Town’s double delight at community awards

The vital work of two Aylsham organisations has been recognised in the Broadland Community at Heart Awards.
The accolades recognise the outstanding achievements by people and groups across the district who go above and beyond to support others.
Among the winners of the awards, run by Broadland Council, were Aylsham Care Trust and Aylsham Community Church.
The church won the Community Group of the Year prize for their efforts to bring the community in and around Aylsham much closer together.
The venue, in Norwich Road, attracts more than 90 people for informal and contemporary Sunday worship – but tailors its weekdays to meet the needs of local people.
Its team of volunteers run a community café, monthly lunches in their Warm Welcome Space, provide a local space for Citizen’s Advice, and host a community fridge which has given away 13 tonnes of food, which would otherwise go to waste, since it opened at Easter 2021.
The church also offers support and supplies to Ukrainian refugees that have settled in the area, along with running English lessons, and classes in computer technology, and household money management.
Church Elder Peter Atthill said: “We were thrilled to get nominated and shortlisted in the final three, and delighted to win the award. It is wonderful to get recognised for the work we are doing, which is echoed by other churches in the area who have always been a key part of the community throughout history.
“Our offer changed completely after Covid and we do whatever we can to get people the help they need.”

HONOURED: (L-R) Susan Holland, Leader of Broadland Council with Aylsham Community Church’s Sue Houghton, Sarah Mason and Theresa Finch.

ACT, which was set up more than 35 years ago, won the Business in the Community Award for their work offering a wide range of services to help people continue to live independently as well as combatting loneliness in the community.
This includes offering day trips to local areas of interest and tourist attractions, as well as a vibrant Orange Blossom community café, where people feel safe, warm and welcome.
They also run lunch clubs, transport services, hot meals deliveries, day care including dementia support and music therapy, plus befriending.
ACT operations manager Fiona O’Hara, who accepted the award, said: “Awards are very much about all of the team effort and ACT know that this award is very much in recognition of all that the volunteers and staff do to support the community.”
Chief executive Philip Macdonald, added: “We want to reach as many people who need us in Aylsham and the surrounding areas and now more than ever we recognise the need for our services.  This award shows our team and the people who use our services how vital it is for us to continue all our hard work.”

AWARD: ACT chief executive Philip Macdonald with their award.

Find out more about the winners’ services at and

Charity box is stolen again

A charity donation box has been stolen from a Broads study centre’s Secret Garden – for the second time this year.

The black steel box was taken from How Hill, near Ludham, just months after a similar raid.

Police are investigating the latest theft and are appealing for public help in trying to find the culprits.

Back in April, a box was taken from the same spot near the entrance to the centre’s water gardens in woodlands near the house – an environmental study centre running education and activity courses for schoolchildren and adults.

The garden was shut for a few days in the wake of the theft and the box was replaced with a sturdier one mounted on a metal frame and set in concrete.

In the latest theft the offenders dug up the frame and foundations, dragged it into the trees and cut off the box – made from an ammunition store – probably using a hacksaw.

How Hill Trust director Simon Partridge said: “It is disappointing to have the donation box stolen from our charity. Donations are so important to us – raising £4,000 to £6,000 in a typical year to help fund our work.

“We are not sure how much money was inside, but it must have taken a lot of time and effort to commit the crime.”

Police are asking anyone who may have seen anything suspicious, has found the discarded box or has any information to contact PC Matt Pritty at

Rare film of dolphins off our coast

North Norfolk photographer Chris Taylor captured the film of a lifetime when he got this amazing clip of bottlenose dolphins off the coast.

“I was lucky enough to film a pod of eight to 10 bottlenose dolphins swimming very close to the  shore at West Runton,” he said. “I was flying the drone doing some filming when I noticed splashing all around the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority rib.  On flying closer I realised it was bottlenose dolphins.”

The dolphns following the EIFCA boat along the coast. Picture:

One of the crew on the rib told him that the dolphins had first approached them off Blakeney and then followed them to Cley for around an hour.

