Temporary mortuary brought into use

The temporary mortuary at the former RAF Coltishall base, at Scottow, is being used for the first time since April.
Originally set up during the first lockdown, the facility was not needed then but is now being used as part of what have been called “business continuity plans”.
Dr Richard Goodwin, of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Our priority is to always ensure that the deceased are treated with respect and dignity, and therefore we work with our partners to ensure every year we can use additional mortuary space, if needed.”
The mortuary has been called in to use partly to help with seasonal pressures and partly to allow the installation of new equipment at the N&N mortuary, which is still in use.
The hospital publishes daily figures on covid-related deaths on its website.
Yesterday it announced the deaths of 13 patients who had tested positive between January 12 and 13.

Some Christmas Eve magic…

Christmas eve is the perfect time to settle down with a story – especially if the little ones are too excited to go to bed…

During the first lockdown, Just Regional reader Robert Smith kept us amused with his father’s tales about the bunnies who live near his Sprowston home.

And this Christmas he has recorded a special tail about the Bobtail family and how the magic of Christmas was revealed.

So grab a mince pie, cuddle up, and enjoy a festive bunny “tail”.

Click on this link and follow the instructions – the story lasts around 30 minutes.!AtJCub4Veq6il2-CxVQCGtcHjx5p

Traffic issues spoil Christmas fun for families

The organisers of the Santa Drive-Thru Grotto event have asked visitors to adjust their routes to the event to avoid the traffic delays which marred the opening night for many families.

Some reported queueing for more than two hours to get into the event, at Taverham Hall, while others simply gave up and turned round to go home, leaving children disappointed and frustrated.

Police were telling drivers to avoid the area and commuters and residents were also unhappy that they were unable to get home.

The combination of the grotto and the Wensum Wonderland at the nearby Wensum Valley Hotel meant hundreds of people were heading to the area, causing jams and confusion.

Now grotto organisers are asking all their patrons to attend via Sandy Lane, entering via the hall’s St Edmunds Church entrance

Ollie George, who is producing the Santa’s Drive-Thru Grotto for We Make Events, said: “A lot is happening in Taverham in the run-up to Christmas and we are delighted so many people are visiting. Equally we want to avoid traffic issues and so we are asking everyone who visits from Saturday, December 19, onwards to take our preferred route.

“This will help speed up entry to the attraction and ensure you can enjoy the festive drive-thru experience with minimal delay while also easing traffic flows around the area.”

The attraction had mixed reviews on social media including those who were angry and frustrated that they were unable to meet Santa and see the illuminations because of the traffic, and some who were not impressed with the attraction as a whole.

It’s not the end, say Friends of Holt Hall

The Friends of Holt Hall have expressed their disappointment in the decision to close and sell centre, which has been enjoyed for more than 70 years but say the fight to save it is far from over.

At its meeting on December 7, Norfolk County Council Cabinet made the decision FOHH had been dreading, ceasing its activities with immediate effect and putting the hall and its 75 acres of outdoor space and woodland up for sale.

But the group, which has campaigned to keep Holt Hall open, says it is not the end of the road and is looking into the possibility that the hall could become an Asset of Community Value when it does go on the market.

Trustee and treasurer Nic Hopkins said: “To say we are disappointed is an understatement, but this is not the time to list these emotions. It is time to explain why we think it is not the end.”

Holt Hall is to be closed and sold, but campaigners hope they might be able to buy it and continue its activities.

In a statement, FOHH says it is cheered by the supportive letters and the number of people signing its petition at – 5,800 have signed so far and are still signing after the council’s decision.

“It is a massive demonstration to show people see the public interest in Saving Holt Hall,” said Nic. “This is not just sentimentality. It is about values. You never know, events might even lead to a change of policy in the administration at County Hall, and public opinion may prove to be a powerful influence on county councillors.”

In October, the council announced it was no longer able to afford the facility, saying it would rather enable outdoor learning than provide it. And this month it was decided to close it completely.

Fearing the worst, the Friends have applied to North Norfolk District Council to have it made an asset of community value, meaning that they could bid for it themselves.

Greg Peck, cabinet member for property, urged them to “honestly appraise their business case and to really consider the viability of operating the site as an outdoor education facility” and Nic said the Friends would be heeding this advice.

“We shall take his advice and further develop a robust business plan, but we are going to do this in consultation with the individuals and organisations who have expressed interest already in partnership ways to take forward an alternative future for Outdoor Learning at Holt Hall.

“We are doing our homework, researching and talking, listening and planning, with possible partners, other Outdoor Learning centres of expertise, users and private individuals and, we hope, Norfolk County Council.”

The decision on the ACV should be made in January and the Friends are hopeful of a positive outcome.

