Author Archives: Gay Webster

Lift-off for Sprowston’s community sports hall

Four men built this frame in just one day – and now Sprowston’s dream of a new community sports hall is officially, and literally, off the ground.

Before work could begin, the Omnis Construction team had to overcome problems including an underground wartime air-raid shelter and a Victorian water tank, discovered during drainage diversion works.

Despite these challenges, hopes are high that the £1.3m hall, at Sprowston Diamond Centre, will be finished this spring.

The project is entirely funded by Sprowston Town Council. The hall will include a reconfigured and refurbished central area, a reception area and new changing rooms.

It will provide improved facilities for a range of community sports and other activities.

Rooms within the new hall will be named after teachers and head teachers of the school which formerly stood on the site.

During construction, Sprowston Town Council’s office has decamped into a portable building in the rear car park next to Neville Road with access through a pedestrian gate. A temporary car park has been provided in the field opposite.

Picture: OMNIS

Plea over plans for many new Hellesdon homes

Residents are being urged to have their say on proposals for large numbers of new homes which local chiefs fear would be bad news for Hellesdon.

Greater Norwich – which includes Hellesdon – has to find sites for nearly 43,000 new homes between now and 2036.

Some 30,000 have already been identified but a further 7,200 have still to be found. Public consultation is under way on the Greater Norwich Local Plan, which details the proposals.

Up to 1,000 homes are already due to be built in Hellesdon, on the former Royal Norwich Golf Club site.

A parish council spokesman said: “In Hellesdon the grassed area close to Arden Grove Primary School, now known as Cottingham’s Park, together with part of our allotments, accessed from Bush Road, feature as development sites in the plan which is not good news as it will take away valuable recreational space which is already in short supply in the parish.

“Looking across the parish boundary into Horsford, which starts just beyond the medical practice, The Greater Norwich Local Plan has earmarked all the land up the Reepham Road to the NDR roundabout on the south side of Horsford and bounded on the eastern side by the A140.

“Housing built here will of necessity put additional loading onto both of these roads and the local infrastructure, having a direct impact on the local schools, shops and medical facilities together with the invisible infrastructure of the water, drainage and sewage systems, already subject to some overloading. Some smaller site proposals in the parish of Drayton adjoining Hellesdon will also have a similar impact.”

The parish council also fears that Hellesdon would lose out financially if homes were built in this Horsford block as future residents would be likely to use Hellesdon’s schools, doctors and other services, which would be nearer for them.

But, because their homes would not actually be built within Hellesdon’s boundaries, other parish councils would receive “CIL” money levied from developers – used for community benefits – and from the new home owners via the parish precept element of the council tax.

The spokesman added: “Hellesdon Parish Council needs all the support it can muster from its residents to ensure Cottingham’s Park and allotments are not lost and that any development within Horsford’s block of land is kept to an absolute minimum.”

* Residents will have the chance to learn more during the week beginning Monday February 19 at the parish council’s Diamond Jubilee Lodge office between 10am and 3.30pm.

The office will also reopen on Wednesday  February 21 between 6pm and 8pm.

Every resident is also urged to make an individual response to the consultation which runs until March 15.  Visit or collect a response booklet from the parish council office.

* Broadland District Council officers will be holding a roadshow on the proposals in Hellesdon Community Centre on February 28 from 2pm-8pm.

Pictured: Cottingham’s Park looking towards the allotments.

Man arrested after cyclist badly injured

A man in his 40s, from Hertfordshire, has been arrested in connection with a collision this morning (Friday February 9) which left a cyclist with serious injuries.

The arrested man is due to be questioned by officers later today.

Police are still appealing for witnesses to the smash, on the A47 at Thickthorn.

Officers were called at 5.30am to reports of a male lying in the road. Further enquiries established he had been cycling along the eastbound carriageway between the Thickthorn and A140 junctions when he was in collision with a lorry.

The lorry left the scene following the incident, travelling in the direction of Great Yarmouth.

The cyclist was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with serious injuries.

The road was closed while officers dealt with the incident but has since reopened.

Anyone with information or dashcam footage should contact PC Andrew Lincoln at Wymondham Roads Policing on 101.

