REVIEW: Jerusalem, Maddermarket

Jerusalem, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich Players

The Norwich Players production of Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed play, Jerusalem, shocks and jolts from the opening scenes.

The powerful play has a charismatic rebel as its central character, who is against all middle England society holds sacred.

Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron is a man living his life on the edge of society in a clearing in a wood. He lives in a caravan and deals in, and is often high on, drugs and alcohol. His lifestyle is a magnet for a group of young people who society has given up on

Rooster is played by Nick Meir, who gives a performance that is disturbing and also very moving. He believes in the spirits that live and have lived in the mythical past in the woodland of his home in Wiltshire. His existence in the forest is under threat as the local council want him gone so they can cover his wood with a new housing estate and they are making plans to evict him.

There is also the annual village fair held on St George’s Day which is the climax of his struggles and battles with the council and the group that surrounds him.

This is a production which questions whether an alternative lifestyle can exist along side the commonplace and it is very skilfully played by the cast. The energy, enthusiasm and talent makes this a compelling production.

The play is running at the Maddermarket Theatre until Saturday (March 24).

Kevin and Sandra Stone

Hellesdon’s Inca is UK PAT Dog of the Year!



Much-loved Hellesdon pooch Inca is the country’s top Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog.

Inca, who has made a difference to scores of patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was crowned national champ at Crufts Dog Show.

The eight-year-old Labrador/Staffy cross and owner Sheena Scrimgeour beat hundreds of other entrants from across the country – including 70 from the eastern region alone – to make the shortlist of six, and then faced a public vote before Inca was crowned Pets As Therapy ) Dog of the Year.

Many of those who voted were readers of Just Hellesdon following publicity about Inca in the magazine last year.

Sheena said: “I’m shocked but thrilled as well. We had an amazing time there and Inca was as good as gold.

“They started by announcing the runners-up and then suddenly Inca was named as 2018 Pat Dog of the Year – I couldn’t believe it! I’m still coming back down to earth.

“I’m so pleased, and so grateful to all the staff and service users at NSFT whose support got us into the shortlist, and to everyone who then voted for Inca to win the award.”

They found out they had won in the Good Citizen arena at Crufts at the NEC Birmingham on Friday, and were given a crystal trophy, rosette, sash, some dog goodies and £500.

Sheena and Inca have been volunteering with the Pets As Therapy charity for the past six years. They visit Hellesdon Hospital every Monday, The Julian Hospital on Tuesdays and the Norvic Clinic on Fridays, as well as fitting in regular visits to Hellesdon High School, a prison and the University of East Anglia.

She entered Inca after receiving fantastic feedback from NSFT staff, service users and relatives about the difference she has made to them – with some even crediting Ina as “saving their lives”.

“Inca has a lovely nature and just loves people, and seems to know she is doing something beneficial,” added Miss Scrimgeour. “She thoroughly enjoys the interaction and I can tell she gets pleasure from the visits.

“I’ve always wanted my dogs to have a rich and varied life so decided to volunteer with the charity after I retired. I’m also really interested in research which shows the benefits which animals can bring to people. They are great for mental and physical wellbeing, help people to manage stress and lower the pulse and blood pressure. All in all, they provide people with a real ‘feel good’ factor.”

Julie Cave, interim chief executive with NSFT, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Inca has won this national prize. Together with Sheena, she brings lots of smiles and joy to our wards, especially for patients who have had to leave their own pets at home while they are in our care.

“Inca and Sheena are inspirational in the voluntary work they do across our Trust.”

To support Pets As Therapy, visit

For more information about volunteering with NSFT, visit and click on the “get involved” link from the homepage.

Inca doing her stuff







Hellesdon eco-queen Nadia is world famous

A Hellesdon schoolgirl has defied bullies to make litter-picking cool – around the world.

Nadia Sparkes, 12, used to put up with bottles being thrown at her and sneering shouts of “Trash Girl” and “You’re weird” as she cycled to and from Hellesdon High School picking up rubbish dropped by other people.