Norfolk Police launch Christmas drink/drug drive campaign

Members of the public are being urged to consider the #IMPACT of driving under the influence of drink or drugs as Norfolk Police launch their Christmas campaign.

The month-long initiative launches today, Tuesday 1 December and continues until Friday 1 January, in conjunction with a UK-wide operation led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It will see officers carrying-out roadside checks throughout the day and night, including early morning checks, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.

The aim, to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers and also to protect other road users from the harm caused by those drink or drug driving. As we continue to reiterate, driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is one of the ‘Fatal 4’ offences, which makes you more likely to be involved in either a serious or fatal collision.

During last year’s campaign, in Norfolk 613 breath tests were carried out with 95 drivers providing positive readings (74 men/21 women). Of the 100 drug tests conducted, 82 drivers failed (78 men/four women). In addition, 15 people failed to provide a specimen and 22 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

Whilst we continue to detect and prosecute these offences throughout the year during ‘business as usual’, recent research published by Drinkaware shows that some people have significantly increased their alcohol consumption at home during the lockdown. Our message this year, is therefore to remind those celebrating at home, that no matter what the setting, drink driving will not be tolerated and those who get behind the wheel and put themselves and others at risk will face the full force of the law.

This year we will be teaming up with the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of the #IMPACT that driving under the influence of drink or drugs can have.

The #IMPACT campaign is a joint initiative, launched by the PCC in 2016, which delivers hard-hitting road safety messages to young and future drivers in an attempt to deter them from putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk. Visiting colleges and sixth forms around Norfolk, #IMPACT gives students an insight into what it is like to be involved in a car crash and what is involved for our emergency services in trying to free someone from a vehicle.

As part of the Christmas Drink Drive Campaign, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service are staging three mock ‘crashed car’ scenes along roads near its fire stations in King’s Lynn, Thetford and Sprowston, in Norwich. The aim is to have a wider reaching #IMPACT on motorists who will be driving past. The project will also carry the Fatal4 messaging and the scenes will be created next week and left there for a month to highlight the problem throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday.

Members of the public are also being encouraged to provide information about potential offenders to help officers identify who they are, so they can take appropriate action and prevent such collisions occuring.

Specific time slots have once again been reserved at Norwich Magistrates Courts for every Wednesday of the month to deal with those caught drink-driving. This effectively means that offenders could lose their driving licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

Temporary Chief Inspector Jon Chapman, Head of the Joint Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “This has been a very difficult and challenging year for everyone, with little opportunity to get together with loved ones or celebrate special occasions. With that in mind, we are more than aware that many people will be desperate for some respite over the Christmas period and the chance to share a drink with friends and family – wherever the Covid-19 regulations allow.

“We want people to be able to enjoy themselves, but to do so sensibly and without risking the lives of others. There is no room for people to think that just because it’s Christmas, or that 2020 has been a year to forget, that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs is any more acceptable than it would usually be.

“Our message is consistent – it is not acceptable any year, or at any time of the year – drink and drug driving kills and we urge friends and relatives not to tolerate or condone their loved ones taking this unnecessary risk.

“It is also worth remembering that every year we often catch people driving over the limit the morning after a night of drinking. You need time for the effects of alcohol to wear off, so the advice to anyone who has to drive early the next morning is not to drink at all.

“Please don’t gamble with peoples’ lives for the sake of a drink and do not let anyone you know do so either – the same applies if you know someone has used drugs. The chances of being caught, put in a police cell and losing your driving licence and your job is high, as is the risk of destroying a life and causing death or serious injury – it is just not worth it.”

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: “Our fire crews and road safety team see all too often the devastating impact of drink and drug driving, as well as the other Fatal 4 factors of speed, using mobile phones and not wearing a seatbelt.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Scott Norman said: “We hope these mock scenes will get motorists thinking twice before they get behind the wheel this winter. Drink and drug driving can affect not only those involved in an accident, but their families, friends and whole communities. Although we see the aftermath of collisions every day, the scenes still have a real and lasting effect on us all, and many of the accidents are entirely avoidable.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: “Since its launch four years ago, #IMPACT has targeted young and future drivers specifically, but its hard-hitting and massively important messages – about the responsibility we accept when we get behind the steering wheel, and the potential consequences when we don’t take that responsibility seriously – are a useful reminder for us all as we head out of lockdown and into the Christmas period.

“As more of us return to the roads over the coming days and weeks, please heed this warning from our police and fire & rescue services about the potential #IMPACT of your actions. I urge you to think about other road users, think about our emergency services but ultimately remember the life you save may even be your own.”

Anyone with information about suspected drink or drug driving should contact Norfolk Police on 101.

