How sister’s suicide ‘informed’ my work – Norman Lamb

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was the latest person to be featured on The Backstory, a local podcast looking at the stories behind the news. He talked to Suzy Coulson about mental health and his own sister’s suicide in 2015.

Norman Lamb’s interest in mental health is well-known. “We all have mental health, we’re all on a continuum,” he explains.
As care minister in the coalition government he pushed for new standards in mental health care provision and has continued to keep mental health high on the agenda.

What’s less well-known is the personal experiences that have informed his work. “Informed but not formed”, as Norman explained to Suzy Coulson of The Backstory podcast.
The interest, it’s clear, was there already. Suzy was meeting Norman to find out more about what motivates his work and why he has chosen to be open about the mental health difficulties his own family have experienced.
“We’re all ultimately vulnerable, we’re fragile human beings and adversity can strike any of us at any moment,” he said.
Norman’s son, Archie, has suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since his teens. Now a successful music manager, having launched the career of grime artist Tinchy Stryder and collaborated with Jay Z, Archie has made a success of his life but there have been some dark times in which Norman and wife Mary found themselves negotiating the mental health system in a bid to get the right support for their son
“I remember the moment he said to me, ‘Dad why am I the only person going mad?’ For a parent to hear that, that’s quite hard.”
Then, in 2015, Norman’s sister Catherine killed herself after a period of severe depression.
He said: “Our family has gone through the trauma that very many families around our country experience with the loss of a loved one through suicide.”
Before any of this happened, Norman had already launched Zero Suicide Ambition, an initiative that strives to preotect every life.
“The evidence is there for how we can save lives but we’re not giving it enough priority. There’s nothing that’s more important than saving lives. The knock-on effect of a suicide is profound so it’s a really important objective.”

To hear the full interview with Norman Lamb, subscribe to The Backstory podcast with Claire Mutimer and Suzy Coulson on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Full details can be found at If you’ve got a backstory to tell, an experience that has shaped your life in some way, then Claire and Suzy would love to hear from you. Email or call 07595 335855.

Token way to help Holt Rugby Club

Holt Rugby Club is bidding to bag a cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative.
Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.
Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.
Holt Rugby Club will use any money awarded towards its plans to upgrade its changing rooms with new showers and toilets.
Treasurer and project manager David Hitcham said: “Over the last two-and-a half years we have spent nearly £500,000 from our own money and donations from members and various grants, to fully refurbish and extend the clubhouse and ancillary facilities.
“Apart from the normal rugby activities, we are regularly hiring out these facilities to members and the local community. We continue to raise money and the completion of the changing rooms upgrade will bring everything up to the same standard. We hope to carry this out during the summer. This is required for large rugby festivals where we have touring sides from throughout the country staying locally and using many local facilities, and use by caravan clubs and cycling events.”
Voting is open in all Tesco stores throughout March and April. Customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.
Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered more than £43 million to more than  10,000 projects up and down the UK.
Alec Brown, head of community at Tesco, said: “We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for March and April. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.”
Groundwork’s National chief executive Graham Duxbury said: “We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.
“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”
Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities.
Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit

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

Norfolk Christmas drink/drug drive results

More than 100 people were arrested during the Norfolk Christmas drink-drive campaign with almost 1,000 people breathalysed.

The month-long campaign, launched on December 1 2017, targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Patrols and roadside checks were carried out with Norfolk having a 8.55pc fail rate.

A total of 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed.

