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Bringing the Bard to the people of North Walsham – by bike

A pedal-powered theatre company is bringing a novel production of a Shakespeare comedy to a Norfolk college – by bicycle.

The Handlebards touring drama group has taken the classic plays of England’s most famous writer to two countries and three continents since it was set up on a shoestring four years ago.

A four-strong female cast will perform As You Like It in the grounds of Paston Sixth Form College (Lawns site) at North Walsham on Friday June 9 – in a picnic-style show organised by the Sheringham Little Theatre.

The plays are billed as energetic, chaotic, full of laughter, and featuring lots of costume changes and cross-dressing for the single sex cast.

Hand-crafted Pashley bikes are used in the show, and – with trailers – to provide sustainable transport for the show’s set, props and costumes as well as cast.

The Handlebards aim to take Shakespeare to communities in a eco-friendly, accessible way. They have also promoted British culture on tour in Africa and Asia.

As You Like It will tell the story of lovers Rosalind and Orlando who have been forced into exile in the Forest of Arden and find themselves entangled in a game of love, lust and mistaken identity.

Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Our theatre has close links with Paston College, especially its drama department, and we are delighted to be able to link up with the college again to stage this novel outdoor Shakespeare production, which should be fun for students and local families alike.”

Doors open at 6pm, with audience members encouraged to pack a picnic and chairs – but to bring ponchos and raincoats, not umbrellas, in case the weather is wet. The show runs from 7pm to 9pm.

For tickets (£12, students £6) and more information contact the Little Theatre box office on 01263 822347 or visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

The HandleBards taking Shakespeare on tour – with pedal power. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

Half-term fun outside and in

A host of children’s activities will be on offer at Cromer, North Walsham and Stalham community sports centres over the forthcoming May half-term.

The sessions offer youngsters aged between four and 12 the chance to take part in football fun days, shooting, skating and street-dancing, as well as summer sports days and multi-sports events.

The events will take place between Tuesday, May 30, and Friday, June 2, at the North Norfolk District Council-managed centres.

As well as these activities, there are countryside events taking place in Holt Country Park and Sadler’s Wood, North Walsham. The fun on offer includes shelter-building, a look at amphibians, reptiles and lizards and the chance to build and launch a water rocket.

All-day activities are priced at £10 while shorter sessions are priced between £2 and £3.50. To make things easier for parents, there is the added option of arranging early drop-offs and late pick-ups for just £2 at some of the events.

Maggie Prior, cabinet member for leisure, health and wellbeing, said: “These sessions offer great fun for children while keeping them busy and healthy.”

To download a brochure with more details, visit www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/sports

To book the sports-centre events, visit www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/book. Booking is not required for the countryside events at Holt Country Park and Sadler’s Wood, but children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. For further details of these activities, email anne-marie.gedge@north-norfolk.gov.uk or call 07920 576634.

Man jailed for 10 years following North Walsham hit and run

A man has been jailed after a hit and run in North Walsham last year which left the victim with serious leg injuries.

Darren Blackmore, aged 43 and of Laburnum Close in Wymondham, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Norwich Crown Court today (Friday 5 May).

Blackmore was driving a Peugeot 307 when he deliberately drove at a 30-year-old man as he was walking with two male friends through the Vicarage Car Park at 12.55am on Saturday 23 July 2016.

CCTV footage released by detectives following the incident showed the victim being knocked into the air and up to 15 feet from point of contact. The vehicle was then driven around the car park before a second attempt is made to drive towards the victim.

The court heard how Blackmore had travelled to North Walsham earlier that evening after being called by a friend who told him that they had been mugged.

Blackmore wrongly identified three men who he believed to have committed the alleged crime as they walked through the Vicarage Car Park and it was at that point that Blackmore drove at speed into the car park and straight at the victim, knocking him into the air.

The victim suffered a broken pelvis and serious leg injuries.

Detective Inspector Matt Dyson said: “This was a shocking crime which has had a significant impact on the victim and could have had potentially fatal consequences.

“The very serious deliberate act was most likely due to a relatively minor matter earlier the evening before, a matter that the victim and his friends had no part in. We thank the press and public for the positive response in relation to the initial press release and we hope that the sentencing provides some comfort for the victim.”

