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Omicron case confirmed in north Norfolk

One of the eight cases of the new Omicron covid-19 variant announced yesterday has been confirmed as being in north Norfolk.

While the exact location of the case has not been revealed, officials said they had been in contact with the person who had tested positive and their household. Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said the case was linked to known travel to South Africa.

She told the BBC that finding a case in the county was not a surprise.

“While new information is still coming in on this variant, the early evidence has clearly shown a high level of transmissibility, and as such we can expect positive cases to be identified across the country, including in our county,” she said.

She urged people to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” and to take up booster offers, which she said would help to “break the chain of transmission”.

The UK Health Security Agency says this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the new variant in England and Scotland to 22.

Christmas lights information

If you’re heading for the Christmas Lights switch-on you may want to pay special attention to hair and make-up as a new feature film is being shot in Norfolk – and Aylsham will be playing a starring role.

A camera crew will be joining the crowds tomorrow (November 26), for the festive event, shooting scenes for the film, which is being made by Just Regional’s parent company, Medici Media.

Originally to be set in smalltown America, when CEO Timothy Mucciante came to Aylsham he took one look around and relocated the plot to Norfolk.

“Aylsham was perfect for it,” he said. “I knew that as soon as I saw it.”

My Only Sunshine tells the story of Juliet, a single mum who moves to Aylsham from America after her husband dies and leaves her the family home. Making a new life for herself and her son isn’t easy, but with the help of new friends they overcome all that life throws at them and find love, happiness and the place they belong.

“It is a feelgood movie,” said Timothy. “She has her challenges and finds true love.”

She also finds a job in Budgens and, along with all the other local businesses featured around town, it will remain just as we know it and will not be renamed for the film.

“Everything will stay exactly as it is,” said Timothy. “Unless anyone wants to be rebranded, all the businesses will be seen as they are.”

And as well as businesses featuring on the silver screen, Aylsham folk will also be involved – starting with the lights switch-on.

“It will be the first event like this for two years so it will be busy,” said Timothy. “We want everybody to know that if they want to be part of it, they are welcome.”

And as well as local shopfronts being seen by international audiences, Timothy says the film – which is being made with Scottow-based October Studios and will bring a real boost to the local economy.

“That money will all be going to local businesses in Aylsham and the surrounding areas,” he said. “Carpenters, electricians – the cast will need places to stay… it will all help the area.”

Casting is still in progress and the first main scenes will be shot in February and March. The film should be released for Christmas 2022 and although it will be aimed at streaming services, there will be some showings locally for its premiere.

“It’s all very exciting and we can’t wait to get started,” said Timothy.

Town ready for big switch-on event

After the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas lights switch-on night, organisers are looking forward to welcoming people to the town centre again.

The festive stalls based in Market Place, Red Lion Street and the Town Hall will open at 5pm before the lights are switched on at 6.30pm. Local shops will also be open late.

There will also be live entertainment in Market Place. Students from Aylsham High School will perform scenes from their production of Joseph and singing duo Cameron and Jordan will appear.

Santa’s grotto will be at Aylsham Heritage Centre and there will be a special post box in the Town Hall to send letters to Father Christmas.

Donna Butcher, Events and Administration Officer at Aylsham Town Hall, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming people to the town centre and hopefully will get everyone in the festive spirit.”

Market Place and Red Lion Street will close to traffic from 2pm and Penfold Street and Bank Street will shut from 4pm.

The bus stops in Market Place will not be in use after 2pm and the nearest alternative stop will be outside Tesco.

Club’s delight after being awarded prestigious grant

The successful development of girls’ and women’s football at Aylsham FC has won the club a £1,000 grant in a nationwide initiative.

Aylsham was one of only 50 clubs out of more than 600 to land a prestigious Mutual Respect Grant from the Nationwide Building Society.

Nationwide committed to donating a total of £50,000 to the grassroots football initiative and asked for applications from clubs explaining why respect is important to them.

Aylsham FC’s application was submitted by Hannah Burton, a player in the club’s ladies’ team and coordinator of the girls’ teams at Youngs Park.

