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Exercise highlights issues for blind in North Walsham

The group of people making their way with caution through North Walsham might be have attracting plenty of attention from passers-by, but half of them had no idea.

They were taking part in an awareness exercise to highlight some of the problems the blind and partially-sighted have when navigating the town on a day-to-day basis.

It was organised by Guide Dogs East Anglia and involved local police officers, police cadets and two members of the community Scott Vallance with his guide dog German Shepherd Benji, and Paul Monaghan with Gizmo, the more usual Labrador. Pauline and Doug Parker were also in attendance with trainee puppy Duffy.

Helen Sismore, community engagement officer for Guide Dogs East Anglia, said: “Today we have been able to raise awareness regarding obstacles that people who are blind or partially sighted face on a daily basis. These can be A-Boards, vehicles parked on kerbs or tactile pavings, overhanging parked vehicles into the pavement space when parking, cyclists, and the impact of dog attacks on Guide Dogs.”

There are two million people registered with sight loss in the UK. This is set to double by 2050 and 180,000 people with sight loss rarely leave their homes because of the above hazards and the feeling of not being safe when out and about.

Helen said: “The exercise today helps to build awareness in the community and highlight what the issues are. With a little bit of foresight we can help to make our communities safer so they become inclusive to all especially people who are blind or partially sighted. Think about where you are parking, think about where you are placing your A-board. Does it make the pavement too narrow? If you are a dog owner does your dog lunge or bark at working dogs? Correct it or move away! As a cyclist respect the person you are cycling behind either dismount or tell them you are behind them. Simple steps make all the difference.”

PC Davison said: “I found it terrifying. When you can’t see the traffic seems so loud and so very close to you. I was completely dependent on the person who was guiding me around the town and had to trust them completely to describe hazards around me.”

Chief Insp Wes Hornigold said: “For me, it was great to be able to get involved with members of the blind community, having already been invited to talk at the North Walsham guide dog forum. I was amazed how difficult it was to simply navigate around the town and showed to me how important it is for our paths and walkways to be clear of obstructions.”

The 10 police cadets who took part were all members of the local group which meets on Thursday evenings during term time.

The group is open to youngsters aged 13-16 and sessions are held at the police station. An open evening is planned for Thursday, March 1, at 7.30pm for those interested in finding out more about the group and joining.

For more information email NNCadets@norfolk.pnn.police.uk.

Sheringham Youth Zone saved from closure

Sheringham Youth Zone has been saved by Youth Charity OPEN Youth Trust.

Following a plea for help, outreach manager Lara Nicole, from OPEN, met Julie Chalmers, founder and leader of Sheringham Youth Zone to see if OPEN could help keep the well-attended youth club running.

Julie said: “After four years of running the Youth Zone, it was a very difficult and sad decision to make but the time is right for me to hand over the club.  I am so pleased that the youth club will now be run by some really lovely people from OPEN, who have been volunteering already for a couple of months.  OPEN has the youngsters’ best interest at heart, which I always have had and I know they will also continue a good relationship with Sheringham Town Council.”

Julie continued to say: “I’d like to thank all those who made Sheringham Youth Zone possible and to the hundreds of youngsters that have made it all so worthwhile, I hope that somehow we made a difference to you all.”

Lara said: “OPEN’s focus is to make a positive difference to the lives of young people in Norfolk and we believe that Sheringham Youth Zone does just that. The youth club is a real asset to the local community and we are excited be given the opportunity to continue this for the young people of Sheringham.”

OPEN will be running the youth club with members of their staff but would love to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering or working as a Youth Support Worker within the club.

Youngsters from Sheringham Youth Zone with Lara Nicole and Julie Chalmers.

Picture: OPEN Norwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panto puts smile on face of theatre as well as audiences

Sellout panto shows at Sheringham have provided a bonus to the coffers of the town’s Little Theatre.

Nearly 8,000 people saw 43 shows of the Wizard of Oz over the festive period. Many performances were sold out and there was a waiting list for ticket cancellations.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “The panto has been a tremendous success. Takings were above budget – which is a huge help as panto and summer drama are the most commercially important seasons we have and support our other activities during the year.

