March to June
The weather may not change dramatically, but the village comes out of its winter hibernation as spring approaches.
There have been a number of problems with vandalism during this period. The Methodist Church has been broken into on a number of occasions leading to the belief that someone has got hold of a key.
The re-cycling bins next to the main village shops were destroyed by arson but the culprits were not caught. Despite all this the village is a relatively safe and peaceful place to live.
The period between March and June was quite a sad one with the deaths of two well known residents - Tony Curson and Frank Ong. Frank was well known for his work with Norfolk Lawn Tennis Association.
There was the usual round of barn dances (for the High School), quizzes (for the First School) and social events and group meetings.
All three schools were very active in the community with a full range of social and fund-raising events.
This period also saw the elections for the parish council although the word election is incorrect because there were insufficient candidates and so appointment was automatic.
Sadly there still seems to be insufficient numbers of people willing to put themselves forward to serve the community. Like many villages there is a strong band of people who give their time and energy to organising groups and raising funds. For every one of these, however, there are 100 who are content to do nothing.
This leads to the complaint that the village is run by "the same old people" which isn't surprising as they are the only ones prepared to undertake the various functions.
Having said that public participation can be time consuming and demanding as I'm only too aware. It can also lead to criticism which has to be taken squarely on the chin. I have always believed that if you believe strongly in something you should have the courage of your convictions.
TONY CURSON 1928-1999
Tony Curson was one of the best known residents of the village and totally immersed himself in school and village life. He was fully involved in parish church activities for about 50 years. He was a church warden for many years and treasurer and chairman of numerous church committees.
He was also a long standing parish councillor and vice-chairman at the time of his death.
Over the years he helped backstage with the annual village pantomime and was also involved with the Memorial Playing Field Committee, the parochial charity. He was a former chairman of the Middle School governing body and vice-chairman of Hethersett Choral Society.
Tony held just about every position within Hethersett Cricket Club having notched up over 22,000 runs, taken over 2,500 wickets and held nearly 700 catches.
He died whilst mowing the cricket square on May 10th.
The head teacher of Woodside First School - Vivienne Horobin - has announced her retirement at the end of the school year after 15 years in charge at the school. The school held its annual summer fete on 12th June with all the usual stalls and attractions.
There was no need for an election for the parish council on May 6th as insufficient candidates put themselves forward. As a result the following were elected uncontested: George Beckford, Elizabeth Capleton, Tony Curson, Liz Hovey, Nick Jarvis, Cyril Murfin, Fred Watkins, Bridget Williamson and Colin Wilson. The council is undertaking a programme of replacement for the old concrete street lighting columns.
The annual meeting of the Jubilee Youth Club took place on 23rd June. Over the past year, membership has increased with over 50 youngsters using the facilities two nights per week. There are plans to extend the youth club.
George Beckford was elected chairman of the parish council at the annual meeting with Nick jarvis as vice-chairman. Jim Bartram and Malcolm Goldspink were co-opted to fill vacancies. At this time one vacancy exists with the death of Tony Curson. This will be filled with an election on July 22nd.
There is still a possibility of turning a field opposite the King's Head into a village green. Several letters of support have been received by the parish council and the matter has been referred to the landowner.
As already mentioned, Dr Michael Signy retired from the Hethersett practice after 31 years as a GP. He was presented with a computer from patients, staff and partners.
The set-up at the Memorial Playing Field Committee has changed with Jim Bartram as chairman, Mel Bradfield secretary and other members being: Geoff Brownsey, Alan Capleton, Peter Salter, Simon Thorne and Paul White. The group are looking into the refurbishment of the pavilion which never seems to have been finished. Litter, broken bottles and glass have been strewn across the cricket pitch by youths and this seems to be an on-going problem. Also a hose has been seen exercising on the field and dog fouling is another problem.
On the sporting side, the main Hethersett Sunday football team has folded. Most of the players representing the side came from outside the village.
It is expected their pitch will now be used by the expanding Hethersett Athletic Club which will be running teams at Under-11, Under-12, Under-13, Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, girls Under-13 and two adult sides for the coming season. The new adult side has been elected to the Norwich Sunday League Division 4B.
The club will be using the Memorial Playing Field as its main base and the village social club as its base for meetings.
The club held an emotional presentation evening on may 8th at the Village Hall attracting over 120 people. The various teams within the club presented their trophies, but the main presentation of the evening was the Lee Thompson Memorial Trophy given in memory of Lee. It was awarded to the player making an outstanding contribution to the club. It went to Under-17 captain Chris Steward for his outstanding leadership during the previous season. Needless to say there was scarcely a dry eye in the house.
The club is holding a series of barbecues at the social club during the summer.
Another sports club has been hit by vandalism. The playing field bowls club has had its water pump stolen.
Of an even more serious nature was an armed robbery at Dillons store in the village centre in June. Fortunately a Suffolk man was quickly caught for the crime.
Former parish councillor and clerk to the council Rosemary Watts has left the village to take over the post of Church Tourism Co-ordinator for the diocese of Lincoln.
