Nursery closure heartbreak

Heartbroken Dawn Cordner is closing her Aylsham’s children’s nursery on Friday (August 16) because she says government-funded “free” places have made it unviable

Dawnie’s Little Stars, based in the Drill Hall for almost seven years, is the only business of its kind in Aylsham and parents will now have to look outside the town for similar care, according to Dawn, 42.

The closure will mean the loss of seven jobs, including Dawn’s.

She has been in the childcare business for 17 years, previously working for the former Aylsham Playgroup. When its committee disbanded, Dawn saved the service by launching her Little Stars nursery.

Dawn said she had taken the “very, very hard” decision to close because of the increasing gulf between the amount of money the business received from funded places and her ever-increasing running costs.

Parents of three and four year olds are entitled to “free” nursery places funded by the government and paid to nurseries, via the local authority, at the rate of £3.65 per hour,

Some two-year-old are also entitled to free, funded places,  with nurseries receiving £5.20 per hour to care for them.

But Dawn said the true cost of providing care was much higher and her business had been forced to plunder its meagre profits to make up the deficit and stay afloat.

She charged non-funded places at £7.50 per hour for three and four year olds, and £8 an hour for babies, reflecting the true cost of providing quality child care.

Now, with 75pc of the 30 children on roll qualifying for funded places, Dawn said she simply couldn’t afford to carry on.

“It’s exhausting trying to run a business when all the overheads are going up but the funding stays the same. I’m taking less and less and it just can’t go on,” she explained.

“The team works very hard and very long hours for the  minimum wage (£8.21 per hour). We love the children and the nursery’s reputation is second-to-none – but it doesn’t pay the bills. Dog walkers and cleaners earn more than us. We’re providing a champagne service for lemonade money.”

Parents had been sad but very understanding when they learned of the nursery’s closure.

“They wonder what the government is thinking of, allowing this situation to happen,” said Dawn.

“I am so sorry and so sad that I’ve had to do this. This has been my life and my passion but the worry has badly affected my health over the past two years and I had to take this heartbreaking decision. I’ve no idea what I will do next.”

Pictured: Dawn Cordner (centre) with Shining Stars room leader June Crook (left) and deputy manager Becky Rayner.

Don’t miss brand-new bangers at Sunday’s Big Norfolk Sausage Bash

Look out for prize-winning “warm dog” sausages, the invention of nine-year-old Charlie Turner, which will be on sale at the Bash.

Charlie’s “outside in” recipe features ketchup and mustard inside the sausage, rather than smeared on the surface.

It was picked from scores of entries into a competition for Aylsham schoolchildren to come up with a new sausage recipe which could be made by the town’s Coxfords Butchers.

Bure Valley pupil Charlie and his family always enjoy breakfast at Aylsham’s monthly farmers’ market where big brother James, 14, loves artistically squiggling a line of ketchup and mustard along the top of his hot dog – giving Charlie his recipe idea.

“I thought ‘there are already hot dogs, I’ll make mine a warm dog’. I was quite surprised that I won but it made me feel happy,” said Charlie who will visit the Bash after playing in his Aylsham Under-10s’ football match.

Paupers’ Graveyard public meeting

There will be a public meeting at Aylsham’s Paupers’ Graveyard on Wednesday May 8 at 6pm when Aylsham Town Council and volunteers will present their plans for transforming the derelict half-acre site into a peaceful environment appropriate for all. The site is between Mill Close and Sapwell Close, behind the old St Michael’s workhouse. The entrance gates are in Mill Close. If the weather is unsuitable for an outdoor meeting then it will be held in the ACT Centre, on St Michael’s Avenue. Anyone unable to attend but who wishes to make comments should contact town clerk Sue Lake on 01263 733354 or

St Michael’s workhouse, Aylsham.

Dirty care home with not enough food – Report

A shortage of food and lack of hygiene have been highlighted as problems at St Michael’s Court care home as it received an “inadequate” rating from Care Quality Commission inspectors.

