Archives

Charities’ chance to win a slice of MP’s marathon cash

Good causes in north Norfolk are being invited to put in a bid for a share of their local MP’s marathon charity pot.

Last year Duncan Baker raised £38,000 which was split between 26 charities in his first ever attempt at the famous endurance event.

This year he is doing the same – but with a twist as he aims to raise £5000 in the final, 26th, mile to help Ukrainian refugees being hosted in Norfolk.

He said: “It was tough last year. My legs were completely shot by 22 miles,  and I initially didn’t want to do it again.  But I wanted to finish it to ensure all 26 charities got their money.

“I beat my target of £26,000 so after the success I wanted to do  it this year because a lot of local charities are still suffering after the pandemic and are now facing the cost of living crisis. There are a lot of unsung causes out there I want to help.”

The Ukrainian connection is strengthened because Duncan is hosting a refugee mum Anna Kolomiichuk and her six-year-old son Sviatik – and has seen at first hand the needs of displaced families.

They came without even the basics such as shoes, hairdryers and toiletries. So he wanted to raise funds to support refugees through the Norfolk Community Foundation’s Supporting Ukraine in Norfolk fund.

Duncan said training for last year’s event had been easier, because Parliament was shut during Covid. Now it was functioning again he was having to fit sessions into already long days, with early morning and late night runs.

Local causes can apply for a slice of the marathon money via Duncan’s website page or  Facebook and Twitter feeds by a deadline of 5pm on Thursday June 30.  The successful causes will be chosen at Holt Youth Centre on July 1.

Wreck of historic royal ship discovered off our coast

The wreck of one of the most famous ships of the 17th century – which sank 340 years ago while carrying the future King of England James Stuart – has been discovered off the coast of Norfolk in the UK, it can be revealed.

Since running aground on a sandbank on May 6, 1682, the wreck of the warship the Gloucester has lain half-buried on the seabed, its exact whereabouts unknown until brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, with their friend James Little, found it after a four-year search.

Due to the age and prestige of the ship, the condition of the wreck, the finds already rescued, and the accident’s political context, the discovery is described by maritime history expert Prof Claire Jowitt, of the University of East Anglia (UEA), as the most important maritime discovery since the Mary Rose.

The Gloucester represents an important ‘almost’ moment in British political history: a royal shipwreck causing the very near-death of the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne at a time of great political and religious tension.

Now a major exhibition is planned for Spring 2023, the result of a partnership between the Barnwell brothers, Norfolk Museums Service, and academic partner UEA. Running from February to July at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition will display finds from the wreck – including the bell that confirmed the ship’s identity – and share ongoing historical, scientific and archaeological research.

Prof Jowitt, a world-leading authority on maritime cultural history, is a co-curator of the exhibition. “Because of the circumstances of its sinking, this can be claimed as the single most significant historic maritime discovery since the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982,” she said. “The discovery promises to fundamentally change understanding of 17th-century social, maritime and political history.

“It is an outstanding example of underwater cultural heritage of national and international importance. A tragedy of considerable proportions in terms of loss of life, both privileged and ordinary, the full story of the Gloucester’s last voyage and the impact of its aftermath needs re-telling, including its cultural and political importance, and legacy. We will also try to establish who else died and tell their stories, as the identities of a fraction of the victims are currently known.”

The Barnwell brothers are Aylsham-based printers and live in Wroxham. They are licensed divers and Honorary Fellows in the School of History at UEA. Lincoln said he was partly inspired to search for the wreck after watching the lifting of the Mary Rose on television as a child.

Julian and Lincoln Barnwell with some of their discoveries. PICTURE: UEA

“It was our fourth dive season looking for Gloucester,” he said. “We were starting to believe that we were not going to find her, we’d dived so much and just found sand. On my descent to the seabed the first thing I spotted were large cannon laying on white sand, it was awe- inspiring and really beautiful.

“It instantly felt like a privilege to be there, it was so exciting. We were the only people in the world at that moment in time who knew where the wreck lay. That was special and I’ll never forget it. Our next job was to identify the site as the Gloucester.”

Julian added: “When we decided to search for the Gloucester we had no idea how significant she was in history. We had read that the Duke of York was onboard but that was it. We were confident it was the Gloucester, but there are other wreck sites out there with cannons, so it still needed to be confirmed.

James, Duke of York 1633-1701. PICTURE: Royal Museums, Greenwich

“There is still a huge amount of knowledge to be gained from the wreck, which will benefit Norfolk and the nation. We hope this discovery and the stories that are uncovered will inform and inspire future generations.”

