‘Join us to protect Sprowston’s heritage’

Sprowston residents worried about the amount of new development in their parish are being urged to join a club set up to serve and protect the community.

The non-political Sprowstonite Community Club was formed with those aims 22 years ago but has lain dormant for many years.

Moves to reinvigorate the club follow fears about the long-term future of the popular Sprowston Sports and Social Club (SSSC) on Blue Boar Lane.

The site, on land owned by the Gurney family, is slowly being encircled by bulldozers as hundreds of new homes are built, according to Terry Toomer, who has been associated with SSSC for 30 years and is also one of the Sprowstonite club’s founding members.

Negotiations are under way with the Gurney Estate to renew SSSC’s lease.

But Terry and other SSSC chiefs are worried that the site, which has been used by the community for about 100 years, is vulnerable and could be sold off.

He would like fellow residents to join the Sprowstonite club to demonstrate the amount of local support there is for the SSSC and for protecting Sprowston from too much development.

The SSSC, run by volunteers as a non-profit making organisation, has between 600-800 members and is used by residents of all ages every week, for a large range of sports activities, plus parties, wedding receptions, christening celebrations, and wakes.

Football and cricket teams have been playing on the land, known as Harrison’s Meadow, for about a century, according to Terry.

During his time in Sprowston, Terry, a former SSSC chairman, has seen the club blossom from what he described as “a wooden building like a Scout hut” to a multi-purpose asset for the community.

Three extensions have been added, plus a toilet block, upgraded dressing rooms, a sports court, and bowls lawn. About 95pc of the work was carried out by volunteers and funded by the club.

“Sprowston is quite a special place to be and the people who live here need protection. Because of the development taking place round Sprowston, the fear is the club site would be used for houses and Sprowston would lose 100 years of history. This is our heritage and I hope that thought will spur people on to get together to support it,” said Terry.

“My dream is that Sprowston Town Council or Broadland District Council buys the site for the community. It would be a wonderful gesture by the Gurneys if they would let that happen.”

  • Anyone interested in finding out more can contact the Sprowstonite Community Club on 07510 1490 22.

Sprowston Sports and Social Club

Sprowston Sports and Social Club’s outside facilities include a full-size football pitch, two mini-soccer pitches, a sports court and bowling green.

Through the week the club is used for short-mat bowls, pilates, soccer tots, yoga, football, darts and pool, as well as a variety of private celebrations and other functions.

Over the years the club has raised many thousands of pounds for good causes.

What the councils say

Terry Toomer and Richard Shorten, another former chairman of Sprowston Sports and Social Club, have asked Sprowston Town Council and Broadland District Council whether they would consider buying the site to safeguard its future for the community.

Sprowston Town Council told Just Sprowston Terry had been asked by the council to find out whether the premises were for sale and, if so, to give the landlord the council’s contact details.

“Mr Toomer has not been back to this office to advise of the outcome of this conversation,” said town clerk June Hunt.

“The council felt it would be ill advised to ask the question of the landlord with a tenant already in situ at the club.

“The town council has requested Broadland District Council to place this property on the Community Asset List for Sprowston but this request has been refused.”

Just Sprowston asked Broadland to explain why it had been refused. A spokesman said: “The nomination for listing was refused on November 22 2016. The reasons for refusal were: The Gurney Family Trust had owned the property for many years and had a commitment to make it available on long leases for sports and leisure use.

“The club lease was secured under the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act so the club had an entitlement to remain in occupation for the foreseeable future, subject to the lease terms being adhered to.

The present lease was due for renewal and the club had been offered a new 10-year lease.

“We appreciate that circumstances may have changed since the time the decision was made and it is open to Sprowston Town Council to resubmit a nomination.”

