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. 

Family’s pledge to keep fighting for justice

The family of a north Norfolk man who died in suspicious circumstances while working in Africa insist they won’t stop fighting for justice, despite repeated knock-backs from the authorities.

MP Duncan Baker recently wrote to the Foreign Office about the unresolved case of Dr Ding Col Dau Ding, who lived in Cromer.

The British national was killed at the age of 39 while practising medicine in South Sudan in October 2015. The authorities there initially said he had taken his own life, but his family quickly poked holes in that theory, and urged the UK government to investigate.

But since then, they say they have received little help, despite multiple attempts to get the government to intervene.

Mr Baker’s predecessor, Norman Lamb, first raised the matter with then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, but that went nowhere, his family said.

Mr Baker asked a question about the matter in the House of Commons in 2021, before sending a further request for information to the government last month.

Dr Ding’s brother, Dr Dau Ding – who is also from Norfolk and works in the UK – has vowed that he “will not fail to get justice”, but added: “I feel very angry. I am very bitter about it all.

“The UK government have not taken this issue seriously at all. That is the main thing that has made me angry.

“They are not being straight with me. They have been evasive and opaque.

“At worst, that has been intentional because of some ill-conceived diplomacy within the Foreign Office; at best, it has been because of incompetence.”

The latest attempt by Mr Baker to raise the issue with the government has led to a reply from Andrew Mitchell, minster for Africa.

He said: “I recognise that this continues to be a distressing time for Dr Ding and I appreciate his frustration that we have not yet received a response from the South Sudanese minister of foreign affairs regarding his brother’s case.”

Dr Ding’s brother is convinced the murder has been covered up because of political connections his family has in the country.

“I now know who killed my brother and why they did it,” he said.

“But more importantly, I now know why there has been an extensive attempt to sweep my brother’s murder under the carpet by the South Sudanese government. It is political.”

Despite the official ruling that the death was a suicide, he says there is plenty of evidence pointing instead to murder.

He said there was no gun in his brother’s hand, he had been shot from behind, and there was no blood splatter at the scene.

Threats had been made against him previously, and CCTV recordings of the property appeared to have been removed.

Before Mr Baker’s most recent intervention, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the responsibility for investigating deaths abroad belonged to the local authorities.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “We provided assistance to the family of a British man who died in South Sudan and were in contact with the local authorities.”

When asked what British nationals should do if they encountered resistance or a lack of co-operation from authorities overseas, the FCDO said it had no further comment.

Dr Ding Col Dau Ding attended Aylsham High School and Paston Sixth Form College before going to university at Bristol and Oxford, where he got a PhD in neuroscience, before returning to Bristol to train as a medical doctor.

Mr Baker’s office said that he would not comment publicly on the grounds that it was a constituency “casework inquiry”.

The South Sudanese embassy in London has been contacted for comment.

Adam Aiken

Soprano takes centre stage

A Wroxham-based soprano will be taking centre stage at a special concert in Norwich at the weekend.

Katalin Prentice will be the soloist with the Pakefield singers when they present Glory and Grandeur, a concert for organs and choir, and featuring anthems including Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Buxtehude’s Toccata in F as well as works by Mozart and Mascagni.

“I feel honoured to be invited to sing the soprano solos with the Pakefield Singers under the direction of conductor Vetta Wise and to be a part of this truly magnificent musical project,” said Katalin, who is Hungarian and has lived in the UK for 11 years and in Wroxham since 2015.

A dentist by profession, she stopped working when pregnant with her first daughter – she now has two – and said classical music and singing has always been her passion.

“Shortly after I moved to the United Kingdom I started vocal training with Nan Christie in London, and soon after relocating to Norfolk I met my lovely singing teacher, Vetta Wise, who has been guiding me on my musical journey ever since,” she said. “With her help and support in 2017 I completed the one-year opera course at the Associated Studios Performing Arts Academy in London, gaining a diploma in opera singing. In 2019 I finished my Trinity College ATCL Performers diploma with distinction.”

Complications with both her pregnancies took their toll and she said it has taken her a while to retrain her voice, but she has now been chosen for this important role at St Peter Mancroft on Saturday night.

She also recently took part in two international competitions, winning an honourable mention at Odin International Music Competition and the Grand Prix at the Alpin Triglav 2021 International Music, Dance and Fine Art Competition.

“As a result of winning the competition in July 2022 I performed at the prize winners’ gala concert in one of Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, the Crystal Hall in Rogaška Slatina (Slovenia) representing the United Kingdom,” said Katalin.

The concert is at 7pm and tickets are £12.50, under-16s free. Tickets can be bought on the door or from

Dad’s smash walking challenge

Two intrepid walkers have reached the finish line of a 190-mile challenge – and smashed their fundraising target for a hospital intensive care baby unit.

Long-time friends Matt Dyke and Martin Church braved howling wind, torrential rain, blisters and muscle strains in an epic coast-to-coast trek from Cumbria to Yorkshire in just five days.

Soggy start in Cumbria

When the going got tough they had to split into two teams so they could walk at their own pace – with Matt finishing a day earlier than Martin, from Horsford.

But they reunited to triumphantly arrive at Robin Hood’s Bay together and grabbed ice creams to celebrate licking their challenge.

Their efforts have so far raised almost £8,500 for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit, which helped both the dads when their babies arrived prematurely.