Lord Dannatt, Norfolk Deputy Lieutenant and longstanding resident of the county, is lending his skills and support to the historic rescue project. As former head of the British Army, he works with charities and organisations that have links to the armed services.

“This is going to be Norfolk’s Mary Rose,” said Lord Dannatt. “Julian and Lincoln have touched history, history that could have changed the course of this nation. It’s such an amazing story to tell. Our aim is to bring that story to life and to share it with as many people as possible.”

The Gloucester was commissioned in 1652, built at Limehouse in London, and launched in 1654. In 1682 it was selected to carry James Stuart, Duke of York, to Edinburgh to collect his heavily pregnant wife and their households. The aim was to bring them back to King Charles II’s court in London in time, it was hoped, for the birth of a legitimate male heir.

The ship had set sail from Portsmouth with the Duke and his entourage joining it off Margate, having travelled by yacht from London. At 5.30am on May 6, the Gloucester ran aground some 45km off Great Yarmouth following a dispute about navigating the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks. The Duke, a former Lord High Admiral, had argued with the pilot for control over the ship’s course.

Within an hour the vessel sank with the loss of hundreds of the crew and passengers. The Duke barely survived, having delayed abandoning ship until the last minute.

As well as the Duke of York, the Gloucester carried a number of prominent English and Scottish courtiers including John Churchill, later the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys, who witnessed events from another ship in the fleet, wrote his own account – describing the harrowing experience for victims and survivors, with some picked up “half dead” from the water.

Together with their late father Michael, and two friends including James Little, a former Royal Navy submariner and diver, the Barnwell brothers found the wreck site in 2007, with the Gloucester split down the keel and remains of the hull submerged in sand.

The ship’s bell, manufactured in 1681, was later recovered, and in 2012 it was used by the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence to decisively identify the vessel.

The bell which helped identify The Gloucester. PICTURE: UEA

Due to the time taken to confirm the identity of the ship and the need to protect an ‘at risk’ site, which lies in international waters, it is only now that its discovery can be made public. As well as the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence, the wreck has been declared to Historic England.

Following the discovery, the brothers completed an underwater archaeology course with the Nautical Archaeology Society.

Artefacts rescued and conserved include clothes and shoes, navigational and other professional naval equipment, personal possessions, and many wine bottles.

One of the bottles bears a glass seal with the crest of the Legge family – ancestors of George Washington, the first US President. The crest was a forerunner to the Stars and Stripes flag. Uniquely, in addition there were also some unopened bottles, with wine still inside -¬ offering exciting opportunities for future research.

A bottle with the Legge family crest. PICTURE: Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks

The accompanying historical research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Prof Jowitt, will explore not only the failures of command at sea before the Gloucester sank, but conspiracy theories about the tragedy’s causes and its political consequences.

It is also hoped that UEA’s scientific expertise and facilities will be used to analyse some of the finds from the wreck.

The Ministry of Defence’s position is that all artefacts remain the property of the Ministry of Defence; however, where items are positively identified as personal property, ownership will then default to the Crown.

Partners already involved in the landmark project alongside the Barnwells, UEA and Norfolk Museums Service include the Ministry of Defence, the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, York Archaeology, the Leverhulme Trust and Maritime Archaeology Trust. The exhibition is being generously supported by Alan Boswell Group and Birketts LLP.

The wreck of the Gloucester off Great Yarmouth, 6 May, 1682 by Johan Danckerts, 1682. PICTURE: Royal Museums, Greenwich.

Artists reveal all as trail is reopened

After a very successful first year, North Norfolk Open Studios is back this spring with even more local artists taking part.

Some 135 local artists have now joined the
co-operative, which was formed in December 2020, and opened their studios to the public last year.

More than 7,000 locals and visitors took the opportunity to meet artists and to see how and where they work – and to buy their finished pieces.

This year, studios all over north Norfolk will be open from May 28 to June 5, coinciding with the bank holiday and half-term week. 

There will be a preview taster exhibition at The Old Workshop Gallery, Corpusty, until June 5, featuring a selection of work by participating artists. The studios will be grouped into 14 local trails with full details and maps available from www.northnorfolkstudios.co.uk as well as libraries, shops and tourist offices.

Example of the work on show

The Sheringham trail includes artists Steven Levitt, Merrilyn Hart, Tony Lee, Ros Copping, Julie K Childs and Tracey Lees in Sheringham and Steven Paterson in Beeston.

