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Bernard Matthews staff tested for covid-19

Precautionary testing for covid-19 is under way at the Bernard Matthews site in Great Witchingham after several members of staff tested positive for the virus.

The testing of approximately 1,000 staff at the site has begun and will continue into early next week.

There have been a number of cases among staff at the site, although at this point there is not evidence to suggest transmission of the virus there. It is anticipated that this measure will identify if there are any asymptomatic staff who are currently showing no signs.

Following government guidance, any staff member who tests positive will be advised to self-isolate, along with their households. Norfolk’s Outbreak Management Team and partners are working closely with Bernard Matthews to take measures to reduce transmission in order to protect both staff and the public.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our top priority is to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which will help to protect the staff at Bernard Matthews and the public.  This testing is a sensible, precautionary measure that will help us understand who at the site has covid-19 and who else they may have been in contact with.

“While there is currently no evidence to suggest widespread transmission at the Great Witchingham site, we know that testing can help to understand and contain the spread of the virus. We would remind everyone across Norfolk, to continue to act responsibly, respect the Rule of Six and follow the government’s guidance. We must all continue to wash our hands, wear face coverings when required to and observe social distancing – hands, face and space – to have the best chance of keeping the virus under control.”

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: “We can confirm a small number of positive cases at our site at Great Witchingham. These colleagues and their contacts are now self-isolating at home, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor the situation. There is no evidence these transmissions occurred in the factory. Food production and safety remain unaffected.”

Rebecca Hams, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England East, said: “Testing and tracing is one of the key steps in identifying and containing the spread of covid-19 and staff at the factory are being tested as a precautionary measure. Mass testing in this way will help to protect staff and the community, by allowing us to identify people who are carrying the virus but who may not have developed symptoms.”

Have you seen missing Taylor?

It’s coming up for two years since Taylor the cat went missing from his Cringleford home but his owner has not given up hope that he might be found safe and well.

Taylor has been missing for two years.

Black with a white line of fur around his neck, Taylor disappeared in November 2018 and there is a reward for his safe return although the family would like to hear even if the news isn’t good.

Call 07490689051 or email mjw201358@gmail.com with any information about Taylor.

Woman fined £10,000 after covid protest in city centre

A woman involved in an illegal gathering in Norwich on Thursday has been given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.

It follows a gathering on the Haymarket which started just after midday and involved more than 80 people protesting against the covid-19 prevention restrictions.

The 37-year-old, from the Norwich area, was arrested at the scene after refusing to provide her details to police. She was taken into custody at Wymondham and following enquiries later issued with the fixed penalty notice for contravening the ban on being involved in holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

In addition, a 25-year-old man from the Norwich area arrested at the scene on suspicion of common assault after allegedly coughing at a woman, has since been charged with the offence. He has been released on bail to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Monday, November 23.

Three other people at the gathering were reported for the offence of organising or facilitating a gathering of more than 30 people, in breach of the Health Protection Regulations.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks, who has been leading the local police response to coronavirus, said: “As a police force, we fully appreciate how difficult the past six months have been for the county and I am pleased that the vast of majority of people have played and continue to play their part, following the guidance and legislation helping to protect Norfolk and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“However, the infection rate is now rising rapidly across the country and while in Norfolk it is not increasing as significantly as other areas, we must carry on working together to keep everyone safe. Our focus will remain on our use of the 4Es – engaging, explaining, encouraging and then enforcing when required.

“The gathering yesterday was in breach of the Health Protection Regulations and we took action to disperse the group including making two arrests. We will all have a role to play in keeping our county safe going forward and we won’t hesitate to take action if needed.

“We police by consent and we need people and businesses to work with us on this. Our approach will remain the same: engaging with people first, explaining the guidance and law and encouraging people to do the right thing. However, we will not sit back and allow people to deliberately break the law. Where we are left with no choice but to enforce, we will do so to protect our communities.

“If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to us and we will consider the most appropriate response, targeting repeat and high-risk behaviour.  We all have a personal responsibility to reduce the spread of coronavirus and ensure that police enforcement is used only as a last resort.  Reports should be made through our online reporting wherever possible.”

Christmas IS coming to the theatre

Norwich Theatre has announced a special season of festive shows for 2020, a Right Royal Christmas, which will see the Theatre Royal temporarily re-open to audiences during December.

The season will include three shows, Panto in a Pickle!, A Circus Carol and She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends, which will alternate.

After 19 years at the centre of Theatre Royal Christmases delighting family audiences, Norwich’s favourite pantomime Dame, Richard Gauntlett, will return once more and star in a brand new show for the whole family that captures lots of the traditional panto fun in a madcap adventure through six of your favourite stories, Panto in a Pickle.

Ricahrd Gauntlett is all set for Panto in a Pickle! Picture: Max Hilton.

