Firefighters join paramedics

Starting today, Norfolk firefighters will be working on the frontline alongside East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) paramedics.

All of the 62 staff involved are employed as on-call firefighters across the county, and they responded to a plea by Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff to support the NHS during the current covid-19 pandemic.

The firefighters are already blue-light trained emergency fire appliance drivers (EFAD) with C1 category licences and will drive frontline emergency NHS ambulances alongside EEAST paramedics.

Two of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s driving instructors are already using one of the service’s non-operational lorries to move NHS supplies around the county to ensure PPE equipment and ventilators are in the right places to support NHS colleagues in their duties.

The move to the frontline work follows a national agreement to use firefighters across the country to support the work of the NHS.

CFO Ruff said: “We were asked to support EEAST and have been in discussions to find out what their needs are and how we can support them, without compromising our own emergency response on the frontline. I was pleased to see so many of our staff volunteer their services to our blue light colleagues. We have considered all the offers and at this stage we are able to release 62 of our on-call staff.

“Whilst all of this activity is occurring, we also continue to maintain our core functionality for firefighting and rescue to the public and this will not be compromised. 

Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer with EEAST, said: “We are very grateful to our blue-light colleagues in the Fire and Rescue Service for their kind offer and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.

“Covid 19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the fire service, the public, businesses, and our other partners.

“We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.”

Norfolk firefighters are adding their help to the paramedics and ambulance service.

Videos bring animals into our homes

At this time of year, scores of visitors flock to attractions such as Wroxham Barns to visit the animals, feed the lambs and learn more about them while having fun.

But now restrictions mean this is not possible, the team has brought the animals into our homes through videos – sharing daily smiles and clips on social media.

And the response has been overwhelming, leading to Wroxham Barns starting weekly Facebook Lives, taking families from around the country on tours of their farm to help feed the animals, see tricks and learn lots of facts.

The videos show Ant and Dec the llamas..
… and George the turkey.

The first video aired at 8.30am on April 2, with more than 550 people watching live whilst Ben Marshall, Wroxham Barns’ general manager, fed the alpacas, goats, sheep, pigs, ponies  and donkeys.

Ben said: “It was such a sad but necessary decision to close our doors whilst the country and world battle the coronavirus. Us closing has meant that guests are unable to visit, however everything still goes on behind the scenes at Wroxham Barns and the animals still very much need feeding, caring for and lots of attention.

“We started sharing pictures and videos of our animals and the mischief that they get up to and were amazed by the feedback of people wanting to see more. So, we tried a 30 minutes Facebook Live tour of our farm, so that families and children can feel part of the routine and meet all the animals and learn some facts too. I was blown away by the response and that over 550 people were watching the video live and asking lots of questions.

“With customers sharing pictures on Instagram of their families tuning in live to the broadcast, it really means a lot to the team, and I’m so pleased we’re able to offer some light and smiles in these otherwise quite gloomy times.”

Wroxham Barns will host two Facebook Lives a week during the lockdown, which will be every Tuesday at 8.30am and every Saturday at 4pm.

Ben hopes to show various aspects of Junior Farm and its animals, which include: rabbits, guinea pigs, pygmy goats, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep, alpacas, donkeys and ponies. 

You can join in by heading over to the Wroxham Barns Facebook page.

Sue the pig will also feature in the videos.

Norfolk patients join covid-19 treatment trial

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has enrolled its first patients onto a national trial aimed at identifying treatments for covid-19.

The Recovery trial (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) is being led by researchers in Oxford and will test several medications that are safely used for other conditions and have shown promise in helping to treat patients with the new strain of coronavirus in other countries.

Most people infected with the covid-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. However, older people, and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to develop serious illness as a result of the virus, which has no specific vaccines or treatments.

Patients from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital are taking part in trials to find treatments for the coronavirus.

The trial will look at treating patients with hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, or lopinavir/ritonavir, which is normally used to treat HIV, or the steroid dexamethasone, which is used in a wide range of conditions to reduce inflammation. The research study is open to all adults who are hospitalised with confirmed covid-19.