But when her story hit the headlines, international praise poured in for her actions and the bullying stopped overnight.

Now Nadia’s “Trash Girl” image is celebrated in a cartoon and pop art drawing and she has a Team Trash Girl Facebook group with nearly 3,500 global members who encourage each other to pick up rubbish and post pictures of their efforts.

Nadia’s litter-picking began when she started at the high school last September and began to notice the amount of discarded rubbish along her route.

She would put it in her cycle basket and bring it home, sparking cruel taunts from some who saw her. Mum Paula Sparkes believes litter-picking has a stigma because rubbish is dirty and people feel embarrassed to bend and pick it up.

The bullying eventually reduced Nadia to a fit of sobbing one day after school. “I sat and talked to her and said what she was doing was admirable but it was up to her to decide whether she wanted to stop because of the bullying, or carry on and own the name ‘Trash Girl’. “She thought about it and said: ‘I’m going to carry on. They can call me ‘Trash Girl’ – but with respect.’

Her story first hit the headlines in Norfolk and then went national and international, with articles in The Daily Mail and Times, as well as in publications as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Malta.

“It just went  bonkers!” said Paula.  “She’s had people asking her about it in the street and adults and children all over the world saying ‘You were right and now I’m picking up litter too, because of you.’ I’m incredibly proud of her, and of her independent thinking.”

Nadia has an older sister and two younger brothers. A statement about Nadia from Tom Rolfe and Mike Earl, the principals of Hellesdon High School, a member of the Wensum Trust, said:  “Her determination and commitment to the cause is truly remarkable and we are hoping it will inspire other students to respect the environment with the same dedication.”









“We created this image for her to say ‘thank you’ and to offer our support for her fantastic work. Go Trash Girl! We think Trash Girl would make a great cartoon and would inspire more young people to do the same fantastic work,” Alex Jeffery, of Suffolk-based company Creative Nation.

“Nadia is doing some excellent work and when I heard that she was bullied, I just wanted to do something for her. I’ve worked with vulnerable young people and children for many years and have done lots of artwork for them. The picture itself was inspired by the artist Jamie Hewlett,” Lynsey Cole (Damsel Dragonfly Art).


Broadland householders facing council tax rise


Councillors at Broadland District Council have agreed a 4.3pc council tax rise, the equivalent of an extra £4.99 per year for an average Band D property.

Earlier this month Norfolk County Council agreed a 5.99pc rise in its share of council tax and a 5.5pc budget increase has also been approved for policing in the county during 2018-2019.

Broadland also increased its share of the council tax last year, following a  seven-year freeze.

“No one wants to see a rise in council tax. However, it is important that we are able to help those most in need and continue to maintain high quality services,” said councillor Trudy Mancini-Boyle, Broadland’s portfolio holder for finance. “We have restricted our increase to £4.99 in order to achieve this, although I appreciate that residents will see a rise in other aspects of their bill.” 

The council will continue to look for other sources of income and, following the success of the Carrowbreck Meadow development, has recently secured help from central government for a new housing development in Great Plumstead through its company, Broadland Growth Ltd.

For the second year, residents will be receiving a Buy in Broadland discount voucher booklet with their council tax bills. Designed to support local business, the voucher booklet will provide residents with 96 different discounts and offers for Broadland businesses, giving them the chance to discover new places to enjoy and perhaps rediscover some old favourites.

The council tax rise will be included in bills for 2018/19 which residents will be receiving in the coming weeks.



REVIEW: Relatively Speaking, Maddermarket Theatre

The Norwich Players put on a great performance on Friday (February 16),  giving the Maddermarket audience plenty of laughs.

Relatively Speaking, which runs until Saturday (24th)  is one of Alan Ayckbourn’s earliest successes, but this production has been updated from the original 1960s to the early 1980s by director Jo Edye.

