Investment in Future Talent project to start in Aylsham

Broadland District Council is launching a project to deliver a new way of supporting local businesses and residents in rural areas, starting in Aylsham.

The Investment in Future Talent project aims to support up to eight businesses in Aylsham to offer periods of high quality, supported work experience to local people, thanks to a successful bid by Broadland District Council for LIFT (Local Investment in Future Talent) funding, awarded by the ESF (European Social Fund).

Businesses will have access to training in subjects such as management and recruitment practices to better support those who are currently out of work or wish to learn new skills and improve their job prospects. 

Residents who take up the challenge of a placement will be supported to improve their confidence and gain essential skills and experience that will help prepare them for the current world of work.

Who can benefit:

  • Small to medium businesses who want to improve their business skills
  • People who live in Aylsham who need help to get on the employment ladder. This can include:
    • People who know what field they would like to work in but need relevant experience to secure a job
    • People who have been out of work for some time
    • Anyone who needs an opportunity with a local employer to learn up to date skills and showcase what they are capable of doing.

Businesses that take part will benefit from training to consider growth opportunities and help them plan for their future development and sustainability. By providing access to the right opportunities locally, it is expected that the participants will find value in working and hopefully secure employment.

Julian Barnwell of Barnwell Print – who were the first company to join the project – said “Having been a major business in Aylsham and supporters of the local community for over a hundred years we are extremely proud to be giving local people the chance to get back into the workplace. This is a very exciting project to be involved with and we are looking forward to seeing the training and support that the participants will receive.”

Cllr Jo Copplestone, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Broadland District Council said: “We are delighted that the LIFT fund will enable us to further help businesses and residents in Aylsham to develop the right skills in order to support business and community needs. It is vital that we assist the rural economy to grow jobs and create opportunities for local people so that they are able to not only survive, but thrive in our ever evolving marketplace.”  For more information or to apply to take part in the project please contact Laura Smith, Economic Development Officer at Broadland District Council on 01603 430101 or

Julian Barnwell (Left) who has piloted the new Broadland District Council initiative.

Father’s 250-mile challenge for NICU which saved his son

A father of a six-year-old boy is taking on a formidable challenge to raise money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where his son spent the first week of his life.

Henry Hume was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in March 2013 following what had been a routine pregnancy for mum, Justina and dad Tom as they waited for the birth of their first child.       

However, things quickly took an unexpected turn for the worse and baby Henry was rushed to NICU with persistent pulmonary hypertension which is a failure of the normal circulatory transition that occurs after birth.

Now, Tom, who is a vet and director at Westover Veterinary Centre, and his business partner Toby, an experienced triathlete, plan to run, cycle, swim and canoe about 250 miles starting on July 11 to raise money for NICU as a thank you to the staff on the unit for caring for Henry who is now a happy and healthy six year old.

Tom explained how joy quickly turned to fear following the birth of his son: “In layman’s terms, Henry’s lungs hadn’t inflated so his blood kept choosing the easy route, through the hole in the heart that all babies are born with, but in the process it was bypassing the lungs and circulating around his body without being re-oxygenated.

Being a vet I had some limited understanding of the numbers on the intensive care monitors. The figure that I will never forget is the level of his oxygen saturation. In animals, anything less than 98% is abnormal and below 90% we would be pretty worried. I am fairly sure the numbers are similar in human medicine and I was watching as Henry’s number fell and fell, eventually bottoming out at 45%.

The NICU team were incredible, there were five of them crowded around this tiny baby. He was too small to get intravenous access via his arms so they had to cannulate his umbilical vessels to establish IV access.

He was then anaesthetised and placed in a coma to allow them to mechanically ventilate and inflate his lungs. Henry was in the coma for a week, but slowly the support machines were withdrawn and he went from strength to strength.”

Tom added: “We will both be eternally grateful for the lifesaving care in the first six hours after his arrival and then ongoing during that week.

“Ever since that day I have wanted to raise money for NICU to show my appreciation for such an incredible service and also to try and help their resources and enable them to help others.”

Tom and Toby will take on some huge challenges after setting off on July 11:

Day 1 – set off from North Walsham, run seven miles to Aylsham before swimming eight miles of the River Bure to Coltishall where they will camp for the night.

Day 2 – canoe 35 miles from Coltishall to Yarmouth.

Day 3 – cycle of 130 miles to Hunstanton.

Day 4 – run 30 miles from Hunstanton to Stiffkey.

Day 5 – run 30 miles back to North Walsham.

Tom said: “The biggest challenge in training has been getting enough time to get the miles in. I have come to the conclusion that it will be ‘alright on the night’ and that my memories of Henry’s battle to survive will be all the motivation I need to keep my moving.”

In the past, money raised for NICU has helped to pay for incubators, kangaroo chairs for parents and babies, enabled us to enhance the environment and also provided specialist training for staff.” If you would like to sponsor Tom and Toby and support NICU, visit

Henry and Tom Hume

A fab night of music at Theatre Royal

I never got to see the Beatles perform live, possibly due to the fact that I wasn’t born until 1966.

