Big plans for Sprowston’s community gardeners

A library garden and a Norfolk orchard are among plans those involved in Sprowston’s community greenhouses project are making for 2019.

Project co-ordinator Mike Ellard is due to meet staff at Sprowston Library at 4pm on January 7 to discuss plans for a sensory garden there and would welcome others to go along to offer support and ideas.

“This could be financially, or help in getting this under way,” said Mike. “Starting from a blank canvas is always quite daunting.”

Mike and other volunteers have started planting a local-varieties orchard outside the project’s base, the greenhouses behind Sprowston Community Hub, on Aslake Close.

“We are looking at planting well-known Norfolk varieties,” said Mike. “It will take a few years to get established. Perhaps we will start a trend at Christmas of eating biffing pie – a Victorian Norfolk tradition – instead of mince pies” (Biffing is a variety of Norfolk apple).

The busy volunteers spent a day selling prepared bulbs in Christmas tubs and pots at Tesco, on Blue Boar Lane, and almost sold out, raising £200.49.

Mike was delighted when a 25-strong team from Norwich-based GoodGym turned up and made short work of clearing one of the glasshouses. GoodGym members combine running with helping communities.

“They cleared all the old tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, and tomatillos which have been quickly replaced with flowers and some other fruit and vegetables. We have rhubarb for forcing, spring cabbage and strawberries have also been planted, as well as some dwarf kiwi fruit bushes,” Mike added.

  • For more information, or to get involved with the project, ring Mike on: 0795 2071 947.
  • Clare Lincoln, of Sprowston Youth Engagement Project, with a Christmas wreath made during a community garden project session.
  • Goodgym members in one of the greenhouses.



The project’s stall at Tesco’s.

Becky brings Swing Train craze to Norfolk

It’s so new it hasn’t even got a Wiki page yet.

But Swing Train – dance/fitness set to belting Charleston, swing, gospel, electro-swing and jazz tunes – has reached Norfolk from London thanks to Sprowston resident and former North Walsham-area schoolgirl Becky Powell.

With the growing popularity of vintage fashion and music Becky hopes those who love that era, and anyone looking for a new, strictly-fun way to work out, will give it a whirl.

Swing Train borrows moves from vintage dance styles such as lindy hop which are blended into a cardio workout suitable for all levels of fitness.

Becky, who grew up in Worstead, discovered it while living in London where she trained as an instructor in several forms of fitness.

She has been dancing, and loving it, since joining the north Norfolk-based Footnotes school as a 12-year-old. Later, as a student, she was an active member of York University’s ballet society.

Initially, it didn’t look as though Becky would follow her feet into a career. An academic high-flyer, she gained four As at A-level and went on to graduate from York with a first-class honours degree in maths and physics.

Convinced she wanted to become a school teacher, Becky studied for her post-graduate certificate of education at Cambridge University and landed a job at a primary school near Watford.

“I wanted everyone to love learning and they didn’t,” she remembered. “The teaching part was OK but it was everything else – I was in work at 7am and left at 7pm with a load of books to mark – and I found behaviour management difficult. I spent Boxing Day drawing up a seating plan for seven boys who couldn’t sit next to each other!”

She left to take up a post as an “explainer” at the Science Museum in London, spending 18 months bursting balloons, blowing bubbles and breaking eggs to help children understand everything from why it hurts to sit on one nail but not hundreds, and the manufacture of poo in the digestive system.

Next came a brief spell back at university when Becky began and soon gave up an MSc degree course in aerodynamics and advanced computation.

After a lot of soul-searching, she then decided to follow her passion and become a dance/fitness teacher.

Becky funded her training in London with a part-time job and gained qualifications as an instructor in Swing Train, Booty Barre and bbarreless – the last two being combinations of dance, pilates and yoga.

Since moving back to Norfolk Becky has started teaching at White House Farm, Sprowston; County Hall, Norwich; and in North Walsham, where she also runs an adult beginners’ tap-dancing class.

“I absolutely love it all,” she said. “Dance and fitness make me feel free and wonderful and I love passing on that passion.

“I’m pleased I’ve given so many things a try. I would regret more not giving something a go. It’s better to be brave and bold – and see what happens!”

  • Visit:, email or text/call: 07748300091.



Motor-racer Jaden, 7, is a rising star

Schoolboy Jaden Ketteringham is already something of a veteran in the world of motocross and grasstrack racing.

The Falcon Junior School pupil recently finished seventh in the British grasstrack finals, just a week after his seventh birthday.

The event was the most prestigious of many in which Jaden’s taken part since getting his first motorbike for his fourth birthday and obtaining his race licence on his sixth birthday.