Dr Eleanor Mishra, Consultant Respiratory Physician at NNUH, said: “We are pleased to be part of this huge national effort to help improve care for those who require hospital treatment following a diagnosis of the new coronavirus. This has been thanks to the research and pharmacy teams at the hospital who have pushed this through in record time. It is really exciting that we will be able to offer our patients potential treatments for COVID-19 as well as improving the care for others in the future.”

Recovery is one of a growing number of trials which are being set up with the support of the National Institute for Health Research to help find treatments for COVID-19.

Norfolk farmers top of the crops in record-breaking bird count

For the second year running, farmers from Norfolk made the biggest contribution to the national Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) – the biggest since it launched in 2014.

Farmers battled through the worst winter flooding in recent years to show they were not only at the frontline of the country’s food security, but also its conservation efforts. Their dedication was rewarded as they recorded more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres in the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) initiative this February.

Due to storms Ciara and Dennis hitting on both weekends of the count, organisers took the step to extend the count window by a week in response to calls from hundreds of farmers who wanted to take part but couldn’t do so.

In Norfolk, 129 farmers took part covering 42,570ha (105,148 acres). Of these, an impressive 59pc are in an agri-environment scheme, well above the national average. They counted 105 species, 22 of which are red-listed and the top five most seen were blackbird, woodpigeon, robin, pheasant, and blue tit.

The woodpigeon was among the most regularly spotted birds in Norfolk.

“Farmers in Norfolk have once again shown how passionate they are about conserving wildlife on their land. The fact we received a record-breaking number of count returns despite Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc for many farm businesses is remarkable,” said Roger Draycott, GWCT head of advisory, who took on responsibility for co-ordinating this year’s count.

“This highlights the commitment of farmers to not only undertake farm wildlife conservation measures but also to record and evaluate the benefits of this vital conservation work.”

An impressive 25 red-listed species were recorded nationally, with nine featuring in the 25 most-commonly seen species. Of these, fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings were the four most abundant red-listed species recorded, with more than 67,000 spotted in total – equating to 24pc of all species spotted. The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.

Farmers the length and breadth of the country took the initiative to heart, with every county in England represented in the count. Wiltshire ranked second with 68 farmers taking part, with Hampshire and Suffolk following close behind with 67 each. There were also responses from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and, thanks to some passionate overseas conservationists, Austria.

The average farm size of those taking part was 920 acres (372 hectares), and includes arable, livestock and dairy farms, alongside horticulture units, poultry producers and pig producers submitting counts. The survey areas included important environmental features such as hedges, woodland edges, ponds, grass margins, wild bird cover, ditches and trees.

The BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by farmers and gamekeepers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland birds. The count offers a simple means of recording the effect of any conservation work currently being instigated by farmers and gamekeepers on their land, such as scatter-feeding birds through winter or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds.

To view the results in full, visit

A busy month for eager readers

The library buildings may be closed, but that’s no reason not to keep reading, and to keep your little ones busy over the coming weeks, Norfolk County Council has launched the Norfolk Libraries Challenge.

Throughout April, there will be a different activity posted online each day, with things to do around reading, from building a reading tent where children can curl up quietly with a book (bound to be popular with parents), to reading over the phone to a special grown-up or writing a story to share online with others.

Simply print out this calendar and keep an eye on the Norfolk Library and Information Service Facebook feed for updates and more challenges and activities.

Print off this calendar of activities to keep children busy throughout April.

At the end there will be a certificate you can print off for your children to mark their efforts.

Norfolk councils team up to help the vulnerable

Councils across Norfolk are banding together to create a comprehensive support package for those residents classed as vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, the government announced it would be stepping in to directly support about 1.4 million people identified as vulnerable across the UK.

But public services in Norfolk are aware the list will not identify everyone in their communities who need support, so this combined effort has been launched.

Trevor Holden, managing director of Broadland and South Norfolk councils, is coordinating this countywide response. He said: “We have been working with our colleagues in councils at all levels across the county, along with the community and voluntary sector and community groups to prepare for when this day came.

“Today we will start to send a letter to every house in the county, asking people to contact us if they are vulnerable or need our support either now or in the coming weeks.

“Our community volunteers, local charities and council staff stand by to assist those who need it and are not being helped already.”

There is also a hardship fund to help anyone who is struggling and anyone who needs help should visit their local council website and follow the advice given. Businesses in need of support should visit the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership website.

