Recognition for Dorothy

Second World War veteran Dorothy Mann, 95, was a VIP for the day when she was formally presented with the Légion d’honneur – France’s top honour – for her vital work during the conflict.

Dorothy worked as a wireless operator from February 1943 until the end of the war, supporting the Special Operations Executive (SOE), known as Churchill’s Secret Army.

SOE agents would carry out acts of sabotage and subversion behind enemy lines, fulfilling Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s order that they should “Set Europe ablaze!”

Dorothy, who lives at the Royal British Legion’s Halsey House care home in Cromer, was a wartime member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and would send and receive Morse code messages from French Resistance agents in the field in the run-up to, during, and after D-Day.

More than 70 years after the end of the conflict, she and eight other surviving FANYs around the country have at last received recognition following a long fight for justice.

Dorothy lived in Jannys Close, Aylsham, from 2004 until moving to Halsey House in the summer of 2017.  Her children, daughters Rosie Hepworth and Julie Ashworth, live in Aylsham.

They joined her at Halsey House, where others present included RBL officials, for the medal presentation by FANYS representative Commander Alex Milne, of the all-women PRVC who are on call 24/7 to provide support to civil and military authorities in times of national crisis.

Commander Milne said: “I am sure at the time it did not seem that the work you were doing was vital to the liberation of France or the successful outcome of the war but history tells us otherwise.” 

A letter to Dorothy from the French Ambassador, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, thanked her for her role. He added: “We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.”

Dorothy was also formally presented with her 1939-1945 War Medal by Commander Milne.

Born Dorothy Clapham, in New Catton, her father Bertie founded the Clapham and Collinge solicitors. Dorothy worked as a secretary at City Hall, Norwich, after leaving school. Her first role in the war was as a warden, patrolling the streets after dark checking that nobody was breaking the blackout by showing a light.  Her father used to accompany her on these rounds as he didn’t like his young daughter being out alone at night.

She enlisted in the FANYs, aged 20, in February 1943, and was selected to support the work of the SOE. After her initial training, Dorothy was sent for wireless and telegraphy training.

In June 1943 she was posted to Buckinghamshire, where FANYs were billeted in a vicarage to cover 24-hour shifts supporting SOE agents.

According to her daughter Rosie, Dorothy would use the call sign of the day to contact agents and would then receive five-column letter codes from them which would be sent for decoding to places like Bletchley Park, the top-secret codebreakers’ base. “She never knew what the messages said or what they were. There were certain times of day when agents would try and send messages so she would be listening out for them,” said Rosie.

After her demobilisation, Dorothy became secretary to the general manager at Norwich Union. In 1953 she married Arthur Mann, an RAF Coastal Command veteran. He died in 1998.

Rosie said her mother had been “thrilled and overawed” by the presentation. She added. “It was a lovely occasion. Julie and I were so proud of her.”

Dorothy also has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Paupers’ Graveyard public meeting

There will be a public meeting at Aylsham’s Paupers’ Graveyard on Wednesday May 8 at 6pm when Aylsham Town Council and volunteers will present their plans for transforming the derelict half-acre site into a peaceful environment appropriate for all. The site is between Mill Close and Sapwell Close, behind the old St Michael’s workhouse. The entrance gates are in Mill Close. If the weather is unsuitable for an outdoor meeting then it will be held in the ACT Centre, on St Michael’s Avenue. Anyone unable to attend but who wishes to make comments should contact town clerk Sue Lake on 01263 733354 or

St Michael’s workhouse, Aylsham.

Lewis set for mega-marathon (sore) feat

Aylsham runner Lewis Blois will be putting a few miles behind him over the next few days – 182-plus.

Lewis, 37, is planning to run a phenomenal seven marathons in seven days and will start his feat in Aylsham on Easter Monday, April 22.

He and his running buddy Jon Norman, 40, from Costessey, are both chaplains at Norwich City FC and Jon is lead pastor at Norwich’s SOUL Church.

They are raising money to build a home on Heartsease Lane, Norwich, for the church and the SOUL foundation which helps some of the most under-privileged local people with food, clothing, education, mentoring, companionship and practical support.

“I have previously done five marathons to raise money for Parkinson’s UK as my grandfather suffers badly from the disease,” said Lewis. “Jon has also done two marathons and an ultra-marathon but let me assure you, neither of us are runners. We do not enjoy running and neither of us do it for fun, this is purely a sacrifice we are making to achieve the goal to help build the new facility.”