JOIN US: Sprowstonite Community Club founder members pictured in 1996. From left: Beverley Stebbings, Nigel Stebbings, Terry Toomer, Terry Haigh and Sharon Poynter

FOOTBALL: a Sprowston team pictured in 1920. Back, from left: Captain Raper, Charlie Wegg, Stanley Fowler, Walter Shorten, Bob Guymer, Berto Blyth. Middle: Lenny Shorten, Arthur Carter, Geoff Key. Front: Robbie Young, Teddy Dawson, Bob Pointer, George Duffield, Jimmy Carter

CRICKET: a Sprowston cricket team in 1922. Back, from left: Cecil Clabburn, Arthur Humphrey, AR Humphrey, Berto Blyth. Middle: Donny Wright, Eddie Dawson, Stanley Pointer, unknown. Front: Jack Carter, Arthur Wegg, Walter Shorten, Stanley Medler

CONCERN: Terry Toomer





EVER NEARER: distant building work can be seen in this view across part of Sprowston Sports and Social Club’s bowling lawn and football pitch


Book honours Hellesdon man’s ‘royal’ life

While sifting through a lifetime’s photos Hellesdon granddad Derek Cate realised he had quite a few with a royal connection.

Derek, 78, his late wife Marjorie , his sister Sylvia and brother-in-law Peter shared a deep admiration for the Queen, and all-things royal have been an important part of their lives.

In a moment of inspiration, Derek decided to compile all his royal photos and memories into a folder and send a copy to Her Majesty, along with a separate folder containing a royal quiz he uses at a variety of functions.

And he was thrilled when he received a letter from Buckingham Palace, thanking him for his gift. Written by a Lady-in-Waiting, the letter said the Queen was glad to know of Derek’s happy memories of sharing events with his family and included the sentence: “I think you would like to know that the Queen was deeply moved by the time and trouble you have taken to create both these folders and very touched you have sent her this gift.”

Derek said: “Before I opened it I thought it was just going to be one of those standard letters but I shed a few tears when I read it. It was a lovely letter.” He has since made more than 20 copies of the folder and given them to recipients ranging from royal residences Sandringham, in Norfolk, and Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, to friends who take them along to share royal memories when visiting elderly people. “It’s good to think that they give so much pleasure,” said Derek, who vividly remembers standing in Trafalgar Square, aged 14, to watch the Queen’s coronation in June 1953, along with 35,000 others.

To mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, in 1977, Marjorie made copies of the coronation regalia. She died in 2009 but Derek decided to use the surviving crown from her collection and made it the centrepiece of his own recreation of the regalia, marking the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, in 2012.

Among his pieces was the orb, made from a spray-painted football, and a golden eagle “ampulla”. Derek transformed a wooden duck statue into an eagle, using moulding clay.

His finished display, which included a lifesize cardboard cut-out of the Queen and two toy corgis bought from the gift shop at Sandringham, toured care homes and schools during jubilee year. On one occasion, during a family trip to Glamis Castle, a woman came towards the group as they were drinking tea in the grounds.

It was the Countess of Strathmore, whose home they had been visiting. She began chatting to the group and Derek has also sent her a folder, receiving a hand-written thank-you letter in reply.

Derek and his wife moved to Norfolk from Gillingham, Kent, in the 1960s after Derek’s National Service at RAF Watton. They had three children and Marjorie also worked as a childminder, Sunday School and playgroup leader.

The couple, committed Christians, also fostered or cared for several children over the years. A keen tennis player, Derek played in the Norwich City League for 30 years. He worked in sales in the hydraulic hoses industry.

He said: “The Queen always seems to be so gracious. She’s had sad times in her life but she’s always very strong and she has a strong faith, which impresses me. “I like the pomp and pageantry of royalty. It’s just magic to me. I don’t think any other country in the world can match us for the wonder of it.”

Derek with a cardboard cut-out of the Queen at one of his displays





















Her Business Brew, a busy year so far

Women’s networking and support group Her Business Brew had a successful inaugural conference to mark International Women’s Day as part of a year of events.

Held at Epic Studios in Norwich, the Her Conference attracted women from all backgrounds, especially businesswomen and those interested in finding out more about networking or starting their own business.

