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Hethersett - Moving Towards a Healthy Village

A healthy village with the best possible facilities and an emphasis on fitness, well being, exercise and the environment - that's the aim a number of Hethersett groups are working towards.

Over the past few years a sporting and well being renaissance has been quietly taking shape in the village with new groups springing up to encourage people to take more exercise and also to become part of a well being campaign, whilst at the same time caring for the environment.

Numerous groups have been working together to help improve the quality of life for local residents and 2012 looks like being a bumper year in taking the village forward.

Comments about "Hethersett being such a go-ahead village" have been heard from people coming into the village. As with any large village, Hethersett has its problems but there are a tremendous number of people giving up their time and energy to make Hethersett a shining example of what can be done with the investment of time and effort, supported of course by money from grants. The amount of time and effort put in by many people was highlighted when Hethersett Athletic Football Club and Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club founder Mel Perkins was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours list for his contribution to sport in the village.

Turning Hethersett into the ultimate health village is the goal, encouraging everyone to take part in exercise, join in with village groups and at the same time safeguard and enhance the environment.

A healthy village in a healthy environment is something that can be achieved. The benefits are obvious. Regular exercise reduces illness and stress and leads to a feeling of well being - just ask any doctor.

So just what has been going on in this "quiet revolution" in our village? It is almost as if the revolution has snuck up on us from several directions at the same time, but 2011 has seen giant stride forward.

The newly elected parish council has been supportive of the work of a number of groups, many of which fall under its wing. The Hethersett Environmental Action Group (HEAT) has long been established, overseeing the annual open gardens event, the Hethersett in Bloom competition, encouraging residents to make energy savings and to re-cycle and this year leading a number of high profile environment campaigns on household heating, home insulation and even a wildlife survey of the village. The group also undertakes regular litter picks of the village.                      .

Two years ago parish councillor Shane Hull had the idea of starting an Olympic Committee with the aim of providing a number of activities over a weekend with a London 2012 Olympic theme. From small acorns mighty Oaks grew. In 2010 the first ever Hethersett Olympic Weekend proved a massive success with over 250 people taking part in a round the square two mile fun run and a sport on the park day which featured over 20 activities for local people to try free of charge. In all there were more events held per head of population than any other community in the whole of the United Kingdom.

In 2011 the event was repeated with even more success. A swimming marathon, a Hethersett's Got Talent competition, a come and try sports day, a church service in Hethersett Social Club, a two mile fun run, a major ladies five-a-side football tournament and an end of event Last Night of the Proms concert all combined to give entertainment to hundreds of people.

The two events brought national recognition for Hethersett with a visit from the chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games Sir Keith Mills and numerous accolades including the coveted Olympic Inspiration Award. This has all culminated in an announcement that, although not on the official Olympic route, the Olympic torch will make a detour to visit Hethersett next July in recognition of our outstanding contribution to the build up to the games.

Hethersett is already planning for an Open Weekend in June 2012 which will be bigger and better than ever before, culminating in some form of village entertainment on the Memorial Playing Field to round the weekend off.

Indications are that the Olympic Weekend will leave a legacy long after the London Games are over with a village open weekend featuring strongly in the annual Hethersett calendar. The London Olympics will leave Hethersett with something that is a start and definitely not an end.

The Olympic Committee has been working closely with two other Hethersett groups committed to improving facilities, encouraging fitness and enhancing the environment. These are the Green Spaces Group and Hethersett and Meltons Sports Association.

The Green Spaces Group has been set-up under the auspices of the parish council to look at the best use of open space in the village. There is no doubt that extensive development will take place in Hethersett over the next 10 years and a number of village groups are working together to ensure that the village receives enhanced support and facilities to cope with the new influx of people.

To this end a special public meeting of the new group took place at Woodside School at the beginning of November to look at the whole question of open spaces in the village with particular discussion on the use of the Memorial Playing Field.

A newly elected Memorial Playing Field Trust came into being in May and since then has been working tirelessly to improve the field. This again has historical support from the parish council. The Trust is currently looking at ways of enhancing the use of the Memorial Field and improving its facilities. A grant from the Veolia Trust set up through the hard work of the previous playing field trust, will see new play equipment in place by the end of the year the group is looking into improving the existing pavilion, planting new trees and many other enhancements including wildflower areas, petanque pitches and a memorial giving the history of the field. Grants have also been forthcoming for work on the field from the Geoffrey Watling Trust and the South Norfolk Neighbourhood Scheme. The field is also the home of three of the village's major sports clubs - Hethersett Athletic Football Club, Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club and Hethersett Memorial Playing Field Bowls Club.

