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 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 or call 07595 335855.

Have a say on new Sheringham leisure complex

North Norfolk District Council is inviting members of the public to an event to learn more about its plans to build a multi-million pound, state-of-the-art leisure facility in Sheringham.

The council’s cabinet agreed £10.7m of funding for the new leisure and fitness centre to replace the existing facility, Splash, in December 2017.

As part of the design process, the council is keen to share early proposals of the facility with the local community. The event will take place on Thursday, March 22, from 1-8pm at Splash in Sheringham. Members of the public will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed facilities, view artist impressions of the current proposals and comment on the design concept, site layout and the overall impact of the proposed project.

Splash at Sheringham was opened in May 1988. A condition survey conducted in 2017 highlighted an urgent need to invest in a new facility to ensure access to leisure services is secured for the future.

North Norfolk District Council has appointed Saunders Boston Architects and a full design team to develop the new facility who will be on hand at the public event. Together with staff from North Norfolk District Council they will be answer questions in an informal environment and prior to the submission of a planning application for the proposed development.

Council leader John Lee said: “The provision of a multi-million pound, state-of-the-art leisure facility supports North Norfolk District Council’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of its residents and we are looking forward to getting the development under way. Before we do, it is important that we consult with those who will benefit from the facility to ensure we get it right.”

Becky Palmer, cabinet member for leisure services said: “This event is an opportunity for local people to come and have their say on an exciting new development that will ensure the provision of leisure facilities is secured for the future.”

The Splash leisure pool and fitness centre.
Picture: Chris Taylor Photo

Bumpy landing at Sheringham

In a first for Norfolk’s Coast Path, a helicopter was drafted in today to airlift heavy materials up Beeston Bump in Sheringham.

The work is to enable vital improvements to be made to the path, which will make access to Norfolk’s highest point easier and repair the scarring that has occurred on the well known landscape feature.
Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Trails team has started preliminary work to repair the badly-rutted route which walkers currently have to navigate.

The new improved path will follow the same route as now but will help to prevent further wear and tear along the stretch of the National Trail.
The work, which has largely been funded by Natural England, is being carried out by Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Trails team. The helicopter was called in as it is the best way to lift the heavy aggregate needed with minimum impact on the SSSI feature.

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

Coltishall/Sheringham smashes on ungritted roads

Car smashes in Sheringham and Coltishall in icy conditions this morning (Friday January 26) were among dozens of collisions after Norfolk County Council failed to grit roads.

Two people were taken to hospital after the two crashes which were among 37 reported to Norfolk police this morning.

The council says its forecasting service did not predict there would be a freeze but says the gritters will be out tonight across Norfolk, from 7pm, with more sub-zero temperatures predicted.

This morning’s road chaos followed a light-hearted tweet yesterday from Norfolk County Council which said: “The sun has got its hat on, the weather’s mild and bright, the sun has got its hat on, there’s no gritting tonight.”

But in fact temperatures took a steep plunge overnight. Among smashes was a three-vehicle accident at 7.15am on the A149 Weybourne Road, Sheringham, involving a Ford Transit van, and Vauxhall Astra and Toyota IQ cars which blocked the road until just before 11am.

A woman was treated for back pain by an East of England Ambulance Service Trust crew and taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for further treatment.

Earlier, just before 7am, emergency services were called to the B1354 Wroxham Road, Coltishall, where a red Renault Megane had left the road.

A man in his 20s was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich by ambulance suffering hip and head pain. His condition is not believed to be life-threatening.

A county council spokesman said: “We buy a weather forecast service from a specialist provider which we use to inform our decision on whether to grit, and also where and when.

“While it’s usually very accurate, the forecast for last night suggested road temperatures would not dip below freezing, so on this occasion we unfortunately didn’t have the information needed to send the gritters out. We’re sorry if some people experienced difficult journeys this morning.”

Earlier this afternoon the council tweeted: “Freezing temperatures forecast across the board tonight so the gritters will be going out on all county gritting routes – that’s more than a third of the county’s roads – at 7pm”.