Organiser Serena Fordham, who is behind Her Business Brew, said: “The HER Conference 2018 aimed to bring together women from different groups, businesses, backgrounds and locations across Norfolk and surrounding areas, and I feel we wholeheartedly achieved this.”

“The day showcased inspiring speakers, connected female entrepreneurs, provided educational and empowering masterclasses, as well as raised awareness and funds for women-focused charities.”

Her Business Brew members voted for Leeway as the charity of the year, and an optional donation can be made at each meeting, which are held monthly in four locations in north, south, east and central Norfolk.

Leeway has six safe houses and provides advice, support and information to any adult or child experiencing domestic abuse in Norfolk and Waveney. It was established in 1974 with the help of a £200 start-up grant from Norwich City Council. Over the past four decades, the charity has grown considerably.

Mandy Proctor, Chief Executive of Leeway, said: “We are delighted to be chosen as Her Business Brew’s charity of the year. I would like to thank them for supporting Leeway and showing a commitment to ending domestic abuse. The money that they raise will enable us to continue to provide a high-quality service to those experiencing domestic abuse and help Leeway to continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse within the local community.”

Serena added: “I am proud that myself and the Her Business Brew Team brought everything together to celebrate International Women’s Day with so many incredible local women. The event, which was sponsored by Trusted Law and East of England Co-op, was also in memory of my friend, Sarah Ellis, who left this world too early last year, and my main emotion when I opened the event to see so many faces smiling back at me, was sheer fulfilment of feeling Sarah’s legacy would live on through this event each year.”

Speakers at the conference included Mumbelievable blogger Ursula Taverner, Britannia café founder Davina Turner and Rachel Welch, who has been involved in a project helping Ugandan women with sanitary wear.

This year has also seen the launch of For HER, a new women’s Business, Body and Life Online Chat Show.

Serena said: “For HER is an online group focused around issues affecting women, in business, body and life, and is the home of the bi-weekly online chat show, where women discuss their viewpoints and opinions on women-related topics.”

“The group and chat show intend to raise and expose an array of issues affecting women in all aspects of their life, as well as to raise awareness of charities and social enterprise projects that can help and support women.”

“The idea of the For HER community is to keep the conversations from the chat show going, so that if women are struggling to keep going right now, they have the assurance that they are not alone.”

She has now also launched the For HER Revolution, a members’ subscription package, which offers lots of benefits to any women, on all aspects of business, body and life.

She said: “This project will help to fund the charitable projects, and hopefully later be able to provide grants to women entrepreneurs and social enterprises that aim to also help other women.”

A Her Fitness Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, May 19, 10am-3.30pm to raise more funds for Leeway, to help them to carry on supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

For more information email Serena and the Her Business Brew Team via, You can also find Her Busienss Brew on Facebook or via its website  Also see



Go wild with TV’s Nick at Pensthorpe

TV presenter, author and naturalist Nick Baker is set to open The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s annual community event Wild About the Wensum on Saturday, May 12.

Intrepid explorer and natural history expert Nick, who has presented Weird Creatures (C5), The Really Wild Show (BBC One) and Springwatch Unsprung (BBC Two), will officially open the event, meet members of the public and host a bug hunt.

Wild About the Wensum, now in its 12th year, is a special one-day event held by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust with the sole focus on encouraging people of all ages, especially families who often don’t get the chance to be outdoors, to enjoy the Wensum Valley, within which Pensthorpe Natural Park is located.

This year’s theme, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow, takes a look at the plight of the hare in the English landscape and celebrates Norfolk as one of the last strongholds for hares in Britain.

Local wildlife groups and nature charities such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wensum Alliance and Norfolk Bee Keepers Association will be in attendance plus there will be a special trail to follow and free hands-on nature activities to try.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: “We are thrilled that Nick Baker, someone as passionate about the natural world as we are, will be joining us for our community day. Nick shares our enthusiasm for re-engaging with nature and nothing encapsulates our desire to inspire our visitors more than Wild About the Wensum. We want to encourage all generations to get outdoors and embrace the delights of nature – it’s accessible to all!”

