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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.

Centenary of conception for cherished town hospital

It is a milestone year for North Walsham’s War Memorial Hospital. For a century ago a public meeting sowed the seed for its creation.

The hospital’s Friends group is asking for public help in tracking down information about that historic first gathering.

And they are also using the 100th anniversary to recruit more members to carry on the tradition of community support for the much-loved health care unit.

The original hospital was opened in August 1924, but its conception was five years earlier – as the nation recovered from the pain and carnage of the Great War.

A meeting was held in 1919 to seek local people’s backing, and funding, for a “cottage” hospital. It aimed to care for the community’s sick and to remember the local soldiers who gave their lives in the war.

Records of the meeting are scarce for the Friends would like to hear from anyone with local history or family archives which might shed a bit more light on that vital first meeting.

Friends chairman Keith Jarvis said: “Our hospital was born through public support, and we are proud to carry on the tradition.

“Even though the hospital is run by a health trust, the extras we provide make a difference to the lives of patients, families, friends and staff. We are looking for new members to support our efforts – and have some fun and friendship along the way.

“And we hope there may be people out there who can help with our detective work in tracing more details of the public meeting that started it all.”

The foundation stone for the original hospital was laid on September 18 1919. The unit was opened in August 1924 by Princess Marie Louise. Today’s hospital, opened in 2012 after the original was demolished, is run by the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

Thanks to continuing public donations the Friends pay for improvements and extras beyond the basic “health service” budgets – from a £22,000 revamp of the day room to Christmas gifts for patients.

To find out more about the friends and to make contact visit the website https://www.northwalshamhospitalfriends.org.uk/

The hospital opening in 1924 (PICTURE: North Walsham and District Community Archive)


Hospital Friends members in the revamped day room (PICTURE: Richard Batson)

No Great British Prom at Blickling this summer

The Great British Prom will be taking a break this year with a view to returning to the Blickling Estate in 2020.

Lisa Ward of organisers Revival Productions said: “We have been running this type of concert for many years and experience shows us that sometimes it’s good to have a break, with a view to coming back with renewed vigour.

“The Great British weather worked against us last year, however, we know that this event has become a firm favourite in the Norfolk calendar and so we are planning to come back bigger and better in 2020!”

Jo Bosch, visitor experience nanager at Blickling said “Our summer concerts are something we look forward to all year and are a highlight of our annual programme. 

“Classic Ibiza promises to be even bigger and better this year and we really welcome the approach our partners at Revival Productions are taking in asking what their loyal supporters would like to see at the Great British Prom event at Blickling in 2020.”

Revival Productions are asking the Great British Prom audience what they’d like to see for 2020. The traditional proms event or perhaps something different? You can have your say by visiting the Great British Prom Facebook page and commenting there, or email info@revival-productions.co.uk with your thoughts.

Lisa added: “Tell us what you’d love to see! We have a year to plan something very special for our Norfolk audience.”

Classic Ibiza will be returning this year on Friday August 9. For full event details please visit www.classicibiza.co.uk or call 01283 841601.

 

Blickling Great British Prom 2017, Photo by Simon Finlay Photography.

Shoes boost mayor’s hospital charity

A mayor’s charity is taking a giant stride forward thanks to the donation of brand new shoes.
North Walsham mayor Barry Hester has already raised £2,850 for his civic charity, the town’s hospital League of Friends, which provides “extras” for patients, visitors and staff.
The latest boost to the funds comes from the gift of a dozens of pairs of shoes from local businesswoman Ann Bullimore, following the closure of her shop in the precinct.
A range of children’s women’s and men’s shoes will be sold for the charity on Sunday, February 24, at the White Swan pub between 11am and 2pm.
Barry said: “We are grateful for the donation – which will enable people to get bargain shoes and us to boost the Friends’ funds.”
He is hoping to top £3,000 through the shoe sale, annual civic dinner in April and a planned comedy night in June.
Picture: Richard Batson

Deputy mayor Mary Seward with some of the shoes which will be for sale.
PICTURE: RICHARD BATSON

Council statement on North Walsham Wetherspoon’s plan

Following recent questions and speculation about the status of the proposed plan for a JD Wetherspoon to be developed in North Walsham, North Norfolk District Council has issued a statement, which sets out the current position.

JD Wetherspoon approached the district council in 2014 requesting an unencumbered freehold sale on the New Road site, meaning all occupants would need to move out.

This would then allow the company to develop a pub/restaurant on the site, which the district council believed would strengthen the town centre through generating additional footfall and visitors.

These moves were successfully facilitated by the district council and, by September 2016, the building was empty of occupants and subsequently secured. A contract for JD Wetherspoon to pursue the purchase of the site was agreed in 2016.

A right of way/footpath challenge was raised in 2017 and resolved, meaning this challenge is no longer a legal impediment to the sale of the site pending development.

The council believes there are no legal impediments whatsoever to progressing with the sale of the site, or any other impediments for JD Wetherspoon to submit or discuss with planners detailed plans of their proposals – which has not been the case to date.

