WT Partnership.

Although the academy has been open for a year, and is already used by hundreds of students, many local people are still unaware of its existence – or the fact that it is open to the public.

Designed from the outset to inspire people into the world of aviation, the building is actually a World War Two aircraft hangar, which has been transformed into a revolutionary learning environment.

The atrium, with its giant TV screen, displays of aircraft engines, models and aviation art, along with the SkyLounge Café, is open to the public from Monday to Friday.

The cornerstone of the academy concept, and what makes it unique, is that practical and academic learning are based in the same place – the academy houses a complete, fully-functional, Boeing 737 airliner.

In the near future further partnerships with training providers and aviation businesses will see more aviation opportunities for students – not just in engineering.

The culmination of the anniversary event was the cutting of a cake made especially by the academy’s own Norse Catering SkyLounge team.