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Let there be lights in Cromer

Volunteers have begun their weekend work parties to make sure Cromer’s Christmas goes with a sparkle.

Sunday sessions see hi-vis helpers giving up their time to string festive illuminations around the streets.

The town should see them for the first time at a planned switch on event at 5.45pm on Saturday December 4, Covid restrictions allowing. But the work begins a long while before that.

Cromer Christmas Lights spokesman Paul Whittingham said: “We begin at the start of October to give us a bit of leeway if the weather is bad, and we don’t work during half term because the streets are too busy.”

The 30-strong team drawn from all walks of life spends virtually all day hanging the lights using a cherry picker, having had the strings and feature lights checked by a trained electrician.

The lights cost around £3,500 to £4,000 to run – with power, replacements and maintenance, plus insurance and are fitted to professional standards.

Paul praised the town council for its £2,500 grant and traders who support the lights – especially last year when they were still put up despite the pandemic but lack of an official switch-on meant tombola and raffle income was lost.

Donations from traders and the public are welcome and can be made at a collection point in the Upstairs Downstairs gift shop.

LIGHT TOUCH: The team in action. PHOTO: PAUL WHITTINGHAM

Three arrests after assault

Three men have been arrested in connection with an assault in Cromer.

The incident happened at approximately 8.30pm on Thursday, September 9, along Runton Road. Four victims, three men and one woman, were allegedly approached by a group of unknown men, before being verbally abused.

Bottles were then thrown towards the victims before one of the men was kicked by a suspect.

The victims, all aged in their 20s, suffered minor injuries.

Three men, two aged in their 20s and the other in his late teens, were arrested on September 27 in connection with the incident. They have all been released under investigation pending further inquiries.

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.

Just Regional sold to US firm

A successful hyperlocal publishing company has been bought by an American media group in a deal which will boost local news in Norfolk.

Just Regional, founded in 2008, produces 10 monthly magazines, covering six Norfolk towns and four Norwich suburbs. Over those 13 years the company has grown, achieving national recognition for its service and products, which have led the field of local news publications.

In 2019, it caught the eye of US company Medici Media, which made an approach and after many months of negotiations a deal has now been finalised.

The acquisition of Just Regional will be the first foray into news publications for Medici Media, which procures and distributes news content worldwide, in addition to providing film project development support for animated, specialty and feature films, with offices in Plymouth, Chicago, Las Vegas and London. Medici Media intends on moving a portion of its operations to Aylsham which is close to Norwich.

CEO of Medici Media, Timothy Mucciante said he was impressed with the company and its products, saying he had never seen anything of a similar quality in the US.

“We had been wanting to start in the newspaper business and I realised there was nothing like Just Regional in America. The magazines look really good and there’s an obvious passion for local news.”

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed negotiations, but enabled Mr Mucciante to see how the company adapted to the conditions, moving its news coverage online and – unlike many larger, less agile media companies – retaining advertisers, readers and staff as a result.

“I’m delighted with the acquisition of Just Regional and looking forward to carrying on the great work that everyone has been doing,” he said.

Just Regional founder Lee Todd said: “This is going to be a great opportunity for local news and I am very pleased to be connected with Medici Media. We have moved with the times and are looking to continue with our excellent service to local communities.”

Mr Todd will be staying at the helm of the Aylsham-based operation, which employs nine office staff and over 100 distribution staff. Tracey Bagshaw will also be continuing in her role as group editor.

Mr Todd said: “Readers and advertisers will still be dealing with the same people with the same community values we have always had. That will never change.”

The Just Regional offices in Aylsham.

Ready for your close-up?

Fancy your five minutes on the silver screen?
Well you could have your chance as a new film being shot in Sheringham is looking for extras.

Norfolk-born film director Ella Glendining will be filming her BFI-funded short film in the town next Wednesday and Thursday (September 8 and 9) and is on the look out for extras for a couple of scenes.

Would-be actors of all ages are sought to for funeral scene and those in their 20s and 30s are needed to appear at a beach party.

Ella was named among Screen International’s Screen Stars of Tomorrow in 2020 and her new project tells the story of a disabled woman returning to her sleepy seaside hometown for a friend’s funeral.

Ella said: “I grew up in Elsing, near Dereham, but spent a lot of time in Sheringham in my late teens and early 20s as one of my best friends lives there. I am interested in telling regional stories about growing up in small towns and villages as ‘other’. I am disabled and all my work is somewhat linked to the disabled experience.

Ella Glendining is shooting a film in Sheringham.

“I adore Norfolk and Sheringham and, although I live in Brighton now, I am always looking for excuses to return.
“I am very inspired by the beauty of the Norfolk coast. The film is about a new mother feeling torn between her old life and her new, trying to discover her identity as a parent, and it’s also about love.”
Extras will not be paid but Ella hopes they will enjoy the experience of being on a film set.
If you’d like to be involved you can email ellaelsing@gmail.com

Cromer’s Banksy will be protected

Cromer found itself making international news this month as elusive street artist Banksy took a “spraycation” around the east coast.