The sports clubs greatly enhance the promotion of our village with the football club running teams at youth levels from under-eight to under-16. There is also a girls Under-16s team, two adult women's teams and three adult men's teams. This year Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club hosted the finals of a number of British Championships and next year will host international matches between Great Britain and Poland. 

The idea is to make the Memorial Field the hub of many village activities - returning to the idea of the open space as a public amenity whilst at the same time taking a modern approach. It is hoped to turn the Memorial into more of a park than just a field and somewhere local people will go for leisure.

The Trust is very aware of the legacy and history of the field which was set-up through public subscription in the early 1950s. This will be marked  by a new Memorial plaque - the design of which is currently being discussed.

Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association was set-up in February 2011 to help promote sport, fitness, well being and the environment in Hethersett, Great and Little Melton. The association will meet three or four times a year with the aim of looking at existing sports facilities and supporting improved facilities through the three villages. The association consists of sports clubs and individuals working both voluntarily and professionally in the sport and leisure industry and part of its remit is to celebrate the success of sport and recreation in the village.

The sports association will also be supporting and encouraging the setting up of social jogging and walking groups in the village.

Individually sports groups in Hethersett and the Meltons have achieved some notable successes with many competing with the top clubs in Norfolk.

Hethersett Athletic Football Club was the first in Norfolk to gain the National FA Charter award and also one of the first 100 clubs in the country to become a National Community Charter Club in recognition of its close ties with the local community which in 2011 saw a youth funday being held at Hethersett Junior School in May, a community firework display in the grounds of Hethersett High School in November, a community ball in the grounds of Hethersett Old Hall School in February and a major ladies five-a-side tournament as part of the village Olympic celebration weekend in July.

As has already been stated, Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club hosted two days of British finals in August which included the Ladies and Under-10s finals and semi-finals of the open men's event. Hethersett also competed as a club at county, area and national level and in 2012 will host a test match between England and Poland in three categories - under-18, ladies and men's senior. This year saw Hawks celebrate their 45th anniversary

Hethersett and Tas Valley Cricket Club has been awarded the coveted national England and Wales Cricket Board's club mark. The club now runs three youth teams, three Saturday men's sides and a Sunday side, playing in youth leagues, the Norfolk Alliance, the Norfolk League and the Mid Norfolk Sunday League as well as a number of knockout cups including the Carter Cup. It also plays, friendlies and matches against touring sides. Hethersett's main Saturday team plays in Division Two of the Norfolk Alliance and next year they will be joined in this division by Great Melton who this year gained promotion from Division Three.

This year Hethersett's entered the South Norfolk Village games in June which saw us finish first in the category for large villages/market towns and progress to the county finals where we were runners-up to Downham Market . Hethersett had the distinction of being the only village/market town in the entire county to field a team in all events at both the area and county finals.

Over the past six years our village has won some notable awards. We were the Eastern Daily Press Pride in Norfolk Community of the Year in 2006 and runner-up in 2008. In 2010 we were awarded the National Olympic Inspire Award and the Olympic weekend was runner-up in the Eastern Daily Press event of the year. This year has seen us win the South Norfolk Sports Village of the year award and finish runners-up in the county finals. Our biggest honour, however, came at the end of November when we were named the Eastern Daily Press/Active Norfolk Sports Village of the Year and Sports Champion of Champions for outstanding services to community sport.

Next year promises to be even busier on the sporting/leisure front with the village already committed to entering the South Norfolk Village Games, test matches in cycle speedway, the village open weekend in June and a special 30/60 mile family cycling event in March which will see up to 300 cyclists undertaken a marathon circuit around South Norfolk, starting and finishing at Hethersett Social Club.

This event will snake its way through the roads and lanes of South Norfolk before finishing in a carnival atmosphere at Hethersett Social Club.

January will also see a special Active Norfolk Pledge Pod coming to Woodside Nursery and Infants School. This will give local residents the opportunity to make pledges towards improved fitness and set out their goals including undertaking more exercise and losing weight.

Local schools are very much a part of the fitness programme. This year saw a visit by the 1948 London Olympic Torch to all four village schools and as a result Hethersett High School and Science College is looking to design its own Olympic torch as a permanent reminder of the legacy of the coming London Olympic Games. It is also hoped to give local children a lasting momento of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

What has been described above is purely the tip of the fitness iceberg as far as Hethersett goes. Other events are likely to be announced in the near future and Hethersett - A Norfolk Village on the Net - will keep you fully up to date of developments as and when they happen.

©Peter Steward December 2011