Lewis was brought up in Aylsham and went to John of Gaunt and Bure Valley schools. He moved back to the town last May with his family and his son plays for Aylsham FC under-13s.

“We wanted to keep the runs local to allow people to join some of them,” Lewis added.
“We have involved Norwich City FC in two of the runs as they are fully behind what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. “The last run we do will be between the current SOUL church site on Mason Road and the new site at Heartsease which we will run to and back five times.”

The pair started training in May last year and over the past six weeks they have managed 70-100 miles a week.

Lewis added: “A highlight will be arriving at Carrow Road before the game with Blackburn to hopefully be part of a promotion party!”

* To support Lewis visit:

Jon Norman and Lewis Blois

Countdown to sausage event!

Are you ready for a sizzler of a Sunday?

The grills and action will be hotting up on May 12 from 10am for Aylsham’s first Big Sausage Bash, celebrating one of Britain’s favourite meaty treats.

As well as the chance to taste and buy dozens of beautiful bangers and other great grub in Market Place, visitors will be able to watch top local chefs and butchers using sausages to prepare and cook mouth-watering dishes in the town hall.

Other attractions will include over 40 food stalls, a sausage competition, live music, and children’s activities at the parish church including a climbing tower and face painting.

Entries have been flooding in for a children’s competition to invent the most original and tasty new sausage flavour and the winning recipe, made by Aylsham’s Coxfords Butchers, will be available to buy.

Visitors will also be able to buy cooked sausages from all the butchers represented in Market Place and vote for their favourite.

Stalls selling a range of locally-produced food and drink, including beers and chutneys, will also be setting out their wares.

The Black Boys pub will have an outside bar and The Unicorn will offer live music.

Cash raised on the day will be shared between the Aylsham Cluster of Schools, Aylsham Parish Church, Aylsham Scouts, Cancer Research UK, Mind Norwich and Hospitality Action UK.


Catch these experts in Aylsham Town Hall:

10.30am: Simon Hunter Marsh, local chef and forager with Ade Piff the Spice Man.

11am: Coxfords Butchers, with Johnny and Jason, co-organisers of the Big Sausage Bash.

11.30am: Daniel Frear, head chef at Stratton House Hotel, Swaffham,  and Michael Chamberlain, head chef at Holkham’s The Victoria Inn.

Noon: Old Hall Farm butchery, with Tilly Paul.

12.30pm: Adrian Oliver, chef and winner of the Sausage Roll Off 2019, with Dav Browning, executive chef from Plymouth Theatre Royal.

1pm: Papworths Butchers, with the butcher who needs no introduction, Mr Sam Papworth.

1.15pm: Roger Hickman, chef patron of Roger Hickman’s, Norwich.

1.45pm: Walsingham Farms and Tim Allen, pig farmer to the butchery stars of the high street.

2pm: Mark Fitch, winner of Home Chef of the Year award and columnist for the Norfolk Magazine.

2.30pm: The one and only master butcher himself, Mr Icarus Hines, getting a little tied up with sausages – and a chance for a little competition.

3pm: Black Boys pub, Aylsham, Gary Heffer.

Coxfords Butchers are one of the organisers for this new event in Aylsham.

Aylsham voters to go to polls

Voters in Aylsham will go to the polls on Thursday May 2 to elect their Broadland District Council representatives and Aylsham Town Council members. The polls will be open between 7am and 10pm.
Votes will be counted from 9am on Friday May 3 at The Space, Roundtree Way, Sprowston.

Meet the seven candidates hoping to become one of Aylsham’s three representatives on Broadland District Council.

Sue Catchpole – Liberal Democrat

On election, following a career in HR and business, I joined Broadland District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Wellbeing Panel and Broadland Group of Children’s Centres Partnership Board.  I believe my role is to challenge for a fairer future for our whole community, staying on top of issues raised by local people.  I seek and listen carefully to residents’ opinions so that I can truly represent your views.
Working part-time as a volunteer with a local advice agency alerts me to the very real difficulties that some people are currently facing in their lives; I carry that experience into council meetings.
I not only live in Aylsham, but I also have a life in Aylsham as an active member of U3A Photography Group, Aylsham Tennis Club and Vocalights Community Choir.
The urgent priorities that I intend to tackle are housing, transport and practical support for families with young children.

