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Stolen from Suffolk - but so much better already. The story behind the first ever Norfolk Day

PUBLISHED: 13:14 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:00 24 July 2018

Norfolk Day is the 27th July. Pictured is the beach at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Day is the 27th July. Pictured is the beach at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Eastern Daily Press editor David Powles explains the story behind the first ever Norfolk Day.

Supporters at the Eastern Daily Press and Radio Norfolk launch of Norfolk Day in Dereham's Market Place, from left, front, Mel Cook, VisitNorwich, and Ian Clarke, Archant head of news. Back, Peter Cook, Radio Norfolk and Radio Suffolk editor; Dave Powles, EDP editor; Nick Conrad, Radio Norfolk presenter; and Chris Sargisson, chief executive Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSupporters at the Eastern Daily Press and Radio Norfolk launch of Norfolk Day in Dereham's Market Place, from left, front, Mel Cook, VisitNorwich, and Ian Clarke, Archant head of news. Back, Peter Cook, Radio Norfolk and Radio Suffolk editor; Dave Powles, EDP editor; Nick Conrad, Radio Norfolk presenter; and Chris Sargisson, chief executive Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

There might not have been a Norfolk Day, had Suffolk not have gotten their first.

There you go, I’ll get that admission out of the way at the outset, this is not only an idea shamelessly stolen, but taken, no less, from our friends at the other end of the A140.

That’s right, the ones we share so many rivalries with - but also have a lot that is in common.

In June 2017 the first ever Suffolk Day was held. It looked nice. A pleasant event to celebrate a county I have a lot of fondness for, especially given it was actually where most of my childhood was spent, though don’t worry I used to tell strangers I was from Norwich.

The Bear Shop, on Elm Hill in Norwich, getting behind Norfolk Day. Proprietor, Robert Stone and sales assistant, Fionna Monk.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Bear Shop, on Elm Hill in Norwich, getting behind Norfolk Day. Proprietor, Robert Stone and sales assistant, Fionna Monk. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

But I couldn’t help but feel Norfolk could do better.

Not because of some weird desire for East Anglian oneupmanship - but because I had this sense the people of Norfolk would truly get behind such a day and really welcome the opportunity to celebrate with others why so many of us feel this is the best county in the land.

And fortunately that is how it has proven.

Once we’d teamed up with our friends at BBC Norfolk, here’s one example where close collaboration with other media ‘rivals’ can have real impact, we pitched the idea to about two dozen people from various walks of Norfolk life.

Wildcraft Brewery backing Norfolk Day with a new beer. Head brewer Mike Deal, left, with Carl Newell, landlord of the Rose Inn, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWildcraft Brewery backing Norfolk Day with a new beer. Head brewer Mike Deal, left, with Carl Newell, landlord of the Rose Inn, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

And in that very first meeting the excitement was tangible.

The answer to whether there should be a Norfolk Day was a resounding ‘yes’, so the debate quickly moved onto what a great Norfolk Day actually was.

At its core it was agreed that having a day on the calendar to encourage thousands to unite over their pride in Norfolk could only be a good thing. A chance for communities to come together and individuals and organisations to show off the roles they play in making the county tick.

However, there was also a strong desire for Norfolk Day to be the chance to highlight the fact this is a county that deserves more recognition than it gets.

Lakenham Creamery getting involved in the Norfolk Day celebrations. Chris Coughlan and Amber Haylock.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLakenham Creamery getting involved in the Norfolk Day celebrations. Chris Coughlan and Amber Haylock. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

So rather than just celebrating our rich heritage, agriculture and unspoiled landscape, here was an opportunity to highlight the innovation that goes on here, our creative talents and so many more of the virtues people don’t necessarily think of when they hear our county’s name. Maybe we could go some way to changing that?

I went away from that initial meeting enthused but still nervous as to what the reaction would be from the rest of the community. And so, on a bitterly cold morning in February, I stood somewhat fearfully in Dereham town centre alongside Radio Norfolk’s Nick Conrad as Norfolk Day was announced to the world.

But I needn’t have worried, because within moments it was clear lots of people felt Norfolk Day was indeed a very good idea after all.

And in the months since I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve spoken to about ways they can get involved and how they can show their support. We’ve now more than 200 events and it looks likely that on Norfolk Day itself (July 27th in case you’ve missed it) thousands of people will be taking part.

Education Co-ordinator Emily Parker is preparing to celebrate Norfolk Day at Holkham Hall. Picture: Ian BurtEducation Co-ordinator Emily Parker is preparing to celebrate Norfolk Day at Holkham Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

What I’ve loved is how people have taken the concept and used it to grow an idea. These include the Chamber of Commerce’s 15 second videos, Norwich Cathedral’s all-day talent showcase, our Norfolk Day beer from Woodforde’s and the brilliant tour of the county being hosted by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Norfolk Day has already become much more than simply lots of nice community events.

And the key word there is already, because I want Norfolk Day to be an ever-growing and ever developing thing. It hopefully won’t be the first and what it is in 2019 might be different to what it was in 2018.

Norfolk Day is what Norfolk people make it - just like the county itself.

Eve Stebbing with her son Edwin will be holding a Norfolk Day event at the York Tavern for children.
Picture: Nick ButcherEve Stebbing with her son Edwin will be holding a Norfolk Day event at the York Tavern for children. Picture: Nick Butcher

10 (of the many) reasons why I love Norfolk...

■ Is there a better place to grow up or to have a family? Safe, friendly and so many things to do and see on the doorstep.