Rigoletto – live from the Royal Opera House (in Sheringham)

Sheringham Little Theatre is giving opera lovers the chance to see one of Verdi’s best, live from Covent Garden at an encore matinee showing on Sunday, January 21.

Although premiered in 1851 in Venice, the storyline could have been written for today’s cinema and is packed with memorable and well-known melodies and a thriller-like plot combining corruption and lust with love, intrigue, revenge and tragedy.

If you love La Traviata, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly you will love Rigoletto and for the best seat in the house at Covent Garden it would cost you £185 (at the time of writing almost every seat is sold), whereas the best view of the performance is the relay at the Little Theatre where a seat will cost you £15. The show starts at 2pm.

Book on 01263 822347 or choose your seat online at

Norfolk Christmas drink/drug drive results

More than 100 people were arrested during the Norfolk Christmas drink-drive campaign with almost 1,000 people breathalysed.

The month-long campaign, launched on December 1 2017, targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Patrols and roadside checks were carried out with Norfolk having a 8.55pc fail rate.

A total of 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed.

This year 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.

In Norfolk:

  • Neil Grimwood, 56, from Lone Barn Road in Norwich was stopped after driving erratically. He provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was arrested on Saturday December 2 and at court on Friday December 5 where he was disqualified for 26 months and ordered to pay a £3,200 fine.
  • Martin Banfield, 46, from King Street, Norwich was stopped after being seen driving in an erratic manner in Neatishead. He was stopped and provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was disqualified for 28 months, ordered to undertake rehabilitation activity and given an electronic tag and curfew between 6pm and 6am for one month.
  • Peter Thomas, 44, from The Archway, Lowestoft was breathalysed following an RTC involving a brick wall. He provided a positive breath test and was arrested on Wednesday  December 13. He appeared at court the next day and was disqualified for three years and ordered to pay £400.
  • Zilvians Neveckas, 34, from Havelock Road, Great Yarmouth was arrested on South Quay in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday December 27 after a member of public reported his driving. He failed a breath test and was more than three times over the legal limit. He also did not have insurance and was driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. He was seen at court on Friday 29 and disqualified for four years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for two years.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the joint Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said: “It’s always disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs, although it is a minority.

“Dozens of people caught during the campaign would have started 2018 with a minimum 12 to 18 month driving ban, which will have massive implications on their professional and social lives.

“We target drink-drivers all year round and my plea to motorists considering getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs is don’t – it’s simply not worth the risk.”

During the 2016 campaign 1,320 tests were carried out with 85 drivers failing.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said: “It is clear some drivers still don’t grasp the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and unacceptable and a selfish thing to do. .

“It is just not worth the risk and should not be tolerated by the community. We all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe. Do yourself a favour, do everyone else a favour and don’t drive under the influence of drink or drugs and don’t let your friends or family do so.”


Sheringham Youth Zone saved from closure

Sheringham Youth Zone has been saved by Youth Charity OPEN Youth Trust.

Following a plea for help, outreach manager Lara Nicole, from OPEN, met Julie Chalmers, founder and leader of Sheringham Youth Zone to see if OPEN could help keep the well-attended youth club running.

Julie said: “After four years of running the Youth Zone, it was a very difficult and sad decision to make but the time is right for me to hand over the club.  I am so pleased that the youth club will now be run by some really lovely people from OPEN, who have been volunteering already for a couple of months.  OPEN has the youngsters’ best interest at heart, which I always have had and I know they will also continue a good relationship with Sheringham Town Council.”

Julie continued to say: “I’d like to thank all those who made Sheringham Youth Zone possible and to the hundreds of youngsters that have made it all so worthwhile, I hope that somehow we made a difference to you all.”

Lara said: “OPEN’s focus is to make a positive difference to the lives of young people in Norfolk and we believe that Sheringham Youth Zone does just that. The youth club is a real asset to the local community and we are excited be given the opportunity to continue this for the young people of Sheringham.”

OPEN will be running the youth club with members of their staff but would love to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering or working as a Youth Support Worker within the club.

Youngsters from Sheringham Youth Zone with Lara Nicole and Julie Chalmers.

Picture: OPEN Norwich