One of the works which sprang up overnight was on the East Prom, where a mural depicted hermit crabs looking for “luxury rentals” in the popular holiday resort.

Other works appeared at other resorts around the east coast, including Gorleston, Gt Yarmouth and Lowestoft, and after Banksy posted a video online of his road trip, they have all been verified as genuine.

The ones at Lowestoft and Gorleston have already been vandalised, so North Norfolk District Council has is making sure our Banksy is kept safe.
Steve Blatch, chief executive, said: “Since the artwork on Cromer East Beach has been confirmed as a Banksy, large numbers of people have travelled to the town to view it.

Still photos taken from Banksy’s Instagram video showing his “Spraycation”.


“The Cromer piece is in a vulnerable location due to the tides and would be vulnerable to being discoloured or lost over time through natural processes. North Norfolk District Council is therefore arranging for a protective varnish to cover the artwork which will be installed later this week.
“In the meantime to protect the artwork a temporary plywood cover has been installed meaning the artwork will not be available to view until later this week.”

Sean’s going home after covid ordeal

Sean Hunte has spent almost the whole of 2021 in hospital after suffering serious covid-19 complications. And now, after 203 days in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, he has left hospital to continue his recovery at home.

Sean, from Eaton received a guard of honour from the team on Docking ward and critical care staff after starting his treatment on 3 January.

Sean, who works as a cover supervisor in schools, was on critical care for 120 days and has been on Docking ward for the last five weeks.

He praised the care and support he received during his seven month admission.

“The care I received has been fantastic and the staff have gone beyond what I expected,” he said.

“The nurses and physiotherapists have been really friendly and when I was feeling down they really supported my mental health and the staff being nice to me has got me through the dark times. I had six nurses around my bed singing happy birthday to me last Thursday when I turned 58. Some of the staff I do not know because I was out of it, but Skye and Ross have been brilliant and are really good people.”

Sean has had adaptations made to his house to help with his mobility, said he was looking forward to continuing his rehabilitation at home.

“I have had dark times being in hospital for seven months and I want to get home to see my wife and two boys. I am looking forward to my wife’s cooking and having some good Caribbean cooking. I could not keep much food down, but I’m now ready for some good Jamaican and Antiguan food.”

And he said his experience meant he was urging people to get vaccinated.

“Covid is deadly serious and it is definitely the best thing to do is to get the vaccine,” he said. “The general feeling of being wiped out was horrendous, I was experiencing horrible hallucinations and it was very difficult not being able to talk when I had my tracheotomy. I used to play tennis three days a week and went to the gym, but I still cannot walk without an aid.”

Sam Higginson, NNUH Chief Executive, said: “It is fantastic to see that Sean is well enough to go home, which is testament to the great care he received from our teams and we wish him all the best with his ongoing recovery.”

A video of the guard of honour can be viewed here https://youtu.be/-eU6YM2TAuU

Cromer’s peerless pier show is back and flying high!

Oh, Cromer Pier show – it’s good to have you back, writes Richard Batson

After a lost summer laid waste by lockdowns, this cocktail of seaside stage tradition has returned in all its glory – with a few new twists to add to the flavour.

Animated backdrop projections add another dimension to an already multi-faceted masterpiece. And instead of two alternating shows, this year there are different guest performers every week to keep the show fresh through the whole season, which finishes on October 2.

Opening night kicked off with Tucker – a firm favourite of show fans returning with his brand of warm cheeky humour. He is a perfect foil for headliner host Phil Butler, another returnee whose talents as a comedian, magician, singer and dancer make him the perfect man to lead this traditional but modern variety show.

Show host Phil Butler. Picture: William Jarvis.

Vocalists Rob McVeigh and Marina Lawrence-Mahrra take the lead on pop and show songs including rousing numbers from the Greatest Showman and a pulsing Cuban sequence.

But the cast is most powerful when the team comes together during the big musical numbers such as Mary Poppins, Masquerade, and Les Miserables, which fill the stage with song, a talented team of dancers, stunning sets and colourful costumes adorned with feathers and sequins.

A very colourful Mary Poppins. Picture: William Jarvis.

Special mention must go to this year’s specialist act Duo Fusion UK – Connor Byrne and Tiffany Gaine – whose circus style aerial and acrobatic routines are mesmerising. The pair flew in unison over the front rows of the audience, and some of their contortions on stage drew audible gasps from the crowd.

There are no local children joining the cast this year, to lessen the covid-19 risk, and the “bubbled” stars are not doing their usual after-show mingling for the same reason, which is a shame because many feel like family friends we have known for years and enjoy catching up with. But they hope that will change as things progress.

Make sure you don’t arrive late – because the opening sequence on the projection screen taking us from a closed theatre to the current show’s revival is poignant and powerful – and a reminder of how glad we should be to have live variety back at the end of the pier.

For tickets and show details, including the line-up of guests, visit www.cromerpier.co.uk