Can you walk like a Jedi?

A Jedi Walk at Eaton Park must be up there with the best ways to spend a Sunday for many boys and girls. It certainly would have been for Finnbar Cork!
The fundraising event will take place on Sunday, May 21 and is being organised by Finnbar’s mum and dad, Tristan and Claire, to raise awareness and hopefully a bit of money for the charity they have set up in his memory.
Sadly, Finnbar died, aged five, last August – less than 10 months after the first symptoms of what was ultimately diagnosed as a terminal brain tumour.
His family are determined to do everything they can to do something good in Finnbar’s name and memory.
“Finnbar loved Star Wars,” explained Tristan. “From about the age of three he liked nothing more than dressing up in his Stormtrooper and Darth Vader outfits.
“By the time Force Awakens came out he was so excited. We took him to the cinema to see it in November 2015, which was when he first started getting dizzy spells.
“That Christmas, all he wanted was Star Wars stuff. We must have watched Force Awakens 100 times when it came out on DVD – it was a big part of our last few months with him.
“We were looking for a name for the charity, and we knew that we wanted to do some Star Wars themed events, and the idea for Finnbar’s Force popped up.
“We hope that we can use his force to make things better for other families that find themselves going through similar, heartbreaking situations, and ultimately to bring about an end to childhood brain tumours.”
Since Finnbar passed away the family has received more than £12,000 in donations, and Tristan and Claire have put a lot of thought into what Finnbar would have liked when coming up with ideas for events.
Even his funeral was Star Wars themed, with his dad and other family members flying him into the church in a special X-Wing coffin to the Star Wars music.
“We want to create fun events for children in return for donations and think the Jedi Walk at Eaton Park will really ignite the kids’ imaginations,” said Tristan, who grew up close to the park and, despite now living in Hethersett, also spent a lot of time there with Finnbar.
“We have such a connection with the park; I spent a lot of my childhood there, it was the last place Finnbar rode his scooter, and I think it’s the best park in Norwich.”
Everyone is invited to come along anytime between 10.30am-1.30pm and complete the hunt for Star Wars characters. Don’t forget to dress up and bring a picnic (and your lightsaber). The start point is opposite the children’s play area and the suggested donation is £2/3 per child/adult.
The family are holding various activities throughout the year, including a family activity day at Eaton Vale on September 10.
For full details visit the charity Facebook page

Finnbar enjoying the play equipment at Eaton Park.

Finnbar Cork with mum and dad, Claire and Tristan, and his sister, Nell.

Finnbar in his Darth Vader costume.

Reunion: CNS class of ‘79

The 1970s are back… at least for the CNS class of 1979, with former Eaton CNS students heading back from half-way across the world for a reunion on May 28.
Who remembers the ‘S’ year production of Oliver, lunch in the Barn, making the Jubilee mosaic or Mr Wilkinson’s purple crimplene trousers?
The Class of ’79 and those who carried on into sixth form, leaving in 1980 or 81, will gather at the Unthank Arms and the organisers are keen to spread the word to anyone from their year.
The reunion has been organised by former students, brought together by Donna Jayne Leverett, who now lives in Australia but set up a Facebook group last year. “I come back to Norwich regularly, and I’m still best friends with people from my class at CNS,” said Donna. “Many have stayed in Norwich, but others have gone as far afield as Dubai, Canada and The States.
“Catching up has been quite surprising at times, but we’ve all found we have more in common than we expected.”
Nick South, from Norwich, is one of the people helping to organise the night and will be running the disco, replete with hits from the days when many attendees had a little more hair and a little less waistline. “We’ll be meeting at the Unthank Arms from around 6pm onwards and everyone’s welcome – including families and children,” said Nick.
“It’s been a long time and not everyone from our year photo is still with us, so we want to make the most of meeting up now. We can guarantee we’re a friendly group and we’d love to see everyone!”
Anyone who’d like to find out more is welcome to check out the Facebook group: CNS – the Class of ’79. Tickets for the evening are £18.50, which includes a barbecue and disco.
For PayPal payment details, please email and Andy Langran will send you the paying details. For those without PayPal, please email Andy or Nick South ( directly, and chat through other means of payment.

Organiser Kathy Fricker (nee Potter) middle row, third from left, Gordon Chambers top row, third from left, will be coming over from Canada and several others in this photo are planning on attending the reunion.

