Selection box of showbiz fun

‘Tis the season to see Olly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Norfolk’s multi-talented Olly Day has hosted this annual festive frolic for 14 years. His cocktail of “dad joke” comedy, warm repartee with the audience, magic tricks, tomfoolery and tuneful singing are a distillation of what the show is all about – live family-friendly variety with a seasonal flavour.

Olly Day at his “second home” Cromer Pier

This year’s show has all the elements of traditional Christmas entertainment such as music, dance, magic and comedy sketches, but with modern trimmings including a stunning Irish dance routine, jaw-dropping woman in a box illusion, and even a new Singing Postman song.

Olly reminded the audience that, while Cromer is the only place in the world to be hosting a full-season end-of-the-pier show, it was keen to “not to be a museum piece” and aimed to keep “whizzy and up to date.”

Stand-out moments are some colourful all-cast song and dance numbers enhanced by eye-catching costumes, along with clever scenery, atmospheric lighting and some enchanting video back projections including a mesmerising nativity sand art backdrop to a haunting vocal number.

The lead vocalists see pier regular, and show director Rob McVeigh, joined by newcomer Avalon Lilly, from Dereham, making an impressive debut at the “shed on stilts” as Olly calls it.

Illusionist duo Amethyst, also returnees, astounded with their “how on earth did they do that?” sliding box routine.

Saxophonist Chloe-Edwards-Wood, who also appeared  last year, gave a jazzy twist to Walking The Air, and the six-strong dance ensemble switched effortlessly from graceful elegant ballet, to energetic feet-clattering Celtic tap.

But in true Cromer Pier tradition many of the cast members show other talents and muck in with routines – such as the If I Was Not Upon the Stage musical sketch. And watch out for Olly and illusionist Danny dipping their terpsichorean toes into Swan Lake. 

The show starts with a Dickensian Street scene and ends with a clap-along finale complete with snow flurry. And even an appearance of The Grinch cannot take the shine off a sparkling evening of live entertainment to brighten up anyone’s Christmas. 

CHEEEESE!: Olly Day focuses on the opening number

The two-hour runs until December 30, six days a week, with matinee and evening performances. Prices from £25 (adult) and £17 (child) from or the box office on 01263 512495.

Glitter in the feathery finale

REVIEW: Richard Batson.

PICTURES: Will Jarvis.

Town’s double delight at community awards

The vital work of two Aylsham organisations has been recognised in the Broadland Community at Heart Awards.
The accolades recognise the outstanding achievements by people and groups across the district who go above and beyond to support others.
Among the winners of the awards, run by Broadland Council, were Aylsham Care Trust and Aylsham Community Church.
The church won the Community Group of the Year prize for their efforts to bring the community in and around Aylsham much closer together.
The venue, in Norwich Road, attracts more than 90 people for informal and contemporary Sunday worship – but tailors its weekdays to meet the needs of local people.
Its team of volunteers run a community café, monthly lunches in their Warm Welcome Space, provide a local space for Citizen’s Advice, and host a community fridge which has given away 13 tonnes of food, which would otherwise go to waste, since it opened at Easter 2021.
The church also offers support and supplies to Ukrainian refugees that have settled in the area, along with running English lessons, and classes in computer technology, and household money management.
Church Elder Peter Atthill said: “We were thrilled to get nominated and shortlisted in the final three, and delighted to win the award. It is wonderful to get recognised for the work we are doing, which is echoed by other churches in the area who have always been a key part of the community throughout history.
“Our offer changed completely after Covid and we do whatever we can to get people the help they need.”

HONOURED: (L-R) Susan Holland, Leader of Broadland Council with Aylsham Community Church’s Sue Houghton, Sarah Mason and Theresa Finch.

ACT, which was set up more than 35 years ago, won the Business in the Community Award for their work offering a wide range of services to help people continue to live independently as well as combatting loneliness in the community.
This includes offering day trips to local areas of interest and tourist attractions, as well as a vibrant Orange Blossom community café, where people feel safe, warm and welcome.
They also run lunch clubs, transport services, hot meals deliveries, day care including dementia support and music therapy, plus befriending.
ACT operations manager Fiona O’Hara, who accepted the award, said: “Awards are very much about all of the team effort and ACT know that this award is very much in recognition of all that the volunteers and staff do to support the community.”
Chief executive Philip Macdonald, added: “We want to reach as many people who need us in Aylsham and the surrounding areas and now more than ever we recognise the need for our services.  This award shows our team and the people who use our services how vital it is for us to continue all our hard work.”

AWARD: ACT chief executive Philip Macdonald with their award.

Find out more about the winners’ services at and

Church to celebrate 150th anniversary

Christ Church Eaton will be celebrating its 150th Anniversary over the weekend of November 25 and 26. 
It is one of the many churches built in response to the huge increase in population during Queen Victoria’s reign.

