Letters, February 15, 2013

Privilege to see Dauntless crew

By chance, we were in Great Yarmouth today (Sunday) and were in the right place at the right time, just as the crew of HMS Dauntless and full band marched from St Nicholas Minster through the Market Place.

It was a privilege for me and my young daughters and I felt surprisingly moved to see and hear such a sight. Whether it was the music or the immaculate turnout I am not sure, but it stirred a real sense of pride. I know quite rightly there were lots of dignitaries and important people there to support them, but as shoppers on a freezing Sunday I thank them!



Local interest in Minster labyrinth

Given there is a labyrinth marked out on the floor tiles of St Nicholas Minster, there must be some local interest in the use of these ancient patterns. There are many labyrinth designs but some traditional ones are quite famous; those at Chartres cathedral, San Francisco cathedral, Saffron Waldon and even in Norwich for example.

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There are, in fact, two in Norwich - one inside the cathedral cloisters and one in Wensum Park.

There are several books about labyrinths but they are essentially symbolic of life’s journey with its twists and turns but there is always only one pathway to the centre. Unlike a maze, with its dead ends and puzzles, all you have to do in a labyrinth is keep to the path and you will reach the centre, still-point or home-coming - depending on your outlook.

Today there is a renewed interest in labyrinths and many hospices, for example, use them for terminally ill people to gain a deeper perspective and understanding of their own journey through life.

Very recently a new book titled “Working with the Labyrinth” has been published and there will be a book launch at the Norwich Cathedral library (close to the refectory in the new building) on March 1, 11am to 4pm, with four guided labyrinth walks at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, starting from the library. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the book may contact myself or attend the free book launch and/or a walk.



First cllr to write how it happened

Total respect for John Hudson for being the first and only councillor to report how the outer harbour project was explained to councillors and how the ordinary councillor could only believe what they were told in the interest of residents.

They published the sailing dates without having a ferry, we were told we could take trips to the continent.

The cabinet was the administration of the time. Officers and those councillors who were paid members the board of Great Yarmouth Port Authority, and a county officer was given a bonus of £25,000 for just getting a signature on the agreement which never bound Eastport to achieving the 1,000 jobs, a ro-ro ferry or anything else to bring regeneration to our borough and the whole area. This is what all those millions of public money was for.

Who was responsible for all the spin which gained the support of fellow councillors and most of the residents? It was the corporate responsibility of all involved in that inner circle who have a lot to answer to for their part in this project.

Eliza O’Toole, vice chairman of Great Yarmouth Port Company told us at a NCC scrutiny committee meeting the residents would be getting good news shortly, yet this changed to not for two to three years recently.

These people should stand before us in a meeting as I understand from a government agency a so-called commercial sensitivity is due to end this year.

Somehow Great Yarmouth Port Authority, a trust port which means we residents are stakeholders, has so far been able to bury details in Norfolk Record Office for 30 years. It has tried to hide accountability - without accountability there is no democracy. Captain Pryke, who is the present chair of GYPA should immediately release this information.

The only way out is a full public inquiry to see what can be salvaged for all those millions of pounds.

I like the idea of this letter going into the Mercury archives so that researchers in the future can read what has happened because this will be those people’s legacy.


Brett Avenue,


I will name and shame culprits

On February 10, I took my boy to his “home” football ground, for an under 8’s match, Shrublands vs Gorleston Rangers on Southtown Common, to be greeted by a pitch full of dog mess.

The manager’s wife had got there an hour and a half before kick-off as she anticipated this situation and promptly started clearing up the mess, and at 10am I arrived and on inspection there was still lots left. Myself and the referee then did another inspection and continued to find more mess.

In total we think about 40 items of dog mess were cleared up. This I find to be totally unacceptable and is putting our children’s health at risk as some dog owners are repeat offending and not clearing up after their pets.

I have reported this situation to environmental health but not heard back yet, I am not giving up on this. I will also start a Facebook name and shame campaign should things not improve.

There needs to be warning signs, threatening fines, someone from the council (with authority to fine people) doing on the spot visits and dishing out fines.

