Stately event to boost funds

A music event in a north Norfolk stately home, raising funds for Sheringham Little Theatre, will be one of the first live events to return to the county.

The theatre cannot yet host full-scale events in its auditorium, but as lockdown eases it is promoting a pioneering outdoor performance mixing music, words and poetry in the walled garden at Mannington Hall on Saturday, August 22.

The world-renowned London Mozart Players will play classical music inspired by the experiences and emotions of four young performers during lockdown – ranging from family and separation to countryside and reflection – as well as positive lockdown stories submitted by the public.

One of the young actors, Jodie Weller, from North Walsham, said: “This will be an amazing experience – particularly being one of the first live performances in north Norfolk after a period which has seen, and continues to see, artistic venues and professionals struggling.

“It is wonderful to be raising money for the Little Theatre, which has been a big part of our lives, and to be bringing a live audience some joy.”

Jodie Weller, Tilda Fassih and Katie Thompson. Photo: Sheringham Little Theatre.

She will be joined by Tilda Fassih, from Sheringham; Katie Thompson, from Knapton; and Charlie Randall, from Aylsham, who are all in their 20s and will be curating and compering the community focused event.

During lockdown they have also been entertaining residents of local care homes with online singalongs – and on the morning of the concert will perform live outside two of the homes, with members of the London Mozart Players.

The London Mozart Players will be performing in the show. Photo: London Mozart Players

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said the event came about through Orchestras Live seeking a community-focused event for the London Mozart Players in north Norfolk, and the Little Theatre’s need for an outdoor fundraiser while the auditorium remained closed for live performances.

People buying tickets will be supporting the Little Theatre and freelance artists as they recover from the financial challenges of the covid-19 crisis. They will also get the chance to choose the event encore – after viewing two potential pieces via an online link.

Due to social distancing guidelines, there will be a limited numbers of tickets available for the 6pm-7.15pm show, which will also be recorded and available online for those who cannot attend.

Areas will be allocated for groups of up to six people. Visitors are asked to bring a travel rug, fold-up seats, and umbrellas in case of rain. There will be no interval.

Tickets are £12 for the live concert, and £6 for the recorded version. Afternoon tea boxes for two, with sandwiches, savouries, scones and cakes, costing £10 can also be ordered in advance. Audience members are welcome to arrive from 4.30pm to enjoy their food in the gardens before settling down for the performance.

If government guidelines change, preventing a live show, the concert will go ahead and be recorded. A 50pc refund would be available on tickets purchased for the live event on the basis that everyone would be able to watch the “virtual” version to support those involved.

For tickets,

Space for fun for everyone

Mannington Estate has been welcoming visitors back after the lockdown, with lots of open space to roam, beautiful gardens to enjoy and extensive grounds for walks.

This year, Mannington is particularly keen on attracting children to enjoy the estate and gardens.

The playground has been extended and the children’s wild garden has a new sensory path.   There is also an enchanted walk with fairy doors and children can follow a ladybird trail (pictured). Around the estate are beautiful walks and there is a meadow with boardwalks and a bird hide for those keen young ornithologists.

So, bring a picnic along or enjoy a treat at the tearoom and enjoy a lovely day out with the family.  Adult tickets are £8 (concessions £6) for entry into the gardens and children are free with a paying adult.  Walks are open every day (£2 to park).

Having run a nature club for more than 30 years the organisers are sad not to be able to offer their normal summer programme of activities, but there are family walks arranged for August – with activities such as pond dipping – and evening walks on August 13 and 17. Adult tickets are £5, with accompanied children free. All to be prebooked.

Currently the gardens are open on Thursdays, Fridays & Sundays but pre-booking is required. Email to book or to ask for more information.

Cyclist hurt in crash

Police are appealing for witnesses or dashcam footage after a cyclist was badly injured in a collision on Saturday, July 11, on the A148 near Aylmerton.

The collision happened at 4.35pm when a dark blue Peugeot 207 and a black bicycle were involved in a collision on Holt Road.

The road was closed and the cyclist was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by air ambulance, where he remains in a critical condition.