■ Wells-next-the-Sea. It’s a hard choice but officially my favourite place in the county. A perfectly sized town with great shops, pubs and restaurant, as well as walks along THAT seafront to Holkham.

Norfolk Day ambassador Rev Jane Hedges.
Picture: Nick ButcherNorfolk Day ambassador Rev Jane Hedges. Picture: Nick Butcher

■ Amazing running routes (and flat). The North Norfolk coastal path, villages and countryside of South Norfolk, the Run Norwich route and Marriott’s Way are my favourites.

■ So many great towns to explore. After more than a decade back in this fine county, I still keep finding new things I’ve never 
seen before.

■ The football team. Maybe not in terms of trophies, but Norwich City truly are the best football club in the land.

■ The seals at Horsey. It’s no longer the top secret it once was, but what a fantastic opportunity to experience nature close up. Don’t get too close however.

Thatcher Nick Walker working on a house in Suffolk. He will be taking part in Norfolk Day.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Thatcher Nick Walker working on a house in Suffolk. He will be taking part in Norfolk Day. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

■ Norwich’s Lord Mayor’s Celebrations. My favourite weekend of the year and one the diary is always kept clear for.

■ Parklife. Rarely a week goes by where I haven’t found a reason to visit Eaton Park. And when I haven’t, there are so many more to choose from.

■ Our varied coast. I love a walk along Great Yarmouth seafront stopping for chips, donuts and a go on the machines, just as much as the tranquillity of places like Blakeney.

■ So many music choices. I don’t get to gig as much as I used to but the UEA, Waterfront, Arts Centre and Open are responsible for so many happy memories.

Chef Sue Masters has created a dedicated menu for Norfolk Day at Revelation Cafe.
 Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Chef Sue Masters has created a dedicated menu for Norfolk Day at Revelation Cafe. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

More about Norfolk Day 2018

Read more stories about Norfolk Day on our website including a comprehensive events listing.

• Follow @norfolk on Twitter and use the hashtag #NorfolkDay for more coverage from this year’s events.

(from left) Rev Rosie Bunn, rector of Belton and Burgh Castle benefice, and committee members of the Village Voice publication, Bill Richmomd, Brian Swan, Dr Regi Alexander and Ernie Tuxford, outside All Saints' Church, Belton, which is holding an event to discuss tackling loneliness and mental health on Norfolk Day. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE(from left) Rev Rosie Bunn, rector of Belton and Burgh Castle benefice, and committee members of the Village Voice publication, Bill Richmomd, Brian Swan, Dr Regi Alexander and Ernie Tuxford, outside All Saints' Church, Belton, which is holding an event to discuss tackling loneliness and mental health on Norfolk Day. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

• Join our Norfolk Day Facebook group to advertise your event and talk with other Norfolkians.

Dr Ben Garrod, Norfolk Day Norfolk Wildlife Trust ambassador, at one of the nature spots he will visit on his Norfolk Day tour on July 27. Picture: SENT IN BY NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUSTDr Ben Garrod, Norfolk Day Norfolk Wildlife Trust ambassador, at one of the nature spots he will visit on his Norfolk Day tour on July 27. Picture: SENT IN BY NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST

The Royal Norwich Golf Club on Drayton High Road is hosting a family golf experience for Norfolk Day Picture: ROYAL NORWICH GOLF CLUBThe Royal Norwich Golf Club on Drayton High Road is hosting a family golf experience for Norfolk Day Picture: ROYAL NORWICH GOLF CLUB

Staff from Nu Image, who are supporting Norfolk Day on July 27 by holding a Broads photo competition Picture: SENT IN BY NICOLE HOWESStaff from Nu Image, who are supporting Norfolk Day on July 27 by holding a Broads photo competition Picture: SENT IN BY NICOLE HOWES

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce staff film for the Norfolk Now campaign, recording a 15 second video of daily business life, as part of the Norfolk Day celebrations. From left, Julie Austin, Dominique Bivar Segurado, Charlotte Upcraft, and Philippa Bindley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorfolk Chamber of Commerce staff film for the Norfolk Now campaign, recording a 15 second video of daily business life, as part of the Norfolk Day celebrations. From left, Julie Austin, Dominique Bivar Segurado, Charlotte Upcraft, and Philippa Bindley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Staff at the Enterprise Centre and Mustard Café at the UEA, preparing for their Hawaiian beach theme for Norfolk Day. From left, Molly Thornton, Marisse Slack, Ben Thorpe, Elaine Reilly and Mia Purcell, and front, Angela Macdonald.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStaff at the Enterprise Centre and Mustard Café at the UEA, preparing for their Hawaiian beach theme for Norfolk Day. From left, Molly Thornton, Marisse Slack, Ben Thorpe, Elaine Reilly and Mia Purcell, and front, Angela Macdonald. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Hughes, director and chef at the Assembly House, who is backing the Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRichard Hughes, director and chef at the Assembly House, who is backing the Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Charlie Hodson, executive chef at the Fur & Feather, supporting Norfolk Day at the Eastern Daily Press and Radio Norfolk launch in Dereham's Market Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCharlie Hodson, executive chef at the Fur & Feather, supporting Norfolk Day at the Eastern Daily Press and Radio Norfolk launch in Dereham's Market Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk Wildlife Trust vice president, John Snape, supports Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorfolk Wildlife Trust vice president, John Snape, supports Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk Wildlife Trust ambassador, children's TV presenter Jess French, supports Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorfolk Wildlife Trust ambassador, children's TV presenter Jess French, supports Norfolk Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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