Norfolk joins the quest for a vaccine

Hospital staff, scientists and residents in Norfolk have joined the quest to find an effective covid-19 vaccine by taking part in a new clinical trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The NHS is playing a leading role in developing a vaccine for covid-19 and the N&N has a key role in delivering a new vaccine clinical trial with support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Hundreds of participants – volunteers from the hospital, across Norwich Research Park and the local community – have joined the research study at the N&N-run Clinical Research Facility at the Quadram Institute.

It comes after 15,000 UK volunteers were invited to join a new phase three covid-19 vaccine clinical trial. The Novavax vaccine trial is a randomised controlled trial where half of the participants will receive two shots of the vaccine and the other half will receive two shots of a placebo.

The whole of the hospital’s research department – up to 50 staff, including research nurses, practitioners and administrators – have been diverted to work on covid-19 studies, including the vaccine trial, whilst continuing to run their own research portfolios.

The covid-19 vaccination research team

Sam Higginson, N&N chief executive, is one of the 500 from the site to take part in the vaccine trial.

He said: “I’m thrilled that we are playing our part in this vitally important research, which will hopefully lead to a successful covid-19 vaccine in the future. I had no hesitation in putting my name forward to take part in this Phase 3 trial, which is testing the effectiveness of the vaccine. The team has received a lot of interest from potential participants and it is great to hear that so many staff and colleagues from Norwich Research Park want to take part in this study. Congratulations to the research team for their hard work on this.”

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, said: “Norwich Research Park has a unique mix of four world-leading research institutes, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and University of East Anglia on the same campus. It means that, through the power of collaboration, issues critical to the health of the nation and beyond can be tackled here in a unique way. The covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the biggest crisis the UK has had to deal with in a lifetime and it’s fantastic that colleagues at the Quadram Institute have joined forces with those at the hospital to actively work together on this, and that so many colleagues from across our Park have volunteered to participate in the trial.”

To find out more about taking part in covid-19 vaccine research click here , or to register your interest in joining future trials, click here.

Immy’s special birthday

Here’s a riddle for you. On Sunday, Immy Roe will celebrate a very special birthday – her first. But her twin sister Charlotte won’t have a birthday – and she’s 10. How?

This mathematical impossibility is because Immy’s “birthday” is a celebration of the stem cell transplant she had after being diagnosed with leukaemia – a date officially set as her second birthday.

“There were times we weren’t sure she would make it this far, so this is definitely an important milestone to recognise,” said her mum, Anna Dagless. “Strange to think Immy is celebrating her ‘first’ birthday – something her identical twin won’t be sharing! Nor something her genetic twin on the other side of the world will even be aware of.

“They call your transplant day your second birthday as it is the day your immune system/marrow is reborn. Immy thinks she is the queen!”

November also marked Immy’s return to class at Drayton Junior School after 16 months. She is still isolating so her return was via a robot which allowed her to catch up with all her schoolmates once more.

“She was ecstatic to see her classmates! She has missed them so much,” said Anna. “Immy-robot sat on twinny’s desk and they are even taking ‘her’ to lunch on Friday! This has done wonders for her mental health after so long in isolation.”

Today the Thorpe Marriott youngster is off to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment to battle a dose of shingles, but Anna said she was very much looking forward to Christmas

“It’s been a real rollercoaster ride of a year for us, without the added covid complication,” she said. “Immy has been shielding since last November and we haven’t had a visitor in our house since then. We came out of eight months of isolating in hospital straight into lockdown!”

To send Immy birthday wishes, visit her Facebook page Gocrackersforimmy

During Immy’s journey to find a donor, the family discovered that Immy and Charlotte weren’t just twins – they were identical. “Her sister was going to be her donor, but when it was discovered they were identical, it was no longer possible,” said Anna.

Stem cells are taken from umbilical cords and out of a database of more than 10 million donor registers worldwide, only one was a match for Immy.

“Immy found a match in a cord from America, frozen nine years ago, from a healthy baby girl, coincidentally the same age as Immy,” said Anna. “So Imogen has an identical twin AND a genetic twin, halfway across the world, that knows nothing about her. Does that make them all triplets? And all with different birthdays!

“Unfortunately we cannot access any more details, so we can never express our gratitude for saving Immy’s life.”

Let’s light up Drayton!

People in Drayton are being asked to spread some festive sparkle on December 1 by turning on their Christmas lights at the same time.

The parish council has put up lights in the Florence Carter play area this year, but because of covid-restrictions there cannot be a switch-on event as usual. So, instead, everyone has been asked to turn their lights on at 4pm in a simultaneous illumination.

Council chairman Graham Everett said: “We hope that these lights will bring a little cheer to Drayton parishioners at the end of what has been a difficult year.”