14 year old girl scores high in refereeing

A 14 year old girl from North Walsham is set to take charge of both boys and girls football matches in the county after she passed her level 8 youth football referee exams with the highest score of any candidate in Norfolk.

Gracie East, a student at North Walsham High School, was the youngest candidate taking the exams, and achieved a score of 38 out of 42.

She is already booked up to referee youth games on both Saturdays and Sundays for the next few weeks, with her first game in charge an Under 10s Boys match. When she is 16, she will be able to take charge of any age-group game, but until then she is restricted to refereeing teams younger than herself.

Gracie is a member of the Norfolk FA Youth Council and is the Female Participation Support lead. A keen footballer herself, she became interested in refereeing around a year ago.

“I love football, but girls football is not yet that big in the county,” said Gracie. “Refereeing gives me the chance to be involved in both the boys and girls games.”

Gracie is not afraid of taking charge of boys games, saying, “As soon as you blow the whistle, you show them who is in charge of the game. I know what I’m there to do, and I know the rules. You do have to be quite strong, and not take any nonsense.

“I like the pressure you get as a referee. You know it’s your game – I like being in charge.”

Gracie hopes to follow a career in football.

It’s all quiet for North Walsham pub plans

Ssshh, there are plans for a new micropub in North Walsham.

The concept for the former taxi office at 2 Market Place shuns all forms of electronic entertainment with the idea to “keep it simple”.

The application to North Norfolk District Council is for a change of use of the empty building to drinking establishment.

The micropub will sell cask ale on gravity from the barrel, also real cider and limited bottled beer, mostly speciality foreign beers, plus serve traditional pub snacks.

There will be no TV, fruit machines or recorded music and as such little noise, other than conversation. The plan is to steer clear of lager and alcopops and also not brew beer on site.

The application sates: “The Market Street Tap will be a throwback to the traditional ale houses of the mid-19th century. It will be a single room micropub with limited space (room for approximately 25-30 people) and limited opening hours.”

The business will be based primarily on three core themes – local cask ales served straight from cask to glass; traditional snacks such as pork pies, scotch eggs, crisps and cheeses sourced from local artisan businesses; conversation between locals and tourists alike.

It is not intended that there will be any structural changes to the property, inside or out, other than hanging pictures on the walls

The application says: “A micropub is a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales and promotes the art of conversation.”

The first micropub opened in 2005 in Herne Bay, Kent and since then the concept has gone from strength to strength.

There are currently more than 280 micropubs listed with the Micropub Association and news of further openings continues to buck the recent trend of pub closures.

Angels beat rivals Aylsham to take local pride

Last night in front of a huge crowd North Walsham ran out 3-1 winners against Aylsham.

The Angels were in control for most of the game with their pacey wingers causing problems to the Aylsham back four, once they got ahead Aylsham were always facing an uphill battle, one that became even harder after they received two red cards.

Angels chairman Alex Brady said, “What a win last night for North Walsham. From the first minute to the 90th, every single member of the management team and playing staff battled and fought to ensure the 3 points stayed at Greens Road, with the goals coming from Matty Downing (2) and Liam Clarke.

Credit has to go to Aylsham for bringing over 100 fans, and with the overall crowd in excess of 300 it was a brilliant occasion with lots of friendly banter between the two sets of fans.

A special mention has to go to the referee for controlling the game well in the tough conditions – and he certainly played his part in a very entertaining game.

With crowd numbers at record levels in 2017, it certainly serves as a reminder that football is alive and well within the town, and that improved facilities should continue to remain the aim for the club and the town”

It was in stark contrast to the Aylsham camp whose promotion push has slipped away in recent weeks, manager Martin Meek said, “We were all gutted and disappointed in the changing room after the game, we let ourselves and the fans down. But fair play to North Walsham who were the better team on the night.”

PICTURES: HSR PHOTOGRPAHY

North Walsham students enjoy gig by rising star

Singer-songwriter brings show with online safety message to school.

