Drayton family’s amazing tale of giving life

A Drayton family is celebrating a second chance at life, thanks to the determination to go to the other side of the world to make miracles happen – and a selfless woman who just wanted to keep her sister and nephew alive.

When David and Patsy Blyth’s son, Nathan, was 19, he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease – a condition in which cysts form on the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure.

Ten years later, in 2007, Patsy was also diagnosed with the same disease – and was told she would need a transplant within five years.

“This knocked us for six,” said David.

With two members of the family suffering from the condition, the whole family was tested and they were all given the all-clear – and Patsy’s sister, Tracey Harwood, immediately offered to donate one of her kidneys.

“I didn’t even really think about it,” she said. “I just said I’d do it.”

Tests proved that although she was not a perfect match, Tracey was able to donate, and work began to prepare the sisters for the operation, which was pencilled in for the summer of 2012.

Tracey needed to lose weight before the operation and while she stuck religiously to her task, Patsy was put on the deceased donor list – and in July, David received the call from Addenbrooke’s Hospital that a possible kidney had been found.

“I called her on her mobile to tell her the news. I was in tears, she was in tears… I called Tracey to tell her and to see if she was OK with this after all the hard work she had gone through to give Patsy a new lease of life. I think I remember her crying, too,” said David.

Tracey and her husband, Gary, raced to their house from their home in Taverham and they all drove to the hospital together.

“Patsy received her kidney in the early hours of July 25, 2012 – a date we will never forget,” said David. “She is now leading a normal healthy life and Tracey was able to keep both her kidneys.”

Meanwhile, Nathan had moved to Australia to start a new life, was in a relationship and had two young children. But his kidneys were failing, he was told he needed an operation on his spine, his relationship had collapsed and he was told that, like his mum before him, he would need a transplant.

While he was waiting, he met a new partner, Cheryl, who, David says, played an enormous part in helping Nathan through his treatment and recovery, which included taking part in pioneering dialysis trials and treatment at home.

Back in England, David underwent tests at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to see if he was a suitable donor, but learned that although he was the perfect match, his own kidneys were not in a good enough condition to transplant to his son.

“Once again, in steps Tracey,” said David. “She was determined to get rid of one of her kidneys!”

Although now a grandmother, Tracey said the decision was immediately obvious.

“I just felt there was a chance of a better life for Nathan if he had this operation, and if I could help I would. It turned out I was a better match for Nathan than I was for Patsy.”

David said everyone cried when the tests revealed the operation was possible – but there were still hurdles to clear.

“How on earth were we going to be able to pull this off?” he said. “Nathan was in Australia and was too ill to travel, and Tracey and all of us were here in England – 12,000 miles apart.”

So the family swung into action – David, Patsy, Tracey, Gary and their daughter Abbie planning flights and time off work and liaising between the “fantastic” renal team at the N&N – who David says played a vital role in bringing the whole project together – and the hospital in Melbourne.

“This trip was going to last three months providing everything went to plan,” said David. “All their employers were brilliant.”

On arrival in Melbourne there were more tests for Tracey, and the transplant was carried out on February 13 this year.

Tracey was discharged after four days and Nathan soon began to recover – so much so that he was able to fly back to Norwich last month to visit his grandfather, Wally, in hospital before he died.

“Without this fantastic gift of a new kidney he would not have been able to do this,” said David, who hopes his family’s story will raise awareness of the disease and also of altruistic kidney donation.

David says he is grateful every day for those who helped his wife and son get this second chance, and Tracey says she feels even closer to her nephew now than she did before.

“We were always close but it does feel strange being in the same room, thinking my kidney is inside him,” she said.

Pictured: Family group which includes: David (far left), Patsy (second left), Tracey (denim skirt)  Cheryl (blue dress) and Nathan (jeans).



Road closure will put pressure on roads in Hellesdon, Drayton and Horsford

Extra long-term pressures on roads through Hellesdon, Drayton and on Church Street, Horsford, are expected following the permanent closure of the B1149 Holt Road, south of Horsford.

The closure has been brought forward to Wednesday August 9 after BT Openreach announced earlier dates for moving their fibre optic cables. The closure had been put back until late August after BT said diversion of the cables would not begin until after the World Athletics Championships (August 4-13). However, that work has been rescheduled by BT to start on July 31. This will allow more of the complex final phase in constructing the major A140 Cromer Road/A1270 Northern Distributor Road (NDR) junction to be carried out in the school summer holidays. Altogether, it is expected to take around three months to complete the junction. Following the B1149 closure, traffic will be diverted via New Drayton Lane – which has recently opened – on to Reepham Road. This diversion will remain in place until traffic can use the NDR dual carriageway and A140 junction, or part of it, to restore access to the A140. Norfolk County Council and Balfour Beatty has apologised for the unavoidable disruption to normal travel.


Watch out for the bears…

If you go down to Drayton, Taverham or Thorpe Marriott in August, you’re in for a big surprise…
The latest Fun Hunt will feature paper teddy bears displayed in windows around the area to give youngsters something fun – and free – to do during the summer holidays.
Organiser Sophie Garrod said: “Lots of people, including businesses, create a teddy bear, decorate it however they want to, put it in their front window and children go around and try to spot them.”
She is putting together an online map of where all the bears will be between August 1 and 15 so the hunters can follow it.
“The idea is for the children to find as many as they can and then their parents can reward them any way they like – maybe a treat for spotting 10… It’s just something fun for them to do and, most importantly, it’s free!” said Sophie, who has three young sons  – George, Harry and Alfie.
She said she already has 46 people who will have bears on display, but more are welcome.
“There’s a template which people can use – just let me know through our Facebook page,” she said. “It’s great fun and it doesn’t take long. We had an Easter egg hunt at Easter and it was lovely getting all the photos afterwards.”
She said she also planned to do a snowman hunt at Christmas.
Anyone wanting to decorate a teddy or look at the map should get in touch by searching for Teddy Bear Hunt – Taverham, Drayton and Thorpe Marriott on Facebook.





Get scam aware with Norfolk Trading Standards

People will get the chance to boost their scam awareness this month as a series of events take place aiming to give people the knowledge to spot scams themselves and allow them to help, friends, neighbours and relatives to be scam alert.

Nationally the cost of scamming to UK consumers is between £5bn and £10bn a year so, as July is Scams Awareness Month, Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers will be in Wroxham, King’s Lynn, and in and around Norwich giving scam awareness advice.

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of the communities committee, said: “We want to be as helpful as we can by giving people the best chance of spotting a scam and avoiding the financial loss and worry often caused by scammers. Do remember if something seems too good to be true – it probably is!

“Our knowledgeable Trading Standards officers will be on hand at the events this month to give face-to-face advice to anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer whether it’s over the phone, on the doorstep, or by post. And do bring along any letters you think may be a scam and we’ll take a look and suggest how best to deal with it.”

Also at the events people will be able to pick up free stickers for their front door telling cold callers they are not welcome. And Trading Standards officers are keen to help people to become a Friend Against Scams – this is a national scheme Norfolk County Council Trading Standards and the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board have joined forces to promote here in Norfolk. It’s open to anyone who wants to protect themselves, their neighbours or their loved ones against scams. Sign-up is easy and training is free. Visit for more information.

The top tips to follow to protect yourself or others from a scam:

Get advice

from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or at who can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards


scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040 or visit


a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of

See the offers at:

Friday 7 July – Wroxham Library Health Fair: Wroxham Library – 10.30am-2.30pm

Tuesday 11 July – NatWest Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: NatWest, Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn – 10am-3pm

Wednesday 12 July – Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: Tesco, Blue Boar Lane, Sprowston – 10am-4pm

Thursday 20 July – Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: Tesco, Harford Bridge, Norwich – 10am-4pm

Friday 21 July – Barclays Fraud and Scams Awareness Event: Barclays, Drayton Branch – 10am-2pm

Monday 24 July – Barclays Fraud and Scams Awareness Event: Barclays, Aylsham Road Branch, Norwich – 10am-2pm

Fun day to celebrate tearoom’s birthday

A year ago, friends Amanda Medler and Sarah Douglass came up with the idea of opening a tea room in their local pub.

And now the pair are celebrating their first birthday with a charity event to help an autism charity.

Once they got permission from the landlord of the Silver Fox, on Fakenham Road, the pair got to work setting up their business, opening last July.

Offering all day breakfasts, toasties, paninis, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, afternoon teas, delicious cakes and ice cream they are also popular for baby showers, birthdays, christenings and wakes.

Their birthday party, on July 15, will be a fun day with stalls, a bouncy castle, face painting a raffle and much more.

Stalls will include crafts and pampering and, of course, cakes.

All proceeds are going to Norfolk Autism Society and everyone is welcome to go along, enjoy the day – which runs from 9am to 4pm – and help raise money for charity.

If anyone wants to have a stall at the event they can call Sarah or Amanda on 01603 868212.

A sweet thank you to Sprowston fire crews

A Norwich resident has been delivering cakes to the county’s fire service to say thank you for their dedication to the job.
Linda Cullum lives in Markham Tower, which suffered extensive damage during a blaze in 2011 that was attended by 80 firefighters.
Linda said: “With the Grenfell Tower fire last week, it reminded me what a fantastic job the fire service does and I wanted them to know how much the public appreciate what they do.”
Her gift comes after fire service staff spent the weekend visiting residents of high rise blocks in Norfolk to chat through any concerns about fire safety in light of the London fire.
Linda, who works at Tesco in Drayton, made cakes in the bakery there on Wednesday morning iced with thank you messages, and delivered them to Green Watch crews at Earlham and Sprowston at lunchtime.
Linda’s flat was heavily water damaged in the 2011 fire and she lived in a hotel for 13 weeks.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Les Britzman said: “We appreciate the thought and the show of support for the service from Linda.
“Over the weekend our staff visited 10 high-rise blocks in Norwich and Kings Lynn to provide advice and reassurance around fire safety, following the Grenfell Tower fire. We would remind all Norfolk residents of the importance of regularly testing their smoke alarms.”

Beer credited for saving Drayton man’s life!

Not many people can say that beer saved their life, but for Drayton resident Alan Pickering it may well have done just that!

While enjoying a pint of charity beer Tobi’s Tipple Special Edition at the Bob Carter Centre last summer, Alan was reading the associated It’s On The Ball leaflet and it dawned on him that he was suffering from some of the symptoms of testicular cancer.

Alan said: “The It’s On The Ball information, provided by The Norfolk Brewhouse with their particularly fine Tobi’s Tipple, prompted me to think that something wasn’t right. This opinion was subsequently confirmed by those infinitely more qualified than me, and although the effects of the operation and follow up treatment weren’t particularly nice, my cancer was detected and treated at Stage 1, the earliest and most survivable of four. As a consequence of this, my prognosis is very good.

“Some people I speak to regarding my experience seem to be very uncomfortable and embarrassed about the subject. Please try and get over this; I don’t like to think where I would be today if I’d been too embarrassed to visit my GP.”

Alan contacted The Norfolk Brewhouse following his experience and literally said: “Did you know your beer saves lives?” So, joining forces again with Norwich-based charity It’s On The Ball, and with support from more than 70 pubs and clubs across Norfolk, Tobi’s Tipple Special Edition is back on bars throughout January to continue raising awareness of testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst young men as well as a difficult subject to get men talking about. So creating a special beer, with the support of pubs, seemed like the perfect combination to increase awareness and conversations, whilst also encouraging people into their local in January, often one of the toughest months in a pub’s year.

Tobi is the charity’s pants wearing logo – an anagram of IOTB, the initials of It’s On The Ball. His oversized y-fronts have been seen at many events, increasing the awareness of the charity and its basic message for men to check themselves monthly. A ‘Pants Wall of Fame’ is a feature on the IOTB website and it is hoped that many more pictures will be added to this during the campaign.

It’s On The Ball was established in 2013 by a group of testicular cancer patients, their families and NHS staff, to help raise awareness and provide support to patients who have been diagnosed. Chairman of the charity, Vince Wolverson, said: “We really appreciate the support given to us by Rachel, David, and all the staff at The Norfolk Brewhouse. Not only are they helping us to raise awareness across the county, but as we have seen in Alan’s case, helping to save lives too. This is a great example of a small business and charity working together to benefit community welfare.”

Norfolk Brewhouse brewer and co-owner David Holliday, said: “To us, supporting It’s On The Ball is a no brainer, by spreading a simple message we can all easily help save lives.

“While incredibly heartening to know that we made a difference to Alan’s life, it also shows the simplicity of what we are trying to do – just spread the word. We do the easy bit, we just brew the beer and deliver, the pubs do the nice bit, they get to serve the beer and chat to their community – the real hard work is done by the small and totally dedicated team at It’s on the Ball – who with limited resources do all they can to help raises awareness of this killer disease.”

Ron Halliday at the Bob Carter Centre added: “We are delighted to support this charity once again, especially because the excellent work it does probably saved the life of one of ours members. We also plan to donate £1 for every pint of Tobi’s Tipple that we sell.”

It’s On The Ball recommend that men check themselves monthly for abnormalities – 98% of testicular cancers can be successfully treated if they are detected in their early stages. For more information about testicular cancer and It’s On The Ball visit

Follow, support and raise awareness for It’s On The Ball and Tobi’s Tipple Special Edition on Facebook: It’s On The Ball and Norfolk Brewhouse pages; Twitter ItsOnTheBall and MoonGazerAle feeds.

Alan Pickering with Ron Halliday from the Bob Carter Centre and representatives from It’s On The Ball and The Norfolk Brewhouse.

Alan Pickering with Ron Halliday from the Bob Carter Centre and representatives from It’s On The Ball and The Norfolk Brewhouse.

Alan Pickering with the beer he credits with saving his life

Alan Pickering with the beer he credits with saving his life

Tobi's Tipple beer alongside the On the Ball charity collection pot.

Tobi’s Tipple beer alongside the On the Ball charity collection pot.

Winners announced at Broadland Community at Heart Awards

The second Broadland Community at Heart Awards run by Broadland District Council were presented at a ceremony at The Space in Sprowston on Wednesday, October 26. The awards were attended by more than 120 guests and featured a performance by the Broadland Youth Choir.

The awards, which were sponsored by The Space and The Romanian Wine Company Ltd, celebrated the achievements of Broadland residents who have many an exceptional contribution to their community.

Winners were chosen for 11 categories from nominations made by members of the public. They were presented with a trophy and £100 in shopping vouchers. Highly commended nominees were also presented with certificates at the event.

Opening the ceremony was council chairman, Cllr John Ward who addressed the awards finalists; “I hope you all feel proud of your achievements this evening. Whether you have been nominated for helping less fortunate members of your neighbourhood, for excelling in sport or for improving the environment for us all to enjoy, your actions will inspire those around you and have contributed to making our area what it is.”

Mike Ellard from Sprowston received the Good Neighbour of the Year award. Mike has led Broadland District Council’s Grow Your Community Project’s greenhouse scheme in Sprowston, ensuring that redundant greenhouses are accessible to everyone and teaching residents new gardening skills. He also helps regularly with his neighbours’ garden and plays an active role in the Horticultural Society.

The Carer of the Year award was presented to Sherena Skedge who was nominated by an elderly resident who she cares for in her role as a carer with Leaf. The people she cares for always appreciate how Sherena goes the extra mile.

The Friends of Cremer’s Meadow were named as Environmental Champion of the Year for their work for all their work over the past two years turning a nearby disused meadow into a beautiful public space for residents in Brundall to enjoy.

Amelia Williamson of Hevingham secured the award for Sporting Achievement of the Year for her achievements in golf over the past year, placing highly in many tournaments over Europe and becoming the National Champion U18 in English Schools. Amelia holds three course records at nearby golf courses; Belton Park, Weston Park and Royal Cromer. Amelia was unable to attend the ceremony due to training but her father, Mark Williamson, collected the award on her behalf.

The Burgh Reading Room Social Committee was named as Community Group of the Year for all they have achieved in their small community, organising events for residents including summer fetes and film nights. They are an inclusive group who welcome every resident to the Reading Room, making Burgh a better place to live.

The Acle Community Resilience Group received the Safer Broadland Award for the support they gave to local residents who were affected by surface water flooding in the summer. Whilst the rescue services were at work, the group ensured that residents who had to leave their homes were had everything they needed.

The Business Community Support of the Year award was given to the White Horse Development Trust who opened a community shop within the White Horse pub in Upton in 2015. The shop is run by 23 local volunteers and provides a vital service to residents.

17 year old Megan Blazer was presented with the Young Person of the Year award. Over the past three years, Megan has been volunteering with the Sprowston Youth Engagement Project, helping other young people in her community and has become young committee chair. She has also been key in leading a campaign of support for a new skate park in Sprowston, speaking at town council meetings and speaking to objectors.

The Personal Courage of the Year award was presented to John Graves for his great weight loss of 35 stone over the last ten years as he participated in the council’s Broadly Active scheme. John started by participating in just ten minutes of exercise per day and can now do up to three hours as he continues to improve his fitness.

Also receiving an award is Christine Chapman who has been named as Volunteer of the Year for all her hard work as a Girl Guide leader in Thorpe Marriott over many years. Christine was unable to attend the ceremony due to taking her Guide group on a trip to Paris but will be presented with her award by the council’s Chairman at an upcoming Guide meeting.

This year, award judges were especially impressed by the achievements of Cantley resident, Alfie Hewett and created a special Outstanding Achievement of the Year award to celebrate his accomplishments. Alfie has excelled in his sport of wheelchair tennis, winning a number of impressive accolades. Alfie and his tennis partner, Gordon Reid, secured the title of wheelchair men’s doubles champion at Wimbledon earlier this year. The pair then went on to win the silver medal in the Rio Paralympics where Alfie was also awarded the silver medal in the men’s singles tournament. Alfie is currently competing in California so asked his grandparents, Ann and David Hooper to collect his award on his behalf.

Ahead of the ceremony, Alfie said: “It’s been an incredible year for me, winning two silver medals at my first Paralympics and doubles at Wimbledon with my partner Gordon before that. It really has been an amazing six months for me in tennis and I am even further ahead than where I thought I would be at this point, having won two out of three of my recent tournaments and now holding a top eight spot. I am so thankful for the support which I have received from my family and all of Norfolk and it is an honour to have my success recognised with a Broadland Community at Heart Award. Thank you to the judges and everyone who has supported me, it really does mean such a lot.”

Council Leader, Cllr Andrew Proctor, closed the ceremony with thanks to all the participants and those who made the event possible, including: Rob Chandler of Radio Norwich, master of ceremonies, the Eastern Daily Press who agreed that all finalists will be entered into their Stars of Norfolk Awards, and sponsors, The Space and The Romanian Wine Company Ltd.

Broadland Community at Heart Awards 2016 Good Neighbour or Friend of the Year winner Mike Ellard, from Sprowston, with Cllr Shaun Vincent.

Broadland Community at Heart Awards 2016 Good Neighbour or Friend of the Year winner Mike Ellard, from Sprowston, with Cllr Shaun Vincent.