Nick said: “Pensthorpe not only boasts a fabulous location within Norfolk’s environment-rich Wensum Valley but it is a great example of an attraction with a cause – keen to do nothing more than encourage visitors to reconnect with the outdoors. It’s an ethos which is very close to my heart and I look forward to joining them and being part of the event.”

Nick will be hosting a meet and greet in the picnic area at 10am, officially open Wild About the Wensum at 11am, run an interactive bug hunt for children at 2pm, and at 3pm will host a book signing and talk entitled How to Make a Naturalist.

As part of his day at Pensthorpe, Nick will also be invited to judge an art and photography competition, which 39 local primary and junior schools have been invited to take part in.

As the event is aimed at families and those in the local community, Pensthorpe reduce admission prices to a nominal fee of £2 per person for tickets booked online in advance, and £3 per person on the day. Under 3’s are free. Please note there will be an additional charge to access indoor play area Hootz House.

To book tickets or for more information visit



Quality award for Aylsham High’s Eagles

The success of Aylsham High’s nurture group has been recognised for its work with a national quality award.

The team behind the Eagles at the school was presented with Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award by Helen Stollery, head of quality and standards for the organisation.

She visited the school in December to see how the nurture group worked with students to help build confidence among the students.

Majorie Boxall was and educational psychologist who started nurture groups in the later 1960s. She saw children starting school without the inner resources to cope and how they became difficult, often ben sent to “special” schools.

Helen said: “There is a strict set of standards nurture groups have to meet to be awarded this quality mark, as well as the school, and we also measure the social, emotional and educational impact.”

At the end of her report, Helen stated there was a “warm and genuine affection” within the group which “encouraged the relationship between staff and children to flourish”.

There have been 140 students through the Eagles since it was set up nine years ago. And 40 schools from all over the country have been to see the group in action, with the aim to introduce something similar in their own.

Head of nurture Danny Sweatman proudly received the award along with his team. “I feel incredibly lucky to work here,” he said. “It’s incredible to be part of the school and this community.”

He praised his team, which includes TA Sue Tartt and horticultural volunteers Wendy Sadler and Shelley Hudson.

Head Duncan Spalding said: “It’s a feather in our cap. The Eagles are integral to what we do and what makes us special.”

The Eagles can be summed up, however, with comments from the students, who have said: “They have the magic touch”, “teachers always listen” and that the group is like “heaven on earth”.


Gold medalist heading back to North Walsham

Commonwealth Games gold medalist and world-renowned squash pro James Willstrop will be heading back to where it all started on Saturday, May 26.
James won the biggest singles title of his career, beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 to take gold in what he said will be his last Commonwealth Games.
The 34-year-old said: “It just clicked, it was the stuff you dream of.”
James and his father, Malcolm, who coached him as a youngster and was a coach at Rossis in the 1980s, will be coming back to North Walsham to help celebrate 40 years of Squash at Rossis with a special exhibition and dinner. James and Daryl Selby, England No 3, will warm up on court with Matthew Bolt and Tom Smith (No 1 and 2 at Rossis) prior to their exhibition match to be played on both courts in two halves. While, on the other court, Malcolm Willstrop will be running a coaching session with Tom Smith, current Rossis coach, Craig Aldred who coaches at Barnham Broom and Henry Geaves, an up-and-coming player. Later that evening, Rossis will host a two-course hog roast dinner with speeches, live music and the sharing of memories.
Entry will be by ticket only which can be obtained from Rossis on 01692 404966.
Owner Bruce Rossi, said: “Squash has been synonymous with Rossis for many years and to welcome world-class players and coaches back to where it all started is significant.”
Rossis, or North Walsham Bowls Club as it first was, opened its doors in September 1978 on a field next to the family farm with four indoor rinks, followed just a couple of months later with the building of two Banbury Squash Courts.

There’s a lorra lorra love for Cilla musical

Liverpool arrived in Norwich this week.

Following the much-acclaimed television series Cilla, starring Sheridan Smith, I did wonder how this stage show could be equally as good, condensed into just over two hours.

