Run with Pride

Like many other athletic events this year, the Norwich Pride 5K race will be a little different.

Because of restrictions on mass events, the popular race – organised by EPIC – will be rebranded as #RunWithPride event, with all profits being granted to LGBT+ charities across the UK.

Anyone wanting to take part can complete the course at any time during July – as teams or as individuals – and choose from 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, or 100k challenges.

The whole distance does not have to be run at once – you can split the distance over the month – and participants are being encouraged to share their efforts by using the hashtag #RunWithPride via Strava, Facebook or Instagram.

Some clubs have entered teams of 31, with each member taking responsibility for one day of the month, and others are pooling resources to provide moral support.

Taking part costs £10 per person, plus a booking fee. All entries include a bespoke #RunWithPride race medal.

To enter, visit .

Pony’s couch to 5k success!

A Redwings Horse Sanctuary supporter and her rehomed rescued pony have taken on a running challenge together to raise awareness for mental health.

Having been inspired by the Couch to 5k programme, Jen Brooker, from Saxthorpe, decided to run the equivalent of two marathons over six weeks with Redwings pony Smartie by her side. It is thought Smartie, a 16-year-old Welsh Section A pony, may be one of the only ponies ever to complete the popular programme!

The dedicated pair completed their challenge with a 9km run on June 28, which finished outside the entrance to Redwings’ Aylsham visitor centre and raised £240 for the mental health charity Mind.

While the site is currently closed to visitors, staff and friends were ready and waiting at the gates to cheer them on.

Jen said: “The idea came about when I started the Couch to 5k running programme, and I saw it as an opportunity for Smartie to get fitter too. I decided to raise money for Mind after Smartie helped my daughter so much with her mental health. Plus, with the coronavirus pandemic seeing a surge in the need for mental health support, it seemed fitting.”

Jen with Smartie at the end of their marathon for Mind.

Smartie was rehomed with his guardian, Jen, in 2011 to be a companion for her late mare, Tottie. He was originally one of 13 ponies rescued by the RSPCA, and later cared for by Redwings, from a farm in Wales where they were discovered in an emaciated state. 

The lovable pony became firm friends with Jen’s daughter Jessica and helped her to overcome some challenges in a difficult period in her life. Though Jessica is now grown up, Smartie remains with Jen and has helped other children regain their confidence through equine-assisted learning sessions.

“Running has always been a way of reducing my own stress levels and to have Smartie, my very special friend, beside me is magical. We get to chat every day and I always remind him of the memories he has created,” added Jen.

“We’ve had a few strange looks from people who aren’t used to seeing people running with a pony and he is the only pony that we know of in the Couch to 5k group on Facebook, so he may be one of the first ponies to complete the programme!

“We’ve had a fantastic time and may look to make it an annual challenge and see if we can recruit some friends (with two and four legs) to join in with us.”

The end of the road. Jen and Smartie arrive at Redwings.

Rachel Angell, Redwings’ head of Norfolk equine operations, who oversees the rehoming programme, said: “We’re very proud of this super pair. Whilst Smartie is not being ridden at the moment, this is a fantastic way to keep him fit and healthy and, most importantly, for him to have some fun with his guardian. The fact that they have raised such a great total for a very worthy cause is just the icing on the cake.”

Kathleen Miles director of fundraising at Mind, said: “This is a wonderfully unique way to raise money and awareness that really does bring a smile to the face. The bond between Smartie, Jen and her family is clearly very special. It’s heartwarming to see creativity from people like Jen who are finding alternative ways to help Mind, and we are so grateful to her for choosing to support us. Donations from efforts like that of Jen (and Smartie!) mean that more people experiencing poor mental health in these unbelievably difficult times, are able to get the support they need to see them through.”

To find out more about Redwings rehoming programme and the rescued ponies currently looking for loving new homes, please visit

For further information about Mind, please visit

Popular races will go ahead

The Epic Aylsham and North Walsham 5K races will take on a different form this year so they can still go ahead despite the restrictions around covid-19.

Participants will be able to complete the Aylsham race any time between August 1 and 31, and those wishing to do the North Walsham run can complete it any time in September.

The races raise money for projects in both towns which are organised by Exercising People in Communities Norfolk (Epic) an organisation dedicated to improving lives through physical activity opportunities.