Front row, fourth from left is Donna Jayne Leverett, with Dawn Coleman (nee Metcalf) to her left, who are responsible for coming up with the idea of a reunion. Jayne Boyden (nee Middleton) is on Donna’s right, Andy Langran (back row, third from right) although living in Wales, is another major organiser for the reunion, just in front of him is Radhika Holstrom, who has been helping with organising, and to the right of her is Nick South, who will be the DJ on the night. Centre of the middle row is Jenny Bartlett, who is currently living in Dubai but will hopefully attend the reunion.

GET-TOGETHER: A group of former CNS students are organising a reunion, (left to right) Rebecca Calcutt-Saunders (nee Bartram), Nick South, Kathy Fricker (nee Potter), Donna Jayne Leverett, Debbie Calver (nee Heyhoe), Jayne Boyden (nee Middleton) and Les Rix.

REVIEW: Running Wild is ‘a feast for eyes, ears and emotions’

The Children’s Touring Partnership took to the stage in Norwich last night with Running Wild, an adaption by Samuel Adamson of the Michael Morpurgo book of the same name.
This was a feast for the eyes, ears and emotions. Laughter, sadness and at times fear are felt through the scary rainforest adventure of of nine-year-old Lilly. The story has a serious message of both animal conservation and relationships and love, between humans and animals – elephant Oona, who is puppeteered by four people,  orangutans, a tiger, a crocodile and rainforest birds.
The audience is totally immersed into the sights and sounds of the Indonesian rainforest. The clever set design and lighting along with the sound effects add to the experience. The physical theatre skills of all the puppeteers was pure genius. You literally watch them breathe life into the puppets… they actually come to life before your eyes. I became so invested that I no longer saw the puppeteers.

The movements, motion and animal sounds are created by the cast and you just know that they must have spent hours watching and researching real animals in order to recreate and mimic.

A special mention must go to 12-year-old Annika Whiston, who played the lead role of Lilly and rarely left the stage. She portrayed the role beautifully and with great maturity. Every emotion and relationship she had I felt, bringing me to tears, more than once, much to my own daughter’s horror.

Morpurgo was inspired to write this modern-day Jungle Book by the real-life story of Amber Owen, who was on holiday in Phuket with her mother and stepfather in 2004, and enjoying an elephant ride on the beach when the Boxing Day tsunami hit.  The elephant ran inland and saved her life. When the author read of Amber’s story, he said it was “the one bit of hope amid the destruction”.

The production will be working during the tour to support the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

There has been great take up by schools with a number of performances throughout the day times but it is most definitely not just for children.
There are still tickets available, if you have not seen it then I urge you to make the time. I promise you will not be disappointed. It will make you laugh and possible cry but most of all it will make you think.

A must-see piece of theatre.


Running Wild is on until April 29. Wed, Fri and Sat 7.30pm, Wed & Sat 2.30pm, Thur 11am. Tickets £7-£21.  BOX OFFICE 01603 630000.








Pictures: Dan Tsantilis

Cringleford tenor Ben is in harmony with busker star Hayley

Singer Ben Lake has played God – but he is now teamed up with a street soprano in a divine duo.
The 38-year-old tenor from Cringleford has graced the stages of London’s West End, and sung at major sporting events and concerts around the world.
But for the past year he has also been working with Hayley Moss, whose vocal talents were spotted as she busked on the streets of Norwich and launched her on an amazing journey – singing in front of 27,000 people at Norwich City football matches, then on prime time TV at the London Palladium.
Ben’s link-up with 31-year-old Hayley from Woodbastwick came about through an agent and the pair hit it off immediately.
“We just clicked as a duo,” said Ben. “I have worked with lots of people but we struck up a realty good relationship – something really natural. We are in synch.”
Ben’s duetting with Hayley is just part of his mix of work – which ranges from concert and corporate gigs to singing telegrams and busking in the streets of Norwich.
He also has a range of cabaret acts singing music based on blues, Bond and Broadway – and even finds time to run a stage school, Bliss, based at Cringleford’s Willow Centre with partner Abi. The pair have lived in Cringleford for eight years, with children Lottie, six, who goes to Eaton primary and Ted, nine, who is home educated.
“I love the variety of it” said Ben who was also seen by millions of TV viewers in a series of the TV talent show The Voice.
“The busking with Hayley is great. We love the feedback, try out new songs, and get a lot of work from it too,” he explained. The pair are often found on Thursday and Friday near the Jarrold store.
Ben studied at Trinity College of Music in his native London and in 1999 immediately got a big break singing “On with the Motley” from Pagliacci on ITV prime time show My Kind of Music hosted by Michael Barrymore.
He was spotted by the producer of the international Spirit of the Dance show and whisked off to open a new show in Reno Nevada. Ben has also sung at sporting events in the United States and Europe including the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham.
His stage roles have included playing God in Jerry Springer the Opera, where he won a Best West End Newcomer of the Year award. Ben also spent a year playing Piangi in the Phantom of the Opera.
He and Hayley have recorded an album together, Duets, featuring , April 1 at 7.30pm. For tickets and more information contact the box office on 01263 822347, or
For more information about Ben visit
See his audition for The Voice – and Jessie J call his voice “amazing” – at

Ben Lake and Hayley Moss
PICTURE: Richard Batson

Your old TV could help save a life

Norwich City Council and the British Heart Foundation are giving people another chance to recycle their small and medium-sized unwanted electrical and electronic items this Saturday (January 28), and in doing so help support people with heart disease.

