Chance to take part in school’s mentoring scheme

Business people and employers are being urged to volunteer to take part in a hugely successful mentoring scheme aimed at helping high school students gain the confidence and employability skills they will need in later life.

North Walsham High School will launch the sixth year of its mentoring scheme in February. Mentors take on between five and 10 Year 9 student mentees, and meet regularly with them over a two-and-a-half year period, to offer support and advice on qualifications, skills needed to progress towards their ambitions, and to help motivate and inspire them.

Students who have taken part in the scheme have spoken about how the experience helped build their confidence and self-esteem, as well as guiding them in their choices for the future.  Mentors have also reported that taking part has been a rewarding experience, helping their own personal development, as well as ensuring that tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed to be useful employees.

“Our mentoring programme is designed to provide role models for our students,” said Kate Lawn, who is co-ordinating the initiative. “We want them to be inspired, motivated, confident, and full of self-belief. We need to develop their ‘soft skills’ to improve their long-term employment prospects. Employers have highlighted that employability skills are lacking in young people, so our aim is to build on these to enable them to progress in the world of work.”

Employers and business people who are interested in taking part are being invited to a business breakfast at the school to find out more.  The event takes place on January 22, 7am-8.30am.  Those interested in attending can reserve a place by contacting Kate Monday to Wednesday on 01692 402581 or by email on The 2019 scheme will be launched at a “speed networking” event at the school on February 13.  Mentors receive training, and are required to complete a DBS check.

One current mentor at NWHS is Gail Adams, owner of Holiday let company, Pack Holidays.  She says that being a mentor gives her a lot of inspiration for the future: “It is well worth your time spending a little while with young, developing and curious minds.  The students I mentor are a fabulous set of young adults who are mature, kind, intelligent and engaging.”

Students put MP in the hot seat

Norman Lamb is known for his strong beliefs on topics from Brexit to mental health. Work experience students Sophie Smith and Evie Cowling, from Aylsham High School, interviewed him to find out more.


Norman Lamb is not known to follow the crowd. The North Norfolk MP stands up for what he believes in and speaks out on those beliefs.

We chose to talk to him about some of the issues which affect young people today, including Brexit and the problems facing teenagers with mental health problems.

Norman campaigned to stay with the EU. He said: “Brexit is a dangerous time, a big mistake and now the government has no plan for how to reach an agreement with the EU.”

He believes Brexit will be hugely damaging to young people, as it could affect those who wanted to travel, work abroad or move to another part of Europe. “Brexit creates barriers,” he said.

Norman has been a massive advocate of improving provision for mental health, which is seen as a big issue within our generation.

He agreed it was an important priority but said care quite often fails young people and families, with services not understanding and treating complex conditions.

“It’s wrong that families and individuals can be left waiting for long periods of time to receive health care and in some cases being turned away if, for instance, with someone with an eating disorder, their body mass index is not low enough to be treated, in terms of having an eating disorder,” he said. And one step we should take, he believes, is to get the subject onto school curriculums. “We can then tackle mental health with young people so that they can understand causes and recognise signs.”

Knowing which career path to take is another big issue for teenagers as they choose school and college courses and universities and we wanted to find out what inspired Norman to become an MP.

He told us he had been interested in politics since a young age and when he was a teenager he got involved in an election and then worked for an MP after leaving university. He loved it but wanted to represent his own beliefs. Most importantly, Norman wanted “to fight for change and make an impact on the world” and he feels privileged that he is able to do what he is doing.

His advice to young women our age was to “reach beyond as there is no glass ceiling”. He added: “In your lives you will have many opportunities and you should learn to reach for the stars.”

One issue for young people is student university loans. Norman explained his party’s ambition had been to make student finances “fairer”. But he accepted that his party had made a big mistake in making a pledge and not sticking with it.

He explained that, in his opinion, the system was fair in that those who went into high-paying jobs paid more and those who were in low paid jobs would sometimes never get to the point where they had to pay.

“We changed the system to get students paying more but only if they went into higher paying jobs as a result of their degree.” Norman then explained: “I see no problem with people who go on to receive very high salaries paying the full whack for their degree.”  He stated that if you don’t earn sufficient income to pay back your university loans they will be written off. “I completely understand why people get worried and anxious about the size of the loan, but the loan does get written off if your salary throughout the year hasn’t been high enough to repay it.”

His toughest question came at the end of the Facetime interview. We asked: “If you reached the final of I’m A Celebrity, what would you have as your final three-course meal?”

So, if you are cooking for him anytime, Norman likes a starter of scallops or Norfolk crab, for main Indian or Thai food and for dessert strawberries and ice cream.



