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Woman fined £10,000 after covid protest in city centre

A woman involved in an illegal gathering in Norwich on Thursday has been given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.

It follows a gathering on the Haymarket which started just after midday and involved more than 80 people protesting against the covid-19 prevention restrictions.

The 37-year-old, from the Norwich area, was arrested at the scene after refusing to provide her details to police. She was taken into custody at Wymondham and following enquiries later issued with the fixed penalty notice for contravening the ban on being involved in holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

In addition, a 25-year-old man from the Norwich area arrested at the scene on suspicion of common assault after allegedly coughing at a woman, has since been charged with the offence. He has been released on bail to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Monday, November 23.

Three other people at the gathering were reported for the offence of organising or facilitating a gathering of more than 30 people, in breach of the Health Protection Regulations.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks, who has been leading the local police response to coronavirus, said: “As a police force, we fully appreciate how difficult the past six months have been for the county and I am pleased that the vast of majority of people have played and continue to play their part, following the guidance and legislation helping to protect Norfolk and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“However, the infection rate is now rising rapidly across the country and while in Norfolk it is not increasing as significantly as other areas, we must carry on working together to keep everyone safe. Our focus will remain on our use of the 4Es – engaging, explaining, encouraging and then enforcing when required.

“The gathering yesterday was in breach of the Health Protection Regulations and we took action to disperse the group including making two arrests. We will all have a role to play in keeping our county safe going forward and we won’t hesitate to take action if needed.

“We police by consent and we need people and businesses to work with us on this. Our approach will remain the same: engaging with people first, explaining the guidance and law and encouraging people to do the right thing. However, we will not sit back and allow people to deliberately break the law. Where we are left with no choice but to enforce, we will do so to protect our communities.

“If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to us and we will consider the most appropriate response, targeting repeat and high-risk behaviour.  We all have a personal responsibility to reduce the spread of coronavirus and ensure that police enforcement is used only as a last resort.  Reports should be made through our online reporting wherever possible.”

Christmas IS coming to the theatre

Norwich Theatre has announced a special season of festive shows for 2020, a Right Royal Christmas, which will see the Theatre Royal temporarily re-open to audiences during December.

The season will include three shows, Panto in a Pickle!, A Circus Carol and She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends, which will alternate.

After 19 years at the centre of Theatre Royal Christmases delighting family audiences, Norwich’s favourite pantomime Dame, Richard Gauntlett, will return once more and star in a brand new show for the whole family that captures lots of the traditional panto fun in a madcap adventure through six of your favourite stories, Panto in a Pickle.

Ricahrd Gauntlett is all set for Panto in a Pickle! Picture: Max Hilton.

Richard said: “The postponement of ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ this year was a huge disappointment for all involved and this opportunity to fill the ‘Panto-void’ with a new twist is an exciting and unexpected pleasure.  Be prepared for pantomime but not as we know it. And it does mean that I can do my Christmas shopping in Norwich!”

Following its sell-out success at Norwich Playhouse at Christmas 2019, Norwich Theatre’s critically acclaimed co-production with Lost in Translation Circus, A Circus Carol, will also be remounted specially for the Theatre Royal stage.

Lost in Translation Circus will be performing in A Christmas Carol. Picture: Max Hilton

Circus director Massimiliano Rossetti said: “The amazing opportunity to partner with Norwich Theatre to bring Interlude to life has been a great success. 

“The opportunity to perform in front of live audiences was a dream and I’m very honoured that we will have the opportunity to perform again – this time on the beautiful stage of the Theatre Royal with our co-production of ‘A Circus Carol’

“I’m very excited to be performing at Christmas, sharing smiles, amazement, joy and laughter with audiences during the festive season.”

Completing the season will be another new show from much-loved Norfolk comedian Karl Minns, with the return of one of his favourite Nimmo Twins comedy creations, She Go, alongside some other local characters.  She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends will be a festive look back at what a year 2020 has been here in our fair county of Norfolk.

Karl Minns favourite She Go will be looking back from under her Christmas tree. Picture: Max Hilton

Karl said: “Having performed at Interlude in the summer, I’m thrilled and privileged to have the chance to play in front of a Norfolk audience again. It’s even more exciting to be playing at the Theatre Royal.