“Audience feedback was that it was the best panto yet – with a brilliant script, lots of energy and magical elements such as the projection work, sets and puppets. We are sorry if people could not get tickets, but would encourage them to book early for the next panto,” she added.

The 2018 panto will be Beauty and the Beast running from December 7 to January 1 and using the same creative team as this year, headed by director Nick Earnshaw. Tickets will go on sale in March.

Now the Emerald City has disappeared from the stage, events at the venue in early 2018 range from amateur drama, an opera screening, and jazz, to magic, a romantic Valentine’s cinema supper club and a fun family show.

In March (1-3) there is also a three-day festival weekend of Ealing Comedy films (Lavender Hill Mob, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico, Man in the White Suit and Whisky Galore).

Other highlights include:

January 19-20 – Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions by Stage Direct

January 21 – Rigoletto screening from the Royal Opera House

January 28 – Jazz from the Red Shadow Quartet

February 6 – Morgan and West Time Travelling Magicians.

February 10 – Bowjangles music inspired by Myths and Legends

February 14 – Love Story movie (Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw) with optional pre-booked supper

February 15 – Rhymes for Revolting Children, cheeky songs poems and comedy for the family

February 21-24 – Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit by CSODS

For more information and tickets visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com or call the box office on 01263 822347.

Fun from the successful Wizard of Oz panto at Sheringham Little Theatre.
Picture: Matt Coomber

REVIEW: Wizard of Oz, Sheringham Little Theatre

It’s panto time at Sheringham Little Theatre and its a real cracker of a show oh yes it is!

The season opened with a matinee on Saturday, December 9. The audience in the packed theatre was whisked away by a tornado from Kansas to the Emerald City in the land of Oz and back again.

The opening sequence where Dorothy (Hana Stewart) and Toto her little dog are whisked away from the farm on the oncoming gathering tornado made a  spectacular scene.

It’s a fast-moving show with plenty of great audience participation throughout and the story was easy to follow for all the children in the audience.

Loraine Metcalfe was a deliciously wicked witch of the west and was boo’d every time she made an appearance. There was also Glinda the witch of the north (Shane Armstrong), who was good and kind to Dorothy. Three great favourites with the audience are the Scarecrow, Lion, and at the Tin Man. Scarecrow was funny and loveable, played with great talent by Harry Williams, his companions along the Yellow Brick Road, the romantic Tin Man (Kyle Fraser) and courageous Lion with a very long tail (Rik Warren), all had the audience enthralled as they went on their journey to find what they were all seeking.

It’s a truly fantastic show and has a lovely leading lady with a beautiful singing voice, great music and young dancers. It all goes to make the best start to the Christmas season. OH YES IT DOES.

“It’s magic,” said Finley, aged 10 years . “Really great,” added said Dylan aged seven. The best ever, say us and well done SLT,  you have done it again. Wonderful.

Kevin and Sandra Stone plus Finley and Dylan

Staff do their bit for Christmas

Staff at North Norfolk’s largest social landlord have been embracing the true spirit of Christmas – by donating to a reverse Advent calendar to help less fortunate people enjoy the festive season.

Staff at Victory Housing Trust have each been donating 24 items of food, drink and festive treats to the Advent Calendar – which has seen several boxes of goodies delivered to the Cromer and District Foodbank for distribution to those facing a less than merry Christmas.

Collection organiser Kari Ashling, a tenancy management officer at the trust, delivered the boxes to the Foodbank in time for the items, which also include necessities such as toothbrushes, shampoo and nappies, to be included in the charity’s seasonal distribution.

“The reverse Advent calendar is such a good idea which encourages us to think about the real meaning of Christmas,” said Ms Ashling.  “Colleagues at Victory have really embraced the idea, and we are delighted to be able to donate so much to the Foodbank at the time of year when demand for what it does is at its peak.”