He became what is believed to be the youngest rider in the country to race with an ACU (Auto Cycle Union) licence when he took part in an event only eight days after turning six.

Jaden, who lives on Sprowston’s Manor Park estate, caught the motor-racing bug from his dad, Alex, a former Eastern Centre motocross rider who takes part in a few grasstrack events each year.

From a very early age Jaden would travel with his dad to practice days and also attended some race meetings with the family, which includes his mum Gemma and little sister Mia, two.

“He never had stabilisers and by the time he was three-and-a-half he was already cycling by himself,” said Alex who works in the motor industry and also maintains, tunes and builds racing bikes.

Jaden practises motocross on several local tracks and is a member of a private club for the sport.

He is also the youngest member of the Norwich New Stars Grasstrack Club which offers a training school and bike hire for children aged six and over.

It’s not a cheap sport – Jaden’s already on his sixth bike.
“We travel across East Anglia mostly but we did travel to the South Midlands to compete in the British final,” said Alex.

“Like any motorsport racing it’s costly, with entry fees, practice-track hire, maintenance, machines, tools and transport,” he added.

“We do have a few sponsors who help out when they can but we’ll be trying to obtain some more for 2019.”

The family has been grateful over the years for sponsorship from Hobbit Classic MX, Bandit Racewear, Rock Oil, Scott Goggles, Wulfsport and DB Wright.

At present Jaden’s using a KTM-make motocross bike which he’ll be able to use for grasstrack too for the next couple of years. It’s capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph.

Apart from a few cuts and bruises, he hasn’t suffered any major injuries while on the bike although during a grasstrack race in Ipswich last year a stone flew up from the bike in front and hit him in the mouth. “He came in with blood dripping from his tongue,” said Alex.

Undaunted, Jaden has his sights set on qualifying for the British grasstrack finals again next year and this time taking the title.

So far his greatest achievement is to finish fourth out of 12 competitors in the Norwich championship, racing against children one or two years older than he was, and only taking part in 12 of the 18 races.

Jaden says he loves grasstrack racing because it’s “fast and fun” and enjoys motocross because of the jumps, and challenging nature of some of the tracks including undulating ground, natural obstacles and riding in wet weather!
If you’re interested in sponsoring Jaden, email













Cecil Gowing School opens its (out)doors

Cecil Gowing Infant School is inviting parents with children planning to start school in September 2019 to open sessions to look around the school and see for themselves the varied outdoor areas.

The open events are on: Tuesday September 25 4pm-5pm; Thursday September 27 1.30pm-2.30pm; and Thursday September 27 7pm-8pm.

Pupils have been making the most of the warm September sunshine by enjoying the open air, including making use of a slide area, maze, adventure trail, mud kitchen and climbing wall.

Outdoor learning sessions begin again after the October half-term holiday when pupils take part in a range of activities each week including cooking bananas and marshmallows on the fire, archery, pond dipping, litter-picking, woodwork and birdwatching.

There will be a further open evening on Thursday November 15 from 7pm-8.30pm, and an open afternoon the following day, Friday November 16, from 1.30pm-2.30pm.

Picture: Enjoying campfire cookery




Castle to glow gold in Sprowston girl’s memory

A group of friends has arranged for Norwich Castle to be lit up in gold in memory of a Sprowston girl who died from leukaemia.

September is international Childhood Cancer Awareness month, which has a gold ribbon logo, and the castle will be bathed in gold lights from September 8-15 to remember Emily Gibson who died three days after her 10th
birthday in May 2016.

The group includes Deanne Mann whose twins Paige and Abbie were good friends of Emily at Sprowston Junior School.

Last year the twins, now 12, and their little sister Amber, now seven, decided to have their hair cut off to send to the Little Princess Trust which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment.

The idea snowballed and took place in Norwich’s Castle Mall in May 2017. Others joined in, a tombola helped boost sponsorship raised, shoppers were generous with donations and around £1,100 was collected for the trust with a similar amount sent to Beads of Courage, a charity which helps seriously-ill children stay positive by giving them a string of beads spelling their name which is added to, with colourful beads, each time they reach a milestone in their treatment.

“It was an amazing day – phenomenal. I didn’t expect it to be as big an event as it turned out to be. I was handed 24 lots of hair to send to the Little Princess Trust by people who had had their hair cut too!” said Deanne.

She and the other group members all knew Emily’s mum, Mel FitzPatrick. They had wanted to support her and raise awareness of childhood cancers, she added.

“We hope people in the city after dusk during that week will stop and look at what we are doing in honour of our dear friend’s daughter and for the many thousands of other children who are affected.”

The Mann sisters







The girls after their haircuts









Countdown to Sprowston’s Brickfest

Sprowston music pub the Brickmakers is hosting its annual Brickfest major charity event on Monday August 27, from noon until midnight.