Richard said: “The postponement of ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ this year was a huge disappointment for all involved and this opportunity to fill the ‘Panto-void’ with a new twist is an exciting and unexpected pleasure.  Be prepared for pantomime but not as we know it. And it does mean that I can do my Christmas shopping in Norwich!”

Following its sell-out success at Norwich Playhouse at Christmas 2019, Norwich Theatre’s critically acclaimed co-production with Lost in Translation Circus, A Circus Carol, will also be remounted specially for the Theatre Royal stage.

Lost in Translation Circus will be performing in A Christmas Carol. Picture: Max Hilton

Circus director Massimiliano Rossetti said: “The amazing opportunity to partner with Norwich Theatre to bring Interlude to life has been a great success. 

“The opportunity to perform in front of live audiences was a dream and I’m very honoured that we will have the opportunity to perform again – this time on the beautiful stage of the Theatre Royal with our co-production of ‘A Circus Carol’

“I’m very excited to be performing at Christmas, sharing smiles, amazement, joy and laughter with audiences during the festive season.”

Completing the season will be another new show from much-loved Norfolk comedian Karl Minns, with the return of one of his favourite Nimmo Twins comedy creations, She Go, alongside some other local characters.  She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends will be a festive look back at what a year 2020 has been here in our fair county of Norfolk.

Karl Minns favourite She Go will be looking back from under her Christmas tree. Picture: Max Hilton

Karl said: “Having performed at Interlude in the summer, I’m thrilled and privileged to have the chance to play in front of a Norfolk audience again. It’s even more exciting to be playing at the Theatre Royal.

“We’ve all missed being inside theatres and this is a huge honour and a big step forward in reclaiming our beloved spaces.  It’s been a tough year for everyone, so to end the year and go into Christmas with some joy and laughter is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “Christmas is such a special and important time in the life of a theatre and I believe our audiences, for many of whom a festive trip to the theatre is a long-standing tradition, need a Christmas treat more than ever before this year.”

Whilst the full-scale re-opening of Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two will not be possible until social-distancing measures are further relaxed, this short season will be planned with current guidance in mind and both the shows and the covid-secure modifications to the Theatre Royal building have been made possible through grants and donations.

Tickets will go on sale from September 24.

Panto in a Pickle runs from December 16 to 24. Tickets are £10 to £13.50 or a family ticket is £50. 60 mins (no interval). Age 3+

A Circus Carol runs from December 16 to 23. Tickets are £10 to £17.50. Family ticket is £65. 70 mins (no interval). Age 10+

She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends runs from December 16 to 23 with tickets costing from £10 to £21.50. 80 minutes (no interval). Age 16+

Go Wild at summer festival

With the summer’s music events almost all cancelled, postponed or held online, there is a bit of good news for fans of live music.
Wild Fields will be bringing top talent, tasty food and the festival vibe to the Norfolk Showground in September, giving musicians a chance to shine.
Set for September 12 and 13, the festival claimes to be the perfect antidote to lockdown, with two days of live performance, the best DJs, good food and pop-up bars.
The weekend will be part of the Summertime Social season of socially distanced and socially responsible events where people can enjoy live performance and a festival vibe once more.

There are lots of events to come at Summertime Social and tickets are still available. They are mostly family friendly sessions and include some fabulous local names as well as internationally-renowned artists.

Day one of Wild Fields will feature a strong indie line-up with a dash of folk, rock, and some alternative pop.
The line-up includes Gengahr, the experimental North London alt-pop four-piece, Another Sky and the Colchester-based teen punk rock band Anorak Patch.
The day two line up will feature a new wave jazzy feel, “mixed with some neo-soul, feelgood folk and alternative ambient electronica”. The performers include some of the leading lights from London’s jazz community who have joined forces to form Kokoroko which mixes jazz vibes with an Afrobeat feel.

Also performing will be producer, composer and keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones, who merges jazz, dub, hip hop, funk and soul, and the soulful Jordan Mackampa who wows audiences with his rich vocals and enlightened song-writing.
The line-up will also feature some top East Anglian musical talent too including Norwich-based Nebula Sun, who blend West African music, jazz, soul and hip hop, and Norwich soul singer Maya Law.
Benjamin Street, of Wild Paths, said the event aims to make everyone smile post-pandemic.
He said: “2020 has been tough so far and we felt it was definitely time for some festival fun. We wanted to reclaim the end of summer and bring a weekend of live music and street food that everyone has been longing for since lockdown.”


The festival is the latest addition to the Summertime Social programme which will also feature the rescheduled Symphonic Ibiza event on September 5. Originally due to happen in mid-August and cancelled due to high winds, it will feature Sonique, Brandon Block and Alex P, and celebrate the greatest ever Ibiza tunes.

Other events as part of the month of concerts, plays and comedy include Common People: Outside, on September 4. and the Rainbow Party with Norwich Pride on Saturday, September 5 which will follow on from Symphonic Ibiza.