SPECIAL OCCASION: Christ Church Eaton is getting ready to celebrate its 150th anniversary.  Picture: STUART BEARD PHOTOGRAPHY

In Norwich, the population rose from 37,256 in 1811 to 80,368 in 1871. In response, a huge number of places of worship were built on previously agricultural land where there had been a great influx of people.
Work was began in faith and progressed rapidly; although the monies needed were great – many churches were built and opened before all the monies needed had been secured – including Eaton.
There will be a thanksgiving service at 10am on Sunday, November 26, to which all are welcome. 
The Bishop of Norwich, The Lord Mayor, The Lady Mayoress, and the Sheriff will be in attendance and the service will be followed by sparkling refreshments and nibbles.
A new anthem, Behold! How Good and Joyful it is, by Simon Lole, has been specially commissioned and will be featured. 
A Fantastic Fish Exhibition will be held in the church from November 24-27. Everyone was invited to take part and a huge range of entries have been received from young and old, individuals and groups. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Town gets ready for big lights switch-on

The final preparations are being made for Aylsham’s Christmas lights switch-on, which takes place on Friday, November 24.  

CHRISTMAS TIME: Images of last year’s Christmas lights.  Pictures: IAN GRAVENELL.

There will be craft stalls, hot drinks and mulled wine in the Town Hall, food vendors in the Market Place and further stalls down Red Lion Street. The stalls will open at 5pm, with the lights being switched on at 6pm. 

Many of the local shops will be staying open late so people can mix the festive atmosphere with some Christmas shopping. 

Music will be provided for the event by Aylsham High School students from their production of Oliver, the Vocalights Choir and Bill Downs. 

Santa’s grotto will be open from 5pm in its new location, the Green Room at the Town Hall, which is accessible from The Loke. Cash and card payments can be taken on the night. 

The popular Letter to Santa postbox will also be open on the night and will stay open until December 12. Details of what to include in your letter can be found on the town council website:  

Donna Butcher, Events and Administration Officer at Aylsham Town Council, said: “I can’t quite believe that we’re at this time of year again already.  

“The past year has been difficult in different ways for many people, I hope that on this evening we can bring some Christmas cheer to the town and people will have fun and enjoy themselves.” 

The lights were put up by the Aylsham Christmas Lights Committee with the help of a band of volunteers.

Road closures will be in place from the following times to make it a safe event. Market Place will close at 2pm, Red Lion Street at 2.30pm and Bank Street/Penfold Street at 4pm.  

Bank Street/Penfold Street will reopen at 9pm and all the roads will be open again by 10pm. 

Club to host international football festival

An international festival of youth football, celebrating Norwich’s twin partnerships with Rouen and Koblenz, will be hosted by a Cringleford club next summer.
Cringleford Junior Football Club is organising the event for August 3 and 4 and hundreds of young players will descend on Easton College to take part.
The five-a-side ‘Cringleford Cup’ will draw teams from across the local area, England and Norwich’s twin cities of Rouen in France and Koblenz in Germany. Teams from other countries may also appear.

ON THE BALL: Players from Cringleford Junior Football Club will take taking part in next summer’s tournament.

In total, 768 players from 96 teams, spanning six age groups (under-8 to under-13), are set participate – cheered on by big crowds.

Organisers say the tournament promises and inclusive approach, with boys’, girls’ and mixed teams taking part.

The tournament will start on the Saturday with two groups of eight in each age section. Every team will play a final at the end of the day against the team which finished in the same position in the other group.
Sunday will feature a knockout tournament based on the results from the previous day.

Chris Good, Cringleford Junior Football Club Coach & Tournament Lead, said: “We’re honoured to facilitate bringing together our twin cities through the enjoyment of youth football.
“This is an inclusive tournament for boys, girls, mixed teams, abilities levels and nationalities. The unique format of the tournament provides all players with the opportunity to experience the highs (and sometimes lows) of playing in a final, with the Sunday split into two separate tournaments per age group based on ability, ensuring games are evenly matched to encourage development and enjoyment. It’s set to be a fantastic festival of football.”
The tournament is oversubscribed in all age group except the under-13s.
Organisers would welcome interest from more Norfolk teams, in case of cancellations, and are also looking for additional sponsors for the event.
Cringleford Junior FC chairman Mick Sanders added: “We’re delighted to be hosting this event, and the approach is fully consistent with the Cringleford Junior Football Club philosophy of ‘football for fun’.”
The event, which will run from 9am to 6.30pm on both days, will give young players the opportunity to experience new playing styles and will enhance the ‘twin’ partnerships between Norwich, Rouen and Koblenz.
Bert Bremner, of the Norwich City Twinning Group (Rouen Lead), said: “As the Norwich Rouen Twinning group, we fully support the work of the Cringleford Football Club to have an international football weekend, and welcome youngsters from Rouen.
“In May 2029, Rouen and Norwich will celebrate their 70th anniversary as twinned cities, and we are hoping that Rouen will be the 2028 European Capital of Culture. We feel it is still important to keep and expand the links between our two cities, to encourage links, as individuals, groups, and businesses.
“Over the years links have included archaeologists, architects, artists, choirs, dancers, The Garage, lawyers, medical staff, Morris Dancers, musicians, firefighters, ramblers, rowers, schools, plus a whole variety of sports clubs. And we want the connections between Norwich and Rouen to involve everyone in and around Norwich.
For more information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Chris Good at or call 07736 285161. You can also visit the Cringleford JFC Facebook page.

