Author Archives: Gay Webster

REVIEW: Jerusalem, Maddermarket

Jerusalem, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich Players

The Norwich Players production of Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed play, Jerusalem, shocks and jolts from the opening scenes.

The powerful play has a charismatic rebel as its central character, who is against all middle England society holds sacred.

Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron is a man living his life on the edge of society in a clearing in a wood. He lives in a caravan and deals in, and is often high on, drugs and alcohol. His lifestyle is a magnet for a group of young people who society has given up on

Rooster is played by Nick Meir, who gives a performance that is disturbing and also very moving. He believes in the spirits that live and have lived in the mythical past in the woodland of his home in Wiltshire. His existence in the forest is under threat as the local council want him gone so they can cover his wood with a new housing estate and they are making plans to evict him.

There is also the annual village fair held on St George’s Day which is the climax of his struggles and battles with the council and the group that surrounds him.

This is a production which questions whether an alternative lifestyle can exist along side the commonplace and it is very skilfully played by the cast. The energy, enthusiasm and talent makes this a compelling production.

The play is running at the Maddermarket Theatre until Saturday (March 24).

Kevin and Sandra Stone

Drayton bench remembers a much-loved lady

Regular visitors to Drayton’s Bellomonte Crescent may notice that a wooden bench has appeared there recently.

A plaque on the seat remembers much-loved wife, mum, grandma and great grandma Dorothy Pain.

Dorothy, who died last year, had lived in the road for more than 50 years and the bench has been placed there by her family.

The Pains moved to Norfolk from Berkshire in 1965 in search of countryside, a newly-built home with central heating, a nearby school and the coast a short ride away.

Dorothy was born in Surrey in 1930 and much of her childhood and early teens were spent coping with the difficulties of wartime.

Her first job was in a small grocer’s shop where her tasks included removing mould from the top of jars of jam, placing a fresh greaseproof circle on top and replacing the lid – a luxury like jam couldn’t possibly be thrown away!

Wartime lessons of thrift and gratitude for everything guided Dorothy throughout her life.

At just 15 she first met her future husband, John, who was one of two sailors walking past a bench on which she and a friend were sitting while on holiday in Plymouth.

The couple got engaged on Coronation Day in 1953 and married the following year. They went on to have three children – daughter Christine and sons Norman and Stephen.

Dorothy stayed at home in Norfolk, bringing up the children while John worked at the former Bonds, in Norwich, now John Lewis.

Realising they needed more income to raise and support their family, the couple opened their own company, J.H. & D.I. Pain, Upholsterers.  With John’s help, Dorothy learned to make curtains and did the business accounts.

After her children left home, Dorothy became a successful Avon rep and a caretaker at the new Drayton First School. She also knitted for good causes, making some 200 items for premature and sick babies.

Her family say Dorothy was always selfless and wanting to help.

Dorothy Pain





How sister’s suicide ‘informed’ my work – Norman Lamb

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was the latest person to be featured on The Backstory, a local podcast looking at the stories behind the news. He talked to Suzy Coulson about mental health and his own sister’s suicide in 2015.

Norman Lamb’s interest in mental health is well-known. “We all have mental health, we’re all on a continuum,” he explains.
As care minister in the coalition government he pushed for new standards in mental health care provision and has continued to keep mental health high on the agenda.

What’s less well-known is the personal experiences that have informed his work. “Informed but not formed”, as Norman explained to Suzy Coulson of The Backstory podcast.
The interest, it’s clear, was there already. Suzy was meeting Norman to find out more about what motivates his work and why he has chosen to be open about the mental health difficulties his own family have experienced.
“We’re all ultimately vulnerable, we’re fragile human beings and adversity can strike any of us at any moment,” he said.
Norman’s son, Archie, has suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since his teens. Now a successful music manager, having launched the career of grime artist Tinchy Stryder and collaborated with Jay Z, Archie has made a success of his life but there have been some dark times in which Norman and wife Mary found themselves negotiating the mental health system in a bid to get the right support for their son
“I remember the moment he said to me, ‘Dad why am I the only person going mad?’ For a parent to hear that, that’s quite hard.”
Then, in 2015, Norman’s sister Catherine killed herself after a period of severe depression.
He said: “Our family has gone through the trauma that very many families around our country experience with the loss of a loved one through suicide.”
Before any of this happened, Norman had already launched Zero Suicide Ambition, an initiative that strives to preotect every life.
“The evidence is there for how we can save lives but we’re not giving it enough priority. There’s nothing that’s more important than saving lives. The knock-on effect of a suicide is profound so it’s a really important objective.”