The council has done everything in its power to make the site available to JD Wetherspoon in good order and in a timely fashion and wants to ensure a certain, economically viable future for the site to the benefit of North Walsham.

The council is currently waiting for JD Wetherspoon to confirm its intentions for the property.

Eric Seward, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council and ward member for North Walsham (North), said: “This is a run-down prime town centre site. It is more than four years since JD Wetherspoon first expressed an interest in coming to North Walsham. The district council has done its best to accommodate JD Wetherspoon. However, in the last few weeks there have been conflicting messages from the company over whether they wish to open new pubs in Norfolk.

“The company chairman says no new pubs will be opened in Norfolk, but other company representatives give an opposite message. This saga has to come to an end. Are JD Wetherspoon going to open a new pub in North Walsham or are they no longer interested?”

Norfolk drink/drug driving results shock

Nearly 190 people were arrested during the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign in Norfolk, with more people testing positive for drugs than alcohol.

Norfolk police have just released the results of the month-long campaign, launched on 1 December 2018, which targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs. A total of 189 drivers were arrested.

A break down of the results shows that 1,140 breath tests were carried out with 72 people providing positive readings, while 97 people failed drug tests out the 180 conducted.  In addition, nine people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 11 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

During the 2017 campaign, 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed. In addition, six people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 12 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

This year again saw specific time slots at Norwich Magistrates’ Courts being reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving. This effectively meant that offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, Head of the Roads Armed Policing Team (RAPT), said: “It’s disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol, although it does appear to be a minority of motorists.

“A notable difference during this campaign is that there have been more drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol. While this is a concern, drug driving is something we actively target all year round. It’s also a reflection of our increased ability to carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine.

“Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs your judgement, making your reactions slower and therefore increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.”

 

A roadside drug-test device.

 

 

Chance to take part in school’s mentoring scheme

Business people and employers are being urged to volunteer to take part in a hugely successful mentoring scheme aimed at helping high school students gain the confidence and employability skills they will need in later life.

North Walsham High School will launch the sixth year of its mentoring scheme in February. Mentors take on between five and 10 Year 9 student mentees, and meet regularly with them over a two-and-a-half year period, to offer support and advice on qualifications, skills needed to progress towards their ambitions, and to help motivate and inspire them.

Students who have taken part in the scheme have spoken about how the experience helped build their confidence and self-esteem, as well as guiding them in their choices for the future.  Mentors have also reported that taking part has been a rewarding experience, helping their own personal development, as well as ensuring that tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed to be useful employees.

“Our mentoring programme is designed to provide role models for our students,” said Kate Lawn, who is co-ordinating the initiative. “We want them to be inspired, motivated, confident, and full of self-belief. We need to develop their ‘soft skills’ to improve their long-term employment prospects. Employers have highlighted that employability skills are lacking in young people, so our aim is to build on these to enable them to progress in the world of work.”

Employers and business people who are interested in taking part are being invited to a business breakfast at the school to find out more.  The event takes place on January 22, 7am-8.30am.  Those interested in attending can reserve a place by contacting Kate Monday to Wednesday on 01692 402581 or by email on lawnk@nwhs.uk. The 2019 scheme will be launched at a “speed networking” event at the school on February 13.  Mentors receive training, and are required to complete a DBS check.

One current mentor at NWHS is Gail Adams, owner of Holiday let company, Pack Holidays.  She says that being a mentor gives her a lot of inspiration for the future: “It is well worth your time spending a little while with young, developing and curious minds.  The students I mentor are a fabulous set of young adults who are mature, kind, intelligent and engaging.”

£860,000 artificial pitch plans approved for North Walsham

Plans for an artificial grass sports pitch in North Walsham were approved at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council’s cabinet.

The facility, which would be available primarily for football, but with other sports depending on wider demand, will cost an estimated £860,000. It will be developed as a joint project between the council, the Football Foundation and North Walsham High School.

The pitch will be available for both school and public use. The facility will be floodlit and fully enclosed, and provide improved parking and changing facilities on the school site.

Under the proposals, the school will provide the land with North Norfolk District Council paying 40% of the capital cost, and the Football Foundation paying the remaining 60%.

A feasibility study commissioned by the council identified an initial cost estimate of £810,000 for the pitch plus applications for funding, design and planning; plus another £50,000 to add a “shock pad” system so the facility can cater for other sports such as rugby.

The latter £50,000 cost was not eligible for Football Foundation funding, meaning NNDCs contribution would be £374,000 and the Football Foundation contribution £486,000.

North Norfolk District Council will submit a funding application for an April 2019 deadline, with a decision being made by the FA in July 2019 and completion before the end of 2019.

The council will largely recoup its capital costs via user income. The income will also provide a fund for future renewal of the pitch surface which has an estimated lifetime of around 10 years.

A council spokesman said: “We have been working with the Football Association (FA) for some time on this proposal and the need for the artificial grass pitch was clearly made. There is good demand from clubs locally and a particular emphasis on girls’ and women’s football.

“There is also a growing emphasis on walking football for older people.”