David Harrison – Liberal Democrat

My wife and I have lived in Aylsham for the past 25 years and have two married daughters. I’m very proud of the town, and am a long-standing member of AylshamTown Council. I have been your district councillor since 2004 and your county councillor since 2007. At the county I have been a cabinet member and also deputy leader so I have considerable experience of local government at all levels, and I do have a particular interest in health and education. Before becoming a councillor I was a research scientist working in the UK and overseas, a university lecturer and a local science teacher. For recreation I play table tennis in the Aylsham club and I swim whenever I can. My first novel, a thriller called the Research Man, has just been published.

Peter Harwood – Labour

Electing Peter Harwood will give Aylsham an experienced councillor who has served Norfolk as a town, district and county councillor. He has a long and respected record of public service, which means he knows how things work and how to get things done.
Peter has a strong commitment to education and children’s social services, and is a school governor and trustee of a multi-academy trust. Professionally, he is an electronics engineer and before retiring worked for 20 years at UEA. Personally he has strong family links to Alysham.

Lloyd Mills – Independent

I have lived in Aylsham for nearly 30 years, starting as a teacher at the (then) middle school. For the past 11 years I have been a parish council clerk. Five years ago I joined Aylsham Town Council and have been its chairman for the past three years.
Before moving here I was an archaeologist, so when the opportunity arose to volunteer at the archives in Aylsham Town Hall I leapt at the chance.
I have been pleased to be involved in the development of the Neighbourhood Plan, which will hopefully come to referendum in a few months’ time. We have a wonderful collection of small independent shops and need to help them thrive. Although difficult, we must keep trying to find solutions to the traffic and parking problem in the centre. It is also important that residents on the new estates are made to feel part of the town.

Steve Riley – Liberal Democrat

My wife and I have two adult daughters who attended Aylsham High, and a young son who will also attend Aylsham High in the near future. I have been incredibly proud to support the town and residents as one of your Broadland District Councillors being first elected to represent Aylsham in 2013.
Between then and now I have taken up case work for individual residents and supported the town and parish councils with difficult issues.
I have also served on the planning committee, service and efficiency committee, and chaired the overview and scrutiny committee which holds the council to account.
I put the experience I have amassed in these roles, together with my previous career as a national negotiator and later as a business owner, to resolve issues and improve services for residents.  I believe in listening to people, ensuring that residents’ concerns are put first, before bureaucracy or politics.

Philip Williams – Labour

I moved to Norfolk some years ago after retiring. My wife and step children are all Norfolk born and bred. I have been a member of the Labour Party and active on an off for the last 40 years. I became active again in the last three years as I realised that my grandchildren will not have the opportunities that I had unless we halt the destruction of communities and ongoing underfunding of vital public services by Conservative governments and councils. Being elected as district councillor would enable me to give a voice and work on behalf of everyone in the community. We need to rebuild those communities and provide the services we all deserve to enable everyone to live their lives to the fullest and contribute to the community.

Jonathan Wilton – Conservative

As your Conservative candidate in the forthcoming district elections let me introduce myself: I joined the Army from school, and served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Oman., after which I worked in reinsurance in the Middle East and Far East, returning to England in 2016.
I am married to Alice, and we have one son, who went to school in Norfolk.
I serve on the Wood Dalling Parish Council.
Having spent many years living in countries which did not allow representative democracy, I regard the right to vote as both a privilege and a duty and therefore offer myself as your prospective councillor and hope that you will reward me with your vote.
In return I promise to represent the views and help with the needs of all Aylsham residents and to work to ensure that they receive the best possible value for the taxes they contribute.

A total of 16 candidates are seeking election to Aylsham Town Council which has 13 seats.
They are:  BENNETT Joan April, BENNETT Trevor John, CLARK-WARD Rodney Brian, CURTIS David Robin, EVANS Mary, HARRISON David George, LANCASTER Barry John, MARRIOTT Nick, MILLS Lloyd Ronald, OVERTON Annette Mary, PREKOPP Pat, RACKHAM Jonathan William, SHAW Valerie Ann, SPRINGALL Eileen Edith, WHITE Steve, SWEETZER Barbie.

Proposal unveiled for £4.15m Cancer centre at Cromer hospital

Macmillan Cancer Support invests £2.2 million to support growing number of people living with cancer in North Norfolk

A £4.15million proposal to build a state-of-the-art cancer care and support centre at Cromer and District Hospital has been unveiled today.

