Gretel takes a new direction at Sheringham Little Theatre

Directing a drama is a tick on the “bucket list” of battling cancer patient Gretel Brice.
She is at the helm of a youth musical production of the classic story Little Women, an empowering tale of a strong mum fighting adversity to bring up her daughters.
And, with her own daughters Megan and Matilda in the cast at theatres in Sheringham and Great Yarmouth, the show is a poignant and inspirational one for the family, as well as other people with cancer.
Gretel, 49, has had a busy 30-year career in social services, mental and alternative health,and followed her passion for music and dance as a teacher.
But, while running her own complementary health business, a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer in March last year, saw her become a patient rather than a healer.
Her treatment included losing many organs in a life-saving 10-hour operation plus four months of chemotherapy.
“It was tough. I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, and my whole body felt as if it was being poisoned but I was not prepared to lie in bed and suffer,” said Gretel, who lives near Happisburgh.
“I gardened my way through the impacts of chemo to push it through my system and alleviate the symptoms more quickly,” she explained.
As Gretel got stronger, friend Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, asked her to chaperone youngsters at the panto.
It led to Gretel choreographing a youth production of Bugsy Malone this spring, and now to direct Little Women from July 5-7. She also teaches dance and drama at St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth, where the show will be staged on July 8.
“I was still in pain through Bugsy and have suffered some memory loss through the chemo – so remembering the dance steps meant extra work and lots of determination,” said Gretel.
“But dancing makes my soul dance, and the more I did it, the easier it became. It has been therapeutic – physically, mental and emotionally – and has rebuilt my confidence.”
Book tickets at, 01263 822347.


Paul and Bluebell hit the road again

The fastest milk float in the East will be off on her travels again as Paul Thompson and Bluebell head to Cornwall in aid of Cancer Research.

The Sheringham-based singer/songwriter will be driving the souped-up vehicle all the way to Land’s End, performing gigs along the way on a tour which he hopes will raise £5,000 for the charity.

With a top speed of 19mph, Bluebell is 4/5mph faster than the average milk float – but Paul won’t have his foot down all the way. He expects Bluebell’s Busking Bonanza tour to take most of the summer, at a more sedate 10mph.

“I think it’s going to take about two months to get there because I’m playing lots of gigs on the way,” he said. “I am aiming to do about 30. I called it the Busking Bonanza but it’s mainly not busking. I will be doing some busking, but lots of the gigs will be proper gigs in pubs with gardens or festivals and artisan markets.”

Events lined up already are a classic car festival near Oxford and a session with radio legend Bob Harris for his online TV channel . Paul is also waiting to hear if he has nabbed a coveted spot at Glastonbury. A dream gig which, he said, would be “absolutely brilliant”.

The tour will start with a launch party at the Harnser, in Cley, on June 2 where there will be food from 7pm and music from 8pm. Paul and Bluebell plan to hit the road on June 3 – a poignant anniversary .

“My dad, Terry, passed away from cancer a year ago so I wanted to do something really positive to commemorate him. Having seen what cancer can do to someone I wanted to help the next generation,” he said.

Fitted out with a stage and solar panels to power the gear needed for Paul’s performances, Bluebell has most of the mod cons needed for the journey but Paul hopes to hear from people who can put on a gig, host him for a night or help to keep Bluebell charged up.

He is already grateful for those who contributed £80 towards his challenge as he busked outside Budgens in Holt, courtesy of Bakers and Larners, last Saturday.

Anyone wanting to follow Bluebell’s route can visit for his blog and keep up with live updates on Facebook and Twitter. Donations can be made at



Charity challenge ‘CLICs’ for Simon

Businessman Simon Gray is topping off a year of fundraising by hitting new heights.
He will be swapping the relatively flat landscape for Norfolk this month to trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro in his biggest challenge as part of 12 months of raising funds for CLIC Sargent.
Simon and his business partner launched Credo Finance in 2005 and last year, to mark 10 years of business, he and his team decided to raise £10,000 for charity The boss will bring that total to at least £15,000 and is already at that level with three weeks of fundraising left.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said. “Kilimanjaro has been an image that I’ve studied for years with wonder and a lust to visit. It’s the highest freestanding mountain in the world and being close to the equator, at its summit, you’re closer to the sun than you are on the peak of Everest. There are many climate zones to walk through and with the rare atmosphere at the top it’s a true challenge that’s far from easy. Many ultra-fit marathon runners have said this is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.”
But Simon, from North Walsham, is ready for the challenge and is particularly looking forward to reaching the summit at dawn after a climb through the night. “On the last leg we will get woken up at midnight, put on every bit of clothing as it will be about -10C and below and trek for six hours to see sunrise at the summit.”
Simon and Credo have been supporting CLIC Sargent for the past two years, with fundraising events including a bake-off, white water rafting, an auction, Wig Wednesdays and a 10k run.
“It’s a great charity,” he said. “They are great people to work with, truly grateful and very supportive of everything we do to raise money for them. Most charity causes are worthwhile, but for me, young children, suffering this most cruel of diseases are some of the most deserving and we are proud to be raising money for them.”
To this end, all the money Simon raises from the trip will go to the charity. “As this is a challenge with a great personal element to it, I’ve paid for the cost of the trip myself and therefore every penny I raise will go to CLIC Sargent.
“We aimed to raise £10,000 but we have beat that into a cocked hat – I’m very proud of the efforts of all our staff in achieving the goal that seemed so far away when we started raising money last February.”
Simon is already a familiar face around North Walsham and further afield. He’s about to get involved in the mentoring scheme at North Walsham High School and spends some of his spare time in fine voice for The Choir Worstead.
Simon’s training has included regular walking, alomst daily gym trips and also cutting out alcohol. The trek runs from February 18-28 and the group of fundraisers from all over the UK will cover 10k mostly per day (all uphill), taking six days to get up the mountain and two to come down.
They will be accompanied by guides, who will set up camp each night, as the journey progresses through rainforest and changing scenery all the way to the top. They will also have to deal with low oxygen levels as the climb starts at 1800m. “At the top is just 10% oxygen instead of 21%.”
But Simon’s not daunted by the challenge. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s an adventure and really something different. I might even have a sing song along the way.”
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families, providing clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. Visit

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Information Day for those Living with and Beyond Cancer

The Big C Centre, Norwich, opens its doors to offer help and support to anyone living with and beyond cancer.

Charities and Norfolk & Norwich hospital staff are coming together under one roof to inform cancer patients and their families and friends of all the help available to them in our region. Continue reading