300 North Walsham school students enjoyed a concert by an up and coming singer-songwriter at the school’s Atrium.

Essex-born Tom Ryder performed a number of songs including his new single ‘Here We Go Again’, as well as sharing his own experiences of cyber bullying and exam pressures.

The 27-year-old described how the pressure to perform during his own schooldays led to bouts of insomnia, anxiety and depression.

He advised students to confide in parents teachers or friends if something was worrying them. “You need to talk to someone about it. If you keep it within yourself, it will just grow,” he said.

Tom also shared a number of tips and strategies about staying safe online and avoiding cyber bullying, which he defines as using the internet to make people feel uncomfortable or threatened. He called on victims of such bullying not to respond or believe in what was being said about them, and to feel confident in who they are.

“The internet and social media are great things; if I want to say something, I can get it out there,” he told the audience. “But as soon as you put something up, it is out there. So before you share, make sure it’s something that you’re happy for people to see.”

The performance is part of a schools tour being undertaken by Tom to assure young people that anything is possible and that they need to not only work hard but also enjoy their time at school, rather than fearing it and being worried about the outcome of exams.

He described NWHS’s Atrium auditorium as “the nicest room I’ve played in so far in schools.”

Tom Ryder performing at The Atrium at North Walsham High School

Arts North Norfolk charity to close

Arts North Norfolk is to close the charity, it was announced today.

A statement from the trustees of The Atrium North Norfolk Ltd (Arts North Norfolk issued today said: “On Wednesday, February 23, at an extraordinary general meeting the company members present voted unanimously to close the charity.

“It was with great sadness that we, the company directors (trustees), determined this to be our only viable and appropriate course of action given the financial and organisational uncertainty and outlook. The decision was taken in accordance with the procedures set out in our Articles of Association. It was not taken lightly and is binding.”
The move has come after a turbulent time for the charity following the resignation of CEO Joseph Ballard in September 2016.

The trustees said in the statement: “We have worked extremely hard to sustain the charity in difficult circumstances with increasingly limited financial and human resources. The enormity of the task has been overwhelming – both emotionally and practically – and the obstacles are now, in our considered opinion, insurmountable.”

There have been calls for the collective resignation of trustees. “Our response is that, with the charity in such financial crisis, we would have been (and would continue to be) in serious breach of our responsibilities to do so at any point since the AGM in December 2016, when we were (re)elected by a very solid majority,” the statement reported.

It went on: “We firmly believe that we have acted with complete integrity to perform our prescribed obligations as trustees and have remained utterly committed throughout to the fulfillment of ANN’s core charitable purposes. We have endeavoured to deliver on promises made; but we know that we have not always done so. To those people that we have let down, we extend our sincere apologies. We have, with the invaluable help of a few dedicated volunteers, tried our very best to maintain a programme of theatre and concerts at The Atrium.”

ANN has not held a Licence to Occupy The Atrium since January 2016 and thus has had no direct involvement in the management or hiring of the facilities since that time. As such, all booking enquiries should continue to be sent direct to lettings@nwhs.uk.

They thanked the school governors for their support and Suzie Sharpe, who manages bookings.
There are currently hopes to continue and develop the Atrium Cinema Club.

The closure of the charity could take up to six months. Once all our bills are paid, trustees will have to dispose of any remaining assets (cash and physical) in accordance with the Articles of Association i.e. to registered charities with the same or similar charitable objects.

“We are committed to finding the most efficient way to ensure that these assets remain for the continuation of The Atrium Cinema Club and for the development and delivery of arts and educational activities and events for the benefit of the communities of North Walsham and North Norfolk. The charity is closing but the work will live on,” said the statement.

Trustees chairman Katrina Cole said: “We have tried to continue with a very restricted and limited programme because that was all we had available in front of us. We have no money to programme for the future as there are no grants or other funds in place or applied for so we are in a completely untenable situation.”
The organisation had been waiting for the final payment of a grant from Arts Council England of around £7,000 which has already been spent on North Walsham Festival 2016.

Katrina added: “To find myself in a position where I am overseeing the closure of such a historically vibrant and achieving charity is an absolute tragedy but regrettably we are left with no choice. I am so sad and so very aggrieved that this should have come to being.”