Call goes out for past Broadland High students

Broadland High School is getting ready to celebrate its 60th anniversary and is looking for ex-pupils and teachers to get in touch.
Broadland High School was founded in April 1958 as a mixed secondary modern school, then known as Hoveton County Secondary.
And the school is working with the education charity Future First to build a thriving alumni community as part of the celebrations this year.
Deputy head Simon Laycock said there was lots planned to make the diamond anniversary including a 1958 at the school on July 23 and a fun day in early July.
“We hope the community will get involved in the fun day with activities and stalls and people will come and have a look round the school,” he said.
He also hopes the school will create some archives including photographs and an oral history from interviews with former students of all ages. “The students already visit the local care homes to chat with residents so some of them might have stories to tell if they were former pupils of the school,” said Simon. “We want to build a picture of the history of the school with stories from people who have been here over the last 60 years.”
The school has received support and funding from Future First as part of a project to raise aspirations among current students.
And Simon thinks one of the ways the school can do this is by bringing in successful alumni to tell their stories, including sports success and pop stars. They currently have around 70 on their database but hope to hugely increase this number in the anniversary year.
Some of the archive material Simon has found makes interesting reading. In the original register from 1958, nearly all the students are reported to have left education because it was no longer compulsory rather than go on to further education.
A report from 1972 talks about the school leaving age being raised to 16 and the possibility that some students may be married.
There’s also an inspectors report from 1965 which shows an average of six pupils a year over four years passed their 0-levels. I wonder what Ofsted would have to say about that.

Alumni can sign up via the link and anyone interested in getting involved in the celebrations can email

Deputy head Simon Laycock

Young talent takes on literary classic as musical

Norfolk’s young talented actors are maing up the cast in a new production for Norfolk Youth Music Theatre.
The musical of Jane Eyre is based on the famous romantic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the musical tells the story of orphan Jane from her unhappy childhood to falling in love with the master of Thornfield Hall, Edward Rochester, who employs her as governess to his ward.
Their union seems doomed, Jane flees, disaster strikes Edward – but there is a happy ending.
The lead role of Jane is played by former Aylsham High student Ellen Smith, who is currently studying drama, history and film at Paston College, as well as getting involved with Far East Theatre Company’s performances.
She has performed with the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre many times, including Rita O’Grady in Made in Dagenham, Cosette in Les Miserables and Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. Ellen has also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice with NYMT and with Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Ellen, 17, is currently in the process of auditioning for drama schools across the country. She said: “Acting is something I enjoy more than anything, and being a part of such a lovely, talented company makes the experience even more enjoyable. Jane Eyre is such a fantastic part to tackle, I will need to draw on all of my emotions when portraying this iconic character.”
Amy English, 17, is also a former Aylsham student, now studying drama and performing arts at Paston, where she is involved in the show Illyria. Doctor Who fan Amy said: “I am a huge fan of the show, but most of all I love acting, and hope to go to drama school and pursue a career in theatre.”
Current high school student Elizabeth (Libby) Lumb is playing Adele in Jane Eyre.
The 12-year-old has appeared in a few shows previously, such as The Sound of Music and The King and I at Aylsham High School, and was part of the choir in the touring West End production of Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat.
She said: “I love acting and want to continue as long as possible. I  also like walking my dog, Douglas, and having fun with my friends.”
Sophie Millington, 10, and Jeremiah Humphreys-Piercy, 16, are also starring.
Sophie, who plays the young Jane, is in Year 5 at Town Close School and loves acting, singing, dancing and Brownies.
“I play the violin with Norwich Suzuki Group and I also play the piano,” she said.  “As well as taking part in school productions, I have performed in Bill Kenwright’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, and have sung with Blake at Cromer Pier, Rebeca Newman at Norwich Playhouse, and Classical Reflection at Sheringham and Trimingham.
“My biggest interest is theatre and performing and my favourite sport is netball.”
Jeremiah plays magistrate Mr Eshton. He studied at CNS where he began to enjoy drama, playing John Hale in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and Banquo in Macbeth.
He currently attends Paston Sixth Form College, where he is studying A-level drama and is appearing in the college’s production of Illyria this month. Jeremiah enjoys making films and YouTube videos in his spare time. He hopes to go to drama school and start an acting career

Music and lyrics for the production are by Paul Gordon, book and additional lyrics by John Caird. It is directed by Adrian Connell.
For tickets contact the Norwich Playhouse box office on 10603 598598 or visit

Leah has Honduras in her sights

Former Aylsham High student Leah Colebrooke is busy fundraising for a gap year teaching project in Honduras.
She will going with Project Trust, which she heard about at a careers event at college.
She said: “A woman who had spent her gap year teaching underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic gave us a talk on just how much getting involved with Project Trust had changed her life, and the skills that she had gained from her 12 months abroad. From that moment, I was sure that Latin America was where I wanted to spend my year teaching the subject that I love –  music”
Leah said she had been unsure about university. “I knew I wanted to take a gap year to give myself time to think, but also knew I did not want to spend a year doing nothing.”
It took her a few months to pluck up the courage to apply, but once she did, everything started falling into place.
“The first step I took was taking a 13-hour journey up to the Isle of Coll, an island off the border of Scotland, a place I had never heard of before. An intense four-day trip consisted of various tasks and activities in which 28 of us were trying to prove that we had what it took to be selected for a placement abroad.”
Ten days after returning from what was her “extremely memorable trip”, she received an acceptance letter to Honduras.
Next came the most daunting part yet; beginning the fundraising.
“My first step was to set up a gofundme page. With £6,000 to raise, I knew it was not going to be an easy task. But with the help of many friends and family, I have made a promising start,” she said.
Her first big fundraising event is a coffee morning on the February 17 at Aylsham Parish Church.
Leah will also be providing much more information on the project and where the money that she raises will be going.
“Please come along if you are in the area, it would be great to have a good turnout and will make my fundraising journey all the more easier.”
She thanked the Liz Jones Memorial Fund for Young People , which has already donated a sum of money via the church toward her project.
See more at:

North Walsham care service nominated for award

Extra Care Home Services in North Walsham has been nominated for a Skills for Care Accolades award that celebrates the outstanding achievements of the very best adult social care employers in England.

They have been nominated in the Best Employer under 50 category which recognises Extra Care Home Services for the work it does in supporting the people who access their services.

The business provides practical and personal care support to individuals in their own homes in the North Walsham area. They won two awards last year at the Norfolk Care Awards 2017 for Motivational Leadership and Rising Star and this year they are also shortlisted finalist in the category Excellent Person Centred Care and Support and will find out if they have won at the Gala Night at Sprowston Manor on February 22.

Sarah Thompson, owner and registered manager said: “When we found out that we had made the final of the Skills for Care Accolades we were delighted because it is a reward on a national stage for all our team, and the hard work they put in to make sure we offer high quality services for the people we work with.

“It is a recognition that our investment in the development of the people who work for us has paid off, and for all the hard work people put into making sure they have the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to do a great job. It is amazing to be recognised at National level for the work we believe so passionately in. We are up against a care home from Essex and a home care company based in the Bournemouth area.”

Skills for Care has been hosting the Accolades awards for the last 14 years honouring hundreds of organisations who all share a genuine commitment to developing the skills and knowledge of their workforce.

They will find if they have won at the Skills for Care Accolades awards night in London on Thursday,  March 1.

Sarah pictured centre at a previous awards last year.

Top uni offers for Taverham High students

Taverham High School is celebrating its best-ever set of offers for Year 13 students from universities, apprenticeships and training providers.

They include Nick Gabriel who has fought back from the devastation of losing his dad to secure a confirmed place at Oxford University to study geography.

Another two students, Ellen Flower and Jack Rolf-Gökeş, have been offered places to read maths at Oxford if they achieve good enough A-level grades in this summer’s exams.

Taverham High head teacher Carol Dallas said she was “incredibly proud and delighted.”

Mrs Dallas added: “Yet again we have high numbers of students entering the top universities in the country and they show a determination to achieve the highest possible academic standards.

“As a school community we have worked exceptionally hard to ensure that all of our students receive the extensive enrichment, preparation and guidance to realise their dreams and aspirations, this does not necessarily mean through the university route with some students have receiving exceptional offers on apprenticeships and training courses.”
Nick Gabriel (pictured, denim jacket) said he was very excited at the prospect of studying at Oxford’s Brasenose College from October. “After my father passed away, I felt as if whole world had disintegrated in front of my eyes,” he added.

“Thus my performance at GCSE was very average in comparison to the rest of my cohort. Nonetheless I am very grateful that this happened, since it motivated me to work harder during my A-level studies, and to prove to my teachers and family, and of course myself, that I am capable of success and exceeding expectations.”

He gained two A*s in geography and psychology and an A in music and, during a gap year, decided to try for Oxford.

Nick remembers heading for home after his two interviews: “I left feeling as if I had been pushed to think outside of my comfort zone, but equally motivated to be educated at the institution.”
Ellen Flower (pictured) had a fantastic week at the UNIQ Oxford Summer School for students from state schools hoping to study at Oxford University and, after winning the problem-solving competition, started to believe she might be in with a chance of a place at the university.

“As part of the admissions process, I had to sit the Oxford Mathematics Aptitude Test. It is fair to say that this test was the hardest thing that I’ve ever undertaken academically,” she said.

Ellen spent an intense four days of rigorous interviews at Oxford and “cried quite a lot!” when she was later offered a place at her first choice, Worcester College.

She added: “ I am so pleased that my hard work has paid off – just the A levels to go now!”
Jack Rolf-Gökeş (pictured) approached the Oxford admissions process with the goal of seeing how far he could get as he had nothing to lose.

“There were multiple points at which I thought I’d blown my chances,” he added.

“First, the admissions test was one of the hardest papers I’d ever seen, so immediately after sitting it I resigned myself to the notion that I would be getting my rejection in the post shortly.”

But he was invited for interviews and was ultimately successful in being offered a place.

Jack added: “I received a lot of support from teachers at the sixth form and at other schools, and I’m glad I have something to show for both my efforts and theirs.”