In a report published yesterday (January 22) staff during the inspection in December, said residents were being left in undignified conditions, in urine and faeces at night, uncovered and not
receiving personal care such as washing, when needed.

The inspection on December 12 and 14 was unannounced and prompted in part by complaints and concerns from members of the public.

The care home has capacity for 86 people, some of whom are living with dementia. At the time of the inspection 71 people were living within the home. Inspectors spoke with 15 people living in the home, eight visiting relatives, 12 staff members including the manager, the deputy manager, the residential services manager, an agency care worker, three team leaders, three care assistants, a regional manager and a quality director. There was not a registered manager in post at the time of this inspection.

The home’s last comprehensive inspection was carried out in August 2017 and was found to be “good” overall.

But the latest report stated: “At this inspection we found that the service had deteriorated with widespread serious concerns and was rated ‘inadequate’ in all areas. The service was not safe. People were not adequately safeguarded from the risk of abuse and staff did not have thorough knowledge of safeguarding procedures.”

For example, the report said that staff had photographed skin tears on three recent occasions, on two people, which had been inflicted by one person on another. “This had not been acted upon and reviewed in the care plan and risk assessments for the person who inflicted harm. The incidents had not been referred to the safeguarding authorities.”

One person had a serious pressure ulcer and required support to reposition every hour. According to their records, on one occasion they were left for almost five hours.

There were also concerns about infection control. The report stated: “In one bedroom the toilet contained a commode, but the inside had not been cleaned properly, with faeces smeared on the side and base. On our second inspection visit, we found that there were faeces on the floor in a person’s en-suite. Some people had dirty pillows, sheets and bed bumpers in their bedrooms. In one case, a dirty sheet had been put back in a drawer with the person’s clean laundry. Some people had razors in their bathroom cabinets that were clearly old and dirty. Wheelchairs were dirty and some chairs in communal areas smelt of urine.”

Care staff said the home had regularly run out of food and drink items. One staff member said they felt it affected people’s drinking sometimes, as there was only water available to drink because juice or squash had run out.

One staff member said: “The lack of food is insane, we’ve gone through numerous chefs, there was never enough food. People got fed but it was whatever we had to make it go around, we reported it, nothing happened. Apparently, this is because of budget.”

There was normally not a vegetarian option available. They also gave an example of 26 people having five pasties and four mini pizzas for tea. Another staff member said: “There have been times where we had no milk, no marmalade, no juice.”

People’s privacy, dignity and right to confidentiality was not always upheld. One relative told inspectors they it had been necessary for them to tell their family member to go to the toilet in their incontinence pad because there were no staff available to take them to the toilet.

There were also issues with lack of activities at the home: One person said: “I have not been offered any exercises or activities in the care home.” Another said: “I am lucky because I can go out but I do get bored here, there isn’t a lot going on.”

Topical medicines such as creams for skin care were not administered or recorded as prescribed and some were out of date. Some bottled items were not dated and in one areas of the home, stocks of oral tablets did not add up correctly which meant that people may not have received their medicines correctly. People were left unattended and uncomfortable for long periods of time. And could not get assistance when needed.
Services in special measures will be kept under review and will be inspected again within six months.

The report said: “The expectation is that providers found to have been providing inadequate care should have made significant improvements within this timeframe. If not enough improvement is made within this timeframe so that there is still a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating.”

A spokesperson for Runwood Homes, which manages St Michael’s Court, sent us this statement:

St Michael’s Court was previously rated as a good home with the CQC in 2017. In late 2018 there were management changes and new management did not continue to provide the level of service we expect and standards within the home were not maintained.

I am pleased to say that there is new, experience management in situ and the home is working diligently to ensure that its residents receive the high level of care that they deserve.

Residents and families can be assured that we are dedicated to providing a quality service and are working hard to get full compliance with the CQC.

As an organisation, we strive only for the highest standards of care and monitor our services very closely to ensure care delivery is person centred and meaningful to all who live in our homes. Our residents’ wellbeing is our number one priority.