To hear the full interview with Norman Lamb, subscribe to The Backstory podcast with Claire Mutimer and Suzy Coulson on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Full details can be found at If you’ve got a backstory to tell, an experience that has shaped your life in some way, then Claire and Suzy would love to hear from you. Email or call 07595 335855.

Starbucks to open in Aylsham this weekend

The Aylsham Starbucks Drive Thru will be opening this Saturday, March 17.

To celebrate, the store will be handing vouchers for hot drinks to residents and businesses throughout the week. People will also be able to pick up vouchers on Saturday, when the team will be hosting a coffee tasting session. New for the spring menu are green tea lattes as well as the old favourites.

The store will be operated in partnership with Starbucks licensed partner, Euro Garages, and has meant 15 new part and full-time jobs for the town.

Mo Tayab, Starbucks brand manager at Euro Garages, said Starbucks had made a lot of investment in the site and was looking forward to meeting customers: “We are looking forward to welcoming them into our store,” he said.

He said there was a possibility the store would be able to take on more staff as it got busier and was planning fundraising for charity.

The store, on Burgh Road, will be open from 6am-8pm Monday to Friday, 7am-8pm Saturday and 8am-8pm Sunday. This Saturday, it will be open from 8am.

Have a say on new Sheringham leisure complex

North Norfolk District Council is inviting members of the public to an event to learn more about its plans to build a multi-million pound, state-of-the-art leisure facility in Sheringham.

The council’s cabinet agreed £10.7m of funding for the new leisure and fitness centre to replace the existing facility, Splash, in December 2017.

As part of the design process, the council is keen to share early proposals of the facility with the local community. The event will take place on Thursday, March 22, from 1-8pm at Splash in Sheringham. Members of the public will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed facilities, view artist impressions of the current proposals and comment on the design concept, site layout and the overall impact of the proposed project.

Splash at Sheringham was opened in May 1988. A condition survey conducted in 2017 highlighted an urgent need to invest in a new facility to ensure access to leisure services is secured for the future.

North Norfolk District Council has appointed Saunders Boston Architects and a full design team to develop the new facility who will be on hand at the public event. Together with staff from North Norfolk District Council they will be answer questions in an informal environment and prior to the submission of a planning application for the proposed development.

Council leader John Lee said: “The provision of a multi-million pound, state-of-the-art leisure facility supports North Norfolk District Council’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of its residents and we are looking forward to getting the development under way. Before we do, it is important that we consult with those who will benefit from the facility to ensure we get it right.”

Becky Palmer, cabinet member for leisure services said: “This event is an opportunity for local people to come and have their say on an exciting new development that will ensure the provision of leisure facilities is secured for the future.”

The Splash leisure pool and fitness centre.
Picture: Chris Taylor Photo

Bumpy landing at Sheringham

In a first for Norfolk’s Coast Path, a helicopter was drafted in today to airlift heavy materials up Beeston Bump in Sheringham.

The work is to enable vital improvements to be made to the path, which will make access to Norfolk’s highest point easier and repair the scarring that has occurred on the well known landscape feature.
Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Trails team has started preliminary work to repair the badly-rutted route which walkers currently have to navigate.

The new improved path will follow the same route as now but will help to prevent further wear and tear along the stretch of the National Trail.
The work, which has largely been funded by Natural England, is being carried out by Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Trails team. The helicopter was called in as it is the best way to lift the heavy aggregate needed with minimum impact on the SSSI feature.

Hellesdon’s Inca is UK PAT Dog of the Year!



Much-loved Hellesdon pooch Inca is the country’s top Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog.

Inca, who has made a difference to scores of patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was crowned national champ at Crufts Dog Show.

The eight-year-old Labrador/Staffy cross and owner Sheena Scrimgeour beat hundreds of other entrants from across the country – including 70 from the eastern region alone – to make the shortlist of six, and then faced a public vote before Inca was crowned Pets As Therapy ) Dog of the Year.

Many of those who voted were readers of Just Hellesdon following publicity about Inca in the magazine last year.

Sheena said: “I’m shocked but thrilled as well. We had an amazing time there and Inca was as good as gold.

