BGT finalist to perform at Hoveton Hall Gardens

Britain’s Got Talent star John Parnell will be bringing a touch of hoopla to Hoveton Hall Garden’s May Bank Holiday Country Fair.

Known as the Hoop Guy, John impressed the celebrity judges with his catchy tunes and hooping skills in the semi-finals of the ITV’s hit show last year.

County Fair visitors will get a chance to see Hoop Guy perform his amazing hula hooping along with juggling and circus skills on Sunda,y May 27, and Monday, May 28.

Dogs will also be able to show off their agility prowess in a fun dog show with a difference with categories including waggiest tail, scruffiest mutt, best puppy, best veteran, agility and best in show.

Country Fair visitors will be able to enjoy the stunning 200 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom. Other activities during the two-day event include craft stalls, falconry, archery, Punch and Judy, storytelling, soldier re-enactment with the East Norfolk Militia, clay pigeon shooting and vintage games.

The Country Fair kicks off a series of summer entertainment including a special Father’s Day treat. Dads get free entry into Hoveton Hall Gardens on Sunday, June 17.

All visitors to Hoveton Hall Gardens can also dine al fresco nearby at The Garden Kitchen Café where chef Alex Firman uses some of Norfolk’s finest produce to inspire his unique menu. Herbs and vegetables grown in the estate’s walled garden, meat bought from nearby farmers and fish supplied by North Norfolk communities are transformed into some delicious dishes.

See more at or call 01603 784297.




Call goes out for past Broadland High students

Broadland High School is getting ready to celebrate its 60th anniversary and is looking for ex-pupils and teachers to get in touch.
Broadland High School was founded in April 1958 as a mixed secondary modern school, then known as Hoveton County Secondary.
And the school is working with the education charity Future First to build a thriving alumni community as part of the celebrations this year.
Deputy head Simon Laycock said there was lots planned to make the diamond anniversary including a 1958 at the school on July 23 and a fun day in early July.
“We hope the community will get involved in the fun day with activities and stalls and people will come and have a look round the school,” he said.
He also hopes the school will create some archives including photographs and an oral history from interviews with former students of all ages. “The students already visit the local care homes to chat with residents so some of them might have stories to tell if they were former pupils of the school,” said Simon. “We want to build a picture of the history of the school with stories from people who have been here over the last 60 years.”
The school has received support and funding from Future First as part of a project to raise aspirations among current students.
And Simon thinks one of the ways the school can do this is by bringing in successful alumni to tell their stories, including sports success and pop stars. They currently have around 70 on their database but hope to hugely increase this number in the anniversary year.
Some of the archive material Simon has found makes interesting reading. In the original register from 1958, nearly all the students are reported to have left education because it was no longer compulsory rather than go on to further education.
A report from 1972 talks about the school leaving age being raised to 16 and the possibility that some students may be married.
There’s also an inspectors report from 1965 which shows an average of six pupils a year over four years passed their 0-levels. I wonder what Ofsted would have to say about that.

Alumni can sign up via the link and anyone interested in getting involved in the celebrations can email

Deputy head Simon Laycock

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”.


Final week for competition entries from budding writers

By: Innes Enslin

There is just one week left for children and young people across Norfolk to submit their entries into Norfolk County Council’s creative writing competition for 5-13 year olds.

Write On Norfolk – a competition aimed at boosting summer learning and honing children’s writing skills has already received more than 120 entries since it opened on the 5 June, and now with just a week to go Norfolk County Council is encouraging even more children to get their entries in before it’s too late.  The Write On Norfolk competition is open to children and young people who are aged between five and 13 years old. Budding writers are asked to submit a piece of original creative writing before 31 August.

For the second year Jarrold of Norwich is backing the competition and will be donating Jarrold book tokens as prizes. In addition to these vouchers there will be a prize of an Amazon Fire tablet up for grabs for the gold winners.  Plus those writers who are enrolled in the Children’s University, their entries will earn credits towards their degree.

Alison Thomas, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council, who is one of the final judges for the competition said: “Helping Norfolk’s children achieve their full potential by giving them every opportunity to develop vital skills like reading and writing is a key priority for the county council which is why I’m so pleased that we are running this competition again.

“Last year I enjoyed reading some wonderful stories and poems from young people across Norfolk, and I hope that this year we get even more children taking part.

“As a Mum myself, I know just how important it is to keep up those skills during the long weeks of the summer holidays, but this competition is designed to be a fun way of doing it so I hope that parents, grandparents and carers will give them as much encouragement as possible to enter.”

BBC Radio Norfolk’s breakfast presenter, Nick Conrad, who will also judge the entries added: “Children can be wonderfully creative. Anything that marries up improving English skills, promoting literature and encouraging our next generation to get inspired, I support. I look forward to reading the stories and adventures conjured up by the minds of Norfolk’s school children.”

