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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 pensthorpe.com.

Pictures: PAUL CARTER and STEVE ADAMS

 

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.

Big Society Fund £66,000 latest handouts

North Norfolk District Council’s Big Society Fund has given away another £66,000 to a range of community projects.

The latest handout means that since the scheme started in 2013, it has  distributed more than £1.6m to 213 projects.

Improvements to village halls and sports clubs, and equipment for 10 new first-responder volunteers, will be made possible thanks to the latest round of grants to:

  • North Walsham Play (£10,502.39) – to purchase and install play equipment, including a Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant wheelchair-accessible basket swing and roundabout
  • North Walsham Rugby Football Club (£10,000) – towards installing a lift to the first floor of the clubhouse, which will enable it to become a DDA-compliant facility
  • Aldborough Gardening Club (£2,500) – to develop a community allotment garden with a new wildlife footpath and a footbridge between Aldborough Surgery car park and the Community Garden

 

  • Kettlestone Village Hall (£4,318) – to remove asbestos from the roof and replace it with a new composite roof
  • Ludham Parish Council (£10,000) – to purchase and install play equipment
  • Stalham Town Hall (£9,000) – to repoint the front and side wall of the Town Hall in line with conservation regulations
  • St Mary’s Bowls Club, Stalham (£7,500) – to build a second clubhouse to provide changing facilities for 10+ people and install a second toilet
  • Stiffkey Social Services Committee (£914.40) – to purchase wheeled cricket practice nets
  • Suffield Village Hall (£1,652) – to purchase padded stackable chairs, blackout blinds and a table-tennis table
  • Stalham & Smallburgh First Responders (£10,000) – to purchase and equip 10 new first-responder volunteers with two-way radios, pulse oximeters, automatic defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment.

John Lee, NNDC leader and chairman of the Big Society Fund panel, said: “The fund continues to help a wide range of communities across north Norfolk improve their facilities, and we are delighted to be able to announce these latest grants.

“I would encourage other groups from across our towns and villages to consider applying for future grants.”

He added: “The team that looks after BSF applications can help with pre-application advice and guidance.”

Complete applications to be submitted to the June panel need to be received by May 14.For more information about the application process, visit www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/tasks/big-society-fund/big-society-fund-details or contact the BSF team on 01263 516173 or 01263 516248.

North Walsham Play committee members with comedian/ventriloquist Steve Hewlett (centre) after a fundraiser. The group has been awarded £10,500 by the Big Society Fund

Residents urged to be vigilant after spate of burglaries

Police in North Norfolk and Broadland are urging residents to be vigilant after a spate of burglaries across the area recently.

18 burglaries have been reported since 31 January 2018 with properties being targeted in Wells, Holt, Little Barningham, Morston, Little Snoring, Sheringham, Ludham, Stalham, Potter Heigham, Foulsham, Aylsham, Acle, Halvergate and Woodbastwick.

Chief Inspector Wes Hornigold said: “We are investigating a number of burglaries which have taken place across the districts during the past two months and I am appealing for anyone with information to contact police.

“In some of these cases the premises have been left insecure, therefore I would urge residents to take some time to review their home security and take some simple steps to prevent them from becoming victims of crime. Many thieves are opportunistic, so please ensure your doors and windows are locked at all times – and if you go out, leave a light or radio on to give the impression someone is home.

“Also, if you are going away for the night, please ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and consider using timers on lights.”

“If you see any suspicious activity in your area, please contact police on 101, paying particular attention to any unfamiliar vehicles and registration numbers; however; please call 999 if you believe a crime is in progress.”
Further home security advice includes:

• Remove window keys and keep them in a safe place. However, everyone should know where the keys are kept so they can escape in an emergency
• Fit five lever mortise deadlocks to all external doors to BS3621
• Fit multi-locking systems to patio doors or install mortise security bolts with removable keys at the top and bottom of both doors
• Considering fitting a letterbox cage or restrictor which prevents burglars from putting their hands or gadgets through the letter box and trying the latches from the inside.
• Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat, burglars know all the usual hiding places
• Never leave your house or car keys in or near a door or window

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 thebackstorypodcast.co.uk. 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 hello@thebackstorypodcast.co.uk or call 07595 335855.