It is only ever with the best interests of our residents that we undertake to improve and learn from any shortcomings experienced.

Aylsham and Holt Santander branches to close

The Aylsham and Holt branches of Santander are to close in the summer as the bank reshapes its branch network.

The two branches will be among 140 nationally to shut in response to changes in how customers are choosing to carry out their banking.

Aylsham’s Red Lion Street branch will close on July 4, and the Holt one on June 13.

Santander’s future branch network will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers, and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

Santander has consulted its trade unions on the proposed changes and will seek to find alternative roles for the 1,270 colleagues affected wherever possible. Santander expects to be able to redeploy around a third of those affected and will be closely supporting colleagues over the coming weeks as the consultation process continues.

Santander will also support customers of closing branches to find other ways to bank that best suit their needs, including individual help to find alternative branches and access digital, telephone and Post Office banking services.

Around 100 Santander branches will be refurbished over the next two years through an investment of £55m. Work to improve the North Walsham branch has already been carried out and the new-look branch was re-opened in November.

Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking, said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.”

The Aylsham branch of Santander

Aylsham Show hands out £31,000-plus to community causes

Charities, community groups and other good causes went home with cheques totalling £31,250 last night (January 22) thanks to the Aylsham Show.

Representatives from 46 organisations packed into The Forge, at Aylsham, for the handout of proceeds from the annual one-day traditional country show by outgoing president Mike Gamble.

The recipients were: £3,500: North Walsham Rugby Club, including ladies’ section; £2,500: Reepham and District Rotary Club (for Eating Matters, SOBS, MIND, Benjamin Foundation); £1,500: Rotary Club of Aylsham (for Aylsham High School, Hospice Ethiopia and others), East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, cardiology department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; £1,250: Aylsham Flower Club (for Big C).
£1,000: Aylsham Boxing Club, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Aylsham Community First Responders, Star Throwers, Aylsham Youth and Community Centre.
£500: Aylsham Older People’s Association, Aylsham St Giles Cricket Club, Aylsham Tennis Club, Aylsham Football Club, 3rd Aylsham Guides, Aylsham and District Care Trust, North Walsham Young Farmers, Sainsbury’s North Walsham (for Norfolk Family Carers), Happisburgh Owls, The Buckingham Emergency Food Appeal, Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre Norfolk, North Norfolk Diabetes UK Group, Norwich and District Riding for the Disabled Association, Fishing for Schools, The You Are Not Alone project, Sheringham and Cromer Lions Club (for Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital), Aylsham Band, Break charity, Buxton Primary School PTFA, North East Norfolk District Scout Council, Aylsham Recreation Ground, Fundraising for Felicity, Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing Ltd, Market Surgery, Aylsham.
£250: Aylsham Roman Project, Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, 1st Aylsham Scout Group, Norfolk Tortoise Club, Vocalights Choir, Aylsham Chess Club, Broadland Voluntary Police Cadets, Aylsham Community Gym, St Michael’s Association of School Helpers, Norfolk Citizens Advice.

A number of those receiving cheques had helped with the 2018 show, including North Walsham Rugby Club which received £3,500, the largest donation.

About 40 club members volunteered to spend up to 12 hours at the show, directing traffic, managing the car parks and distributing leaflets.

Chairman Keith Jarvis said they were delighted with the award and were always keen to contribute to the community. The money was very welcome as the club was almost totally reliant on the generosity and goodwill of local businesses and supporters for funding.

“Eleven of our First XV’s 13 away fixtures are in London or Essex so our travel costs are significant, whilst to compete effectively we have to train twice a week and provide appropriate coaching and medical support. The club also runs a lot of sides so we have six pitches to maintain,” he added.

Louise Cook, head of fundraising at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said they were very grateful for the £1,500 donation to the cardiology department.

“Fundraising helps to enhance the services we are able to offer and makes the hospital experience a better one for patients, visitors and staff,” she said. “This donation will be invested into training and development to help staff provide the best possible care.”