“We’ve all missed being inside theatres and this is a huge honour and a big step forward in reclaiming our beloved spaces.  It’s been a tough year for everyone, so to end the year and go into Christmas with some joy and laughter is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “Christmas is such a special and important time in the life of a theatre and I believe our audiences, for many of whom a festive trip to the theatre is a long-standing tradition, need a Christmas treat more than ever before this year.”

Whilst the full-scale re-opening of Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two will not be possible until social-distancing measures are further relaxed, this short season will be planned with current guidance in mind and both the shows and the covid-secure modifications to the Theatre Royal building have been made possible through grants and donations.

Tickets will go on sale from September 24.

Panto in a Pickle runs from December 16 to 24. Tickets are £10 to £13.50 or a family ticket is £50. 60 mins (no interval). Age 3+

A Circus Carol runs from December 16 to 23. Tickets are £10 to £17.50. Family ticket is £65. 70 mins (no interval). Age 10+

She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends runs from December 16 to 23 with tickets costing from £10 to £21.50. 80 minutes (no interval). Age 16+

Go Wild at summer festival

With the summer’s music events almost all cancelled, postponed or held online, there is a bit of good news for fans of live music.
Wild Fields will be bringing top talent, tasty food and the festival vibe to the Norfolk Showground in September, giving musicians a chance to shine.
Set for September 12 and 13, the festival claimes to be the perfect antidote to lockdown, with two days of live performance, the best DJs, good food and pop-up bars.
The weekend will be part of the Summertime Social season of socially distanced and socially responsible events where people can enjoy live performance and a festival vibe once more.

There are lots of events to come at Summertime Social and tickets are still available. They are mostly family friendly sessions and include some fabulous local names as well as internationally-renowned artists.

Day one of Wild Fields will feature a strong indie line-up with a dash of folk, rock, and some alternative pop.
The line-up includes Gengahr, the experimental North London alt-pop four-piece, Another Sky and the Colchester-based teen punk rock band Anorak Patch.
The day two line up will feature a new wave jazzy feel, “mixed with some neo-soul, feelgood folk and alternative ambient electronica”. The performers include some of the leading lights from London’s jazz community who have joined forces to form Kokoroko which mixes jazz vibes with an Afrobeat feel.

Also performing will be producer, composer and keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones, who merges jazz, dub, hip hop, funk and soul, and the soulful Jordan Mackampa who wows audiences with his rich vocals and enlightened song-writing.
The line-up will also feature some top East Anglian musical talent too including Norwich-based Nebula Sun, who blend West African music, jazz, soul and hip hop, and Norwich soul singer Maya Law.
Benjamin Street, of Wild Paths, said the event aims to make everyone smile post-pandemic.
He said: “2020 has been tough so far and we felt it was definitely time for some festival fun. We wanted to reclaim the end of summer and bring a weekend of live music and street food that everyone has been longing for since lockdown.”


The festival is the latest addition to the Summertime Social programme which will also feature the rescheduled Symphonic Ibiza event on September 5. Originally due to happen in mid-August and cancelled due to high winds, it will feature Sonique, Brandon Block and Alex P, and celebrate the greatest ever Ibiza tunes.

Other events as part of the month of concerts, plays and comedy include Common People: Outside, on September 4. and the Rainbow Party with Norwich Pride on Saturday, September 5 which will follow on from Symphonic Ibiza.

There are also gigs from Fabio and Grooverider, the Red Card Comedy Club and Judge Jules over the next few days.
Click here for tickets and more information about upcoming events

Weather disrupts summer shows

The wild weather over the last few days has meant a family event at the Summertime Social season at the Norfolk Showground has had to be cancelled.

Summertime Playdays, which includes a performance of Alice In Wonderland, was due to happen tomorrow (Thursday, August 27).

Co-promoter Andrew Bunn said: “We are heartbroken to let you know we have had to take the decision to cancel it due to severe weather and the high likelihood of continued high winds in the area.

“Conditions are not suitable to get the site and production ready, and the safety of attendees, performers and crew has to come first. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we will refund all tickets for it.”

The WAW Wrestling Experience, also scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until Thursday, September 10. All tickets purchased for it will be redeemable for the new date. The experience will feature a live wrestling show featuring Britain’s first family of wrestling, the Knights, who are based in Norwich, and will be followed by a screening of the movie Fighting For My Family which is based on their life-story.