My discovery of the Fab Four came much later when, as a 12-year-old, I found a stack of LPs and a portable record player belonging to my stepmum, a huge fan who also never got to see them live.

So last night’s performance Let It Be at the Theatre Royal was a right treat for us both.

The show looked back at the musical history of the “mop tops” through the recreation of signature performances such as the Royal Variety Show and Shea Stadium, interspersed with newsreel and adverts from the time. How we chuckled as the newly-married bride lit up with the voiceover slogan “time for a Capstan”.

The four performers were faultless musicians, swapping from guitar to piano and back. The joke back in the day was that Ringo Starr wasn’t the best drummer in the world, he wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles. You certainly couldn’t have said that about Ben Cullingworth as a believable Ringo. He was joined on stage by Richard Jordan as John (he passed the test with my stepmum, John was her favourite), John Brosnan as George and Emanuele Angeletti as Paul.

The first half was a tour through the Beatles’ back catalogue from early days to the Sgt Pepper years, the second half an imagined reunion for John’s 40th birthday taking in each band member’s solo material. This included a stunning version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with the guitar solo masterfully played by ‘George’. George didn’t event play that on the original, it was Eric Clapton.

The audience ranged in age but had one thing in common, they knew the words to all the songs and were encouraged to sing along and get up, clap and dance.

A couple of crowd pleasers ended the concert – Let It Be and Hey Jude – before a standing ovation. A truly uplifting evening of music from one of the worlds best and biggest bands.

“Kill* for a ticket” – Patsy Webster (stepmum)

(*Don’t actually kill someone, obviously. The show runs until Saturday and tickets are still available.

Gay Webster

Pictures: Paul Coltas

Sam’s first Young Sportsman

Aylsham’s Sam Blair has been named Young Norfolk Sportsman of the Year, in the inaugural annual Young Norfolk Sports Academy Awards.

The trophy is presented to YNSA athletes who have showcased excellence in their sport, recognising performance but also commitment, dedication and passion.

This award caps an impressive season for the 16-year-old Norwich City goalkeeper, which saw him make his debut in the Youth FA Cup, play U16s and U18s football and travel several times with the U23 squad. He was rewarded with a two-year scholarship at the premier league club, which commences on July 1st on completion of his GCSEs.

Sam said “I’d like to thank the YNSA for this award. I have really enjoyed meeting and working alongside talented athletes from across Norfolk in so many different sports. It’s very helpful to learn from them and the experts the YNSA put in front of us, on topics ranging from fitness and training regimes, nutrition, recovery, coping with pressure and lots of other important topics that will prepare us for full-time sport. I’m very grateful to my coaches at Norwich City and my school for pushing me every day and making me a better athlete. I’m really excited about the next couple of years and will work hard to try and secure a professional contract.”

Sam, who at 16 already stands 6ft 2ins tall, follows in the bootsteps of an impressive list of Norfolk-born Norwich City academy shot stoppers – with Angus Gunn, Jed Steer, Aston Oxborough, Remi Matthews and Declan Rudd all plying their trade in the Championship and Premier League. Another City goalkeeper alumnus, former England international Rob Green, hung up his boots at the end of last season.

Sam Blair with his award
Sam in action for Norwich City youth  over the past few years.

Beer festival opens tonight!

It’s time to raise a glass to the 14th Aylsham Round Table Beer Festival.

The event which seems to go from strength to strength will open its doors at 6pm this Friday (17th May).

A total of 35 ales, 15 ciders and a selection of gin will be on offer this year and as always it will be held at County, also known as the Youth Club on Cawston Road.

Opening times are:
Friday 12th – 6pm – 11pm
Saturday 13th – 11am-11pm
Sunday 14th – 11am – 3pm.

Bronze £10 includes 2 pints
Silver £15 includes 4 pints
Gold £20 includes 6 pints

There will be live music on the Friday and Saturday and food available,

Pop idols and driverless tractors – meet Aylsham Show’s 2019 president

From interviewing Elton John to developing the Aylsham Show’s Food Hall – Clare Buxton’s story is diverse and fascinating.

Sheringham-born Clare, this year’s show president, left her native county as a little girl, had a successful early career writing for teen magazines, and then returned to Norfolk. She and her husband Andrew have been tenants on the Salle Park Estate, just outside Reepham, for over 20 years, running their sugar beet and grain haulage business.

And as a long-standing member of the Aylsham Show Council, Clare has rolled up her sleeves to help run the show for many years.

Seated in a traditional harvest wagon, with Andrew alongside, she will be presiding over the Grand Parade at this year’s 73rd show, on Bank Holiday Monday August 26, when some 15,000-17,000 visitors are expected to flock to the wonderful parkland of the National Trust’s Blickling Estate to enjoy an affordable family day celebrating the countryside, farming, and food.

The success of the 2018 show resulted in 46 good causes, mostly local, sharing Aylsham Show handouts totalling more than £31,000.