Looking forward, the Millennium Committee is planning a special party in the village hall on 31st December. It is likely to include a disco, live television coverage and a children's room. All children living in the parish under the age of 12 will receive a free millennium mug. The mug includes the logo of the Hethersett Millennium group and also images of Ketts Oak and the village sign. Additional mugs are being made for sale to those over 12.
Hethersett Choral Society is looking for new members for their autumn season when they will be working on Handel's Messiah for a concert early in the new millennium.
Another well known village resident died in June. Frank Ong was 92 years of age. Frank will be remembered for his great service to Norfolk tennis over many decades.
There is news of another new club in the village. Owner of the Tool Hire business, Peter Hoult, has started Hethersett Cycling Club.
It is designed to cater for all ages, groups and abilities and aims to provide regular bike maintenance clinics, regular meets and rides, access to county and national routes, links and events, shared use of equipment, organised competitions, orienteering and expeditions, proficiency training for juniors and discounted deals on cycles and spares. The first organised ride was on Friday 25th June - a light three mile saunter round the village. This was followed by a longer 12 to 14 mile ride along tracks and minor roads.
The branch library has come into the computer age with the launch of an Internet connection available to the public at a charge of £1.80 for 30 minutes.
On June 23rd and 24th pupils at Hethersett Middle School put on an excellent variety show which included song, comedy and dance as well as sketches from the London musical Cats.
July turned out to be a very warm month indeed with plenty of unbroken spells of hot weather. Numerous events took place in the village and it is only possible on these pages to give a general feel of what is going on. I have to apologise for leaning towards the groups that I am involved with, but that is only natural.
A new newspaper was launched in July. I use the word "newspaper" loosely. It is actually no more than a small glossy advertising sheet issued monthly by Eastern Counties Newspapers. It has a scattering of village stories which have been taken from other sources. In other words any copy that is sent in to the editors. It can never be a true reflection of the village because submissions are the only things printed and the editors make little attempt to get to the heart of the village.
The front page of the first edition features Hethersett Dumplings pre-school playgroup who have been awarded a grant of £1,420 from the National Lotteries Charity Board. This follows on a good Ofsted (Office of Standards in Education) report in January. The grant will be used to fund the building of two new sheds to house toys and equipment. The introduction of a minimum wage and paid holiday for staff has meant little spare cash.
The newspaper also marks the retirement of Vi Redington as head of Hethersett Old Hall School.
There are four schools in the village and two of the heads retired at the end of term. Vivienne Horobin also decided to call it a day at Woodside First School.
The following tribute appeared to Vi Redington in the press.
"The headmistress of independent girls school Hethersett Old Hall School has retired after almost 17 years in the post.
Victoria Redington presented her final annual report to a large audience at the school's speech day this month.
The annual leavers' ball rounded off the day, with many girls attending to say their own farewells to Mrs Redington.
She has been a representative on the Girl Schools Association, ISIS and the Boarding Schools Association. She is also on an independent schools committee which is working with the Government to develop national quality assessments for UK boarding schools.
Mrs Redington will be succeeded by Janet Mark, currently head of girls school St Andrew's, Bedford. Mrs Mark is a modern languages graduate of London University and has taught in the maintained and independent sectors.
Elsewhere in the new publication the village middle school is featured extensively. Articles are included on the school's Indian life day, the variety show and also on the school's attempts to raise money for the Wildlife Trust.
"Hethersett Middle School children put on a variety show to sell-out audiences of parents, friends and children. The acts included dancing, opera singing, recitations, instrumentalists and choir. Highlights of the show were Rohan and Aditi Chitale and their Jive dancing and Year Seven's slections from the musical Cats. This involved over 60 of the Year 7 children who performed four dances and a choral poem. The dances were put together during PE lessons and arose out of a study of TS Eliot's cat poems."
Year Six children from the school held a special day as a finale to their work on the history and geography of India including religion, culture and music.
The children dressed in Indian clothes and were served an Indian meal at lunchtime consisting of vegetable curry, rice, naan breads, poppadoms, yoghurt, onion baaji and Bombay mix. Other activities included a slide show given by Terry George, a parent at the school, about her travels through India and Kiran Chitale, also a parent at the school, showed various Indian artefacts and spoke about Indian dances. Mrs Chitale also demonstrated how to put on a sari.
Visitors from a Norwich Indian restaurant talked about traditional Indian cooking and their Muslem beliefs. The children performed Indian musical compositions and acted out traditional Indian myths and legends.
For a number of years some residents have been trying to get a one-way system introduced into Cann's Lane. This is a very narrow entrance/exit from the old Norwich Road which is also obscured from view. To my knowledge there have been no accidents there, but it is still thought to be a dangerous corner.
The Fire Brigade are concerned at problems that could be caused if this is made one-way, however. It is also difficult to decide which direction a one-way flow would operate in. Whichever way the traffic flows will create more traffic using the narrow Norwich Road-Queen's Road junction. The parish council has agreed not to create a one-way system but to recommend to the Highway Authority that a 20 mph speed limit be introduced with a stop sign at the Norwich Road end of Cann's Lane. They are also to ask for a mirror in order to improve visibility at the junction.