“They started by announcing the runners-up and then suddenly Inca was named as 2018 Pat Dog of the Year – I couldn’t believe it! I’m still coming back down to earth.

“I’m so pleased, and so grateful to all the staff and service users at NSFT whose support got us into the shortlist, and to everyone who then voted for Inca to win the award.”

They found out they had won in the Good Citizen arena at Crufts at the NEC Birmingham on Friday, and were given a crystal trophy, rosette, sash, some dog goodies and £500.

Sheena and Inca have been volunteering with the Pets As Therapy charity for the past six years. They visit Hellesdon Hospital every Monday, The Julian Hospital on Tuesdays and the Norvic Clinic on Fridays, as well as fitting in regular visits to Hellesdon High School, a prison and the University of East Anglia.

She entered Inca after receiving fantastic feedback from NSFT staff, service users and relatives about the difference she has made to them – with some even crediting Ina as “saving their lives”.

“Inca has a lovely nature and just loves people, and seems to know she is doing something beneficial,” added Miss Scrimgeour. “She thoroughly enjoys the interaction and I can tell she gets pleasure from the visits.

“I’ve always wanted my dogs to have a rich and varied life so decided to volunteer with the charity after I retired. I’m also really interested in research which shows the benefits which animals can bring to people. They are great for mental and physical wellbeing, help people to manage stress and lower the pulse and blood pressure. All in all, they provide people with a real ‘feel good’ factor.”

Julie Cave, interim chief executive with NSFT, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Inca has won this national prize. Together with Sheena, she brings lots of smiles and joy to our wards, especially for patients who have had to leave their own pets at home while they are in our care.

“Inca and Sheena are inspirational in the voluntary work they do across our Trust.”

To support Pets As Therapy, visit

For more information about volunteering with NSFT, visit and click on the “get involved” link from the homepage.

Inca doing her stuff







Hellesdon eco-queen Nadia is world famous

A Hellesdon schoolgirl has defied bullies to make litter-picking cool – around the world.

Nadia Sparkes, 12, used to put up with bottles being thrown at her and sneering shouts of “Trash Girl” and “You’re weird” as she cycled to and from Hellesdon High School picking up rubbish dropped by other people.

But when her story hit the headlines, international praise poured in for her actions and the bullying stopped overnight.

Now Nadia’s “Trash Girl” image is celebrated in a cartoon and pop art drawing and she has a Team Trash Girl Facebook group with nearly 3,500 global members who encourage each other to pick up rubbish and post pictures of their efforts.

Nadia’s litter-picking began when she started at the high school last September and began to notice the amount of discarded rubbish along her route.

She would put it in her cycle basket and bring it home, sparking cruel taunts from some who saw her. Mum Paula Sparkes believes litter-picking has a stigma because rubbish is dirty and people feel embarrassed to bend and pick it up.

The bullying eventually reduced Nadia to a fit of sobbing one day after school. “I sat and talked to her and said what she was doing was admirable but it was up to her to decide whether she wanted to stop because of the bullying, or carry on and own the name ‘Trash Girl’. “She thought about it and said: ‘I’m going to carry on. They can call me ‘Trash Girl’ – but with respect.’

Her story first hit the headlines in Norfolk and then went national and international, with articles in The Daily Mail and Times, as well as in publications as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Malta.

“It just went  bonkers!” said Paula.  “She’s had people asking her about it in the street and adults and children all over the world saying ‘You were right and now I’m picking up litter too, because of you.’ I’m incredibly proud of her, and of her independent thinking.”

Nadia has an older sister and two younger brothers. A statement about Nadia from Tom Rolfe and Mike Earl, the principals of Hellesdon High School, a member of the Wensum Trust, said:  “Her determination and commitment to the cause is truly remarkable and we are hoping it will inspire other students to respect the environment with the same dedication.”









“We created this image for her to say ‘thank you’ and to offer our support for her fantastic work. Go Trash Girl! We think Trash Girl would make a great cartoon and would inspire more young people to do the same fantastic work,” Alex Jeffery, of Suffolk-based company Creative Nation.

“Nadia is doing some excellent work and when I heard that she was bullied, I just wanted to do something for her. I’ve worked with vulnerable young people and children for many years and have done lots of artwork for them. The picture itself was inspired by the artist Jamie Hewlett,” Lynsey Cole (Damsel Dragonfly Art).