The only rules for the competition are that the writing must be a maximum of 500 words (roughly one side of A4 paper), and it must contain a link to Norfolk. The entry can be a short story, poem, script or even song lyrics and must be submitted online via the Norfolk County Council website – Full details about the competition, including how to enter, and terms and conditions can be found by visiting the Council website.

From Bake-off to Backstory

When TV producer Claire Mutimer left her busy life in London to marry a local farmer and bring up their children, she decided to find a way of getting back into the broadcasting career she loved that would fit with hew new life in Norfolk.

A year on and the Backstory podcast is getting ready to air its first episode on September 12 to tie in with the London Podcast Festival.

Claire, who worked on The Great British Bake Off, has made documentaries about children in care and deaf teenagers and, with business partner Suzy Coulson, quickly realised that there were amazing human stories that could be told through a podcast.  “The idea of the Backstory is that we all have one, everyone has a tale to tell about something that’s happened that’s changed the course of their life, perhaps made them who they are today”, says Claire.  Each episode of the backstory tells a different tale, many of them from within our region. “We put the word out and soon found some fascinating stories that we think everyone will be interested in.”

The first episode takes us back to a tragic event that many will remember from a few years back, the murder in 2012 of Andrea Johnson by her husband and former Cromer mayor Keith Johnson.

Suzy explains why they chose to cover this story. “I remember so clearly when Andrea was killed and the understandable shock that everyone felt, explaining Keith’s actions as a moment of madness. I felt at the time that there must have been more to it, that these things don’t happen out of nowhere, and I wanted Andrea’s parents to tell their story and, through them, to tell Andrea’s story of her life with Keith.”  Later episodes include people talking openly about having a dad in prison, living with a little-understood form of OCD, being diagnosed later in life with autism and choosing to have an arranged marriage.

There have been many new skills to learn along the way, as Suzy explains. “We’ve taught ourselves how to edit, where to source music, how to upload a podcast – it’s been a steep learning curve. Our office is Claire’s kitchen table, her wardrobe is our recording studio and sometimes we have 10 children racing around in the background!”

So, what is a podcast?  Most podcasts are audio, so it’s like a radio show that goes out over the internet.  You can subscribe using an app and each time a new episode is released it will automatically be ready for you to listen to. Although you need to be linked to the internet at some point for the episodes to download, once they’ve downloaded you can listen to them offline.  “There’s a whole world of content out there – true crime, drama, comedy, current affairs.. whatever you’re into there will be a podcast about it!”, says Claire.  “They’re great to listen to when you’re walking the dog, exercising or cooking.”

Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast providers.  Find out more at or follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you have a story to tell for the backstory season 2 then get in touch by email

Claire Mutimer (left) and Suzy Coulson (right) working at Claire’s kitchen table.



Are you recycling right?

Give your recycling a little bit of love or in other words, make sure it’s clean, dry and don’t bag it when to goes into the recycling bin. This is the message the Norfolk Waste Partnership wants residents to heed as part of a major push to Recycle for Norfolk in August and September.

The revitalised recycling message comes in the wake of national research by the charity WRAP, which promotes the sustainable use of resources, that found overall, 64% of households’ dispose of one or more items incorrectly because of a lack of information about what and how to recycle.

John Fisher, chair of the Norfolk Waste Partnership explained: “We want to make sure Norfolk residents have the information they need to understand how and what to recycle at home. There are three simple rules to remember to get recycling right in Norfolk: Clean, Dry and Don’t Bag it.”

The campaign reinforces the rules in a leaflet which will go to every Norfolk home in September. Posters, radio, television adverts and online information will remind everyone how to recycle right. In 2015/16 Norfolk’s recycling rate was 45% which compares well to the published recycling rate for England as a whole which was 43%.

Mr Fisher added: “Getting recycling right is everyone’s responsibility. All of our councils and crews work hard to empty our bins and when they find a recycling bin full with unwashed food containers and in many instances, used nappies and even pet food, it can be soul-destroying. It is especially unpleasant for the people at our material recovery facility who hand sort Norfolk’s recycling material.”

There is also a cost when people don’t follow the rules on recycling. Whilst it is 33% cheaper to recycle one tonne of material than dispose of it as rubbish, last year Norfolk’s district, borough and city councils paid an additional £430,000 to have Norfolk’s recycling material cleaned-up before it could be made into new products. If everyone makes sure their recyclable materials are clean, dry and loose and that they are placed in the right bin, it will save money.

Along with the leaflet that will be delivered to Norfolk households in September, details about what can and cannot be recycled in Norfolk can be found at or via Twitter and Facebook: @Recycle4Norfolk

Fears grow for safety of missing Stalham girl

Police are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of a missing 16-year-old girl from Stalham.
Layla Hawtree was last seen in Sutton on Sunday and was reported missing the same day. She is  about 5ft 5ins, of slim build with shoulder length blonde hair. She has links to the Norwich and Great Yarmouth areas.
Officers are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen Layla or knows of her current whereabouts.
Anyone with information should contact Norfolk Police immediately on 101.