Clare will also sit in a driverless Ben Burgess tractor while it finds its way around the Main Ring controlled by GPS.

She grew up on the west coast of Scotland where her father ran a boatyard and later trained as a journalist in Dundee with publishers DC Thomson – perhaps best known for the Beano comic – writing about pop for best-selling teen magazine Jackie.

“I used to spend my days with people like the Bay City Rollers. I remember flying down to London with them on a private jet,” said Clare.

“I interviewed Elton John – himself wearing a quilted, banana-yellow jumpsuit – and David Essex, a really sweet guy and very, very kind, even when I had to ask silly questions like ‘What’s your favourite colour?’”

Clare moved to publishers IPC in London to help set up what became a best-selling teen magazine, My Guy, running its problem page and quizzes. Young wannabe actors and pop stars featuring in its pioneering photo-strip love stories included Hugh Grant and George Michael.

Keen to return north, Clare secured a place at Stirling University, achieving a first-class honours degree in English with Art History. Nowadays she works in the fine art auctions business, advising on pictures at mid-Suffolk auctioneers Bishop & Miller.

It was while working for Simon Gough, antiquarian bookseller in Holt, that she met her future husband, Andrew, one of four Buxton brothers then farming with their father at Heydon. Clare and Andrew, who have three sons, sold their haulage business about three years ago to concentrate on Norfolk Shepherd Huts, making and restoring traditional East Anglian huts.

Customers have included the late actor Sir John Hurt who ordered his after seeing a hut on display in the Craft Area at the Aylsham Show.

When Clare first became involved with the show, around 17 years ago, there was no Food Hall. “We started with a flapping tent and about six stalls, Swannington Farm to Fork were in that first effort and it is so pleasing to see the fantastic success of that business now,” she said.

“We grew with the help of a government grant and a very dynamic committee, full of energy and commitment: Jonathan Deane (president 2007), Tony Bambridge (president 2015), and Matt Miller from Aylsham’s Black Boys pub all played key roles in developing the Food and Farming area – I just did the paperwork!”

Nowadays thousands flock to buy local food and drink, watch cookery demonstrations, and applaud the crowning of Norfolk’s food heroes, nominated earlier in the year by the public. And visitors can also find out where our food comes from, with hands-on demonstrations.

“Thanks to the irreplaceable and irrepressible Corfield family we have run some terrific competitions.

It’s what the show is all about – promoting agriculture and the countryside, encouraging the public to be part of it and having fun!” said Clare.

“I feel hugely honoured and privileged to be this year’s president. I’m just a worker bee who has worked her way up so it is a truly great accolade; and it also means it could happen to anyone involved with the show.”

A long-time supporter of conservation charity the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the farm animals are definitely a show highlight for Clare.

She said: “I’m really excited that I’ll get the chance to walk the livestock lines and see the cattle and sheep properly – it is such a privilege to see them. So much hard work and effort goes into bringing them to the show.

“It’s a lovely show to be involved with and the Blickling park setting is unsurpassed,” said Clare.

“I’d urge everyone to come to see the animals. They are such an immediate connection with the countryside.”
For more information visit the show website:  Facebook: @theaylshamshow Twitter: @aylshamshow  Admission is £15 for adults, under 16s and parking is free.

Clare Buxton

Don’t miss brand-new bangers at Sunday’s Big Norfolk Sausage Bash

Look out for prize-winning “warm dog” sausages, the invention of nine-year-old Charlie Turner, which will be on sale at the Bash.

Charlie’s “outside in” recipe features ketchup and mustard inside the sausage, rather than smeared on the surface.

It was picked from scores of entries into a competition for Aylsham schoolchildren to come up with a new sausage recipe which could be made by the town’s Coxfords Butchers.

Bure Valley pupil Charlie and his family always enjoy breakfast at Aylsham’s monthly farmers’ market where big brother James, 14, loves artistically squiggling a line of ketchup and mustard along the top of his hot dog – giving Charlie his recipe idea.

“I thought ‘there are already hot dogs, I’ll make mine a warm dog’. I was quite surprised that I won but it made me feel happy,” said Charlie who will visit the Bash after playing in his Aylsham Under-10s’ football match.

Work to start on Clarkes

At last – refurbishment work is set to begin at the former Clarkes DIY shop on Aylsham Market Place which has been empty since 2015.

Scaffolding is due to go up outside the Georgian building in the next 10 days according to a spokesman for the new owner, who prefers to remain anonymous.

“We just want to apologise for any inconvenience that will be caused but Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said the spokesman, adding that he didn’t know how long the work would take.

Plans were approved by Broadland District Council in November last year which will see the ground floor converted to a restaurant and the first and upper floors into nine rooms for holiday letting.

Built around 1740, the building, at 30 Market Place, is grade two listed.

It was put up for auction in September last year but withdrawn when bidding stopped at £420,000 which was below the £450,000-£500,000 guide price. It was bought by its current owner at the beginning of the year.