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Bernard Matthews staff tested for covid-19

Precautionary testing for covid-19 is under way at the Bernard Matthews site in Great Witchingham after several members of staff tested positive for the virus.

The testing of approximately 1,000 staff at the site has begun and will continue into early next week.

There have been a number of cases among staff at the site, although at this point there is not evidence to suggest transmission of the virus there. It is anticipated that this measure will identify if there are any asymptomatic staff who are currently showing no signs.

Following government guidance, any staff member who tests positive will be advised to self-isolate, along with their households. Norfolk’s Outbreak Management Team and partners are working closely with Bernard Matthews to take measures to reduce transmission in order to protect both staff and the public.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our top priority is to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which will help to protect the staff at Bernard Matthews and the public.  This testing is a sensible, precautionary measure that will help us understand who at the site has covid-19 and who else they may have been in contact with.

“While there is currently no evidence to suggest widespread transmission at the Great Witchingham site, we know that testing can help to understand and contain the spread of the virus. We would remind everyone across Norfolk, to continue to act responsibly, respect the Rule of Six and follow the government’s guidance. We must all continue to wash our hands, wear face coverings when required to and observe social distancing – hands, face and space – to have the best chance of keeping the virus under control.”

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: “We can confirm a small number of positive cases at our site at Great Witchingham. These colleagues and their contacts are now self-isolating at home, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor the situation. There is no evidence these transmissions occurred in the factory. Food production and safety remain unaffected.”

Rebecca Hams, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England East, said: “Testing and tracing is one of the key steps in identifying and containing the spread of covid-19 and staff at the factory are being tested as a precautionary measure. Mass testing in this way will help to protect staff and the community, by allowing us to identify people who are carrying the virus but who may not have developed symptoms.”

Arts venues celebrate grants

Three arts venues in North Norfolk are celebrating after receiving a share of the Arts Council England Cultural Recovery Fund grants.

Cromer Pier has £250,000, Sheringham Little Theatre has been awarded £76,644 and Wells Maltings is in receipt of £90,000.

This money will be vital to see the venues through the next few months after takings and income were badly hit by the covid-19 restrictions on live venues.

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “This is fantastic news, and the team here are delighted after some worrying weeks.

” The grant helps us recoup past losses – and to be sustainable in the future, operating under the social distancing restrictions which cuts our capacity to 30pc. It means we can carry on with the programming we were planning – including a panto, some exciting new plays showcasing emerging young talent – and a pioneering project by our youngsters looking at rural racism issues.”

The Little Theatre team celebrate the grant which will help see them through the winter.

Rory Holburn, Director at Openwide Coastal, the managers of Cromer Pier, said: “This grant will help by covering some of the losses we have already incurred and will incur from being closed this year. It also assists in ensuring the team we still have on payroll can now remain in place to enable us to re-open next summer without losing any of their knowledge and expertise that help make the show such a renowned success.

“The Pier and Pavilion Theatre are also cornerstones of the local Tourism economy so we are delighted that we will be able to also help provide a much needed boost next spring as all  businesses attempt to recover from the damage the pandemic has done.”

Wells Maltings director Simon Daykin said: “We are thrilled – it’s a true lifeline in these stormy times, and allows us to keep on doing what we can to entertain, delight and support our audiences and community. We know how important entertainment and the arts in all their forms are to public wellbeing, and together with the huge generosity of our community through our recent Road to Recovery campaign, this much needed funding ensures that the show in Wells will go on.”

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.

Stately event to boost funds

A music event in a north Norfolk stately home, raising funds for Sheringham Little Theatre, will be one of the first live events to return to the county.

The theatre cannot yet host full-scale events in its auditorium, but as lockdown eases it is promoting a pioneering outdoor performance mixing music, words and poetry in the walled garden at Mannington Hall on Saturday, August 22.

The world-renowned London Mozart Players will play classical music inspired by the experiences and emotions of four young performers during lockdown – ranging from family and separation to countryside and reflection – as well as positive lockdown stories submitted by the public.

One of the young actors, Jodie Weller, from North Walsham, said: “This will be an amazing experience – particularly being one of the first live performances in north Norfolk after a period which has seen, and continues to see, artistic venues and professionals struggling.

“It is wonderful to be raising money for the Little Theatre, which has been a big part of our lives, and to be bringing a live audience some joy.”

Jodie Weller, Tilda Fassih and Katie Thompson. Photo: Sheringham Little Theatre.

She will be joined by Tilda Fassih, from Sheringham; Katie Thompson, from Knapton; and Charlie Randall, from Aylsham, who are all in their 20s and will be curating and compering the community focused event.

During lockdown they have also been entertaining residents of local care homes with online singalongs – and on the morning of the concert will perform live outside two of the homes, with members of the London Mozart Players.

The London Mozart Players will be performing in the show. Photo: London Mozart Players

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said the event came about through Orchestras Live seeking a community-focused event for the London Mozart Players in north Norfolk, and the Little Theatre’s need for an outdoor fundraiser while the auditorium remained closed for live performances.

People buying tickets will be supporting the Little Theatre and freelance artists as they recover from the financial challenges of the covid-19 crisis. They will also get the chance to choose the event encore – after viewing two potential pieces via an online link.

Due to social distancing guidelines, there will be a limited numbers of tickets available for the 6pm-7.15pm show, which will also be recorded and available online for those who cannot attend.

Areas will be allocated for groups of up to six people. Visitors are asked to bring a travel rug, fold-up seats, and umbrellas in case of rain. There will be no interval.

Tickets are £12 for the live concert, and £6 for the recorded version. Afternoon tea boxes for two, with sandwiches, savouries, scones and cakes, costing £10 can also be ordered in advance. Audience members are welcome to arrive from 4.30pm to enjoy their food in the gardens before settling down for the performance.

If government guidelines change, preventing a live show, the concert will go ahead and be recorded. A 50pc refund would be available on tickets purchased for the live event on the basis that everyone would be able to watch the “virtual” version to support those involved.

For tickets, vistwww.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

Cyclist hurt in crash

Police are appealing for witnesses or dashcam footage after a cyclist was badly injured in a collision on Saturday, July 11, on the A148 near Aylmerton.

The collision happened at 4.35pm when a dark blue Peugeot 207 and a black bicycle were involved in a collision on Holt Road.

The road was closed and the cyclist was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by air ambulance, where he remains in a critical condition.

If anyone witnessed the collision or the manner of driving or riding near to the time of the collision, please contact PC Aaron Duffy on 101 quoting incident reference NC-11072020-322.