Organiser Steven Hitcham said: “2019 was the first year we organised these races and both were very popular, so we didn’t want to cancel the races this year. The profits from this year’s races will mainly go to providing physical activity provision for older people in Aylsham and North Walsham.”

Last year’s races generated more than £2,000 profits which were used to provide the set-up costs for Aylsham Runners, bought a bench for Aylsham Bowls Club, provided outdoor equipment for Aylsham Rec, gave sponsorship to one of the Aylsham Football teams, helped pay for the Aylsham Netball competition, adapted sports equipment for Your Choice day centre and adapted sports equipment for Barrington Farm day centre.

Steven added: “Despite the races not going ahead as planned in June this year, we hope we can still hold successful events and support both towns in becoming more active.”

There will be medals for participants as usual and they can be collected from Coxford’s Butchers in Aylsham and Papworth Butchers in North Walsham. They can also be posted.

Runners can complete the official routes or choose their own 5K route. It costs £13 to enter and entrants must be 11 or over. Under-16s must be accompanied by an adult when they complete their run.

Click here for the Aylsham route and here for the North Walsham one.

Times can be submitted via Total Race Timing where participants can also enter the race via for the Epic Aylsham 5K and for the Epic North Walsham 5K.

The event is being sponsored and supported by Coxford’s Butchers, Clarion Futures, Aylsham Growers, Ben Burgess Aylsham, Aylsham Runners, North Walsham Community Shop, Co-op, Waitrose, Dewing Grain, Cecil Amey and Papworth Butchers.

For more information visit the Epic Facebook page, on @epicnorfolk and by using the #epic5k.

Keenan’s racing ahead for a dream future

While most 12-year-old boys were playing motorsport games on their PlayStations, Keenan Tully was out driving the real thing as he got a taste for motor racing at an early age.

Now 20, Keenan is an established race car driver on the local circuits, with big plans to make it big in the American sport of Nascar racing.

“I didn’t have any roots in the sport,” said Keenan, who lives in Aylsham. “I’m a first generation fan, my dad was never into it, he preferred football. My friend was already racing and I watched him and it sort of started from there. I started racing in the Junior Formula and then moved into adult racing when I was 16.”

His first race, aged 12, was in a full size car and spent a lot of time at the race car track at Swaffham, which held test days most weeks.

“You pay to have the track to test and to practise and learn,” he said. “I have raced at Yarmouth, Ipswich, Swaffham, Birmingham and Essex and won 17 trophies.”

The former Reepham High School pupil also drove in the USA when his family lived there for a time, which is where he discovered Nascar, the most popular motor sport in the states.

“We lived in California a couple of years ago and I got found out by a team, which was incredible. My dream is to race there full time.”

Nascar has a long and proud history, but despite its 100 years of popularity it has remained an American sport, which is why Keenan and his brother, Zach, are moving to North Carolina so he can follow his dream.

“North Carolina is where about 90pc of the Nascar teams are based, so that’s the place to be,” said Keenan. “

He hopes to attract a sponsor once he is there so he can compete professionally – and he wonders if the novelty of being a British driver might be a help.

“My mum is from California, so I have an American passport,” he said. “When I was racing there, people loved that I was British and fans would come round and ask me to talk just to hear my accent!”

All racing including stock car and hot rod racing is currently paused in the UK, and Keenan had his last race back in February.

Shortly after lockdown he broke his kneecap and he is working hard to get back to racing fitness for when the season begins with a behind-closed-doors meeting at Swaffham on July 18 – no mean feat with gyms also closed.

Keenan Tully’s dream is to become a Nascar driver and is moving to America to follow his dream.

At the moment everyone is equal in the league table of drivers but in the past Keenan has come second and third, including a second place in the East Anglian Championship in 2018 and was third in the national standings in the year before.

“I will carry on racing between now and my move and save up so I can buy my own car or find sponsorship,” he said. “It’s not a cheap sport and the only way to get into it is to hope a team sees you and supports you. Right now I am self-funding.”

With a full time job as a mechanic for Lotus Racing Team in Long Stratton and his own mobile car valeting business, Keenan is working hard to support his racing, to fund his move overseas and to get fit after his injury.