The event, now in its 12th year, will see 38 live bands playing on three stages, raising money for Sprowston Youth Engagement Project and The Lodge residential children’s unit. Both causes need recreational equipment to improve the lives of the young people who use their services.

As well as music of all genres, there will be a giant prize tombola, a face painter, giant bouncy slide and castle, ice cream, street food and stone-baked pizzas. Entry is £2, children under 12 free.

Everyone is invited to turn up dressed as their favourite video game character.

For more visit:


FREE home-grown veg and herbs in Sprowston

Free herbs and vegetables will be on offer in Sprowston later this summer thanks to young gardeners helping with Sprowston’s Grow Your Community greenhouse project, supported by Broadland District Council.

The young volunteers, members of the Sprowston Youth Engagement Project (SYEP), have made a raised bed beside the road at the project’s base, the Sprowston Community Hub, on Aslake Close.

Once the plants have matured, members of the public will be welcome to help themselves, leaving a donation if they’re able, according to project co-ordinator Mike Ellard.

The project – which makes use of two redundant greenhouses and surrounding land – is going from strength to strength, according to retired horticulturalist Mike.

Tomato, pepper and courgette plants, bedding plants, hanging baskets, fresh lettuce and rhubarb have all been selling well on the project’s trolley which goes out at weekends outside the hub. Proceeds are ploughed back into the project.

The young group has also been working on a trial vegetable patch which only needs 30 minutes’ attention each week. They have also been experimenting with growing edible lupins.

“Our wild patch has started to flower which was once a lifeless piece of ground,” Mike added.



GREEN FINGERS: volunteers planting one of the project’s raised vegetable beds.


New youth drama group for Sprowston

Sprowston Parish Players are celebrating the silver jubilee of their first production with a host of events and they’re inviting residents to join the fun.

The amateur theatrical group was set up by parishioners of St Cuthbert’s Church, Wroxham Road, to entertain the people of Sprowston and to raise money for local charities.

Their first show, in 1993, was The Wind in the Willows.

Since then the players have performed nearly 100 pantomimes, plays and concerts at St Cuthbert’s, and donated many thousands of pounds to good causes throughout Norfolk. Most recently, £500 was given to Guide Dogs for the Blind from the proceeds of the players’ 2018 pantomime, The Princess and the Pea.

Planned celebrations for the players’ 25 anniversary year will see:

  • Old Time Music Hall. A classic evening of scatty sketches and saucy songs to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, devised and directed by founder member Sheila Tuffield. Performances are at 3pm and 7.30pm on Saturday July 14. Tickets are £6 (children £3), which includes interval refreshments, available from Toni Morina on 01603 484 554. Audience members are encouraged to dress in Victorian/Edwardian costume for the evening and founder members of Sprowston Parish Players are invited free of charge.
  • On Saturday July 21, from 3pm-5pm, the players are throwing a silver anniversary tea party at St Cuthbert’s Church. All past and current members are welcome and the players would especially love to see anyone who has lost touch with the group. For more details ring Toni Morina 01603 484554.
  • Sprowston Parish Players’ Youth Theatre. In September the players are launching a new group for young people aged seven to 18. Led by Carol Rowell and Becky Harris-Cook, the youth theatre will offer youngsters tuition in drama, music and dance, as well as the chance to perform in players’ productions. Classes are free (subject to a £5 subscription) and will take place every Thursday from September 13, 6.30pm to 7.15pm. For more information, email
  • Panto 2019: Cinderella. Next year the players present panto classic Cinderella, written by member Paul Allum, who has returned to the group after six years. The show will be a traditional potty panto, with slapstick, silliness, awful jokes, pratfalls, shouting, boos and hisses, calamity and kisses … and a dollop of sauce!

Casting will take place with two workshop auditions at St Cuthbert’s on Thursday August 30 and September 6, from 7.30pm to 10pm.

Paul said: “We are always on the look-out for new, enthusiastic members to join our merry and friendly band of thesps.”

Rehearsals are every Thursday evening, leading up to the performances on Friday January 25, (7.30pm), Saturday January 26 (2.30pm and 7.30pm) and Sunday January 27 2019 (2.30pm).

Paul added: “Are you an actor, singer, dancer? Or maybe you’re all three?  If you’re more at home away from the boards, we’d still love to hear from you – our shows take a great amount of work to put on and helpers are always welcomed and cherished.

“Be you a set builder/painter, technician, stage crew member, wardrobe person, make-up artist, or just want to join our front of house team, do let us know.”

Contact chair Toni on 01603 484554, or Paul directly on

Scene and characters from the players’ last panto.