There is also a South of Sheringham trail where Sheringham artist Angie Maddigan will be exhibiting with Anna Cloutman, Pia Henderson and Lesley Ash at Camp Farm, West Beckham. As well as the artists, Camp Farm is an interesting place to visit in itself. The studio is a Second World War bunker which was a once a lookout post. Tucked away outside West Beckham, it’s close to one of the highest points in Norfolk.

Also part of the South of Sheringham trail are Joannie Sandford Cook and Mo Teeuw in West Beckham, and Victoria and Martin Kurrein in Baconsthorpe.

All the artists are looking forward to welcoming visitors again and any necessary health precautions will be observed.

It’s a great opportunity to buy original work as well as prints and cards directly from artists and to talk to them about their work.

Example of the work on show

Dances from the movies

Dancers from across north Norfolk, including Aylsham and Wroxham, will be taking part in a stage show featuring routines from famous movies.
The Movie Magic show, being staged by the Broadland School of Dance, will be held at Norwich Theatre Royal on Sunday, May 1.
Students from across north Norfolk attend the school and more than 200 will take part in the Theatre Royal production.
They will perform routines from a selection of iconic films including Encanto, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek and many more.
Performances will take place at 2.30pm and 7pm. See https://norwichtheatre.org/whats-on/movie-magic/ for ticket details.

Huby clocks up 1000th game

Forty-eight years ago, Stephen ‘Huby’ Hagon made his football debut in the North East Norfolk League.
Now, nearly half a century on, Stephen has just clocked up his 1000th appearance in the league – at the age of 64.
But Stephen’s amazing longevity in the game doesn’t end there as, in fact, he’s played more than 1,700 games in total due to his added involvement in Sunday veterans’ football.
Stephen, who lived in Aylsham before moving to Oulton Street, was given the VIP treatment and made captain for the day as he turned out for Erpingham Reserves against Hemsby on April 16.
“It was fantastic and quite an emotional day,” said Stephen, who currently plays at full-back. “There were a lot of people watching and it was a beautiful sunny day.”
Father-of-two Stephen was presented with a special commemorative shirt, with the words Huby 1,000 written on the back, and he received an ovation when he was substituted after an hour. Erpingham lost the game 9-2 but Stephen still loves playing the beautiful game whatever the scoreline.

“Sometimes I can’t believe it,” added Stephen, whose nickname comes from his father Hubert.  
“I don’t know where the years have gone. As long as I can run up and down the pitch and don’t make myself look too stupid, I will carry on.

“I’m playing against kids whose fathers I used to play against and they turn up and say ‘Huby, are you still playing?’”
Stephen made his debut in the North East Norfolk League for Marsham on March 9, 1974. He came on as a winger in the game away to Trunch, which Marsham lost 6-0.
As well as Marsham and two spells at current club Erpingham, Stephen has turned out for Aldborough, Corpusty, Aylsham Wanderers’ A, Gimmingham, Happisburgh and Buxton. On Sundays he plays for Erpingham Veterans and Cromer Crab Veterans.

He has a career total of 57 goals and he has been sent off just once.
Stephen, who was a gardener for the National Trust at Blickling Hall for 47 years, added: “I enjoy every game I play. I just love my football and it’s not always the winning that matters – it’s the taking part.”

SPECIAL DAY: Stephen ‘Huby’ Hagon made his 1,000th appearance in the North East Norfolk League. PHOTO: SUSAN LEDGER
 

Funding will pay for special toilets

North Norfolk District Council is set to receive £300,000 to fund additional Changing Places accessible toilets in the district, including a second in Sheringham.

The funding will enable the council to develop five new Changing Places facilities, providing further support for those with accessibility requirements and making sure that even more destinations can be enjoyed by everyone, without the worry of finding facilities.

The council already has two Changing Places facilities, one at the North Norfolk Visitor Centre in Cromer and the other in The Reef Leisure Centre in Sheringham.

Two more facilities are set to be constructed in Wells and Fakenham, with further plans to develop them at The Leas, Sheringham, and Vicarage Street in North Walsham.

Changing Places facilities allow people with limited mobility, disabilities or specific care needs who cannot use standard toilets to use a facility with advanced equipment, including moveable hoists and changing benches.

Many visitors have to plan their trip around their accessibility requirements and these facilities allow visitors to have a day out
they may not otherwise have been able to have.