Last month the Foodbank, which has distributed more than 30 tonnes of food to people in crisis across north Norfolk over the past year, was the recipient of a £5,000 grant from the Victory Housing Community Fund to help support the cost of its two part-time project managers.

Further details of the work the Foodbank does, along with details of how to donate and to get help, can be found at www.cromerdistrict.foodbank.org.uk.

Kari Ashling of Victory Housing Trust presents the Christmas goodies to Cromer and district Foodbank joint project managers Tim Morton and Miranda Hall
PICTURE: Andy Newman

All aboard for canal trips

Weekend and Boxing Day boat trips are about to get under way on Norfolk’s only sailing canal with locks.

From Sunday (November 26) at 2pm, passengers will be able to take an hour’s gentle cruise along a restored stretch of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, enjoying a glass of alcohol-free mulled wine en-route.

The trips, on Saturdays and/or Sundays, plus Boxing Day (subject to wind, rain or ice), will run between the millpond at Ebridge and Bacton Wood lock, about a mile each way.

Passengers will travel on a pontoon equipped with an electric outboard motor so that it glides almost silently through the water. It has been fitted with picnic benches and a table and there will be a giant umbrella on board, in case of showers.

Graham Pressman, boating officer with organisers, the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust, said there was room on board for 10 passengers.

The crew of two will talk about the canal’s past, present and hoped-for future, and about wildlife on the canal which includes otters, kingfishers, little egrets, grey wagtails, water voles, marsh harriers, dragonflies, deer, and many varieties of fish.

“Passengers will be able to enjoy the short talk, have the pleasure of a boat trip and a glass of mulled wine during a really pleasant hour on the water,” said Graham, who hopes the canal’s many visitors will combine their walks with a cruise.

A round-trip will cost £5 per person and passengers will be able to buy a warming cup of alcohol-free mulled wine and souvenirs. Proceeds will go towards the cost of restoring the second-hand trip boat (Elsa), which the trust was given earlier this year, and for further restoration work on the canal.

Elsa needs repairs to her woodwork and a hole in her hull, grit blasting and painting. Graham said the bill might run to several thousand pounds but, if the money could be raised in time from the pontoon trips and any other sources, he hoped she would be ready by next summer.

A timetable for the pontoon boat trips will be on display on the noticeboard at Ebridge in good time for the first passenger trip. Anyone wishing to climb aboard can turn up at the advertised times, or book by calling Graham on 07585 160 772. Bookings first, then walk-ups, as space is available. More trips might be organised according to demand.

Showcase Gallery has joined forces with the canal trust to offer an ideal Christmas present for those proud of their local heritage.

Anyone taking out membership of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust before Christmas Eve, either for themselves or as a gift, will be entitled to buy this year’s full-colour North Walsham Calendar for the discounted price of £4.50, a saving of £3 (one per household).

Would-be members can join the Trust at the Showcase Gallery, on North Walsham’s Market Place, which has produced and sells the calendars. They feature many local views, including a photo of Ebridge Mill pond on the canal, taken by trust officer Julie Kelleher.

Members can help with the restoration effort in a variety of practical, administrative and social ways. Entry to canal film nights is free and they also receive a quarterly newsletter packed with information. Volunteer work parties are held on two Sundays of each month.

Annual membership costs £10 for an individual or £15 for a family. Anyone interested in joining can also visit the membership section of the trust’s website at www.nwdct.org or write to The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust  Membership Secretary, 25 Drovers Way, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertforshire, CM23 4GF.

 

 

 

Travel agents launch fifth annual gift appeal in aid of Break charity

Hays Travel, in Aylsham and Sheringham, has launched its fifth annual Santa’s Sleigh appeal to spread cheer and change the lives of vulnerable children and young people this Christmas.

The team is asking people to pop into either branch and donate new, unwrapped items such as toys, gift sets, toiletries, household goods, stationery items or books in aid of the children and families that Norfolk-based charity Break supports throughout East Anglia.

Break supports young people in care, children with disabilities and families who need support, helping them through difficult times and securing a brighter future.