This year saw specific time slots at Norwich Magistrates’ Courts being reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving. This effectively meant that offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

In Norfolk:

  • Neil Grimwood, 56, from Lone Barn Road in Norwich was stopped after driving erratically. He provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was arrested on Saturday December 2 and at court on Friday December 5 where he was disqualified for 26 months and ordered to pay a £3,200 fine.
  • Martin Banfield, 46, from King Street, Norwich was stopped after being seen driving in an erratic manner in Neatishead. He was stopped and provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was disqualified for 28 months, ordered to undertake rehabilitation activity and given an electronic tag and curfew between 6pm and 6am for one month.
  • Peter Thomas, 44, from The Archway, Lowestoft was breathalysed following an RTC involving a brick wall. He provided a positive breath test and was arrested on Wednesday  December 13. He appeared at court the next day and was disqualified for three years and ordered to pay £400.
  • Zilvians Neveckas, 34, from Havelock Road, Great Yarmouth was arrested on South Quay in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday December 27 after a member of public reported his driving. He failed a breath test and was more than three times over the legal limit. He also did not have insurance and was driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. He was seen at court on Friday 29 and disqualified for four years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for two years.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the joint Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said: “It’s always disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs, although it is a minority.

“Dozens of people caught during the campaign would have started 2018 with a minimum 12 to 18 month driving ban, which will have massive implications on their professional and social lives.

“We target drink-drivers all year round and my plea to motorists considering getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs is don’t – it’s simply not worth the risk.”

During the 2016 campaign 1,320 tests were carried out with 85 drivers failing.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said: “It is clear some drivers still don’t grasp the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and unacceptable and a selfish thing to do. .

“It is just not worth the risk and should not be tolerated by the community. We all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe. Do yourself a favour, do everyone else a favour and don’t drive under the influence of drink or drugs and don’t let your friends or family do so.”


Gresham’s Girls release new single

A year after releasing their first single, Gresham’s Girls have recorded a cover version of the Depeche Mode song, Enjoy the Silence, to help raise money for school charities.

In 2016, a group of school friends at Gresham’s School, Holt, recorded their first single, a soulful version of Sit Down by James’ raising £1,000 for the charity YoungMinds. Following the success of this release, the group decided to record another single for Christmas 2017.

This year Gresham’s Girls are Maria Butcher, Clementine Chapple, Iris Croft, Ella Fairbairn-Day, Amelia Fox, Rachel Heath, Sophy Kenyon, Jemima Porter, Molly Sankey and Romy Sipek.

Using the school’s state-of-the-art recording studio in the Britten Building, the girls recorded and produced the single with the help of music teachers Chris Cooper and Justin Myers.

Douglas Robb, headmaster, said: “Gresham’s Girls have produced an enchanting cover version of this song and I hope their efforts will be rewarded by raising lots of money for our school charities. I will watch with interest the progress of the single over the coming months.  It’s something for everyone’s Christmas list!”

The single is now available as a download from Bandcamp and iTunes and all proceeds will go to this year’s school charities, the Opalagilagi School, Kenya and I Afrika Boy’s Home in Nairobi.

To download a copy click on the following link:

Gresham’s Girls recording the song in the recording studio at Gresham’s School.


Travel agents launch fifth annual gift appeal in aid of Break charity

Hays Travel, in Aylsham and Sheringham, has launched its fifth annual Santa’s Sleigh appeal to spread cheer and change the lives of vulnerable children and young people this Christmas.

The team is asking people to pop into either branch and donate new, unwrapped items such as toys, gift sets, toiletries, household goods, stationery items or books in aid of the children and families that Norfolk-based charity Break supports throughout East Anglia.

Break supports young people in care, children with disabilities and families who need support, helping them through difficult times and securing a brighter future.

Branch manager of Hays Travel Aylsham (former CAS Travel) and initiator of the appeal Jo Dobbie said: “I like to be involved with the local community and there is nothing better than supporting a local charity especially in the festive season. I absolutely love Break’s ethos and this is a great opportunity for us to show support.

“I initially started Santa’s Sleigh at the Aylsham branch, and then got Sheringham on board with it too. It created bigger awareness for ourselves and for the appeal and we’re pleased to say they will be joining us again this year.”

Danielle Gravestock, senior fundraising officer for Break, said: “We can’t thank Hays Travel enough for the support they give us each year by organising their Santa’s Sleigh appeal.  We are very grateful to all their staff for organising the appeal and everyone who is contributing goods to support it. These gifts really do make a difference to the children and young people we support.”