The action centres on the lives of two couples, both of whom share a dark secret that they don’t realise is connected.

The four actors, Teresa Baron who plays Ginny, Rohan Gotobed who plays Greg, Russell J Turner who plays Philip and Jo Davis who plays Shiela, interact with great skill and superb comedy timing.

The twists and turns in the play tie the characters in hilarious knots, which has the audience laughing as they work their way out of the muddles they get into.

A surprising and inspired interlude was the first scene change, which had a strong 1980s feel with the hit songs from the era, and four women in 1980s dress, who managed the scene change in true and comical style. Fabulous.

A great night and a great performance by the Norwich Players.

The play runs until Saturday. For tickets, call the box office on 01603 620917 or see


Kevin and Sandra Stone

Plea over plans for many new Hellesdon homes

Residents are being urged to have their say on proposals for large numbers of new homes which local chiefs fear would be bad news for Hellesdon.

Greater Norwich – which includes Hellesdon – has to find sites for nearly 43,000 new homes between now and 2036.

Some 30,000 have already been identified but a further 7,200 have still to be found. Public consultation is under way on the Greater Norwich Local Plan, which details the proposals.

Up to 1,000 homes are already due to be built in Hellesdon, on the former Royal Norwich Golf Club site.

A parish council spokesman said: “In Hellesdon the grassed area close to Arden Grove Primary School, now known as Cottingham’s Park, together with part of our allotments, accessed from Bush Road, feature as development sites in the plan which is not good news as it will take away valuable recreational space which is already in short supply in the parish.

“Looking across the parish boundary into Horsford, which starts just beyond the medical practice, The Greater Norwich Local Plan has earmarked all the land up the Reepham Road to the NDR roundabout on the south side of Horsford and bounded on the eastern side by the A140.

“Housing built here will of necessity put additional loading onto both of these roads and the local infrastructure, having a direct impact on the local schools, shops and medical facilities together with the invisible infrastructure of the water, drainage and sewage systems, already subject to some overloading. Some smaller site proposals in the parish of Drayton adjoining Hellesdon will also have a similar impact.”

The parish council also fears that Hellesdon would lose out financially if homes were built in this Horsford block as future residents would be likely to use Hellesdon’s schools, doctors and other services, which would be nearer for them.

But, because their homes would not actually be built within Hellesdon’s boundaries, other parish councils would receive “CIL” money levied from developers – used for community benefits – and from the new home owners via the parish precept element of the council tax.

The spokesman added: “Hellesdon Parish Council needs all the support it can muster from its residents to ensure Cottingham’s Park and allotments are not lost and that any development within Horsford’s block of land is kept to an absolute minimum.”

* Residents will have the chance to learn more during the week beginning Monday February 19 at the parish council’s Diamond Jubilee Lodge office between 10am and 3.30pm.

The office will also reopen on Wednesday  February 21 between 6pm and 8pm.

Every resident is also urged to make an individual response to the consultation which runs until March 15.  Visit or collect a response booklet from the parish council office.

* Broadland District Council officers will be holding a roadshow on the proposals in Hellesdon Community Centre on February 28 from 2pm-8pm.

Pictured: Cottingham’s Park looking towards the allotments.