Their last event was a huge success with the British Heart Foundation totting up items to the value of £6,300 – enough to pay for six defibrillators.

Don’t bin it, bring it will take place at the St Paul’s Church, Tuckswood, Norwich, NR4 6BH. People are invited to bring along their small and medium-sized electrical items (working or non-working) between 8am and 1pm.

Items such as toasters, hairdryers, mobile phones, TVs, games consoles and kettles will all be gratefully received. Commercial waste and larger items, such as fridges or ovens will not be accepted.

The British Heart Foundation will be at the event collecting items which are suitable for re-use and eventual resale from their local Norwich store. The money made from selling your old TV could be used to help fund research into heart disease, or teach children about the importance of exercise.

Norwich City Council will be recycling all items which are not suitable for re-use. Recycling makes the most out of the valuable metals in electrical equipment as well as keeping it out of landfill where it gives off harmful gases.
Computers will be accepted at the event but they will be dealt with exclusively by the British Heart Foundation which will ensure data is cleared before resale. Norwich City Council can take no responsibility for donation of computers.

To find out more about recycling go to

Ofsted joy for CNS

Following an Ofsted inspection in October 2016, the City of Norwich School, An Ormiston Academy (CNS) has announced the findings of the first Ofsted report since its conversion to an academy.

The overall grading of the Academy is ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ judgements in Leadership and Management, and Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare. The academy’s popular and successful sixth form is also graded ‘Good’.

The Academy was last inspected in 2013, when it was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’, and therefore the latest inspection marks a key milestone in the academy’s development.

The report highlighted many of the strengths at CNS including:

“Leaders work tirelessly towards fulfilling the motto of ‘excellence in all.’”

“Effective teaching has a positive impact on learning and pupils make strong progress in a wide range of subjects as a result.”

“Pupils feel safe and are well looked after in the school.”

“Pupils look after the school site very well and are unfailingly polite and courteous to adults and each other.”

“From their different starting points, all the differing ability groups in the school make strong progress. The most able pupils consistently make the greatest progress.”

“The progress of students currently in the sixth form is accelerating and they are making good progress in a wide range of subject areas. Disadvantaged students make particularly strong progress.”

“Governance is highly effective.”

“Governors undertake their responsibilities rigorously.”

In particular, the leadership of the academy was picked out as a key strength, with the inspectors finding “the excellent leadership of the Headteacher, Head of school and other senior leaders, has precipitated the academy’s rapid improvement”.

Furthermore, the Academy has been shown to be an excellent place for teachers to progress their careers. The report found that the “academy’s professional development programme is meticulously tailored to help improve the skills of individual teachers” which has led to a high retention rate of staff.

The support from the academy’s sponsor Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) was highly praised, with the report stating that it has been successful in supporting the Academy’s improvement, and “the reciprocal sharing of effective practice across the trust academies has contributed significantly to raising standards and motivating staff.”

Jim Nixon, Headteacher at CNS said: “As always, I feel incredibly proud of the school and it’s great to receive such glowing praise for the excellent work that takes place at CNS on a daily basis, both in the main school and in the sixth form.

“From my own point of view, what was particularly pleasing was how our personal development, behaviour and welfare was graded outstanding. It reflects the importance that we place on the care and welfare of our young people.”

Nicole McCartney, Managing Director of Ormiston East said: “Since joining Ormiston Academies Trust, Jim Nixon, Jo Philpott and the CNS team have worked hard to create a learning community that is vibrant, supportive and challenging.

“This report clearly highlights the quality of provision at CNS, and reaffirms its 106 year old tradition and its motto ‘Excellence in All.’ ”

Toby Salt, Chief Executive of Ormiston Academies Trust said: “We are thrilled with the progress made at CNS and we look forward to continuing to support the staff team to ensure that all students have access to an excellent education.”

Eaton CNS

Eaton CNS

Conrad finishes his coastal challenge to cheers

He arrived at Cromer Pier still full of beans and ready to chat to the crowd of people who had been waiting to greet him.