Macmillan Cancer Support has been working with Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to develop proposals for the centre.

In the 2015 local cancer strategy, potential demand for cancer services within the Trust was forecast to increase by over 200% over ten years.[i]

Currently most people from the Cromer area have to travel to Norwich for treatment and the new centre will enable more people to access cancer treatment and support closer to home.

The building, which will see the refurbishment and extension of a disused ward, will be called the North Norfolk Macmillan Centre.

The centre, on the site of the former Davison Unit, will include:

· Six chemotherapy treatment chairs with capacity to treat up to 36 patients a day.

· Three new clinic rooms and two new minor procedure rooms, creating an additional 10,000 outpatient appointments annually.

· A Macmillan cancer information and support centre.

· The new unit will also free up space in the main Cromer Hospital building to deliver an extra 600 surgical procedures in dermatology, urology, vascular surgery and pain management.

A planning application will be submitted later this year and, if granted, the building work is expected to take around a year.

The majority of funding for the centre will come from Macmillan Cancer Support, which is providing up to £2.2 million and Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity, which is contributing £1.5million. The remaining £450,000 is coming out of NNUH Trust funds.

Gwyneth Tyler, Macmillan Head of Services for South and East England, said: “The number of people living with cancer is growing and predicted to rise from 2.5million today to four million by 2030[ii]. This centre will help to meet the growing need in North Norfolk and enable more people to get treatment and support closer to home.

“At Macmillan, we also know that cancer can affect every part of your life, not just your health and that’s why the centre will include a Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Service.

“We are delighted to be working with the Trust to improve cancer care for people in North Norfolk but we can only do so thanks to the public’s generous support for Macmillan. As a charity, we are entirely reliant on public donations and need the public’s continued support to enable us to be there for the growing number of people with cancer.”

Mark Davies, NNUH Chief Executive, said: “This is an amazing first step in a joint partnership with Macmillan which will deliver clear benefits for our patients. It represents a significant investment for the Trust and the N&N Hospitals Charity, totalling nearly £2million and confirms the importance of Cromer Hospital in our plans to increase capacity.

“Working together on this new development with Macmillan is an important part of our cancer strategy to expand services and meet the needs of patients living in this rural county.”

Professor Erika Denton, NNUH Medical Director, said: “Our cancer centre is one of the largest in the UK, treating 6,000 patients each year. We deliver a range of specialist services across Norfolk and further afield. Although patients will still need to come to Norwich for some of their appointments, this is a fantastic opportunity to deliver more care closer to people’s homes and reduce the number of journeys to Norwich.”

Grant boost for canal lock restoration

Work will start this summer on restoring Ebridge Lock, the best-known of the six along the North Walsham and Dilham Canal.

The project, estimated to cost up to £35,000, has been made possible thanks to a £26,000 EU LEADER grant to the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust which is working with the canal owners to regenerate the 19th-century waterway.

The funding will cover the cost of manufacturing the top gates and “stop planks”, which block off the lock enabling repairs to be carried out. 

Volunteers will carry out the restoration with some professional help and the trust is appealing for donations to cover the cost of specialist contractors, materials such as bricks for the lock walls, and equipment hire.

“The Ebridge Lock area has become a magnet for locals and tourists to walk, fish, boat or just sit since the Old Canal Company (OCC) restored the reach to Ebridge,” said  trust chairman Ivan Cane.

“However, the waters are only held back by a wall of cement bags placed at the top of the lock some 60 years ago. This grant will lead to the replacement of the bag wall with new gates – that will sustain the present level of water for people and nature, as well as being a visual reminder of the past. This will also be the first stage in the restoration of the second lock on the canal.”

Bacton Wood Lock, one mile upstream, has been restored over a 10-year period by the OCC, which owns that stretch of the waterway, and volunteers.

Once nearly nine miles long, the canal opened in 1826 to ferry cargoes to and from mills and communities along its route. But it went into decline with the arrival of the railway and the last wherry sailed it in 1934.

Disuse led to the waterway becoming choked with vegetation and Ebridge Lock, along with the rest of the canal infrastructure, rusted, rotted and crumbled. 

It is the most visible of the canal’s locks, standing beside the road from North Walsham to Happisburgh, on Ebridge Mill Pond.