Aylsham Community First Responders will put its £1,000 award towards replacing its pulse oxygen monitors, according to Paul Wooster, the group’s co-ordinator.

The eight-strong team of volunteers, managed by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, attends an average of 30-plus calls each month giving life-saving first aid in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives. Their kit also includes defibrillators and they rely on public donations.

Mike Gamble said it was a huge pleasure to distribute so much money to so many worthy causes.

“As usual a number of the beneficiaries were groups which helped us stage the show and we’re always grateful for their support,” said Mike.

“It’s fantastic that the community pulls together to give up to 17,000 people every year a fun-packed and affordable day to remember and that, as a result of those efforts, we’re able to distribute a substantial sum of money to support causes which help our community thrive.”

Windy weather on last summer’s show day led to the disappointing cancellation of aerial events in the main ring but despite that a large crowd still enjoyed the day. The amount raised for local good causes was not far short of the £32,000 given out last year, following the 2017 show.

At the AGM following the presentations, Clare Buxton was chosen as the 2019 Aylsham Show president. She and her husband Andrew are long-serving members of the Aylsham Show Council and run their business, Norfolk Shepherd Huts, at Park Farm, on the Salle Park Estate, just outside Reepham.

This year’s 73rd Aylsham Show will be held, as usual, on the Blickling Estate on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.
And organisers promise that there will be an exciting, lively, noisy and crowd-participating programme of events in the main ring.

• Visit the show website: Facebook: @theaylshamshow Twitter: @aylshamshow


The outgoing and incoming presidents. Mike Gamble and Clare Buxton

North Walsham Rugby Club who help on the day of the Aylsham Show receiving their cheque for £3500.

Aylsham Community First Responders receiving their donation.

Some of the recipients of the Aylsham Show donations.

Aylsham’s Alice Hoare commemorated with blue plaque

The Broadland District Council Blue Plaque Scheme launched today (11 January), with the unveiling of three plaques commemorating women from Broadland’s past who made valuable contributions to their community.

Alice Hoare, Lucy Sewell, Mary Sewell, Margaret Sewell, and Anne Wright were selected to be the first people memorialised by a panel made up of Broadland District Council’s Chairman, Heritage Champion and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, with the help of information provided by the council’s Economic Development and Conservation teams.

The Blue Plaques, which were made by local business The Anglia Sign Casting Company, were unveiled by Broadland District Council Chairman Judy Leggett, Vice Chairman and Member Champion for Heritage Karen Vincent, and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development Jo Copplestone at a special event in Hayman Lodge, Catton Park.
The plaques will be installed in early 2019 in the parishes that have relevance to the women being commemorated – Old Catton, Buxton and Aylsham.

The launch focused on celebrating the achievements of remarkable local women as a way of honouring the recent centenary celebrations of the first women to vote. Future plaques installed as part of the scheme will commemorate both men and women from the district.

Broadland District Council Chairman Judy Leggett said: “This very special initiative commemorates notable people from all walks of life, who have made an important contribution to our district historically. With the first plaques we are installing, we hope we have created a fitting tribute to women who made an impact on the lives of others. They stand out in Broadland’s history for different reasons but they all shared a common desire to help those less fortunate in their communities.”

Broadland District Council Vice Chairman and Member Champion for Heritage Karen Vincent added: “We are very grateful to the kind contributions of many of our local parish councils, the record office, volunteers, families of the women, and other organisations who helped us research the lives of the women we unveiled plaques for. We’re looking forward to exploring the backgrounds of more people who served their communities throughout our district’s history and the panel is ready to welcome more submissions.”
In attendance at the event was Chloe Smith MP, relatives of Alice Hoare (one of the women being honoured), children from Sewell Park Academy, local historians, and councillors.


Launch of the new Broadland District Council Blue Plaque Scheme at Hayman Lodge in Catton Park. The first 3 plaques in the scheme were unveiled by Judy Leggett, Broadland DC Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Member Champion for heritage Karen Vincent and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development Jo Copplestone.