Exercise highlights issues for blind in North Walsham

The group of people making their way with caution through North Walsham might be have attracting plenty of attention from passers-by, but half of them had no idea.

They were taking part in an awareness exercise to highlight some of the problems the blind and partially-sighted have when navigating the town on a day-to-day basis.

It was organised by Guide Dogs East Anglia and involved local police officers, police cadets and two members of the community Scott Vallance with his guide dog German Shepherd Benji, and Paul Monaghan with Gizmo, the more usual Labrador. Pauline and Doug Parker were also in attendance with trainee puppy Duffy.

Helen Sismore, community engagement officer for Guide Dogs East Anglia, said: “Today we have been able to raise awareness regarding obstacles that people who are blind or partially sighted face on a daily basis. These can be A-Boards, vehicles parked on kerbs or tactile pavings, overhanging parked vehicles into the pavement space when parking, cyclists, and the impact of dog attacks on Guide Dogs.”

There are two million people registered with sight loss in the UK. This is set to double by 2050 and 180,000 people with sight loss rarely leave their homes because of the above hazards and the feeling of not being safe when out and about.

Helen said: “The exercise today helps to build awareness in the community and highlight what the issues are. With a little bit of foresight we can help to make our communities safer so they become inclusive to all especially people who are blind or partially sighted. Think about where you are parking, think about where you are placing your A-board. Does it make the pavement too narrow? If you are a dog owner does your dog lunge or bark at working dogs? Correct it or move away! As a cyclist respect the person you are cycling behind either dismount or tell them you are behind them. Simple steps make all the difference.”

PC Davison said: “I found it terrifying. When you can’t see the traffic seems so loud and so very close to you. I was completely dependent on the person who was guiding me around the town and had to trust them completely to describe hazards around me.”

Chief Insp Wes Hornigold said: “For me, it was great to be able to get involved with members of the blind community, having already been invited to talk at the North Walsham guide dog forum. I was amazed how difficult it was to simply navigate around the town and showed to me how important it is for our paths and walkways to be clear of obstructions.”

The 10 police cadets who took part were all members of the local group which meets on Thursday evenings during term time.

The group is open to youngsters aged 13-16 and sessions are held at the police station. An open evening is planned for Thursday, March 1, at 7.30pm for those interested in finding out more about the group and joining.

For more information email NNCadets@norfolk.pnn.police.uk.

West End stars put Aylsham dancers through paces

Two stars from the West End hit musical 42nd Street have given the cast of Aylsham High School’s own production a tap dancing masterclass.

Adam Denman and Becky Herszenhorn spent a whole afternoon with about 25 members of the cast, going through complex tap routines and giving their choreography some extra pizazz.

The show is pulling in massive audiences in London after opening in the West End in October. And by coincidence, Aylsham High School bought the rights to perform the show. The cast has been perfecting its tap dancing since September and youngsters managed to wow the two stars from the West End during the coaching session.

Adam said: “I didn’t expect this calibre of skill. They are absolutely fantastic.” Becky added: “We found out today some of them had never worn a pair off tap shoes before rehearsals. Hopefully we have been able to pass on some of then energy and excitement of the West End show.”

Adam and Becky spent three hours working with the students, making sure the split-econd timings were spot on and that Aylsham’s stars hadevery bit as much glitz as their professional counterparts in London. When the show opens in Aylsham there will be a cast of 40 plus a professional orchestra.

42nd Street is a musical about a musical, the cast of a show battling against the odds to put on a hit. It’s packed with famous numbers such as We’re in the Money, Lullaby of Broadway and, of course, the big hit number 42nd Street.

Director and Aylsham High drama teacher Hazel Martin said: “To have two stars from 42nd Street in the West End come all the way out to Aylsham to help us perfect our show has been a really amazing experience for all of us, our cast have been buzzing with excitement. Adam and Becky have been wonderful, they’ve really helped us raise our game to new heights.”

Producer Tanya Wiseman has worked tirelessly to get the sets built and arranged for Becky and Adam to come to Aylsham for the coaching session. She said: “I’m so immensely proud to see the students achieving those extra finishing touches and can’t wait for opening night.”

42nd Street at Aylsham High School runs from March 14-17. Tickets from the school or Ticketsource.co.uk

Picture: TIM CURTIS

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 www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk