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‘Learning to live again’ Tiff Youngs exclusive

Claire Mutimer and Suzy Coulson, of The Backstory podcast, with an exclusive interview with Tiffany Youngs, wife of international rugby star Tom, about her cancer diagnosis, treatment, terminal prognosis, shock remission and the impact it has had on her four-year-old daughter and family.

At the age of 28, Tiff Youngs appeared to have an amazing life – recently married to Tom Youngs, the England, Lions and Leicester Tigers rugby player, with a new baby girl Maisie and a lovely family home in Leicester.

However this was all about to be turned on its head when she found out in 2014 that she was suffering from Hodgkin Lymphoma.

The latest Backstory podcast, which went live today (May 22), tells the remarkable story of how Tiff dealt with three years of ill health and numerous different treatments, including a stem cell transplant, only to be told the devastating news in May 2017 that her cancer was terminal.

Tiff said she told her daughter: “I said you know mummy hasn’t been very well, unfortunately mummy has got to go to heaven….and she was like ‘Oh OK so I never see mummy again’.” She was, at one point, given between four weeks and a year to live.

In the interview, Tiff talks to Claire about her health and emotions, and the extraordinary turnaround which sees her now in remission from the disease. This conversation with her daughter was quite different. “I said you know mummy was ill and lost all her hair, mummy’s all better now and so mummy isn’t going to heaven any more….and you suddenly just saw a different person in her…just a spring in her step,” she said.

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the development of lymophocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the blood, bone marrow and lymph glands. It affects the immune system and is often first diagnosed on finding swollen lymph nodes in your armpits or groin. Around 12,000 people are diagnosed with a type of lymphoma every year. Hodgkin Lymphoma refers to the specific lymphocytes which are affected.

Tiffany’s husband Tom plays for Leicester Tigers Rugby Club, is the current club captain and has received 28 England caps, as well as Lions success. Younger brother Ben also plays for Leicester and England. Ben opted to miss the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand following Tiff’s terminal prognosis in order to support Tiff and Tom. The brothers grew up in Aylsham. Youngs Park in the town is named after the family after they donated land for the park.

Tiff’s backstory podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Acast and other podcast directories.  Find out more at thebackstorypodcast.co.uk or follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you would like more information then you can get in touch with Claire and Suzy on hello@thebackstorypodcast.co.uk or by calling 07990 582683/07595 335855.

Tiffany with husband Tom and daughter Maisie

Picture: Claire Mutimer

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 www.hovetonhallestate.co.uk or call 01603 784297.

 

 

 

Search for children to star in Miss Saigon

Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon is looking for boys or girls to play the role of Tam when the show heads to Norwich Theatre Royal from August 15 to September 15.

The character is small, cute, confident and South-East Asian looking. He is not younger than four and not older than six, and children must live within a commutable distance of Norwich.

Anyone who wants further information or to apply should email Joanne Hawes on joanne.hawes2013@gmail.com including a small head and shoulders photograph.

Set during the last days of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon tells the story of 17-year-old Kim who is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as The Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI called Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of the city.

For the next three years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris. Tam is Kim’s son.

This new production of Miss Saigon opened in London in May 2014 to record-breaking advance sales and critical acclaim. The show swept the board at the 2015 Whatsonstage.com awards winning a record-breaking nine awards including Best West End Show and Best Revival of a Musical and gained the most awards ever won by a single show in the 15-year history of the awards.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history. It has now been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including three Olivier Awards, three Tony Awards, and four Drama Desk Awards, and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

Miss Saigon, runs August 15 to September 15 at 7.30pm, and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. There are no Sunday performances. Tickets are £8-£60, with discounts and special performances avialable.

Book now at www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

REVIEW: Salt, presented by Norfolk theatre company fEAST,

It is a fine balancing act transferring the mood and characters from a book to the stage. We each have an individual appreciation of what is going on in the book but, on stage, we rely on the director and cast to visualise the story for us.

So the years spent by Robin McLoughlin adapting Jeremy Page’s atmospheric novel Salt for the stage were not wasted if the performances in Aylsham were anything to go by.

And the direction by Dawn Finnerty ably set up the mood of isolation in a turbulent north Norfolk landscape which shapes the lives of three generations of one family as they struggle for survival in the wetlands – that wilderness between the land and the sea.

The tragi-comic story is told through the eyes of their youngest member, Pip, played by Sam Thompson, who talks us through four decades of blood, smoke, mud, tears and fish.

The show begins in Morston, in 1944. Pip’s grandmother ‘Goose’ (Sally Blouet) rescues a German airman buried up to his neck in the marsh. Nine months later the German vanishes in a makeshift boat, leaving Goose with a new-born daughter, Lil.

Lil (Katie-anna Whiting) grows up from a strange child to the object of two brothers’ desire, and that’s when her life takes a tragic turn.

The brothers, played by Robin McLoughlin and Tom Girvin, fill the narrative gaps with humour as well as a deep sense of foreboding.

Blustering throughout the tale is Owen Evans as Bryn Pugh, a Falstaff character who acts as minder, friend and mentor to the family.

There are many “gaps in time” as we pass through the decades and some of these transition points are confusing like when the young lovers banish themselves to the Fens to escape the opprobrium of the community before their illegitimate baby is born.

But it is the beauty of the Norfolk dialect and mannerisms, which are effortlessly displayed here by the mostly home-grown cast, and the many references to local place names which give the production a powerful sense of place and time.

It would be hard to single out any one actor as each fulfilled their roles impeccably especially as they were up against some exacting minimalist props – mainly wooden crates and half a broken boat.

If anything is, then the star of the show is that bootiful, gloriously open, mystical but unforgiving patch of land where folk dew dif’runt.

Patrick Prekopp

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Big effort for cancer charity

Brighton Marathon runners Martin Garrard and Andrew Graveling have topped the £3,300 mark in their efforts to help cancer.
The weight training buddies took part in the 26-mile race on April 15 to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
The pair chose Cancer Research UK because they had both lost family and friends to cancer.
Martin said the last few miles of the race had been really tough as both had been carrying injuries on the day.
But he said: “Giving up never entered our heads. We dug in and finished it.”
He added: “The crowd were fantastic, including family members, cheering us on all the way.
The total so far is £3,380, which is triple their target and more.
Martin said: “The support and generosity from people has overwhelmed us.
“We would like to thank everyone who wished us well and everyone who kindly donated to a very worthy cause.”
Andrew is a local postman and Martin owns Holt Fish Bar.
See https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/double-dragons

 

Adrian in the saddle for Edinburgh Fringe

Norfolk Youth Musical Theatre director Adrian Connell is taking to his bike to fund ths group’s latest visit to a national theatre festival.
He is currently nearing his target of raising £1,500 to enable the group to take its production of Battle of Boat’ to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Adrian will be completing a fundraising cycle ride from Sheringham to Norwich (37 miles) on Sunday, May 27.
He currently has £964 towards his target.
He said: “All of the cast members have paid for their own accommodation and travel and we are now trying to raise money to pay for venue hire, royalties, radio mics, printing and all the other additional costs associated with putting on a show at the Fringe. They have raised most of it but are £1500 short. Please help me help them to achieve their target.”
Charlie Windle (13), from Norwich, who plays the part of Beagle, did a similar bike ride for 25 miles and raised £472 for the trip. Also Mabel White (11), from Aylsham, who plays Florance, did a bake off at her primary school and raised £54. Both are going to Edinburgh. The group also raised £1,046 at a quiz nigh towards the total needed of £2,500. “So we are nearly there, about £500 to go,” said Adrian.
He added: “I am astonished by the amount of support I have received. I thought the ride would get around £200/£300 but so far people from local choirs, friends who have seen shows and many people who were involved in it have donated.”
Norfolk Youth Music Theatre first performed The Battle of Boat at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich in November.
It is a new musical set in a seaside town on the English south coast in 1916. The carefree happiness of a group of young children is short-lived as they find themselves discovering more and more about the First World War that is unfolding around them.
It was written by Jenna Donnelly and Ethan Lewis Maltby, who have been writing together for several years, creating original cinematatic musicals.
Adrian, the former head of music at Broadland High School, started Norfolk YMT in 1995, seeing scores of youngsters getting the chance to perform well-known and more obscure musicals on stage. It’s now his 23rd year and he has directed more than 70 shows. He has been teaching piano privately since he was 19.
He said he enjoys cycling but said: “I like cycling along flats, rolling downhill and walking uphill. I take my bike to Derbyshire and do some tracks and also the bike will go to Edinburgh for some rides around North Berwick.”
As for training, he says: “Whichever way you leave Sheringham you start with an hour uphill. You’re knackered before you start!”
People can donate via JustGiving Crowdfunding Page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/adrians-fundraising-cycle-ride. Also see more at www.norfolkymt.net.

 

Go wild with TV’s Nick at Pensthorpe

TV presenter, author and naturalist Nick Baker is set to open The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s annual community event Wild About the Wensum on Saturday, May 12.

Intrepid explorer and natural history expert Nick, who has presented Weird Creatures (C5), The Really Wild Show (BBC One) and Springwatch Unsprung (BBC Two), will officially open the event, meet members of the public and host a bug hunt.

Wild About the Wensum, now in its 12th year, is a special one-day event held by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust with the sole focus on encouraging people of all ages, especially families who often don’t get the chance to be outdoors, to enjoy the Wensum Valley, within which Pensthorpe Natural Park is located.

This year’s theme, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow, takes a look at the plight of the hare in the English landscape and celebrates Norfolk as one of the last strongholds for hares in Britain.

Local wildlife groups and nature charities such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wensum Alliance and Norfolk Bee Keepers Association will be in attendance plus there will be a special trail to follow and free hands-on nature activities to try.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: “We are thrilled that Nick Baker, someone as passionate about the natural world as we are, will be joining us for our community day. Nick shares our enthusiasm for re-engaging with nature and nothing encapsulates our desire to inspire our visitors more than Wild About the Wensum. We want to encourage all generations to get outdoors and embrace the delights of nature – it’s accessible to all!”

Nick said: “Pensthorpe not only boasts a fabulous location within Norfolk’s environment-rich Wensum Valley but it is a great example of an attraction with a cause – keen to do nothing more than encourage visitors to reconnect with the outdoors. It’s an ethos which is very close to my heart and I look forward to joining them and being part of the event.”

Nick will be hosting a meet and greet in the picnic area at 10am, officially open Wild About the Wensum at 11am, run an interactive bug hunt for children at 2pm, and at 3pm will host a book signing and talk entitled How to Make a Naturalist.

As part of his day at Pensthorpe, Nick will also be invited to judge an art and photography competition, which 39 local primary and junior schools have been invited to take part in.

As the event is aimed at families and those in the local community, Pensthorpe reduce admission prices to a nominal fee of £2 per person for tickets booked online in advance, and £3 per person on the day. Under 3’s are free. Please note there will be an additional charge to access indoor play area Hootz House.

To book tickets or for more information visit pensthorpe.com.

Pictures: PAUL CARTER and STEVE ADAMS

 

Residents urged to be vigilant after spate of burglaries

Police in North Norfolk and Broadland are urging residents to be vigilant after a spate of burglaries across the area recently.

18 burglaries have been reported since 31 January 2018 with properties being targeted in Wells, Holt, Little Barningham, Morston, Little Snoring, Sheringham, Ludham, Stalham, Potter Heigham, Foulsham, Aylsham, Acle, Halvergate and Woodbastwick.

Chief Inspector Wes Hornigold said: “We are investigating a number of burglaries which have taken place across the districts during the past two months and I am appealing for anyone with information to contact police.

“In some of these cases the premises have been left insecure, therefore I would urge residents to take some time to review their home security and take some simple steps to prevent them from becoming victims of crime. Many thieves are opportunistic, so please ensure your doors and windows are locked at all times – and if you go out, leave a light or radio on to give the impression someone is home.

“Also, if you are going away for the night, please ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and consider using timers on lights.”

“If you see any suspicious activity in your area, please contact police on 101, paying particular attention to any unfamiliar vehicles and registration numbers; however; please call 999 if you believe a crime is in progress.”
Further home security advice includes:

• Remove window keys and keep them in a safe place. However, everyone should know where the keys are kept so they can escape in an emergency
• Fit five lever mortise deadlocks to all external doors to BS3621
• Fit multi-locking systems to patio doors or install mortise security bolts with removable keys at the top and bottom of both doors
• Considering fitting a letterbox cage or restrictor which prevents burglars from putting their hands or gadgets through the letter box and trying the latches from the inside.
• Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat, burglars know all the usual hiding places
• Never leave your house or car keys in or near a door or window