I hope this letter gets published and prompts some public conscience to protect our little people, as this area is also used for cricket in the summer, there is a toddlers playground, skatepark and children should be able to just run around without parental worry.



My bare bottom was powdered!

This week, as usual, Peggotty writes of some of the interesting events which have taken place in our town and I was mentioned in his reference to the Dad’s Army series.

Their production team enjoyed working in East Anglia for several years and engaged me as marine safety consultant and stuntman whenever they were in these parts. They were based at the old Bell Hotel in Thetford and, contrary to the article in the Mercury, I was the only diver working with them.

Among other locations, filming took place at the Stamford battle area, Thetford, Coltishall. Lowestoft, Winterton beach and Kings Lynn and, of course, Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier and beach and the harbour.

All the talented cast and the crew in general were consummate professionals. They were very friendly and relaxed on set and it was a great pleasure to be working with them.

One of the earlier episodes was when the pier incidents were being shot I was required to navigate the ‘mine’ from underneath and also understudy Bill Pertwee (the warden) who fell into the sea with no clothes on while trying to fend it off. Will I ever forget having a make-up lady powder my bare bottom?

While I was ‘hamming it up’ and thrashing about as the warden in the water he was on the deck above recording things on his own handheld camera. It was out of season and quite cold so I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a bottle of rum from the long bar by the crew and Ian Lavender’s greatcoat to warm me up. I have happy and funny memories of all the locations and plots in the area.

I did some work in the industry with a close friend who, until his retirement, was a leading international stuntman and I enjoyed being involved in some of the Dick Emery sketches, an early Colin Firth film in France, The Mill on the Floss, The Chief, Morse, Roughnecks and various others.



Pickles invited to talk to locals

Great Yarmouth and District Trades Union Council has received a reply from Brandon Lewis MP, and we regret to inform residents that he has turned down the opportunity to meet the public and honour his pre-election pledge.

The Trades Council however notes that the leader of the Council, Trevor Wainwright, has agreed to Mr Kirkpatrick’s separate request to a public meeting.

In its search to find a member of the Government to defend the cut in money for local services and other policies the Trades Council has invited Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for Local Government to a public meeting in Great Yarmouth.

We hope Mr Pickles accepts the invitation so that local people have the chance to raise questions with a member of the Government in open forum.



Plea for FA Cup programme

Great Yarmouth Town v Crystal Palace FA Cup; in response to last week’s letter from Peter Knights.

It must have been great times being a Bloaters fan that year. The FA Cup that season saw the Bloaters play four games in front of a combined total of 24,984 spectators. There was 8,944 people at the Palace game who witnessed us win 1-0 with a goal from D Rackham. We were beaten in the next round 5-2 at Barrow. The other two games saw us defeat Chelmsford City after a replay. Great Yarmouth Town FC are still the only team from the Eastern Counties League to have inflicted a defeat on professional opposition in the FA Cup.

This year is the 60th anniversary of that great day and I was hoping a Mercury reader will still have a copy of the matchday programme that the football club could borrow to make a copy of, to issue as a limited edition commemorative booklet. I intend to use it to raise some funds for our club. I will also include peoples’ memories of the day in the booklet along with as many pictures as possible, so please let me know your stories.

From those heady days of the fifties and sixties and even the early seventies when we regularly played in front of crowds of 500-1,500, only 58 people were at Saturdays game at home to March Town to cheer us on to a fine 3-1 victory, which put us into our first cup semi-final for nine seasons.

If anyone would like to know more about Great Yarmouth Town FC (fixtures, sponsorship, hall hire, history, teams ) or can help me with my request, I can be contacted via e-mail sandysauce@hotmail.com or by phone on 01493 859587.


Secretary GYTFC

Any help on cake shop question?

My budget wedding is booked in August this year. We bought a cake for just over £200 from the cake shop located just near the Haven Bridge. However walking past this week the shop is gutted and there is no sign of life. Is it being refurbsihed ready for re-opening?

Some people have said it is closed for good. Any chance your readers know more?