Aylsham High pupil springs into cookery finals

Aylsham High pupil Scarlett Addison cooked up a storm to reach Springboard’s FutureChef Regional Final.

On Friday at City College Norwic, four young, aspiring chefs competed in FutureChef 2017. FutureChef directly relates to the national curriculum and gives young people a life skill. It aims to tackle the severe skills shortage facing hospitality by inspiring 12-16 year olds to develop their cooking skills and understanding of nutrition.

Springboard’s FutureChef features a four stage national competition, annually involving more than 8,000 participants. It also includes classroom resources, chef demonstrations and skills challenges, and forms a link between schools and hospitality employers.

Scarlett, 16, went through to reach the East of England Regional Final of Springboard’s FutureChef competition with her menu of duck and chips followed by “floating islands”.

Scarlett said: “I really enjoy cooking and love working at Benedicts Restaurant part time, it’s so much fun. I am looking forward to working towards the regional final.”

The competition will culminate on March 27, with the National Final taking place at Westminster Kingsway College in London.


Hazel on a mission to help

HAZEL NEEDHAM, a former student of Aylsham High and Paston Sixth Form College talks about her summer plans in Fiji and how they are not about getting a sun tan but helping the community there.


Having grown up just outside Aylsham, attended the local schools and then North Walsham’s Paston Sixth Form College, I have been blessed with a childhood of not only safety and security, but also opportunities.
A former footballer, Girl Guide and keen thespian and writer I have always loved getting involved with our little community and have a lot of people to thank for where I am now, studying English and creative writing at the University of Warwick.
We are told it constantly, but the reason I am reviewing my own childhood and community is a reflection of quite how lucky we are.
In July 2017, I am flying halfway across the world to Fiji – and not for a sun tan. The country has a history infused with devastating cyclones, or storms, which even in February 2016 forced an astonishing 62,400 people out of their homes.
Think Pacific is a small but crucial charity which sends at least 20 volunteers each month into different villages of Fiji to help restore the poverty-stricken communities.
I will be one of these volunteers, living with a Fijian family and each day working with the locals to address an array of necessities.
As a student and a proud geek myself, I am particularly enthused by the educational focus. Each morning I will work with teachers and students to regenerate a safe learning environment for the Fijian children, including maths and English and general support.
In the afternoons, the focus will be more on extra-curricular activities, which are currently nonexistent, specifically sports, drama and enterprise, all arguably the most memorable and enjoyable parts of a school experience.
To reiterate, however, the underlying significance of these activities is to re-establish a sense of safety, support and community into the lives of the children and their families.
Aside from education, the charity also runs building and refurbishment projects. They have built community kitchens, installed water sanitation systems, created a kindergarten and built jetties, all to provide a small helping hand in improving the current absence of basic infrastructure.
Think Pacific also looks to conservation, investing in sea defences and ways of helping the wildlife which is also severely damaged by each cyclone.
Therefore, the childhood I have been blessed with of safety, security and opportunities is one that I not only fully appreciate, but one I believe everyone should be entitled to.
Obviously, with natural disasters constantly knocking at your door and more than 250,000 members of the population below the poverty line, this cannot be achieved without, firstly, financial support, but, secondly, dedication, hard work and empathy from those of us who can recognise how lucky we are and how much they need our help.
I aim to raise £1,500 before I leave in July, though every copper is counted and appreciated by the orphans and families that need our support, and donations are appreciated in any quantity.
If you would like to support the cause, and my month of cold showers and plain rice please find my Just Giving page

Rail tale is a platform for talents at Sheringham

Sheringham Little Theatre and North Norfolk Railway are joining forces to present the much loved classic story; The Railway Children.

A 10-strong cast couples up six repertory professional actors with four local faces keen to learn from the journey. The Railway Children runs between August 10 and 16 – one of six plays during the venue’s summer drama season.

Director Amy Wyllie said the adaptation saw a tunnel and tracks on stage, and there would be sound effects but the locations, action and train were down to the cast to create with their descriptions and acting skills.

“The whole drama is a challenge because of the many locations involved, so everyone has to use their imaginations,” she said.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said they were keen to get children and families involved with the summer rep season. The Railway Children, using links with the North Norfolk Railway, was ideal.

Discount deals for people visiting the show and the railway will be in operation.

And the railway is also staging special drop-in activities for children, linked to the classic adventure story, during the stage show’s run.

On Saturday, August 13, there will be a chance to meet the acting cast, in character, at Weybourne station from 10.30am.

And every day there will be fun events at the line’s three main stations.

  • At Sheringham youngsters can collect story packages, to enable them to write their own Railway Children inspired tale.
  • At Weybourne there will be a large board game based on the story.
  • And at Holt there will be a trail with clues and objects to find in and around the station yard.