The council has received no nominations for the parish council following the death of Tony Curson. There seems to be a general apathy in the village towards public duty. At the beginning of the month the annual parents evening at the Middle School where the governors report on the past year was attended by just eight parents out of a possible 500 or so.
Plans to turn land opposite the King's Head into a village green seem to be stuttering. The agent for the owner of the land has said his client would prefer the field to remain in agricultural use. It is intended to review the matter annually although it is difficult to see how an area of land on the edge of the village can provide any sort of focal point.
The village hall committee has turned down the idea of an additional recycling centre in the village because it felt the village hall is not an appropriate site.
Getting to the parish church can be a hazardous process for pedestrians. Now the parish council is supporting the idea of improved access to St Remigius on the B1172. It has been agreed that the bus stop needs to be moved.
The annual parish church fete took place on 3rd July in the Rectory Gardens. It raised £782 for general church funds. The Christian Aid collection in the village raised £1,025.59.
There is news on millennium celebrations in the village. The Millennium Committee is planning a new year's party in the village hall which is likely to include a disco, live television coverage, a children's room, a beacon and food. The committee is also considering the commissioning of a stained glass panel to commemorate the millennium and this will be mounted in a public building. To this end a public slide show is being organised on 14th September at the village hall.
One of the major events in the village during July took place on the High School/Middle School complex on the 25th. The first ever Hethersett Athletic five-a-side funday attracted football teams from throughout Norfolk with 66 teams taking part and over 160 games of football being played.
The event raised £1,700 for club funds. Teams from the village found the competition tough with only the girls team reaching the final where they were beaten 2-0 by a team from Cambridge United.
Members of the Under-16s boys and girls teams went on a sponsored ghost walk of Norwich and then slept the night in the supposedly haunted Maddermarket Theatre. No ghosts were spotted but the night raised money for a new strip for the coming season.
The latest edition of the Hethersett Mercury carried a tribute to Vivienne Horobin to mark her 15 years as head of Woodside First and Nursery School.
Several presentations were made to her at the end of term including a steamer chair, picnic hamper and cut glass decanters. Ninety children from the village Middle School who were former pupils at Woodside, walked to the school as a special gesture to say goodbye.
Twenty eight children went on a summer safari at the village library. The children enjoyed stories and activities on a jungle theme. Aged between five and eight they made parrot and crocodile bookmarks, wild animal cards and a large giraffe collage.
Long serving parish councillor Elizabeth Capleton has resigned from the council after 20 years service through ill health. This leaves two vacancies on the body.
After more than two years' negotiation, the village will be getting a second recycling centre. The village hall management committee has agreed to the siting of a centre on the car park. This has been supported by South Norfolk District Council.
Over the years there has been controversy over parents parking to drop children off at Woodside First School. Now the Memorial Playing Field Committee has agreed in principle for parents to park cars with access to the rear of the school via a new footpath. The idea of enlarging and resurfacing the car park has to be referred to the charity commission.
The village is applying for a 50 mph speed limit on the main B1172 road. It is also hoped that the Steepletower bus stop will be improved. A path on the church side of the B1172 is to be uncovered and made usable. The problem of the Cann's Lane/Norwich Road junction was also raised. Raising the surface of the entry point either by kerbs or speed bumps could provide a solution to traffic problems.
The parish council is to produce its own newsletter following the publication of the Hethersett Mercury. It is felt the contents of such a newsletter would be unrestricted and not subjected to newspaper editorial constraints. The publication will start in September.
The first of the parish council's quarterly newsletters hit the doormats this month. There are four candidates for the two vacancies on the parish council - Stephanie Clarke, Steve Fulford, Charlotte Land and Russell Turner.
The third phase of replacement of 45 of the concrete street lighting columns in the village has been completed. The final phase to replace the remaining columns will take place next year.
A special Hethersett Clubs and Societies Event to showcase groups in the village will take place at the Village Hall on 25th September. This will give residents the chance to meet representatives of clubs and societies to find out more about their activities and membership details.
There is the distinct possibility of a village appraisal survey being carried out to find out residents' views on the village and its future.
The newsletter lists the functions of the parish council, which are as follows:
Making recommendations on local planning applications, the District Council development plan, road and transport measures, the new hospital and environmental matters.
Maintaining 216 streetlights in the village, supplying dog and litter bins, noticeboards, public seats, the village sign and cutting some of the verges and hedges.
Supporting and funding the parish constable scheme for the village.
Assisting local organisations by providing grants and making donations to bodies such as the Wymondham CAB and Accident Rescue.
Supporting the Youth Club, instigating a youth forum and developing a youth council.
At this point my diary for the year 1999 was discontinued. I hope that this gives a flavour of just some of the things happening in the village at the turn of the century.
© Peter Steward 2002