His determination even saw him shed six stone in order to get into racing shape when he weighed in at 18 stone in 2016.

“It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do, and I’ll work hard to get there,” he said.

Keenan is looking for partners who could help him with his adventure. If anyone can help they can email him at or visit his Facebook page.

Google grant for local publisher is Just the job…

A hyperlocal magazine publisher which refused to let the pandemic stop it getting the local news out has received a grant from Google.

Just Regional, an organisation which produces 10 news magazines in Norfolk, received the grant from the technology giant’s relief fund – a scheme designed to help news titles through the coronavirus crisis.

Editor Tracey Bagshaw said: “This is amazing news. It has been well documented that some large organisations have felt the pinch, but small organisations such as us have also had to adapt to survive, and it’s great to see that effort recognised.”

Just Regional paused printing its monthly magazines in March, mainly to protect its team of more than 100 delivery boys and girls, turning its attention to putting stories online via its website, Facebook and Twitter.

Its online interactions grew up to 1,000pc in all areas as readers logged on for daily updates, breaking news and features.

It returned to print in June with a merged publication covering all areas. The well-received magazine was delivered to 50,000 homes in six market towns and four Norwich suburbs. Another edition is about to be delivered, with a further one in production later this month.

Tracey Bagshaw, Group Editor.

“We never stopped during the lockdown as we were determined to keep giving people a mix of vital information, local news and some of the more heart-warming moments which were going on in our communities,” said Tracey.

Just Regional has been producing popular hyperlocal magazines for 12 years. Owner Lee Todd said the importance of local news could not be overestimated and he was thrilled that it had been recognised in this way.

“Google, this massive international company, has backed us – a company based in Aylsham, a small Norfolk market town – because it believes in what we are doing,” he said.

“They were impressed how we kept going through the pandemic and that we are rising from the ashes, unlike some bigger publications which are struggling all across the country.

“Our readers and advertisers have stuck with us throughout this and we are grateful for their loyal support.”

Richard Gingras, vice-president of news at Google, said: “Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times.

“Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how covid-19 is affecting daily life.

“But that role is being challenged as the news industry deals with job cuts, furloughs and cutbacks as a result of the economic downturn.”

The Just Regional offices in Aylsham town centre. This is a central location for the 10 areas covered.

Show’s food hero is revealed

The Aylsham Show’s Food and Drink Hero for 2020 has been announced as Kelda’s Kitchen, of South Walsham.

The winner was chosen a little differently from usual, with the public being asked to nominate someone who had gone above and beyond to support their local community during lockdown.

The response was incredible, with more than 1,200 nominations received online for 76 businesses or individuals, celebrating the incredible work that local food and drink producers and retailers have been doing.

The winner is Kelda’s Kitchen is owned and run by Kelda Forsyth. As soon as lockdown was announced and Kelda’s usual catering jobs stopped abruptly, she set up a pop-up shop in her driveway to serve the local community.

Kelda Forsyth, of Kelda’s Kitchen, who is the winner of this year’s Aylsham Show food hero award.

With the help of volunteers, she has been delivering fruit, vegetables and general basic groceries to those who have been isolating and the most vulnerable as well as providing delicious homemade treats and ready meals.

On receiving the news, Kelda said: “The experience has been hugely positive. I have met so many wonderful people from South Walsham and surrounding villages who I would otherwise never have met. Locals met whilst waiting their turn to shop and could catch up with one another and offer support and reassurance through these difficult and isolating times.

“It has been a real pleasure to serve the community and I am so humbled to have been nominated by so many people.”

Awards head steward Alexandra Haswell said: “We have been delighted with the response received from the local community and humbled by the hard work that so many amazing people have been doing over the last few months. We would like to congratulate Kelda on winning the award and thank everyone who was nominated for the support they have provided to their customers.”

The award was made in association with local accountancy firm Lovewell Blake and as the Aylsham Show will not be going ahead this year, the presentation of the Ken Dye Memorial Salver will be arranged with Kelda and the local community shortly.

She will also be given a stand at the 2021 show.

Pubs are ready to welcome customers

Local pubs and restaurants are gearing up to open tomorrow and welcome their regulars back.

Not all are ready to open their doors just yet, but many have put a lot of hard work into making their premises safe for customers to return.

But, whether you fancy a big event or a swift half, a night down the pub will be somewhat different from how we remember it.

From taking contact details of all customers as they arrive and maintaining distance between tables, to a ban on loud music and the introduction of drink-ordering apps, landlords have a lot of issues to deal with.

In Aylsham, Matt Miller and his team at the Black Boys Hotel have been busy turning a large section of the car park into a covered area where people can drink in safety.

“We are taking the necessary steps to make sure the pub environment is safe for our customers to return,” said Matt, who added that he “couldn’t wait” to be open.
“These include hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system and ample space between tables.”
The restaurant is also taking bookings and the popular takeaway service will continue to run. More details can be found on the pub’s website.

The new outside bar at the Black Boys Hotel is ready to welcome old and new friends this weekend.

Elsewhere, some pubs are operating on a booking system, with customers reserving a table for a two-hour sitting, and others are limiting drinking to outside areas only.
Others have decided to wait and see before making up their minds.

Authorities have urged the public to show restraint, drink responsibly and remember social distancing as emergency services put on extra staff for the weekend.
Norfolk’s Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said: “I completely understand people wanting to take full advantage of pubs and bars reopening.
“However, life is by no means back to normal and venues will be operating in ways we are not used to.”

Help keep live venues alive

One of the area’s leading live-music venues believes that a campaign to raise money for grassroots venues hit by the sudden loss of revenue from gigs is vital for its survival, writes ADAM AIKEN

#saveourvenues, which is being run by the Music Venue Trust, has been backed by a number of high-profile brands and artists, including Dereham rockers Bad Touch, whose latest single has been adopted to help the campaign.

One of their first live gigs was at the Brickmakers and B2 Venue in Sprowston Road, Norwich, and co-owner Charley South said the lockdown had been “financially crippling”.

During normal times, the venue offers live music every night, with more than 100 bands performing each month, but that has all changed during the pandemic.

“With landlords only deferring rent, and no sign of rescue from the government, the future looks bleak,” she said. “Already we owe our landlords £28,000 in rent from March to date, and the debts keep accruing every day.

A special montage put together by the Brickmakers team to call for support for venues such as theirs.

“The Music Venue Trust is working tirelessly to try to secure a rescue package from the government for us and other grassroots venues across the nation. This campaign is vital for our survival. Without it we are just one of many venues that face permanent closure.”

Marshall Amplification – a brand known for the iconic music equipment used by some of the world’s leading artists – has launched a T-shirt as part of its support for the campaign.

The T-shirts which have been designed to boost the #saveourvenues campaign inspired by a song by Norfolk band Bad Touch.

The “I’ve Got the Music in Me” T-shirt is inspired by the new single from festival fixtures Bad Touch. The Dereham band included their cover of the 1974 Kiki Dee hit on their fourth album, Kiss the Sky, which was recently released by Marshall Records to widespread critical acclaim.

Frontman Stevie Westwood said: “What is a band without a venue? We’ve been together a decade now, and over that time we’ve been very fortunate to play in some awesome venues – not just the ones with the big stages or professional sound systems but some that had next-to-nothing and were still electric to play in.”

Bad Touch had already shown their support for #saveourvenues by recording an isolation song, Keep On Smilin’, in support of the campaign.

“Sadly, many of these culturally integral places, both big and small, have now shut their doors for good,” said the singer. “Some have been holding on by the skin of their teeth and with the support of their local gig-going community for years. With the added weight of the lockdown, the pressure for some has proven too much to bear. So when the chance for us to work with the Music Venue Trust came up – an excuse to make a noise, share some love and smiles, and hopefully prevent some more doors from closing – we jumped at the opportunity.”

Charley, who is a musician herself and who played her very first gig at the Brickmakers 30 years ago, said: “Our venue is just one of many around the UK where musicians cut their teeth and hone their craft. Without small venues such as ours, there are no bottom rungs on the ladder. Bands need to have somewhere to start out, to learn, to make mistakes and to improve and then to grow.

“Without these fundamental starting points there will be no future Rolling Stones, Oasis or Ed Sheeran. All those legendary artists started out in grassroots music venues and Ed Sheeran played B2 Venue several times when he was starting out.”