For more information and tickets about the plays call the box office on 01263 822347, or visit

 Gemma Wilson, Danielle Winter and Ryan Starling

Gemma Wilson, Danielle Winter and Ryan Starling

Chance to nominate Broads volunteer for award

People are being urged to nominate Broads volunteers for a prestigious national award

The UK’s national parks are calling for nominations for their annual UK National Parks Volunteer Awards. The awards enable the parks to thank volunteers for the thousands of hours of service, effort and dedication they contribute every year, helping to make the national parks Britain’s most treasured landscapes.

There are four categories for nominations – Individual, Young Person (25 years and below), Group and Project. The Group and Project winners will receive a £1,000 bursary towards their future volunteering efforts. The Individual and Young Person winners will receive outdoor gear. Nominations will be accepted until midnight on Friday, September 23.

“The Volunteer Awards are always one of the highlights of our calendar,” said Kathryn Cook, National Parks UK Director. “We love the awards because they give us an opportunity to showcase our amazing volunteer force and all the tremendous work they put in across the 15 national parks. Help us to find our national park heroes and give them the recognition that they deserve.”

The awards recognise the hard work of volunteers deemed to have gone above and beyond the usual expectations of volunteer service. Beth Williams, volunteer coordinator for the Broads Authority, which is a member of the national park family, said: “Many of our projects would be impossible to undertake without the dedication of our volunteers. So please help them to receive national acclaim through these prestigious awards.”

In 2014, the group award went to the Nancy Oldfield Trust at Neatishead, which offers disabled and socially disadvantaged people the chance to go boating on the Broads. Volunteers take visitors sailing, motor boating and canoeing, and fishing and birdwatching are also available.

To nominate a deserving individual, young person, group, or project for 2016, visit:

More information on the awards, including FAQs and terms and conditions can be found at the same URL.

The volunteer service or project must take place within the boundaries of one of the UK’s 15 national parks, but nominees need not be volunteering for a UK national park.

A shortlist of nominees will be released in October and the winners will be announced in November.

To find out more about the work that volunteers do in the Broads, as well as how to volunteer yourself, visit:

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£50,000 award for North Walsham gym club

North Walsham Gymnastics Club is to get £50,965 to help meet local demand for its classes.

The popular gymnastics club teaches 150 young people and has more than 200 on its waiting list. The award means the club will be able to rent a new larger space to host its classes allowing 300 new members to join.

The club was among 14 community sports projects in the East of England which today shared more than £900,000 of Sport England cash to help breathe new life into sports facilities. The National Lottery funding will help to upgrade courts, club houses and changing rooms across the region and help get more people active.

Today’s announcement marks the last tranche of funding for the Inspired Facilities programme, which will shortly be replaced with a new programme called the Community Asset Fund.  The new fund will continue to support local sports projects by helping communities take ownership of local assets from local authorities or elsewhere.

Inspired Facilities was designed to make it easier for local community and volunteer organisations, including sports clubs, to improve and refurbish sports facilities or to transform non-sporting venues into modern grassroots sport facilities.  Since 2011, the fund has invested £122 million in 2,215 projects across the country.

MEDALLISTS: Olivia Shingles, Tilly Owen and Tia Tolbart.

RECENT MEDALLISTS: Olivia Shingles, Tilly Owen and Tia Tolbart from the club.


Redwings is after Young Fundraiser of the Year

Redwings Horse Sanctuary has launcheda new competition to find its Young Fundraiser of the Year.

This accolade is available to anyone under the age of 16 who has raised money for Redwings in 2016; whether fundraising through a sponsored walk or ride, cake sale, or something weird and wonderful like a horsey dress-up day – the charity wants to hear from you.

There will be two awards, one for Most Money Raised and one for Most Original Idea. The winners will feature in the Spring 2017 issue of the charity’s magazine for young supporters – Young Redwings – and will receive a special certificate plus a year’s sponsorship of the Redwings Adoption Star horse or donkey of their choice.

Redwings’ Head of Fundraising Gemma Walpole said: “Our young supporters are an inspiring bunch who always have loads of brilliant ideas to raise money for our rescued horses and ponies. These awards are our way of shouting about the great fundraising our young supporters do, and saying a big thank you for all their help and support!”

Redwings is home to 1,500 rescued horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at its sites across the UK, with 500 more living out on loan in Guardian homes through the charity’s rehoming scheme. The charity receives no Government funding and is 100% reliant on donations from the public to continue its work of rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming horses.

To download a fundraising pack and entry form from Entries must be received by December 16. Watch Redwings’ “Our Story” video on their YouTube channel here –