Young talent takes on literary classic as musical

Norfolk’s young talented actors are maing up the cast in a new production for Norfolk Youth Music Theatre.
The musical of Jane Eyre is based on the famous romantic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the musical tells the story of orphan Jane from her unhappy childhood to falling in love with the master of Thornfield Hall, Edward Rochester, who employs her as governess to his ward.
Their union seems doomed, Jane flees, disaster strikes Edward – but there is a happy ending.
The lead role of Jane is played by former Aylsham High student Ellen Smith, who is currently studying drama, history and film at Paston College, as well as getting involved with Far East Theatre Company’s performances.
She has performed with the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre many times, including Rita O’Grady in Made in Dagenham, Cosette in Les Miserables and Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. Ellen has also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice with NYMT and with Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Ellen, 17, is currently in the process of auditioning for drama schools across the country. She said: “Acting is something I enjoy more than anything, and being a part of such a lovely, talented company makes the experience even more enjoyable. Jane Eyre is such a fantastic part to tackle, I will need to draw on all of my emotions when portraying this iconic character.”
Amy English, 17, is also a former Aylsham student, now studying drama and performing arts at Paston, where she is involved in the show Illyria. Doctor Who fan Amy said: “I am a huge fan of the show, but most of all I love acting, and hope to go to drama school and pursue a career in theatre.”
Current high school student Elizabeth (Libby) Lumb is playing Adele in Jane Eyre.
The 12-year-old has appeared in a few shows previously, such as The Sound of Music and The King and I at Aylsham High School, and was part of the choir in the touring West End production of Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat.
She said: “I love acting and want to continue as long as possible. I  also like walking my dog, Douglas, and having fun with my friends.”
Sophie Millington, 10, and Jeremiah Humphreys-Piercy, 16, are also starring.
Sophie, who plays the young Jane, is in Year 5 at Town Close School and loves acting, singing, dancing and Brownies.
“I play the violin with Norwich Suzuki Group and I also play the piano,” she said.  “As well as taking part in school productions, I have performed in Bill Kenwright’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, and have sung with Blake at Cromer Pier, Rebeca Newman at Norwich Playhouse, and Classical Reflection at Sheringham and Trimingham.
“My biggest interest is theatre and performing and my favourite sport is netball.”
Jeremiah plays magistrate Mr Eshton. He studied at CNS where he began to enjoy drama, playing John Hale in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and Banquo in Macbeth.
He currently attends Paston Sixth Form College, where he is studying A-level drama and is appearing in the college’s production of Illyria this month. Jeremiah enjoys making films and YouTube videos in his spare time. He hopes to go to drama school and start an acting career

Music and lyrics for the production are by Paul Gordon, book and additional lyrics by John Caird. It is directed by Adrian Connell.
For tickets contact the Norwich Playhouse box office on 10603 598598 or visit

Group helps Hellesdon woman return to work after 27 years

A Hellesdon woman has landed her first job after a career break of 27 years, thanks to the help of a tailor-made employment programme.

Karen Dolby read about Broadland District Council’s Choices programme in the newspaper and wondered if it could help her get back into work.

Having stayed at home to raise her family for more than a quarter of a century, Karen felt she had nothing to offer a prospective employer.

But just weeks after finishing the Choices programme and one week after starting work experience, she got a permanent job with TLC Dinner Choices, which runs the cafes at the Sprowston Community Hub and the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich.

“I had no words – it was only a week after I had started work experience and I was being offered a job,” said Karen.

“I remembered being on the Choices programme and thinking ‘whatever will I do work-wise when this is finished?’ I didn’t think I had any skills to offer.”

The programme helped Karen identify her transferrable skills to build up her CV. She also completed courses in food hygiene and basic computer skills.

“I am really enjoying being back at work,” said Karen.

“It’s meant a lot – it’s given me my independence and now I am out at work everyone is helping out at home. My husband and children are really proud of me.”

Broadland District Council’s Choices programme aims to raise the aspirations of anyone who has been out of work for a long time, through improving CVs, English, maths and computer skills, as well as boosting confidence.

It offers a personal approach to getting people back into volunteering or work experience and give them the confidence to apply for jobs.

Cllr Stuart Clancy, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Broadland District Council, said: “We are pleased to support our residents into work at any point in their lives and offer a range of services to help this.

“Everyone is important and has something to offer and our Choices programme helps develop people’s talents. We are extremely proud of Karen and her achievements and wish her every success for the future.”
A new course is starting on February 20 at the council’s training centre, Carrowbreck House, in Hellesdon.
Anyone interested should contact Economic Development officer, Jane Bagley, on 01603 430449.

Karen Dolby, who has got her first job in 27 years.