If anyone witnessed the collision or the manner of driving or riding near to the time of the collision, please contact PC Aaron Duffy on 101 quoting incident reference NC-11072020-322.

Appeal gave railway a boost

The North Norfolk Railway is back up and running, and chairman Steve Allen has updated all the fans of the railway on how its emergency appeal has gone.

Thanking all those who had helped he said: “As of Wednesday we had received approximately £82,000 in donations and share purchases. There is also a further £3,500 pledged taking the total over £85,000, and funds are still coming in, albeit slower now.

“Added to this is the £46,000 lottery grant and the significant and timely £160,000 from the [M&GN Joint Railway] Society for rolling stock purchases, this makes the total just over £300,000. These funds have ensured the railway’s survival during this difficult time.

“The appeal will remain open as there is still a long way to go before we’re back to normal.”

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 – or 01328 878477.

Housebuilder supports walkathon

Award-winning housebuilder Hopkins Homes is the headline sponsor of the inaugural Holt walkathon, which aims to get people active, unite the community and help good causes.

The Hopkins Homes Holt Walk is open to walkers of all abilities and will take place in the town on Sunday, September 27.

Walkers can choose from four routes of either 4,000; 7,500; 12,000; or 20,000 steps. The route reflects the trend for those who like to think about distance in terms of the steps and measured using a wearable device or smartphone app. The 4,000-step route is most accessible for wheelchair users.

Lee Barnard, managing director for Hopkins Homes, said: “We have a great affinity with Holt and currently have two exceptional developments in the town – The Birches and King’s Meadow.

“As a company, we are proud of our strong track record of supporting local communities and charities and we are delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Hopkins Homes Holt Walk.

“We have been impressed by the vision of the event’s organisers to celebrate inclusivity and diversity so that the walkathon is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. In what has been a year like no other, we hope this event can bring everyone together at the end of summer.”

The organisers are a collective of three local charities – The Friends of Kelling Hospital, Holt Rotary Club and Holt Community Centre.

Nigel Hadlow, event organiser, said: “Funds raised by the walkathon will support the work of these three volunteer-based organisations whose usual fundraising activities have been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are extremely grateful to Hopkins Homes for being our headline sponsor and thank all our other event supporters too. We anticipate this to be the largest single day fundraising event in Holt and it is open to all – from those wanting to simply enjoy a great walk, to people in recovery who are setting themselves a personal challenge or perhaps others who are taking part in memory of a loved one.”

The event also has a team challenge and is a great way for businesses, schools, non-profit organisations, associations and sports clubs to get involved.

For every 20 registrations, one tree will be planted in the area to help offset the carbon produced by the event – including walkers’ travel to and from the start area.

The Hopkins Homes Holt Walk will follow all government mandated policy regarding covid-19 on public gatherings and social distancing, with a contingency plan for it to become a virtual event if needs be

For further information on the Hopkins Homes Holt Walk, and how to register, visit

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 .

1.6m owl causes a stir on the high street…

A stunning owl has taken up residence in the window of a Holt department store and is causing quite a stir on the street.

For this is no ordinary bird, this is Molly Morston, a 1.6m owl sculpture which has been painted by internationally acclaimed artist Kieron Williamson to help boost CT Baker Group’s charity of the year, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

Local artist Kieron has used his exceptional creative talent to paint the landscape of Morston harbour onto the sculpture, and it is hoped that Molly will go some way to help CT Baker Group’s 250th anniversary appeal take flight.

Artist Keiron Williamson with Molly Marston. Photo: Bakers and Larners.

From her perch in the window at Bakers & Larners of Holt, Molly Morston will spread her wings to The Gallery, in Lees Yard, where she will be the key feature of an exclusive Kieron Williamson exhibition to be hosted from July 24 to August 4 – Kieron’s 18th birthday. 

It is intended that Molly will go to auction later this year to help raise money for EACH.

Kieron’s renowned artwork has attracted global attention and CT Baker Group is delighted that he has chosen to support its commitment to raising much needed funds for EACH.