Hannah’s submission said: “We ensure everyone’s opinion is heard before decisions are taken regarding the development of girls’/women’s football at the club. We believe people have different strengths and weaknesses and that every effort should be made to draw on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.

“We feel that within our coaching sessions it is important to allow the girls opportunities to ‘coach’ each other and help each other improve – not purely us telling them how to do everything.”

The application added that the club placed the wellbeing, safety and enjoyment of each player above everything else – including winning.

Speaking after hearing the club had won the grant, Hannah said: “I was delighted. We’ve put in a lot of work with the girls and ladies in the past few years. Parents have commented on how much of a community feel the club has and that’s why their children come to play for us.”

Hannah added that there was strong integration between the men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ football teams at the club.

In its female section, the club currently has teams at adult, U16, U11 and U9 levels. The Aylsham Wildcats also offer coaching sessions for girls aged 5-11 on Saturday mornings.

Hannah said she expected the £1,000 grant to be invested in further promoting girls’ and women’s football at Youngs Park.

Aylsham FC Chairman Ian Potter said: “It is fantastic that the hard work of the volunteers has been recognised with a grant for the way we as a community club try to do things the right way and are very thankful for the recognition by Nationwide Mutual Respect Grant.”

Emily Barker, Brand Partnerships Manager at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Mutual respect is something that we value at the core of Nationwide in everything we do, so to be able to give these grants to the clubs that need them most and those that themselves have demonstrated respect on and off the pitch is really exciting.”

ON THE BALL: Women’s and girls’ teams have thrived at Aylsham Football Club.

Fight to save bank services in Aylsham

Talks are under way to retain some Barclays banking services in Aylsham following the company’s decision to close its Market Place branch in January.

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew launched a campaign after expressing concern the bank’s decision would have a negative impact on many customers,

Now it has emerged Aylsham Town Council has offered to rent out space to Barclays in the Drill Hall to allow for the continuation of some face-to-face contact with customers.

Council chairman Trevor Bennett said: “The Town Council are happy to work with Barclays to assist them in providing the services they are able to in a community building.”

MP Mr Mayhew said he was “delighted” the bank had agreed to formally discuss retaining services in the town.

He said he hoped town councillors would help ensure a resolution was found and added: “I would, once again, thank all those who got in touch and threw their weight behind this campaign, which enabled us to put forward this strong case and get to where we are now.”

Barclays said the decision to close the branch on January 11 was taken because customers were increasingly using alternatives to branches. It said 107 customers used the Aylsham branch exclusively for their banking.

A Barclays spokesperson said it was “actively investigating a number of possibilities” to retain a presence in Aylsham. The branch has eight staff members and they will be offered alternative roles.

CAMPAIGN: Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew outside Barclays Bank in Aylsham.

Television auction show to be filmed in Aylsham

TV auctions expert Christina Trevanion and restoration maestro Will Kirk will be filming in Aylsham on Friday (October 15) for a brand new BBC show ‘The Travelling Auctioneers’.

The pair will be heading up a special auction at the Bure Valley Railway, in partnership with Keys Auctioneers and Valuers.

Bidders will be vying for 42 special lots selected and restored by the pair as part of the new show, which aims to unearth hidden gems and turn unwanted items into winning lots.

The programme will see Will and Christina sift through a family home in each episode, identifying items which they believe will sell at auction, with Will bringing his craft and restoration skills to bring new life to neglected treasures.

Keys is providing the logistics and staff for the special auction, which will see Christina Trevanion yielding the gavel on the day.

“We are delighted to be chosen to bring our auction expertise to this exciting new show,” said Keys managing director Tim Blyth.  “Aylsham is a real regional centre for antiques, so it’s great to see the TV cameras here for this special auction.

“We hope lots of bidders will turn out for the sale, which has some very interesting lots.”

Included in the 42-lot sale are several pieces of jewellery, including an Indian high-grade bangle with a pre-sale estimate of £2,000-£2,500; various pieces of early 20th century furniture; ceramics from Royal Worcester and Villeroy & Boch; two Victorian chaises-longue; and a number of quirky items such as a collection of corkscrews and a mid 19th century Staffordshire tobacco jar modelled as Wellington – complete with cover modelled as his hat.