Branch manager of Hays Travel Aylsham (former CAS Travel) and initiator of the appeal Jo Dobbie said: “I like to be involved with the local community and there is nothing better than supporting a local charity especially in the festive season. I absolutely love Break’s ethos and this is a great opportunity for us to show support.

“I initially started Santa’s Sleigh at the Aylsham branch, and then got Sheringham on board with it too. It created bigger awareness for ourselves and for the appeal and we’re pleased to say they will be joining us again this year.”

Danielle Gravestock, senior fundraising officer for Break, said: “We can’t thank Hays Travel enough for the support they give us each year by organising their Santa’s Sleigh appeal.  We are very grateful to all their staff for organising the appeal and everyone who is contributing goods to support it. These gifts really do make a difference to the children and young people we support.”

Santa’s Sleigh started on Saturday and will run for four consecutive weeks until December 9.

Pictured are branch manager Jo Dobbie, Sam Antoniades-Cork, Mark Heffer and Karen Ashford.

 

Multi-million pound investment in sport for North Norfolk

A £12.6 million investment in state-of-the-art sporting facilities in North Norfolk will go before councillors next week.

The multi-million pound investment would see a £10 million new leisure centre with a swimming pool at the Splash site in Sheringham and a £2.6 million indoor tennis centre with gym at a new North Norfolk Community Sports Hub in Cromer, with satellite tennis facilities across the district at Fakenham, Wells and North Walsham.

The proposals will be considered at the council’s overview and scrutiny meeting next Wednesday. The reports will then go to Cabinet on December 4. If the proposals are supported they will go to full council on December 19 for the funding to be agreed.

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “We know that keeping fit and active is important for residents. These ambitious plans would see a £12.6 million investment in sport and active leisure; that’s a wise investment for the Council as well as good news for the community who will benefit from better sports facilities.”

The North Norfolk Community Sports Hub would be created in partnership with Cromer Academy and part-grant funded by the Lawn Tennis association (LTA) and should be built by mid-2019 if councillors approve the proposals.

The new facility will include:

  • Three indoor tennis courts
  • Changing rooms
  • Toilets
  • Reception area
  • New bar/lounge and viewing gallery
  • 20 station-gym with an area for free weights and fitness
  • Studio space for fitness classes

In addition, a grant from the Lawn Tennis Association will provide for improved tennis facilities across the district, to drive up participation.

Building costs are estimated to be £2.6m for a ‘framed fabric’ indoor tennis facility or nearly £4 million for a traditional built facility.

Nick Amis, chairman of Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association, said: “It has always been my aim to increase the sporting facilities at our club and we have been fortunate to have received support for very many years from NNDC in various forms. This project will enable us to increase our already well established coaching programme for 140+ juniors. We will be able to accommodate all ages and abilities in the new facility, bringing in other local clubs to use the new indoor courts and keeping fitness levels up, which is a key part of the NNDC plan for healthy living.”

Cromer Academy principal Dr Geoff Baker said: “These are fantastic and creative proposals that will make a lasting difference both to our pupils and the wider community.

“Sport is already a really important part of life at Cromer Academy and this investment will give our young people even more opportunities to take part both as individual players and in teams, and develop key social and leadership skills.”

The feasibility study for the replacement of the Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre in Sheringham considered three options: refurbishment of the existing site; a new build and a new build plus a health spa facility.  The new build option was by far the best value and will be taken forward if the proposal is approved by councillors.

It is recommending that a new leisure centre with a swimming pool is built on the site, partly funded by the sale of land for a hotel development.

The new build option, without the health spa, would see:

  • A £10 million investment in a new leisure and fitness centre
  • A 25m six lane pool
  • A learner pool
  • A splash pad/ fun water
  • A 50 station gym health and fitness suite
  • One large dividable studio
  • A spin studio
  • Two treatment rooms
  • A café

The study estimates that the new leisure centre will take around two years to complete and be open to the public from October 2020. Splash will continue to be open as usual to customers and members while future investment plans are considered by the authority.

PICTURE: CHRIS TAYLOR PHOTO