Christmas treat will help ease disappointment

One of Europe’s most popular seasonal shows has been postponed – but while Christmas won’t be Christmas without it, the magic of the season will still be recreated to thrill visitors.

Continued uncertainty around live performances, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been postponed until 2021.

The Spectacular has entertained more than six million visitors of all ages from across the globe since opening its first Christmas Eve performance more than 40 years ago, becoming one of Europe’s biggest seasonal shows. The award-winning production, which would normally run from early November, employs around 360 dancers, singers, musicians, variety acts, technicians, wardrobe teams, ushers, caterers and production staff each year – and lots of work has already been put into this year’s event.

John Cushing, CEO, founder, producer and director, said: “This has been a heart-breaking time for me and my team at Thursford as it has been for so many. We have watched and waited, hoping for news and direction as to the implications for mass gatherings and live performances, which, in these uncertain times, remain unclarified at this time.

“We have spent the last few months working tirelessly towards the Christmas Spectacular show, hoping to continue our normal year’s schedule through to the autumn. However, following many hours discussing ways to achieve this, considering restrictions and safety measures, and with the concern for due care of our audience, cast and production team always being foremost in our minds, we felt that our only option was to postpone the show for this year.”

But while the Spectacular may be on pause, an enchanting new festive celebration will light up Thursford as an alternative Christmas treat.

Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be a magical walk-through experience for all ages running from November 19 until January 3. An all-new indoor Wonderland Trail: a maze of steam engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays, will lead to a four-acre Lantern Light Extravaganza: a beautiful, breath-taking outdoor installation of luminous sculptures, from a fantasy forest of jungle animals to the wilds of the North Pole.

Mr Cushing added: “Whilst we allow the cancellation of the Christmas Spectacular this year to sink in, we are delighted to welcome in the Enchanted Journey of Light as a magical festive alternative. The beautiful collection of lanterns will light up Thursford and brighten our hearts. We hope that visitors from far and wide will come and walk the Wonderland Trail with us and, in doing so, continue to support the local community, hotels, B&Bs, rental properties and hospitality venues throughout Norfolk.

“Christmas is a special time of hope, joy, sharing and caring, and after a year filled with uncertainty and loss it is more important than ever that we celebrate all that we are thankful for. We look forward to seeing Christmas Spectacular audiences return in 2021 and hope that many will also visit our Enchanted Journey of Light this year.”

Ticket holders for the 2020 Spectacular will be contacted by the bookings and reservations team or their point of purchase by mid-August 2020, offering the option of an automatic seat transfer to a new date in 2021 or to arrange refund.

Tickets for Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be £15 each (free for children under three), with time slots allocated from 3pm daily via the Thursford Box Office – www.thursford.com or 01328 878477.

Visiting hours are eased

From today, visiting arrangements will be easing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, with one named family member or carer being able to visit once a day for an hour, with three possible time slots: morning, afternoon or evening.

An appointment must be made with the ward team 24 hours in advance of the visit to avoid overcrowding on the wards and limit the number of people on the ward bays to maintain social distancing requirements. Ideally the same person should visit each day to reduce the risk of spreading covid-19, which remains in the local population.

Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control, said: “We want to deliver the very best care to our patients and we are delighted to welcome families and carers back to the hospital to support patients during their recovery.

“We are asking visitors to wash their hands on arrival and before leaving the ward, to use the hand sanitiser and to wear a face covering, or mask provided by the ward, to help us avoid the potential spread of covid-19.

“We must remain vigilant. Whilst local infections are low, every precaution must be taken to protect our patients and prevent the spread of covid-19. Maintaining high standards of environmental cleanliness and scrupulous hand washing are paramount in preventing the spread of this potentially deadly virus.”

Visiting is still strictly limited for patients who are unwell with covid-19 and those patients having planned surgery where they have self- isolated for 14 days in order to avoid the virus before their treatment starts.

Visiting was suspended during the pandemic with a few exceptions for children and patients reaching the end of life, those with dementia, learning disabilities or other mental health conditions. A birthing partner is also allowed to attend with pregnant patients. These exceptions still apply and should be discussed with the clinical team.