The sale takes place at 2pm at The Bure Valley Railway in Aylsham, with online bidding on Keys’ bespoke live bidding platform KeysLive.  Full details of the sale, including a catalogue, can be found at bid.keysauctions.co.uk.

‘The Travelling Auctioneers’ is being produced for the BBC by STV Studios.  The programme will be shown on BBC One next year.


Christina Trevanion and Will Kirk from the BBC show ‘The Travelling Auctioneers’.

Customers urged to oppose closure of Barclays’ Aylsham branch

Customers of Barclays Bank in Aylsham have been urged to join forces with the town’s MP to oppose the closure of the branch in January.

Barclays says its Market Place branch will close on January 11, meaning the nearest branches will be more than 10 miles away in Hoveton or Drayton.

The company, which does not plan to make any redundancies, said 107 regular customers used the Aylsham branch exclusively for their banking and highlighted a “sustained fall” in branch visits across the UK.

However, Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew (pictured outside the bank) has voiced his opposition to the decision and asked personal and business customers to tell him how the closure would affect them.

In a message to constituents, Mr Mayhew said: “I was really disappointed to hear from the regional directors of their intention to close our local branch.
“Barclays serves tens of thousands of personal and business customers in our town and the surrounding villages.

“I will write to Barclays expressing my clear objection to this decision, but I need your help.”

Mr Mayhew has asked for customers to email him at jerome.mayhew.mp@parliament.uk to explain the impact the closure will have on them.

He added: “If the closure is causing you to reconsider who you bank with, then please do make this case very clearly to help further our cause. I am very keen that we exhaust every avenue available to prevent this from going…”

Mr Mayhew added that the closure would particularly affect older customers who did not wish to do their banking online.

A Barclays spokesperson said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one. However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.

“We will work with our customers and provide alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.”

The bank said it provided customers with a wide range of options to complete their banking, including the Barclays app, and telephone, online and video banking. It added that “everyday” transactions could be completed at the Post Office based in Budgens, in Norwich Road.

The bank added that staff at the Aylsham branch would be offered alternative roles in Barclays and in terms of the future of the building, a spokesperson added: “The building is leased and our property team will be talking to the landlord about returning the building as soon as possible.”

Jerome Mayhew MP

Man dies from head injuries

A man who was critically injured during an incident in Thorpe Market last week has died in hospital.

Police were called to Station Road shortly before 6pm on Friday, September 17, following reports of an altercation near the Suffield Arms.

A man aged in his 50s was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by air ambulance with life threatening head injuries. He died yesterday (Thursday, September 23).

A Home Office post mortem examination will be held in due course.

A man in his 40s was arrested at the scene in connection with the incident and remains on police bail while officers continue with their investigation.

Watch artists at work

Artists from the Aylsham area are set to welcome visitors into their studios from this weekend.

Makers and creators in and around the town will open their studio doors in September and October as part of one of the most successful Open Studios schemes in the country.

One of four art trails is in the Aylsham area featuring the work of Cherry Linda Cooke (textiles), Philip de Paolo (furniture and wood carving), Mavy Burden (woven fabrics), Susan Bell (landscapes, animals, flowers), Vivienne Head (designer jewellery), Jean Hawke (landscapes and buildings), and Mary Newton (landscape, seascape, portraits).

Artist Susan Bell will be one of those opening her studio for the event.

Ros Dixon, Norfolk Open Studios administrator, said: “It’s exciting to realise that Norfolk Open Studios is returning this year. After last year’s event was cancelled it feels particularly special, as well as it being the first time the scheme will take place in the autumn.

“We hope that the opportunity for visitors to be out and about exploring Norfolk at this magical time of the year, and meeting artists and seeing amazing artwork, will continue to offer much enjoyment and inspiration to people, as Opens Studios always has.”

Norfolk Open Studios will take place between September 25 and October 10.

For more information on the artists, trails and studio locations visit norfolkstudios.org.uk