Santa’s Sleigh started on Saturday and will run for four consecutive weeks until December 9.

Pictured are branch manager Jo Dobbie, Sam Antoniades-Cork, Mark Heffer and Karen Ashford.


One-off chance to cycle un-opened NDR

For one day only, cyclists are being invited to explore the westernmost sections of the A1270 Norwich Northern Distributor Road before they are opened to traffic.

The new dual carriageway is nearing completion between the A1067 Fakenham Road and the Drayton Lane roundabout, and these stretches will be open to cyclists from 10am to 4pm on Sunday  October 29 as part of the Norfolk Walking and Cycling Festival. These sections of road, and Drayton Lane to A140 Cromer Road, are expected to be opened to traffic in November, provided good progress is maintained on the major A1270/A140 junction.

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “We are very pleased to give local people a chance to see the road before it’s open to general traffic, and to explore the new cycle-ways and links to Marriott’s Way and communities such as Horsford and Thorpe Marriott.

“This will be a one-off opportunity to ride on a traffic-free main carriageway, but maintaining and improving permanent cycle links is an essential part of the project. Once the whole NDR is finished, it will still be possible to use new and existing paths and quiet lanes to get from Fakenham Road to Postwick without setting foot or bicycle wheel on the road itself.”

Volunteers from main contractor Balfour Beatty, and from Norfolk County Council’s NDR and  ‘Pushing Ahead’  teams will be joined by others to provide supervision at key locations, including the Fir Covert Road and Reepham Road roundabouts, where cyclists will have to crossing live traffic.

John Birchall, NDR public liaison officer, said there had been many requests to run or cycle on the main carriageway before it opens to vehicles. “The 29th is primarily a family cycling event, and explorers will be able to decide for themselves how much of the three miles of dual carriageway or connected paths they ride. We are aiming to focus on runners when the last sections of the route, north of Postwick, are nearing completion next spring.”

Access on and off the NDR itself will be at the Fakenham Road, Fir Covert Road, Reepham Road and Drayton Lane roundabouts, but people coming from further afield will be able to park at the site compound off New Drayton Lane (NR10 3AN). Marriott’s Way also connects to the new cycle paths along the NDR, but is less suitable for road bikes. A leaflet and plan can be downloaded from the Pushing Ahead website.

 Photo: Pashley


Hares trail heads for North Norfolk

North Norfolk will play host to two of the Moongazer Hares planned for a countywide trail next year in aid of the charity Break.

The decision to support the charity was made at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council’s cabinet.

Break is 50 in 2018. Following the successful GoGoGorillas in 2013 and GoGoDragons in 2015, the charity has devised a new sculpture trail for 2018.

In addition to a Norwich trail of Hare sculptures called GoGoHares, Break is for the first time establishing a countywide Moongazer Trail. Sponsors are being sought for the event, which will start on June 24 and run until September 8.

NNDC has agreed to sponsor two hares and set aside £15,000 to cover the project.

It is believed the most suitable locations for the NNDC Moongazer Hares are likely to be Holt Country Park and Bacton Woods.

Nigel Dixon, NNDC cabinet member for economic development and tourism, said: “The advantages are multiple – generating funds for a charity which has long and historic links with North Norfolk, attracting large numbers of visitors to the locations where the hares are sited and benefiting local businesses.”

Maggie Prior, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project for the whole county from a cultural point of view, appealing to families and people of all ages. “We would love to see a hotspot of several hares created in North Norfolk, with ‘our’ two being just part of a greater number in the district.”

There will be an app for each trail and a map available to download. There will be a reward for completing the entire trail – each plinth will have a 4-digit code to collect. All of the city trail hares will have their ears pointing upwards, whereas all of the county trail hares will be looking up to the sky – or gazing up at the moon – with their ears flat against their backs.