“The dolphins later rejoined the boat when they were off West Runton and continued to swim around the boat and follow them for another 30-40 minutes,” said Chris.

Rescue service seeks volunteers

Sheringham Coastguard Rescue Team is looking for new members to help make sure everyone is kept safe on our coast and beaches.

Made up of volunteers, the team is one of 350 similar groups around the UK coastline, all of whom give their time to respond to emergencies.

Incidents they have been called out to include medical emergencies, unexploded ordnance, dogs trapped on cliffs and searches for missing people.

The role takes commitment and flexibility as the team is on call 24/7 all year round but full and ongoing training is provided and you can say when you are available to be called on.

Allison joined the Sheringham team in 2022 and said: “Since volunteering as a coastguard rescue officer I’ve qualified as a first-aider and as a search technician. But it’s the stuff I’ve learned from my team and when called out to an incident that has taught me the most and which can be really exciting.

“The training we do as a team is fun and inspires confidence in us to deal with the unexpected.”

Teams are made up of people from all backgrounds and experiences but they all have one thing in common – they have each other’s backs.

If you live in Sheringham or nearby, station officer Chris Shortis would love to hear from you. “Get in touch, and we can have a chat about one of the most rewarding things you can do,” he said.

There will be an open weekend on September 9 and 10 at Sheringham Fire Station when you can find out more and meet some of the team.

Soprano takes centre stage

A Wroxham-based soprano will be taking centre stage at a special concert in Norwich at the weekend.

Katalin Prentice will be the soloist with the Pakefield singers when they present Glory and Grandeur, a concert for organs and choir, and featuring anthems including Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Buxtehude’s Toccata in F as well as works by Mozart and Mascagni.

“I feel honoured to be invited to sing the soprano solos with the Pakefield Singers under the direction of conductor Vetta Wise and to be a part of this truly magnificent musical project,” said Katalin, who is Hungarian and has lived in the UK for 11 years and in Wroxham since 2015.

A dentist by profession, she stopped working when pregnant with her first daughter – she now has two – and said classical music and singing has always been her passion.

“Shortly after I moved to the United Kingdom I started vocal training with Nan Christie in London, and soon after relocating to Norfolk I met my lovely singing teacher, Vetta Wise, who has been guiding me on my musical journey ever since,” she said. “With her help and support in 2017 I completed the one-year opera course at the Associated Studios Performing Arts Academy in London, gaining a diploma in opera singing. In 2019 I finished my Trinity College ATCL Performers diploma with distinction.”

Complications with both her pregnancies took their toll and she said it has taken her a while to retrain her voice, but she has now been chosen for this important role at St Peter Mancroft on Saturday night.

She also recently took part in two international competitions, winning an honourable mention at Odin International Music Competition and the Grand Prix at the Alpin Triglav 2021 International Music, Dance and Fine Art Competition.

“As a result of winning the competition in July 2022 I performed at the prize winners’ gala concert in one of Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, the Crystal Hall in Rogaška Slatina (Slovenia) representing the United Kingdom,” said Katalin.

The concert is at 7pm and tickets are £12.50, under-16s free. Tickets can be bought on the door or from

Community larder needs your help

After more than two-and-a-half years supporting the community, the Cromer Community Fridge and Larder, at Merchants’ Place, is in need of your help.

The facility provides emergency food support, essential household items, cleaning products, toiletries, baby items and more to local people in need.

But donations have decreased in the past few weeks and they are in danger of the shelves running low.

Hannah Rolph, from Merchants’ Place, said: “We have been very lucky to have received monetary donations in order to keep the fridge and larder stocked. However, this is now coming to end and we are finding it even more difficult to keep this much-needed service running.

“Helping more than 25 families and individuals a day, we are seeing an ever-increasing demand for emergency help.”

She asked anyone having a spring clean or cleaning out their cupboards to think of them and make a donation.