Good memories of Palace FA Cup

A response to Mr Knights’ letter last week. The early 50s were certainly the heyday of Great Yarmouth Town FC as a professional club when many players left league clubs to play in non-league football at an early stage of their lives mainly because Football League clubs had large staffs and the fact that they could earn more playing non-league and having other employment. Attendences were also at their highest.

I have to just correct Mr Knights as in his letter he said the gate for Yarmouth v Crystal Palace was 600. It is officially recorded as being 8,944. He also said the goal was scored in the second half - it was scored by Derrick Rackham after six minutes. The kipper boxes made up the terracing, the Grandstand is a permanent fixture.

But he is right when it brings back memories. I was fortunate to have played with and under Derrick Rackham at The Wellesley. He was an ex Norwich player who performed with great skill on the left wing and was a master of “the step over”.

Many local players will have benefitted when playing for The Bloaters (or The Greens for that matter) by having the good luck to be taught by legends such as Jack Bradley, Syd Plunkett, Derrick Rackham, Derek Woodcock, Mick Foster, Don Edwards and Ron Hansell to name a few.

Derek Woodcock, with a sway of his body could send defences completely the wrong way and Ron Hansell who played on the wing and in the midfield told me (as a goalkeeper) to find a teammate with a clearance and to throw the ball to start an attack rather than just punt it upfield. That was good advice.

Sadly Ron has just passed away and another legend of Great Yarmouth Town FC and true gentleman and friend has gone but will hopefully never be forgotten.


Marine Crescent

Great Yarmouth

Stroke care at JPH wonderful

I would like to praise the James Paget Hospital. I took a friend, Mr Peter Bunch, to the hospital, with all the symptoms of a stroke, face, arms, speech and legs not functioning correctly. On arrival I notified the receptionist and left my friend in the waiting area, and went to park my car as I had left it outside A&E department.

When I returned to A&E my friend was missing, and I was informed he had already been taken through, this was within a matter of five minutes.

He was on a bed, the nurse was already taking blood samples, an ECG machine was beside the bed, a canulla had been inserted, the Stroke Nurse was on his way, a brain scan was carried out, and a specialist arrived - all this within 30 minutes of us arriving.

My friend made a full recovery. I do not believe he could have received better treatment anywhere and I would like to thank all members of the A&E department.


St Johns Road, Belton

We’ve found lots of new cousins

Thank you for publishing my letter appealing for information about the Stangroom family.

I have been phoned by a member of the family with the promise of lots of information, backing up what I have already found out and more to come. Very exciting. My sons and daughters will have many new cousins.

I can be contacted on 01942 883719, email: grandmaalien@wn75pu.freeserve.co.uk.



Will Primark come to town?

With reference to the letter from the lady who wrote about Primark. I have chatted to several youngsters who all said Yarmouth should have a Primark store in town. We all know the state of stores (or lack of them) in town.

Most of the youngsters said they like to have money for Christmas and birthdays so that they can go to Norwich and shop at Primark. Nowhere in town has the clothes they like or the prices. Come on Great Yarmouth Council wake up and listen to people.



Should we fine path cyclists?

Cyclists in a Cambridgeshire town are being warned they could face a fine if they ride on the footpath. The warning comes after concerns were raised by local residents in the town of March.

Police say anyone caught cycling on a footpath could face a £30 fixed penalty notice. A PCSO said: “We will be out and about taking a robust approach and issuing fines to those caught.” There are designated cycle paths in the town so there is no excuse to cycle on a footpath.

We ask the question, what is happening in Great Yarmouth?


Havelock Road

Great Yarmouth

Hope funding is not just promise

Some good news for the town last week with flood defence funds and renewed hope for the 40 year old saga of the Acle New Road upgrade, but possible funding is still in the future! In the run up to the 2015 Election, I hope we are not just going to get a list of possible funding promises.

It was a concern that Brandon Lewis, our MP, was muted in the A47 debate and not allowed to speak as he is a minister (Hansard, February 7). He apparently has to rely on thought transference and the comments of others! I am surprised a return to the Acle New Road being a toll road was not proposed as it would generate healthy profits for foreign investors and really help seal the fate of the town.