There are also gigs from Fabio and Grooverider, the Red Card Comedy Club and Judge Jules over the next few days.
Click here for tickets and more information about upcoming events

Weather disrupts summer shows

The wild weather over the last few days has meant a family event at the Summertime Social season at the Norfolk Showground has had to be cancelled.

Summertime Playdays, which includes a performance of Alice In Wonderland, was due to happen tomorrow (Thursday, August 27).

Co-promoter Andrew Bunn said: “We are heartbroken to let you know we have had to take the decision to cancel it due to severe weather and the high likelihood of continued high winds in the area.

“Conditions are not suitable to get the site and production ready, and the safety of attendees, performers and crew has to come first. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we will refund all tickets for it.”

The WAW Wrestling Experience, also scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until Thursday, September 10. All tickets purchased for it will be redeemable for the new date. The experience will feature a live wrestling show featuring Britain’s first family of wrestling, the Knights, who are based in Norwich, and will be followed by a screening of the movie Fighting For My Family which is based on their life-story.

Jump through hoops for fun!

Fancy something different to do that’s fun and keeps you fit in the fresh air?

What about learning to use a hula hoop….?

Performer Rebecca Ruby Flames will be holding hoop workshops this month starting tomorrow (August 7) on the green outside the Willow Centre in Cringleford.

There will be a children’s class from 11am to 11.30am and then a session for adult beginners after that until 12.30pm.

Social distancing will be maintained and classes cost £5.

A qualified primary school teacher, Ruby Flames is a freelance performer who performs with hoops (and on stilts) at carnivals, parties, weddings and parades and has some amazing outfits and skills.

She also uses fire, LED, angle grinding and other effects in her act – although not in her workshops!

She said: “Hooping is a great way to stay fit, gain core strength, increase co-ordination ability… It clears your mind and creates focus, it encourages determination and you must be disciplined to practise regularly. You can take your hoop with your wherever you go, the park, the beach, your garden, camping, on holiday.”

Email rebeccarubyflames@gmail.com for more details

Christmas treat will help ease disappointment

One of Europe’s most popular seasonal shows has been postponed – but while Christmas won’t be Christmas without it, the magic of the season will still be recreated to thrill visitors.

Continued uncertainty around live performances, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been postponed until 2021.

The Spectacular has entertained more than six million visitors of all ages from across the globe since opening its first Christmas Eve performance more than 40 years ago, becoming one of Europe’s biggest seasonal shows. The award-winning production, which would normally run from early November, employs around 360 dancers, singers, musicians, variety acts, technicians, wardrobe teams, ushers, caterers and production staff each year – and lots of work has already been put into this year’s event.

John Cushing, CEO, founder, producer and director, said: “This has been a heart-breaking time for me and my team at Thursford as it has been for so many. We have watched and waited, hoping for news and direction as to the implications for mass gatherings and live performances, which, in these uncertain times, remain unclarified at this time.

“We have spent the last few months working tirelessly towards the Christmas Spectacular show, hoping to continue our normal year’s schedule through to the autumn. However, following many hours discussing ways to achieve this, considering restrictions and safety measures, and with the concern for due care of our audience, cast and production team always being foremost in our minds, we felt that our only option was to postpone the show for this year.”

But while the Spectacular may be on pause, an enchanting new festive celebration will light up Thursford as an alternative Christmas treat.

Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be a magical walk-through experience for all ages running from November 19 until January 3. An all-new indoor Wonderland Trail: a maze of steam engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays, will lead to a four-acre Lantern Light Extravaganza: a beautiful, breath-taking outdoor installation of luminous sculptures, from a fantasy forest of jungle animals to the wilds of the North Pole.

Mr Cushing added: “Whilst we allow the cancellation of the Christmas Spectacular this year to sink in, we are delighted to welcome in the Enchanted Journey of Light as a magical festive alternative. The beautiful collection of lanterns will light up Thursford and brighten our hearts. We hope that visitors from far and wide will come and walk the Wonderland Trail with us and, in doing so, continue to support the local community, hotels, B&Bs, rental properties and hospitality venues throughout Norfolk.

“Christmas is a special time of hope, joy, sharing and caring, and after a year filled with uncertainty and loss it is more important than ever that we celebrate all that we are thankful for. We look forward to seeing Christmas Spectacular audiences return in 2021 and hope that many will also visit our Enchanted Journey of Light this year.”

Ticket holders for the 2020 Spectacular will be contacted by the bookings and reservations team or their point of purchase by mid-August 2020, offering the option of an automatic seat transfer to a new date in 2021 or to arrange refund.

Tickets for Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be £15 each (free for children under three), with time slots allocated from 3pm daily via the Thursford Box Office – www.thursford.com or 01328 878477.