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Review of 2012

There can only be one word to describe the year 2012 in the history of Hethersett and that is WOW with a capital W.

It is difficult to envisage any other year in the entire history of the village having as much impact as the past 12 months and it is an absolute pleasure to look back on 12 glorious months that started with a pledge to fitness campaign, saw the village make history and win numerous awards and which culminated in Hethersett being named Pride of Norfolk Community of the Year.

As usual, there will be as much left out as included in my own personal review of the year and I apologise for that. There really has been so much going on that it's impossible to include everything.

One thing that is certain is 2012 was an historic year for the village and the kind of year we may never see again.

Peter Steward - Web site owner and editor.


A pledge to fitness day seemed to be the ideal way to kick start 2012 and somehow summed up so much that was to follow. The Active Norfolk pledge pod came to Hethersett Woodside School and the reason was simple. People of all ages pledged to improve their fitness through the year. One of the pledges came from Norwich City player Andrew Surman who pledged to help keep Norwich City in the Premiership. He was as good as his word and many others kept their promise to lose weight, take up more exercise and generally take steps to improve their health.

Having made his pledge Andrew then moved on to open new play equipment on Hethersett Memorial Playing Field. The equipment had been made possible thanks to grants from Veolia Environmental Trust, The Geoffrey Watling Foundation and the South Norfolk Neighbourhood scheme.

Early in the year it was announced that the village would be holding an old style village fete in July on the Memorial Field to help celebrate Olympic Year and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The environment came to the fore with the publication of a Wild About Hethersett book which documented a year in the natural world of the village. The book sold out within days of becoming available and a re-print was made possible thanks to the generosity of Waitrose Supermarket. On a similar theme, a new green spaces group was launched to look into the best use of green areas throughout the village.

The Olympics were never far from people's minds and it was announced that schools in the Hethersett cluster had been awarded over 8,000 to support activities around the London Olympic games.

Always one of the highlights of the year, the annual village pantomime once again played to packed houses over an entire week. This year it was Dick Whittington, although in truth there is never too much difference in the plot whatever the panto is! For those keeping count it was the 43rd pantomime.

Possibly a hint of all the success to come came in the form of an official letter from Downing Street. Prime Minister David Cameron praised Hethersett for embracing the Big Society and in particular taking steps to improve the fitness and well being of residents. This was a phrase that was to echo throughout the year!

Another major topic throughout the year was the possibility of major development in the village. Opposition to plans to bring 1,000 new homes to the village continued throughout the year.


There weren't too many hints of the glories to come during what was a pretty quiet February, during which plans for the jubilee fete began to take shape and St Remigius Parish Church celebrated the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The main news from the village was the retirement of Phil and Heather Emery from Hethersett Post Office. Their place a postmaster was taken by Kevin Salmon and his daughter April


There was a pleasant and unexpected surprise for the staff at Hethersett Library who organised a One Village, One Library, One Book Day to encourage as many people as possible to read David Nicholls' best seller "One Day." Following an article in the local press they received a personal response from the author expressing great pleasure with the initiative.

Two well attended workshops were held at Woodcote Sheltered Housing complex to discuss the future use of the Memorial Playing Field with various ideas being put forward.

There was some sad news with the announcement of the death of former Hethersett Middle School Head Bernard Jones. On a happier note it was announced that chairman of Hethersett Olympic Committee and parish councillor Shane Hull would be one of the chosen few to run a leg with the official 2012 Olympic torch. Nicky Wardale from the Ducklings Playgroup was also named.

As the village came out of its winter slumbers the inaugural 30/60 cycle event was held, starting and finishing at Hethersett Social Club. It attracted 300 riders and was over subscribed. Towards the end of the year it was announced that the number of entrants for 2013 would be increased to 500.

A campaign was launched to improve Broadband speeds in Hethersett after the Daily Mail newspaper had listed the village as the fourth slowest place in the entire country.


April saw the launch of a new sports group in the village with the Hethersett Social Running Group starting on the 19th for an initial 10 week run under the guidance of Norfolk Olympiad Paul Evans. Over 40 runners of all ages and abilities joined and the whole running idea was taken forward with the launch later in the year of an academy for eight to 12 year olds. Towards the end of the year the group was named Run England's Eastern group of the year for 2012.