It would help if road designers got things right first time to avoid expensive modifications at Vauxhall/Breydon bridge junction and Gapton Hall. Crazy!

It was encouraging to see Conservative MPs recognising the importance of investing in infrastructure that will help secure growth.

Flood prevention funding cuts were a nonsense as we all end up paying in increased house insurance bills and those flooded the stress of the inundations. This is a good return on our taxes and will help create jobs. It will take some people off benefits and create new taxpayers freeing up more money to invest.

It is, however, depressing that we look set to rely on foreign investors to build and run our infrastructure, like power stations.

The wonders of privatisation see our money pouring out of the country into their profits and leaving everyone worse off.


Victoria Street,


Tavern landlord was war hero

I was very interested to read the article by Susan Nichols about her father, Alan Turrell. I lived in Cobholm for many years and remember her grandparents keeping the Cobholm Tavern. In 1942/43 I was eight years old and nightly bombing raised were common.

The Turrells would invite locals to shelter in their cellar, not doubt keeping their spirits up as well!

One night I was sleeping under the stairs, the safest spot if your house was hit and incredibly my mother was standing at the open front door. A terrifying whistling sound told us a bomb was coming, my mother swore she saw it coming down the road and hit the post office and the Tavern.

As far as I know, the impact was at the front of the pub but those in the cellar were trapped in the darkness. The Turrells gathered them all together and reassured them they would be alright, and of course they were dug out safe.

One incident which was talked about for years was a bay covered in dirt and dust in some distress. Mr Turrell licked the baby’s face clean. The man was a hero, one of the many whose courage and compassion was never recorded.


Castle Hill,


Is it really necessary?

Is it really necessary? Most situations regarding the way we live today can either start with, or be followed by, just this one question?

Quite often the answer is simply yes or no? However, having reached the yes or no stage, the dilemma you now face is perhaps the tough bit. Once you have answered this question (either yes or no) the next step is to be brave enough to stick by your principles and either agree or disagree as the case may be.

Try it, it works.

For example: Pubs being able to open 24 hours, having four minutes of TV adverts every 15 minutes, politicians claiming expenses for charity donations, closing schools because of a little bit of snow, having a TV in the bedroom, the UK sticking its nose in Mali, the cost of petrol at the pumps being so high, my wife constantly telling me to either hurry up or wait a minute. As you can see, the initial question fits the bill in all manner of situations. I could go on and on, but it’s not really necessary.


Jimmy Brown Close,


Port answers at inquiry?

So that was the business plan shrouded in a 30-year D notice in protection of the realm, that being the newly created Area 51 on the former Great Yarmouth peninsular, is now the naval base for the North Sea Fleet.

Yes, this week’s visit by the flagship HMS Dauntless now puts the final piece of understanding into the public arena; why else would you be building such a secure facility with no heed to infrastructure, local employment and using public cash? Or you can believe the alternative view from a former councillor, John Hudson, that the project was an ever moving feast of intentions to attract cash and facilities from the public purse.

No wonder those stalwart councillors representing their electorate’s best interests and needs found it difficult to follow the shenanigans reminiscent of a scene from Yes Minister. You would hope that more will stand up declaring “not in my name” at the impending inquiry.


Clarence Road,


Wednesday’s now a delight

HAVING reached the great old age of 84, and married for 52 years, I sadly lost my dear wife seven years ago. My one and only son and his wife regularly call on me, but frankly I admit to being lonely 90pc of the time.

But what a difference a Wednesday morning makes. Wake up early, cup of tea, shower, shave and pull on a freshly laundered shirt and off to see my friends and companions at the Probus Club, where we are entertained by speakers, some good and some not so, but that’s life. Coffee and biscuits at 11 o’clock and a leg pull and laugh plus a few jokes along the way. Twelve o’clock a drink at the bar and a meal if I so desire.

For a few pounds a year this is the ultimate club for people like you and me so why not come along as a guest and see for yourself.

For details please contact club secretary Ernest Hodds on 01493 842367.


Jury Street,

Great Yarmouth