Emma Spagnola, NNDC’s accessibility champion, said: “Inclusive toilets like the wonderful Changing Places facilities are an essential public service.

“They allow those with accessibility requirements to enjoy destinations and days out without worry.

“I’m delighted we will see more facilities in North Norfolk and all the opportunities they will bring for our residents and visitors.”

The Changing Places facilities in Wells and Fakenham are expected to be completed by July and August, with the others to follow.

“These people could be us”

When Darren Ward saw what was happening in Ukraine following the Russian invasion he knew he wanted to do something to help.

But initially he didn’t envisage that he would be driving to Poland with more than three tonnes of aid and replacing it with Ukrainian families fleeing the country to live somewhere safe.

“We were on holiday and saw the news that Russia had invaded,” he said. “We thought we had to do something to help these kids and women. We couldn’t just sit and do nothing.”

An appeal was started around the area, with clothes, toys, medical items and toiletries and sanitary goods flooding in. Darren took a week off work at 24-7 Taxis and, together with his friend Adam, set off in a van and a minibus bound for Medyka, a town on the border between Poland and Ukraine where thousands of families have ended up.

“We got there and there were all these people. Droves and droves of people,” said Darren. “An old guy and his wife had walked 67 miles with just a handbag. He looked me straight in the eye and asked if we could take them. We already had mums, kids, dogs… that was the worst bit, the look on that guy’s face.”

The two men did manage to take several families away and on to Krakow or to railway stations, where they made sure they got safely on the train. He said they were also constantly reassuring them that they were not like the people traffickers and other “shady” men with vans he saw at the aid centre

“The kids were on their phones to their dads and we were telling them that they were safe, that they were OK,” said Darren. “It’s a real hot mess out there. They came out with nothing – one young mum and her kids came with just a Trunki and a rucksack.”

The following day they went back to take more families from Medyka. “I hadn’t driven all that way just to get two people out,” said Darren, who has accused the UK government of not doing enough to get more of the displaced families back here or sending more aid where it is needed.

“There’s so much space there – they could easily land a helicopter with loads of aid.”

And with flights from Krakow to Luton costing “about £12” he said more people could be helped if visas were easier to get.

But in the meantime he plans to do more. He flew back, leaving Adam and the vehicles there to help others, but with diesel for the one-way trip alone costing £2,000, he is turning his attention to helping people when they arrive here.

“We have appealed for things which they need when they arrive. They have left with nothing and need all sorts of things. Anything unwanted can be sold to raise money to buy what is needed.”

He has not ruled out another trip – this time with more people.

And to make this possible he is hoping to get sponsorship from local businesses and hear from others who would like to join him.

“I’d like to have two teams of a bloke and a woman, which is more reassuring,” he said. “You can’t see it or smell it or feel it here in Norfolk and we can’t keep turning on the news and doing nothing. These people were going to work, having a coffee, living their lives one day, and the next they had nothing. They are just like us. It could BE us.”

To offer to help Darren, or to see what donations are needed, email darren247cars@btinernet.com or call 07916 247247. There is also a GoFundMe page – https://gofundme/3ee09901 – where you can donate and find out more about how local people are helping.

Storm set to batter Norfolk

Norfolk is bracing itself for the arrival of Storm Eunice, with winds of up to 80mph set to hit the county.

Public transport has been disrupted and many attractions have closed their doors as everyone battens down the hatches in preparation for what meteorologists say will be the worst storm to hit the UK in decades.

The county has been put under an amber warning, meaning it is quite likely that bad weather will affect people, possibly including travel delays, road and rail closures and power cuts.

It is still clearing up in places from Storm Dudley, which battered the coast last weekend and resorts including Cromer and Sheringham are ready for another pounding.

Cromer bore the brunt of Storm Dudley and is now ready for another battering from Storm Eunice. Photo: PAUL MACRO

Trains services have been disrupted with some services being cancelled and others changed to hourly or two hourly. Greater Anglia is asking people not to travel unless they have to and to check before setting off for the station.

KLM has announced that it will have no flights in and out of Norwich airport and motoring organisations and the police are telling folk to take great care if they have to travel on the roads.

All Norfolk’s recycling centres will be closed all day, as will all Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves. Breydon Water has been closed to boats and Blickling Estate, Wroxham Barns and Bewilderwood have also shut up shop.

Love Light Norwich, an illuminated display on the city’s most iconic buildings has also been called of tonight but it is still scheduled for tomorrow.

The main force of the storm is set to hit around noon.