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Rainbows Zoom through lockdown

The 1st Cromer Rainbow unit has embraced the coronavirus lockdown and the girls have earned 142 badges during the first 12 weeks of being at home.

The Rainbows have been working even harder than normal on their new programme badges and working towards their bronze, silver and gold awards.  Whilst guiding face to face meetings have been suspended, the unit has been getting together through online Zoom meetings on a weekly basis.

The girls have participated in a number of activities at home including making recycled plant pots to grow sunflowers, drawing pictures for residents at a care home, taking part in scavenger hunts, learning first aid and about RNLI beach and sea safety, learning to ride bikes, playing traditional fairground games in their gardens with their families and helping with home recycling.

Some of the badges earned by the girls during lockdown.

They also found out more about road safety, enjoyed a virtual camping weekend and built robots and musical instruments, to name but a few. 

Guiding is always looking for new girls to join their units, if your daughter or someone you know might be interested in joining, visit www.girlguiding.org.uk/information-for-parents/register-your-daughter/

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 https://totalracetiming.co.uk/race/212 .

Tany’s leap of faith for RNLI

Tany Backburn, shop manager at Happisburgh RNLI, will be swapping the sea for the sky to raise funds for the station.

Tany had planned to do a skydive in May, but due to the pandemic everything was put on hold. And now that UK Parachuting, at Beccles, has reopened, Tany’s date has been set for July 25.

Tany, 69, has been a volunteer at Happisburgh for more than 20 years helping in the shop, and four years ago she took over as shop manager.

Tany Blackburn

She is hoping to raise as much as possible for the station as it has been a hard year, with the shop being closed.

Tany said: “The butterflies have started but it has happened so quickly, I’m just looking forward to the day.”

If anyone would like to sponsor her, they can follow this link to her Just Giving page.

The station’s open day will be on Sunday, August 2, from noon until 4pm with stalls and events at the Boathouse. Subject to any operational requirements there will also be a display by the lifeboat.

The Bagots are back!

Visitors to Cromer will be glad to know they can enjoy one of the resort’s best-loved “attractions” as the Bagot goats have made their eagerly awaited return.

After a winter using their unique landscaping skills to maintain sensitive areas in places such as Salthouse Heath and Wiveton, the team is back keeping the grass and vegetation cut on the cliff, saving North Norfolk District Council around £15,000 a year in maintenance costs.

They will now spend the next four months on the cliff, working (and eating) hard.

Animal control assistant Mark Frosdick, who takes care of the goats and came up with the idea to employ them, said: “After a long winter of landscaping in and around North Norfolk, it’s great to see the goats back to normality out on Cromer cliffs, where they’ll spend the next couple of months grazing back the vegetation and keeping the slopes under control.”

The goats seem happy to be back at work on the cliff.

The distinctive black and white Bagot is thought to be Britain’s oldest breed of goat. They are hardy and easy to tame and the Cromer herd has proved hugely popular with residents and visitors alike.

This herd first came to Cromer in 2016, when eight goats began the task of keeping the cliff habitat under control. Earlier this year, the herd grew in number, with 15 kids joining the family.

Some of this year’s kids who have joined the maintenance team on Cromer Cliff. Photos: Mark Frosdick

They have their own Goats on a Slope merchandise, which helps to fund their upkeep and make the project self-sustainable. The range is currently on display at the North Norfolk Visitor Centre in Cromer, or through Delilah Bagot’s Facebook page.

Delilah was an orphaned kid who was brought up by Mark and works hard publicising the herd at shows and events as well as enjoying life with his family.

Consulatation starts on wind farm plans

A community consultation has been launched to seek local views on plans to extend two wind farms off the Norfolk coast which would provide power for 1.5 million homes.

Equinor operates two local wind farms, Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, about 12 miles off the coast at Sheringham, and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, 20 miles off the coast at Cromer, which have been part of the community for almost 10 years.

Called the Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects (the “Extension Projects”), these new wind farms will be built adjacent to the existing farms, bringing the total capacity up to 1.44GW – enough renewable energy to power 1.5 million UK homes.

Currently, the combined output of both wind farms is sufficient to power around 750,000 homes.

Cables from the Extension Projects will come ashore at Weybourne, before being installed in a trench heading south towards a new onshore substation near to the existing National Grid Norwich Main Substation.

This first phase of community consultation runs until August 20, and in particular feedback is being sought regarding the location of the site for the onshore substation, the route to be taken by the underground onshore cables and any lessons that can be taken from the earlier construction of both the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore wind farms.

The Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm. A consultation has begun over plans to etend it, along with the nearby Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Photo: Equinor website

Equinor has published a statement of community consultation (SoCC) which sets out how the company will be engaging with the local Norfolk community to ensure that they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop.

To keep the conversation going whilst social distancing remains in place, Equinor has developed a range of options online and via dedicated communications lines to invite community feedback and ensure that all interested parties have access to all the information.

These include:

a consultation website – https://sepanddep.commonplace.is – where interested members of the public are able to provide their comments via an interactive digital engagement platform;

a virtual exhibition – https://event.sepanddep.co.uk – and interactive online space with more information about the projects and the planning and construction processes;

contact with the projects’ community liaison Officer, Nigel Tompkins, who is based in Norfolk and can be emailed at nigel@ni4b.co.uk.

Additionally, more than 9,000 properties within 1km of the proposed onshore cable corridor – from Weybourne to the Norwich main substation, south of Norwich – have been sent a community consultation leaflet and feedback form. The company is also consulting with landowners within the indicative survey area.

“It’s really important to us to hear from the community at this early stage of the project, so that we can consider feedback from the local people as the projects develop”, says Kari Hege Mørk, project manager at Equinor.

“It’s a challenging time to engage as we can’t physically meet in person, but we hope that the materials we have provided, including our virtual exhibition space, will give people enough information to be able to comment on our onshore plans. We’ve also got lots of channels of communication open if people have further queries, and we really encourage anyone who has an interest in the project to have a look.”

On completion of this first phase of community consultation, Equinor will compile and publish a report summarising the feedback received and how this is being considered.

Both Extension Projects are classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order from the secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy.

A second phase of community consultation will be held in Spring 2021, when the company will be presenting its refined plans, inviting comments to its preliminary environmental report (PEIR) and providing additional information what the projects will look like onshore and from the coast.

Equinor intends to submit the Development Consent Order application by the end of 2021.

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 www.redwings.org.uk/rehoming

For further information about Mind, please visit www.mind.org.uk

Everyone ‘pitched’ in to get pupils back to school

Children and parents were so keen to get back to one North Norfolk school that they pitched in to help – literally!  

The result is a marquee on the school playing field, which will be home to Aldborough Primary School’s Year 6 bubble. 

“When we first reopened there was understandable hesitancy from some parents, even though the children were keen to come back,” says Aldborough’s headteacher, Alison Read.  “But once things got settled there was huge interest – not only from the year groups that the government mandated to return (reception, Year 1 and Year 6) but also from the others. 

“Of course, we wanted to accommodate them, but there just wasn’t the room or the resources for an extra ‘bubble’ for another year group.”

What was needed was some thinking outside the box and one of the parents stepped up with the offer of a marquee and some portable toilets.

The parents of Toby, a child in Year 6, organised the marquee from Morton’s hire company, arranging for it to be pitched so that the children could move in this week, leaving their classroom free for Year 5 pupils.

Headteacher Alison Read (left) and Year 6 teacher Jill Morgan with some of the children outside the new marquee classroom.

“It’s meant we’ve been able to get more children into the school, and they are so excited,” said Mrs Read. “Honestly, I felt like Father Christmas when I told the parents and the children they could come back.  One parent literally jumped up and down for joy!”

Because of the pandemic, the children at Aldborough have missed lots of special events including a week away at a PGL activity centre.  To make up for some of those, the marquee will be the centre of a Festival Fortnight, where the educational activities will include lots of forest school experiences such as cooking on open fires, making rope swings, taking part in treasure hunts and film and photographic challenges. 

They can also look forward to a barbecue and a visit from an ice cream van.  The fortnight will culminate in a dramatic and colourful leavers’ assembly, created by the Year 6 children (with the help of their teachers) and filmed so their parents can enjoy the fun, too.

But Year 6 teacher Jill Morgan stressed: “They’ll have to earn their fun!  We’ve just been working on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, so we will be building on that in English and history.  Then there will be some tricky maths investigations, a science project or two…  plus, we’ll be carrying on preparing for High School next year.  The time will fly by!”

And Mrs Read said she hoped the experience would be something which would stay with children in a good way.

“The last half term of primary school is a really special time for Year 6 and coronavirus has spoilt it for children across the UK,” she said.  “I hope that what we’re doing now will be something that these children remember all their lives.  I can’t tell you how grateful we are to Morton’s and to the Friends of Aldborough School, who have funded all the special extras we have needed for the Festival Fortnight.” 

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 keenantullymotorsport@gmail.com or visit his Facebook page.