“If you are able to support us by buying items from local shops to donate, that would be a fantastic help. We can also accept monetary donations to buy items to keep the larder stocked,” she added.

All sealed items which are in-date and with the ingredients clearly stated can be donated at Merchants’ Place on Church Street. Email or visit for more details.

Dancing school celebrates successes

A family-run dance school is showcasing its talent and versatility through a string of successes.

Two students at Aylsham-based Sutton School of Dancing have achieved top notch exam results. Another has progressed to a prestigious dance school.

And one of the teachers has been leading sessions at the world’s largest dance convention in London.

The exam triumphs are for Madeleine Bell, 14, and Megan Andrews, 17, who won marks of more than 90pc for their ballet and tap grades, putting them within the highest achieving students for their age and grade within the International Dance Teachers Association.

Megan Andrews (left) and Madeleine Bell in action

Teacher Shaun Taylor, the grandson of the school founder Barbara Sutton, praised the “fantastic set of results” adding: “the school was extremely proud of the students that took examinations for their achievements. Their hard work and determination is outstanding and a credit to the local community.”

Madeleine was recently successful in auditioning for the English Youth Ballet to perform in their upcoming production of Swan Lake which will be performed at Norwich Theatre Royal in July, but cannot appear due to other dancing commitments.

Former Sutton student Autumn Gilding-Hewitt has gone on to study and perform at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, where Shaun said she is enjoying her time and gaining exceptional training from some of the best in the industry as she pursues her dance dream.

Autumn Gilding-Hewitt is pursuing her dance dream

Shaun’s second trip to teach tap at the Move It dance convention at the Excel centre in London saw him lead a mixed ability open group. The event celebrates all forms of dance styles, with classes taught by some of the leading artists in the dance world. He said he was pleased to share his knowledge and love for dance with students from all over the world.

Shaun Taylor (front row, green top) teaching tap at the Move It convention

Sutton School of Dancing runs fun, friendly and family-orientated sessions in Aylsham Drill Hall and at Briston. It has around 100 students doing tap, ballet, freestyle, acro, modern and contemporary styles for all levels and abilities.

Commenting on the recent successes Shaun added: “We want people to enjoy dance for exercise – but it is always pleasing when a student finds a passion for it and wants to make it a career.

“Some go on to take professional level qualifications which means they can audition for professional shows or go on to teach. And they are a great inspiration for younger students who see what they can achieve if they have the talent and drive.”

For more information about classes visit the website or contact or call 07470065579.

Enjoy a dog day afternoon

May 1 will be a BARK holiday this year as pooches will be going on parade at the Overstrand Fun Dog Show.

It’s time to dust off your best collar and put your best paw forward for the highlight of the north Norfolk canine calendar.

Each year more people and their dogs arrive at the Sea Marge Hotel for 12 classes including waggiest tail, look-alike, best rescue, and scruffiest/fluffiest. The Best Village Dog wins the Mickey Sewell Perpetual Cup, named after the show’s original organiser.

Contestants from last year’s show.

There’s also an agility course, stalls, a raffle and cakes and the hotel bar and restaurant will be open.

Dog show regular and helper Paul Cullen said: “It’s a fabulous day out for both dogs and their owners. It’s not Crufts but the competition is fierce. Last year, there were more than 170 dogs and the event raised £1,100 for the village.

“Everyone is welcome to attend: mutts, mongrels, pups, hounds, and pedigrees. You can also bring your dog.”

Classes include a lookalike competition.

The show was started in 2015 by villager Mickey Sewell in collaboration with Overstrand Together, which helps organise events and activities in the village.

Registration starts at 1pm, with the first class at 2pm. General admission is free and each class costs £1 to enter.

Event organiser Bruce Stratton said: “This is great day out for all the family and lots of fun for everyone. All money raised goes back into the Overstrand Together village fund. We hope to see lots of wonderful dogs and their owners here for the Bank Holiday.”