The total is way beyond their £5,750 target – and they hope further donations will come in now they have completed their challenge in less than their six-day goal.

Shortly after finishing, Anglian Water field technician Martin, 41, said: “I am just so tired – I just want to get home, see the family, have a pizza and get a good night’s sleep.

“The highlights were some stunning scenery, especially in the Lake District which was full of lambs, and the team camaraderie. The lowlights were a knee injury, which meant I let Matt go on at his own pace, and the tough terrain which was bleak at times.”

The finish line

Matt, 37, a project manager for Wall Engineering in North Walsham, added: “It was much harder than we imagined. Even the flatter bits, where we thought we would make up time, were tricky – boggy, slippery and you were having to jump over or walk around obstructions, mud and water.

“Our bodies are battered, bruised, blistered and swollen but we’re completely overwhelmed by the support, words of encouragement and donations received.

“My highlight was seeing Martin battle on and reuniting with him to reach the finish together.”

Both men paid tribute to their support team – driver Colm McGilway and sports therapists Sally Ling and Lisa Payne from Up and Running Treatments, who repaired their aching bodies along the way, plus various friends and guests who joined them for stretches of the walk to boost any flagging morale.

Donations towards their fundraising can be made via

Enjoy a dog day afternoon

May 1 will be a BARK holiday this year as pooches will be going on parade at the Overstrand Fun Dog Show.

It’s time to dust off your best collar and put your best paw forward for the highlight of the north Norfolk canine calendar.

Each year more people and their dogs arrive at the Sea Marge Hotel for 12 classes including waggiest tail, look-alike, best rescue, and scruffiest/fluffiest. The Best Village Dog wins the Mickey Sewell Perpetual Cup, named after the show’s original organiser.

Contestants from last year’s show.

There’s also an agility course, stalls, a raffle and cakes and the hotel bar and restaurant will be open.

Dog show regular and helper Paul Cullen said: “It’s a fabulous day out for both dogs and their owners. It’s not Crufts but the competition is fierce. Last year, there were more than 170 dogs and the event raised £1,100 for the village.

“Everyone is welcome to attend: mutts, mongrels, pups, hounds, and pedigrees. You can also bring your dog.”

Classes include a lookalike competition.

The show was started in 2015 by villager Mickey Sewell in collaboration with Overstrand Together, which helps organise events and activities in the village.

Registration starts at 1pm, with the first class at 2pm. General admission is free and each class costs £1 to enter.

Event organiser Bruce Stratton said: “This is great day out for all the family and lots of fun for everyone. All money raised goes back into the Overstrand Together village fund. We hope to see lots of wonderful dogs and their owners here for the Bank Holiday.”

Help support North Walsham’s young footballers

It was where it all started for England star Lauren Hemp and now North Walsham Town Football Club is looking for support for its thriving youth sections.
The club has been steadily expanding its youth division over the past few years and it now has 14 boys’ and girls’ teams ranging from six to 16. 
A club spokesperson said: “The success of our very own Lauren Hemp and the England team’s success has inspired a new generation of girls to take part so we have five girls’ teams currently with new future footballers joining the club weekly.  

The Club’s Under-11s Girls’ Team

“We are currently putting together a parent committee to help with fresh ideas and new fundraising opportunities so if you want to help then please contact your club manager. 
“We will also be looking for support with kit sponsorship so if you are a local business or organisation, then please contact us and we can send over all details. It’s a great way to advertise as well as support your local community.
If you are unable to sponsor a kit, we do offer logo advertising around the ground and, with weekly matches being well supported, this is a great way to get your business recognised.”
Additionally, the club is for hire for birthday parties and events and it is trying raise some funds to improve the clubhouse and grounds.
The spokesperson added: “Lots of great new things are happening at your local football club so keep an eye out on our social media pages.”   
If you’d like to help out, you can contact the club on social media – North Walsham Town FC – or use the ‘contact us’ page on our website –

Will’s offering a treat that money can’t buy

A day at a motor-racing event is on a lot of people’s wishlists, although tickets can be well out of the range of a lot of fans.

But Wroxham racing driver Will MacIntyre is aiming to treat some lucky fans to a VIP day at the races, meeting British Touring Car drivers, F4 drivers and Porsche drivers and seeing behind the scenes.

“They can go on pit lane walks and paddock tours with me. It’s time to give back,” said Will, who is gaining success in F4 driving.

Will is holding a competition which will help increase his profile and to give anyone buying a £5 ticket the chance to get two passes to an experience of a lifetime.

With 60 tickets up for grabs, spread over 10 weekends including meetings at Snetterton, Donington and Silverstone, he hopes the winners will be people who deserve a treat.

“Who do you know that wouldn’t get this opportunity to get close to the action and even sit in and be photographed in the cars?” he said. “Who do you know who, due to financial reasons or illness, wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend a VIP day out?

“Perhaps you have a mate who always helps others, maybe a friend who’s struggling?”

Anyone buying a ticket can nominate someone to receive the prize and say why they deserve to be chosen.

Days at the track can cost £180 or more, but a tour with Will, meeting other drivers, sitting in the racing cars and getting access that’s normally reserved for drivers and their crews is something money can’t buy.

Will is back from training in the UAE where he finished fourth, sixth and seventh out of 40 drivers.

His attention is now turned to training this month in preparation for the start of the season in April. And he hopes to be taking fans with him to some of those races.