The Olympic theme was beginning to come to the fore in the village with youngsters from Woodside Infant and Nursery School and Hethersett Junior School finding out what it is like to be a paralympic athlete by playing goal ball and Boccacia. It was also announced that London illustrator Alice Pattullo would be capturing the village's Olympic spirit in the form of a poster.

The publicity surrounding the Wild About Hethersett book had found its way to the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles was presented with a copy of the book and referred to Hethersett as "an amazing village."

Over 50 people took part in the annual Good Friday procession through the village from the Methodist Church to the Parish Church. Uniformed organisations joined the congregation at Hethersett Methodist Church to celebrate St George's Day.

There was sadness with the death of well known Hethersett businessman Nick Fulcher who ran an internationally renowned coach trimming business from premises in New Road.

Hethersett based tenor Benjamin Lake appeared on the BBC Talent Show the Voice. He received positive comments from judges Tom Jones and Jessie J but got voted out at an early stage.


Hethersett began to get really serious about the coming London Olympic Games in May. Over 100 people turned up to try their hand at a variety of sports on the Memorial Playing Field in an evening organised jointly by Active Norfolk and Hethersett and the Meltons' Sports Association. Hethersett High School designed a number of Olympic torches for the village - the winning design coming from. Details emerged about the visit to the village of the official Olympic flame in July and auditions were held for the Hethersett's Got Talent contest which would be just one of the many events lined-up for the village Open Weekend in June. The open weekend is just one of the Olympic themed events to be held in 2012.

Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club filled the first four places in the county under-19s championships with Harley Hamill coming out on top. Hamill and Phil Adams went on to represent Ireland in an international competition. Hawks also boasted the Norfolk Senior Champion in the shape of Still on a sporting theme, Hethersett Ladies lost 5-4 after extra-time in their Norfolk League Cup Final against Acle with Acle scoring the winner with virtually the last kick of the game. 

It was announced that Hethersett Ducklings Playgroup leader Nicky Wardale will be one of 7,000 people to carry the official Olympic torch on its way to the London Olympics. Parish Councillor and chair of the Hethersett Olympic Committee Shane Hull will also carry the torch.

It was also a big month for Norwich City striker Grant Holt, who lives in Hethersett. He became the first Canary to win the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for player of the year three times.

Yvonne School of Dance held another hugely colourful show at Norwich Theatre Royal featuring all ages and styles of dance in the group's bi-ennial production.


The big event in June was Hethersett's annual open weekend which proved more successful than ever. Events started with a 24 hour swimming marathon with paralympic medallist Oliver Jones swimming the final lengths. The event also raised 2,300 for the Big C Cancer Charity. There were 30 sports to try at the sport in the park day and these included minority sports suck as korfball and dodgeball. The Sunday funrun attracted a record 280 people and the annual Hethersett Athletic Ladies Five-a-side tournament attracted 26 teams from all over East Anglia. The weekend wasn't just about sport, however. There was a three day flower festival in the Parish Church, a concert by the Hellesdon and Sprowston Brass Band and an inter-denominational church service in Hethersett Social Club.

The month also saw youngsters from Hethersett Junior School and Hethersett Woodside School playing a major part in the Royal Norfolk Show. Youngsters carried banners from various nations in a special Olympic pageant in the main ring.

Continuing on the Olympic theme, paralympian Chris Holmes was  guest of honour at Hethersett Junior School where he spoke to pupils about motivation.

June also saw the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the village organised a special day long fete on the Memorial Playing Field. Sadly it rained for much of the day with the weather only relenting in the evening for an open air rock concert. It is hoped that the idea of a village fete will turn into an annual event.

Hethersett won the South Norfolk Village games for the second year running with victory at Framingham Earl ensuring us of a place in the county finals. Hethersett Athletic Football Club held its annual youth team funday and prize presentations at Hethersett Junior School.

Away from sport and the Olympics, Hethersett Library celebrated its 40th birthday.


This was without doubt one of the most significant months in the long history of our village - a month when we gained national recognition and exposure. July 5th, 2012 will go down as a historic day for the village. Quite simply it was a day of huge symbolic importance with the official Olympic flame visiting Hethersett. It was the first time in the history of the modern Olympic Games that the flame had paid an unscheduled off route visit anywhere in the world.

The visit was in recognition of the outstanding support of Hethersett for the London 2012 Games. It was acknowledged that our village had organised more events per head of population in support of the Olympics than any other village, town or city in the United Kingdom.