BBC radio presenter Nick Conrad completed his four-day run along the Norfolk Coast path this afternoon, accompanied by local running club members and BBC weather presenter Elizabeth Rizzini, who ran with him for the last day from Cley to Cromer.

Nick is raising money for Children in Need in what has become an annual fundraiser of various sporting and other events, including in past years singing in public and a triathlon.

This the fifth year of his efforts was a 45-mile run from Hunstanton in four days, accompanied, along with others, by trainer Neil Featherby, from the North Norfolk Beach Runners.

“I have been joined by different people every day which has been lovely,” said Nick, who arrived in Cromer just before the rain to cheers from the Radio Norfolk listeners, who had come along to see him, and the cast of the Cromer Christmas Show.

He added: “We have been really looked after at all the starting points this week by the National Trust, Cley Windmill and Wells Beach Café and cheered along en route.”

He admitted to being “a little tired” after running solidly for three hours a day, but was delighted to have completed his challenge and is looking ahead to next year already. Maybe you have some ideas?

Here is how you can donate

To show your support for Conrad’s Coastal Challenge text the word CONRAD to 70705 (UK only). Each text costs £5 plus your standard network message charge. The full £5 will go to BBC Children In Need. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer’s permission.

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It’s beginning to look a lot Like Christmas with Joe

Audiences will be transported to an “amazing winter wonderland” to get them well and truly into the Christmas spirit with festive musical shows in Norfolk and Suffolk this year.

The Joe Ringer Band will present It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas at two venues with the aim of “capturing that feeling of nostalgia through everyone’s favourite tunes”.

The show will launch at Lowestoft Marina Theatre on Friday, December 2, followed by three nights at Norwich Playhouse from Tuesday, December 6 – Thursday, December 8. Their Lowestoft Marina Theatre debut will feature the DPA Academy of Performing Arts show choir made up from youngsters aged 11-18.

Joe said: “This will be our fifth year of Christmas shows, having performed sell-out runs at both the Norwich Playhouse and Dereham Memorial Hall in the past.”

The big band Christmas variety show attracts audiences of all ages, with Joe saying: “There is something in the show for everyone from kids to grandparents. We span the whole range of Christmas songs, from traditional carols and arias, through the swinging crooners of the 1940s and 1950s to modern pop classics.”

Fairytale of New York, Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, All I want for Christmas Is You, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Jingle Bells, I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday are just some of the songs the audience can expect.

Joe said this year’s performance would be going all out on the vocal harmonies, with a main cast of six of the region’s top singers performing specially-arranged versions of the favourite tunes. They will be backed by a live band.

“We are lucky enough to have some of East Anglia’s best musicians and vocalists as part of the show. Our band sizes tend range from six to 25 people for our shows. Earlier this year, we performed a big band show to more than 900 people at the Norwich Theatre Royal to standing ovations and great acclaim,” he added.

Joe loves getting into the Christmas spirit, particularly doing a job he loves. “To be able to do what you love for a job and to now be able to bring everyone’s favourite festive classic to life on stage is an amazing thing.

“My first foray into producing a Christmas Show was actually back in 2010. I founded local theatre company Mixed Voice and one of the first things we did was a Christmas Show at the Norwich Assembly House. As the band really took off, I had to leave this behind, but when the opportunity arose to produce our own show, I jumped at the chance and we haven’t looked back since. Throughout the year we play at more than 100 events, from weddings and corporate events to shows and concerts, but we always look forward to December coming around,” he said.

“There is something inexplicably magic about this time of the year and the songs that have been written for and about it. Just hearing those first few bars of your favourite festive tune warms your heart.”

Christmas is also a special time of the year personally for Joe and his family. “I have so many fond memories of past family Christmases growing up in Norwich. The day the Christmas cassette came out in the car was always a special one for me. I think I know every Christmas song by heart, handy as I have very few lyrics to learn.”

This year he will be working right up until Dec 23 with Christmas functions and weddings. “I’ll then enjoy a few days off before resuming the craziness up until New Year’s Eve when we are Center Parcs in Elveden for some afternoon jazz.”

And he added: “I then go into hibernation for three months before the wedding season starts again. I’ve cooked Christmas dinner for the past four years so am hoping for a year off this time. It’s so lovely to have a little time to relax, although I’m sure my mind will probably be on the next project.”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas will be at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, on December 2. Tickets are £18 (£16 Concessions) from or 01502 533200 and Norwich Playhouse, December 6-8, 7.30pm. Tickets are £19 (£16 Groups 10+). from the Theatre Royal box office on 01603 63000,

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