Archives

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 .

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.

Google grant for local publisher is Just the job…

A hyperlocal magazine publisher which refused to let the pandemic stop it getting the local news out has received a grant from Google.

Just Regional, an organisation which produces 10 news magazines in Norfolk, received the grant from the technology giant’s relief fund – a scheme designed to help news titles through the coronavirus crisis.

Editor Tracey Bagshaw said: “This is amazing news. It has been well documented that some large organisations have felt the pinch, but small organisations such as us have also had to adapt to survive, and it’s great to see that effort recognised.”

Just Regional paused printing its monthly magazines in March, mainly to protect its team of more than 100 delivery boys and girls, turning its attention to putting stories online via its website, Facebook and Twitter.

Its online interactions grew up to 1,000pc in all areas as readers logged on for daily updates, breaking news and features.

It returned to print in June with a merged publication covering all areas. The well-received magazine was delivered to 50,000 homes in six market towns and four Norwich suburbs. Another edition is about to be delivered, with a further one in production later this month.

Tracey Bagshaw, Group Editor.

“We never stopped during the lockdown as we were determined to keep giving people a mix of vital information, local news and some of the more heart-warming moments which were going on in our communities,” said Tracey.

Just Regional has been producing popular hyperlocal magazines for 12 years. Owner Lee Todd said the importance of local news could not be overestimated and he was thrilled that it had been recognised in this way.

“Google, this massive international company, has backed us – a company based in Aylsham, a small Norfolk market town – because it believes in what we are doing,” he said.

“They were impressed how we kept going through the pandemic and that we are rising from the ashes, unlike some bigger publications which are struggling all across the country.

“Our readers and advertisers have stuck with us throughout this and we are grateful for their loyal support.”

Richard Gingras, vice-president of news at Google, said: “Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times.

“Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how covid-19 is affecting daily life.

“But that role is being challenged as the news industry deals with job cuts, furloughs and cutbacks as a result of the economic downturn.”

The Just Regional offices in Aylsham town centre. This is a central location for the 10 areas covered.

Race made huge strides for charity

Early in the lockdown period we asked Just Regional readers to get their active-wear on to take part in a marathon challenge to help the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Some 450 people signed up for the Empire Strides Back Marathon Challenge, set up by Norwich sports performance specialists Rob Sears and Loren Taylor, of Focus 4 Fitness, and they smashed their target.

Loren Taylor & Rob Sears from Focus 4 Fitness present Lord Vader with the cheque for £5,100. Photo: NNUH

The challenge, which celebrated 40 years since the film of a similar name hit the cinema screens, saw participants running, walking or cycling 26.2 miles during May.

Rob said: “When we set up this challenge, we hoped to raise least £1,000 for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as a way to support our local NHS who have gone the extra mile during this pandemic.

“To have raised over £5,000 for the hospitals charity is just amazing, and we are just so grateful for everyone who took part in making this challenge such a success.”

Children get the go-ahead to play

Youngsters in Hellesdon can now enjoy their new play equipment after months of being able to see it but not use it.

The equipment, at the recreation ground next to the community centre off Wood View Road and the play area on Meadow Way, replaced the condemned equipment at both locations, adding in extra pieces including a train with a ticket office to encourage children in role play. 

The total project cost just over £66,000 and was funded through money received by development contributions from home building projects in the parish.   

And now government restrictions on the use of playgrounds have been loosened, they are all set to be used by the children.

One of the new pieces of equipment is a train, which youngsters were keen to try out as soon as the park was opened.

The play area at the community centre was officially opened by Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North,  on Saturday morning, along with Karen Vincent, chairman of Broadland District Council; Hellesdon parish councillor and Norfolk County Councillor Shelagh Gurney; David King, chair of Hellesdon Parish Council and a district councillor; and vice-chairman of Hellesdon Parish Council Bill Johnson. 

They were joined by some small residents, too, who were keen be the first to test out the new equipment.

Chloe Smith said: “This is really fantastic news for the young people of Hellesdon; to have brand new facilities to play and a place for families to enjoy as the lockdown is lifted will help bring life back to our community. My thanks and congratulations to the parish councillors that have made this happen”

Karen Vincent said: “It was lovely to see the play areas in Broadland being able to open again, with the guidance in place.”

The parish council would like to thank the residents of Hellesdon for their support and understanding of the playgrounds being closed through lockdown.

Help keep live venues alive

One of the area’s leading live-music venues believes that a campaign to raise money for grassroots venues hit by the sudden loss of revenue from gigs is vital for its survival, writes ADAM AIKEN

#saveourvenues, which is being run by the Music Venue Trust, has been backed by a number of high-profile brands and artists, including Dereham rockers Bad Touch, whose latest single has been adopted to help the campaign.

One of their first live gigs was at the Brickmakers and B2 Venue in Sprowston Road, Norwich, and co-owner Charley South said the lockdown had been “financially crippling”.

During normal times, the venue offers live music every night, with more than 100 bands performing each month, but that has all changed during the pandemic.

“With landlords only deferring rent, and no sign of rescue from the government, the future looks bleak,” she said. “Already we owe our landlords £28,000 in rent from March to date, and the debts keep accruing every day.

A special montage put together by the Brickmakers team to call for support for venues such as theirs.

“The Music Venue Trust is working tirelessly to try to secure a rescue package from the government for us and other grassroots venues across the nation. This campaign is vital for our survival. Without it we are just one of many venues that face permanent closure.”