It is quite simple – this show concentrates only on the music and the key stages of Liverpool’s favourite daughter Cilla Black’s rise to stardom.

It all started with Cilla dancing in the now legendary Cavern Club before being invited on stage to sing with the Beatles prior to them becoming worldwide superstars. She performed in front of music mogul Brian Epstein (played by Andrew Lancel, formerly Coronation Street’s Frank Foster).

Epstein encourages Priscilla White to become Cilla Black and, after finding her a ballad to sing – Anyone Who Had A Heart, Cilla became the number one British female pop star in her twenties.

By her side through every part of her adult life was Bobby Willis, played by Carl Au. The role of Bobby in this production is just as important as Cilla herself and Au plays it admirably.

Kara Lily Hayworth plays the lead role with huge shoes to fill, not just Cilla’s but, of course, Sheridan Smith’s. And fill them she does.

This show takes you on a journey and, despite knowing the story, you still find yourself rooting for Cilla as her life takes its twists and turns. The show is full of colour, laughter and heart-wrenching moments as the production takes your through many well-known and lesser-known Cilla favourites.

Although this is a musical, it also has real substance and it is refreshing to see a virtually unknown making us believe that she really is Cilla with her carbon copy voice and accent.

You don’t have to be a Cilla fan to enjoy the show, the audience varied in age from those who can remember her heyday in the 1960s to those today that saw the feel-good television series and wanted to see it live.

There is a string of hits from the era and not just Cilla’s. So, if you are a fan of the sounds of the 60s, then this show is for you.

It has been nearly three years since Cilla left us but her legacy truly lives on with this stage production and we are certainly lucky to have it in Norwich.

Cilla runs until Saturday April 21st and has a mixture of matinees and evening performances. Tickets are available here: or by calling the box office 01603 630000.

Lee Todd

Traffic fears over extra car boot sales

Fears over traffic problems and safety have been raised after the town’s car boot sale was granted permission to open on a second day.

The sales, on Burgh Road, near the junction with the A140, are already held on Saturdays but will now be held on Mondays also – and residents and town councillors are concerned that it will lead to problems with traffic, parking and general safety.

But the organiser said he believed the fears are unfounded and that it would be nowhere near as busy as the Saturday events.

The application had been turned down by Broadland District Council but has now been approved after an appeal. Sales will be held on Mondays from the end of April.

Residents have taken to social media to vent their concerns and a statement from Aylsham Town Council said that members had looked at the application in detail and still believed it should have been refused.

The boot sale site is near to the high school and, as vendors could set up from 7am, the council feared that they could be arriving around the same time as children were being dropped off at school. There were also worries over commuters on the main and busy road between Cromer and Norwich.

“Although a car boot sale is held on this site on a Saturday, the pressure on the roads at the weekend is not as great nor is there the same level of time urgency for arrival at work,” said town clerk Sue Lake.

The petrol station and drive-through coffee shop is also accessed by the same junction via the new roundabout and Sue added: “This application was made prior to their opening and, again, we do not have full details of the impact on traffic flow these will have.”

Parking for the sales had previously caused problems and the new application says there is parking for more than 600 cars, which has raised fears of roads being blocked and residents being inconvenienced.

But organiser Dave Penrose, who has run the sales for many years, believes that the Monday sales will attract fewer people than the Saturday events and will not cause the problems people are predicting.

“There will be no more traffic than for the Aylsham sale,” he said. “And it won’t be as busy as Saturday.”

He said previous parking problems had now been curtailed thanks to better signs around the site.

The Highways Authority had said that peak times for the car boot sale would be from 11am when buyers arrive, but the town council says this is “naïve”.

“Buyers arrive far earlier than this to try and obtain bargains. Also the larger traffic, ie the sellers in vans, will be arriving and leaving at peak time which will coincide with both the start and finish of the school day.

“The Town Council have looked at this application in detail and still retain the view that the application should be refused. The main reason is related to the highway issues,” said Sue.