The flame arrived shortly after 6 a.m in the grounds of Hethersett High School and almost 2,000 people turned up to see it paraded round by Chairman of the village Olympic Committee Shane Hull who had done so much to make the visit a reality.

The visit lasted under 15 minutes but proved once again what an outstanding community spirit exists within Hethersett and this was something that was to be fully recognised later in the year. Throughout 2012 a number of public events saw the community come together, possibly as they never had before.

Youngsters from the village were presented with commemorative coins to mark both the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Hethersett once again finished runners-up in the Norfolk Village Games Finals to Downham Market.

One significant departure came at the end of the school year with deputy head Sara Johnston leaving Woodside School to take up a headship elsewhere in the county. Sara marked the end of over a decade at the school by dressing up as a clown!


Hethersett went green thanks to a new colour coded bus service. The green route linked Wymondham, Hethersett, Norwich, Blofield, Lingwood and Wroxham and gave a direct route from the village to Norwich Railway Station.

Hethersett Library turned the clocks back more than 50 years for a special event on the 1950s. Local people recounted their memories and these will be put together for a special publication in the future.

There were art exhibitions, table top sales and a number of other charity events and Dr Anne Edwards received a Norfolk Community Biodiversity Award for her conservation work in Hethersett and Wymondham.


The pace of village life picked up again in September with a number of noteworthy events. The Rector of Hethersett the Rev Di Lammas conducted her final service at the end of the month. This was ahead of her retirement and move away from the village in November.

The parish council announced a number of vacancies following the resignations of Simon Floyd, Jackie Sutton and David Elliott.

Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association continued to go from strength to strength and the newly formed social running club was named Run England's Eastern Group of the Year. It was also announced that a new running academy for eight to 12 year olds was being set up.

St Remigius Parish Church announced that over 93,000 is needed to repair the roof and that all fundraising events for the foreseeable future would go towards this end. Meanwhile the village archivist announced that a new home was needed for the historic archives after the sheer volume of material had outgrown its current home in Hethersett Library.

The Hethersett based Respect Yourself group, which helps to improve the lives of young people in Norfolk, celebrated its first birthday.


A new Monday morning running group was launched and Hethersett Aspiring Artists held its annual exhibition in Hethersett Village Hall.

Local resident Peter Steward was honoured with an Inspiring Achievement Award in the South Norfolk Queen's Diamond Jubilee community awards for his contribution to Hethersett life,

Hethersett Ladies football team reached the second qualifying round of the Women's FA Cup with a 4-2 win over Lowestoft Ladies and 50 of the top young cycle speedway riders in the country took part in the British Youth and Junior League on Hethersett Memorial Playing Field.


It was announced that Hethersett is the Pride in Norfolk Community of the Year for 2012 for villages and towns with populations over 5,000. This is some achievement and just reward for all the individuals and groups who work tirelessly within our village to make our community so succesful.

Two major community-based events took place in November. Firstly Hethersett Athletic Football Club held its annual fireworks evening in the grounds of Hethersett High School and Hethersett Junior School and then the fifth Hethersett Village Christmas Fair took place in Hethersett Methodist Church with hundreds attending both events.

Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club announced the signing of two Norfolk champions for the 2013 season and Hethersett duo Chris Gladwell and Tim Hudson-Church won a county-wide golf tournament organised by Active Norfolk.

Artist Alice Pattullo unveiled her interpretation of Hethersett's Olympic year with a special poster and Hethersett Parish Church was packed for the annual Remembrance Service


As the year drew to a close it was good to reflect on just how much had been achieved and how the efforts of so many people had been recognised with a series of awards. Winning awards is just a by-product, however, of the tireless efforts that in 2012 made us the top community in Norfolk.

Village stalwart Duncan Pigg was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours for his outstanding contribution to village life over 60 plus years.

Schools and individual groups held their own Christmas entertainment and concerts and there was a grant of almost 4,000 for Hethersett Athletic Football Club for new equipment from the South Norfolk Renovation Project Fund. Fitness Express at Park Farm Hotel celebrated its 21st birthday with a new spa pool and the search for a new rector for Hethersett began.

And that in a nutshell was the year that will always be remembered in the history of our village. The above events are only a snapshot of everything that went on.

Details of all these events and many more can be read by visiting our archive news section by clicking here