To make an appointment, call the ward directly from the list of telephone numbers on the hospital website – www.nnuh.nhs.uk – or through the switchboard on 01603 286286.

Visitors are being asked to go directly to the ward on arrival, report to the ward reception and be prepared to remove coats, wear a face mask and wash/sanitise their hands.

Prof Fontaine added: “We are asking the public to please support us in phasing the visiting at hospital. There are still many other ways to for people to stay in touch with patients without physically visiting the building, such as the virtual visiting service, or patients can use their own phones and iPads, plus the Messages for Loved Ones service at the hospital. Our newly established relatives liaison team is also keeping families and carers up-to-date with news and progress reports.”

Run with Pride

Like many other athletic events this year, the Norwich Pride 5K race will be a little different.

Because of restrictions on mass events, the popular race – organised by EPIC – will be rebranded as #RunWithPride event, with all profits being granted to LGBT+ charities across the UK.

Anyone wanting to take part can complete the course at any time during July – as teams or as individuals – and choose from 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, or 100k challenges.

The whole distance does not have to be run at once – you can split the distance over the month – and participants are being encouraged to share their efforts by using the hashtag #RunWithPride via Strava, Facebook or Instagram.

Some clubs have entered teams of 31, with each member taking responsibility for one day of the month, and others are pooling resources to provide moral support.

Taking part costs £10 per person, plus a booking fee. All entries include a bespoke #RunWithPride race medal.

To enter, visit https://totalracetiming.co.uk/race/212 .

Keenan’s racing ahead for a dream future

While most 12-year-old boys were playing motorsport games on their PlayStations, Keenan Tully was out driving the real thing as he got a taste for motor racing at an early age.

Now 20, Keenan is an established race car driver on the local circuits, with big plans to make it big in the American sport of Nascar racing.

“I didn’t have any roots in the sport,” said Keenan, who lives in Aylsham. “I’m a first generation fan, my dad was never into it, he preferred football. My friend was already racing and I watched him and it sort of started from there. I started racing in the Junior Formula and then moved into adult racing when I was 16.”

His first race, aged 12, was in a full size car and spent a lot of time at the race car track at Swaffham, which held test days most weeks.

“You pay to have the track to test and to practise and learn,” he said. “I have raced at Yarmouth, Ipswich, Swaffham, Birmingham and Essex and won 17 trophies.”

The former Reepham High School pupil also drove in the USA when his family lived there for a time, which is where he discovered Nascar, the most popular motor sport in the states.

“We lived in California a couple of years ago and I got found out by a team, which was incredible. My dream is to race there full time.”

Nascar has a long and proud history, but despite its 100 years of popularity it has remained an American sport, which is why Keenan and his brother, Zach, are moving to North Carolina so he can follow his dream.

“North Carolina is where about 90pc of the Nascar teams are based, so that’s the place to be,” said Keenan. “

He hopes to attract a sponsor once he is there so he can compete professionally – and he wonders if the novelty of being a British driver might be a help.

“My mum is from California, so I have an American passport,” he said. “When I was racing there, people loved that I was British and fans would come round and ask me to talk just to hear my accent!”

All racing including stock car and hot rod racing is currently paused in the UK, and Keenan had his last race back in February.

Shortly after lockdown he broke his kneecap and he is working hard to get back to racing fitness for when the season begins with a behind-closed-doors meeting at Swaffham on July 18 – no mean feat with gyms also closed.

Keenan Tully’s dream is to become a Nascar driver and is moving to America to follow his dream.

At the moment everyone is equal in the league table of drivers but in the past Keenan has come second and third, including a second place in the East Anglian Championship in 2018 and was third in the national standings in the year before.

“I will carry on racing between now and my move and save up so I can buy my own car or find sponsorship,” he said. “It’s not a cheap sport and the only way to get into it is to hope a team sees you and supports you. Right now I am self-funding.”

With a full time job as a mechanic for Lotus Racing Team in Long Stratton and his own mobile car valeting business, Keenan is working hard to support his racing, to fund his move overseas and to get fit after his injury.

His determination even saw him shed six stone in order to get into racing shape when he weighed in at 18 stone in 2016.

“It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do, and I’ll work hard to get there,” he said.

Keenan is looking for partners who could help him with his adventure. If anyone can help they can email him at keenantullymotorsport@gmail.com or visit his Facebook page.