Marshall Amplification – a brand known for the iconic music equipment used by some of the world’s leading artists – has launched a T-shirt as part of its support for the campaign.

The T-shirts which have been designed to boost the #saveourvenues campaign inspired by a song by Norfolk band Bad Touch.

The “I’ve Got the Music in Me” T-shirt is inspired by the new single from festival fixtures Bad Touch. The Dereham band included their cover of the 1974 Kiki Dee hit on their fourth album, Kiss the Sky, which was recently released by Marshall Records to widespread critical acclaim.

Frontman Stevie Westwood said: “What is a band without a venue? We’ve been together a decade now, and over that time we’ve been very fortunate to play in some awesome venues – not just the ones with the big stages or professional sound systems but some that had next-to-nothing and were still electric to play in.”

Bad Touch had already shown their support for #saveourvenues by recording an isolation song, Keep On Smilin’, in support of the campaign.

“Sadly, many of these culturally integral places, both big and small, have now shut their doors for good,” said the singer. “Some have been holding on by the skin of their teeth and with the support of their local gig-going community for years. With the added weight of the lockdown, the pressure for some has proven too much to bear. So when the chance for us to work with the Music Venue Trust came up – an excuse to make a noise, share some love and smiles, and hopefully prevent some more doors from closing – we jumped at the opportunity.”

Charley, who is a musician herself and who played her very first gig at the Brickmakers 30 years ago, said: “Our venue is just one of many around the UK where musicians cut their teeth and hone their craft. Without small venues such as ours, there are no bottom rungs on the ladder. Bands need to have somewhere to start out, to learn, to make mistakes and to improve and then to grow.

“Without these fundamental starting points there will be no future Rolling Stones, Oasis or Ed Sheeran. All those legendary artists started out in grassroots music venues and Ed Sheeran played B2 Venue several times when he was starting out.”

www.saveourvenues.co.uk

Theatre staff jobs under threat

Staff at Norwich Theatre Royal, the Playhouse and Stage 2 have been told they could lose their jobs as enormous financial losses have forced the organisation to look at a major restructuring to try to save its future.

Some 113 employees have been told that their roles are at risk of redundancy and a further 59 employees on irregular zero hours contracts have received confirmation that they will no longer receive any work. A formal process of consultation with all 217 staff will now begin.

The theatre has already incurred major losses as a result of a prolonged period of closure due to coronavirus and with theatres unable to reopen it is estimated that it will be at least another six months before the organisation can regain full scale operations.

The theatre’s chief executive has described it as “an incredibly dark day for us and for arts and culture in Norwich, Norfolk and the East of England”, and vowed to fight on.

Empty seats since the beginning of lockdown which are looking unlikely to be filled any time soon have led to enormous losses for the Theatre Royal.

Michael Newey, chair of the Trustees of Norwich Theatre, said: “As trustees we are custodians of Norwich Theatre and it is our duty to ensure that we protect our charitable mission and our ability to carry out that mission into the future.

“The coronavirus lockdown saw us immediately lose 95pc of our income and this scale of ongoing financial loss is no longer sustainable. With no large-scale productions able to go ahead until next year, no clear date for when we will be able to operate at full scale again and no public funding intervention forthcoming, we have been forced to mandate the chief executive to begin a major restructuring project to reduce our costs.

“We know that this is a devastating decision for our staff and every trustee wishes that we had a different way forward. They will all be fully supported by the chief executive and his team during this difficult time as the consultation process begins. Without government support we have been left with no other option if we are to make a guarantee to our audiences that we will survive this crisis and welcome them back to our buildings next year.”

A large proportion of Norwich Theatre’s staff are employed to directly support the presentation of major productions at Theatre Royal which often see around 10,000 people attend the venue each week. All large-scale shows previously planned to tour to Theatre Royal for the August-December 2020 period have now been postponed. Furthermore, it has also made the difficult decision to postpone its annual pantomime from Christmas 2020 to Christmas 2021. This means that there will be no large-scale productions at the Theatre Royal until January 2021 at the earliest.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive, said: “Our staff are the lifeblood of our organisation and my team and I have done all we can to support and protect them over these past few months and will continue to do so as we explore all options through this consultation process.

“On their behalf I remain shocked and angry that the government is standing idle as an industry that has delivered so much to this country and is so vital to its recovery is being allowed to fade into dust. I will continue to fight hard for our staff, our theatres and our whole industry but this is an incredibly dark day for us and for arts and culture in Norwich, Norfolk and the East of England. I am simply heart-broken.”

Ambulance service plea to pubgoers

The East of England Ambulance Service are urging the public to show restraint, drink responsibly and remember social distancing on the first weekend that pubs and restaurants reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Increased staffing has been put on for this weekend weekend, but bosses are hoping that this contingency planning will not be needed.

During lockdown the ambulance trust has dealt with around 25pc fewer alcohol-related incidents on Saturdays compared with the same period last year.

The public are also reminded of the need to stay hydrated and keep out of the sun as much as possible if the weather is hot.  

Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “As an ambulance trust we are always planning ahead and risk assessing.

“With pubs and restaurants reopening, there is clearly potential for increased callouts and we are asking the public to drink responsibly and respect the guidelines put in place by businesses and the government, such as social distancing and regular handwashing

“We have put in place contingencies to deal with the increased activity but are hopeful they will not be needed and our staff will be left to deal with urgent cases.

“The safety of our patients and staff is of paramount importance to us and we hope the public will enjoy themselves safely and sensibly.”