Ploughing deep into town’s rich heritage

Two new sculptures are digging into the rich history of North Walsham area.
The pair stand sentinel next to steps leading from the parish church to the St Nicholas precinct.
Shaped like ploughshares (the main cutting blades of ploughs), they give a steely snapshot into local heritage ranging from farming and fire, to markets and manufacturing.  
They are particularly geared at giving younger people an insight into the town’s past  – with a QR code which, with the click of a smart phone, unlocks more information about bygone days in the community and its surrounding area.

Artist Berni Marfleet (centre) with Community Shop chair Annie Abbs and panel designer Richard Crossley. Richard is also pictured with the panel he designed.  Pictures: RICHARD BATSON

One sculpture explores North Walsham’s early history with features including sheep shears representing the thriving wool industry, flames to mark the devastating Great Fire of 1600, and  a  Fleur de Lys symbol of the famous local Paston family. 
The other focuses on the past 200 years, with a gas burner linked to the Bacton terminal, a spanner marking local engineering firms, an anchor reflecting links with the canal and Lord Nelson, and a heavy horseshoe highlighting the foundation of the national agricultural workers’ union in the town in 1906.
Both were made by local sculptor Berni Marfleet using found and donated items which are welded to the 1m high ploughs.
He said: “The aim is to provide an entertaining way of learning about the history of the town we live in for residents and visitors.
“It is particularly focused at younger people, hopefully giving them a sense of belonging to a rich and proud local tradition and heritage and also an opportunity to find out and explore more.”
A nearby interpretation board, designed by Richard Crossley, briefly explains the significance of each piece together. A QR code opening a links to the North Walsham Heritage Centre which can provide more information and background.

The project came about through the idea of the late Paul Oakes, founder of the Community Shop. It is sponsored by the town council and Regenerate North Walsham, as a part of the Market Towns Initiative works to the area.
Funding was also boosted by a grant from the Community Shop and there was support from the church and other organisations such as the Heritage Centre. The sculptures were officially launched by the local Priest-in-Charge David Warner.
Town mayor Bob Wright said the sculptures were a great example of co-operation between community groups, adding: “We hope the sculptures will encourage residents and visitors, especially younger generations, to explore our past.”

Town set to sparkle once more thanks to volunteers

A dedicated group of volunteers will see all their hard work come to fruition in just a few weeks when North Walsham’s Christmas lights are switched on.  

Scenes from last year’s Christmas lights switch-on event. Pictures: ANDREA HUDSON PHOTOGRAPHY

The group of 12 have spent several Sunday mornings getting the town ready for the main event on Saturday, November 25.  

Colin Jeary, Chairman of the North Walsham Christmas Lights Committee, said: “The Christmas lights rely purely on volunteers who are willing to give up a few hours, so we can make sure the town has lights each year. 

“All of the town’s lights are funded purely by donations from traders and grants. Each year the team try to improve or add a little extra but it’s always dependent on what’s achievable in the few weeks of erecting.” 

This year’s switch-on will once again take place in the Market Place, as well as spilling over into Church Street where Santa will be in his grotto.  

Colin added: “With the regeneration of the town, we have had to cut back on the funfair rides this year, but are actively looking at options for next year already.  

“There will be a street fair with food, drink and craft stalls from 2pm, with live entertainment including the Salvation Army Band leading up to the switch on at 6pm.” 

For more information about the switch-on event, see the Facebook page at 

People are invited to celebrate New Year’s Eve at North Walsham Community Centre. There will be live music, with Lowrider playing songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and the event runs from 7.30pm to 1am.  

Tickets must be bought in advance. The cost is £22 for adults and £10 for children aged up to 16 and includes food. To book call 01692 402116. 

School library starts a new chapter

A school community gathered to enjoy the official opening of a new library, which will give pupils more opportunities to develop their reading skills.
The families of pupils at Kinsale Junior School, in Hellesdon, will also be able to use the new library to share their child’s reading journey.
The official opening was performed by Sara Goatcher from the Zoological Society of East Anglia.

NEW ERA: A ceremony was held to mark the official opening of the new library at Kinsale Junior School.  Pictures: WENSUM TRUST

A school spokesperson said: “Sara spends lots of time in our school teaching our children about science, animals and conservation, so it was wonderful to invite her to officially cut the ribbon.
“The whole school, along with parents and colleagues from the Wensum Trust, gathered to witness the cutting of the ribbon before families had the opportunity to look around the new library.
“The new library will provide our children with more opportunities to read a variety of books and we will be opening it up to families to share their child’s reading journey with them.”