Mr Holden said: “Today we are also asking you, if you are able, to volunteer some of your time to help people in your community, as we really do need your help. Or if you are a business and can help with services, vehicles or other resources, we would love to hear from you, as together we really can and will make a difference.”

Those who want to volunteer are asked to go through the Voluntary Norfolk website, and businesses who are able to offer support should email

Working with the Norfolk Community Foundation, councils have launched a Covid-19 Community Response Fund, which will be directed to charities on the front line of caring for people across the county.

Mr Holden said: “We would ask you to give generously if you can. This fund will help us to support the people in our county that need it and is critical to our collective response
“The impact of this virus are already biting hard and are set for some time yet please help us to help each other. Please look out for these letters from us, they contain important information.”

Full colour for Big C at Hoveton Hall

There a chance to bring some colour into the lives of cancer patients as Big C launches its first ever Colour 5K fun run at Hoveton Hall Estate.
It doesn’t matter if you have never run before, the idea is to get into the outdoors and have some fun, walking or running around the woodland course and support Big C. It is not a speed trial or race. Colour bandits blast different colours of paint at every 1km interval to transform white T-shirt wearing participants into individual moving works of art and encourage them on their way.
The route is off-road on a woodland trail, promising glimpses of the Repton-designed Hoveton Hall between the trees. There’s even a special separate 1km course for little legs aged over six who will run their race first at midday.
Spaces are limited and with just four weeks to go, prospective participants need to act fast.
There will be plenty of family entertainment throughout the day so runners are urged to arrive early to collect their free Colour 5k T-shirts, Big C headbands and goody bags. Warm ups for both distances begin at least 15 minutes before the start.
Face-painting, rodeo bull, bouncy castle, hot and cold local food and drink stands, outdoor games for children are among the attractions. Each vendor is also donating 10% of its profits to Big C.
Big C events manager Dan Bell said: “It’s not too late to get into training. If you’ve never entered a sponsored run before, this is your perfect entry as 5k is an achievable target for beginner runners. The colourful paint extravaganza at the finish line is the perfect opportunity to celebrate your achievement in style.”
Rachel Buxton of Hoveton Hall said: “We are delighted to welcome back the Colour 5K. This event is fabulous fun, the atmosphere is always one of great anticipation and it lovely to see whole families get involved to help raise money for such a worthwhile charity as the Big C.”
First time runner currently in week three of training for the Colour 5K is Big C’s PR Consultant Stephanie Renouf. “Week after week I write stories about amazing and selfless people of all ages and walks of life who have lost family members to cancer and undertaken incredible challenges in their memory. I felt it was time that I signed up and got out of my comfort zone.  I never run for anything except a bus or train or if the village shop is about to close and I need to buy supper.”
Colour 5k run is going ahead at Hoveton Hall on Saturday (July 9). Gates and registration open at 10am. Individual tickets cost £22, under 16s £16, kids fun run £10, family ticket £60.
To register in advance and for more details visit

 Events Manager Dan Bell and fundraising administrator Lauren Self with sweatbands and medals given to all participants in the Big C Colour 5K.jpg

Events Manager Dan Bell and fundraising administrator Lauren Self with sweatbands and medals given to all participants in the Big C Colour 5K.jpg

Dizzie the dog is hot stuff for Christmas fair

Dizzie, a five-year old black Labrador who lives in Lammas, will be the star of this year’s Christmas fair in the village, having achieved national fame.

He is pictured on a new range of Christmas textiles and gifts from the quality kitchenware company Aga Cookshop, wearing a festive jumper.

The exclusive range is available while stocks last and includes apron, double oven glove, chef’s pad, pot grab and tea towel, plus boxed sets.

Dizzie at Christmas will be on sale at the annual Christmas fair at Lammas Village Hall on Sunday (December  6), 2-4pm.

Dizzie’s owner Jak Rayner is a stalwart supporter of the fair. The textiles designer was commissioned by Aga to come up with the range. She said: “I’m so proud of Dizzie – he is a really lovely black lab and was only too pleased to model for the pictures.”

Other attractions at this year’s fair include wreaths and table decorations, home-made produce, crafts, raffle, tombola and the usual Lammas “wheezes” designed to amuse and make a small profit. Parking is in Lammas churchyard.

web Dizzie Christmas