Mercury Column – August 2018

What makes Norfolk such a special county? Why should we all be proud of what is around us? Is it the beauty and tranquillity of our own national park – The Broads? Or maybe our vibrant city of Norwich with so many charming medieval churches that makes the difference. What about the coastal resorts attracting people to their beaches and traditional seaside family fun?

Of course, Norfolk is the best county in the country for all of those reasons, but I believe there is a more fundamental reason it is special. People make the place! The residents of Norfolk, and particularly within the Great Yarmouth constituency, make the difference – whether they can trace their Norfolk heritage back generations or have decided to make their home here moving from elsewhere.

That’s why the very first Norfolk Day celebrations last week were such a phenomenal success and the organisers have already announced next year’s date. As I crisscrossed the constituency I visited numerous Norfolk Day events but also met those who make Norfolk the best every day of the year. I experienced the usual cheery welcome as I enjoyed tea and scones at the St George’s Theatre, an event hosted by the Borough’s Mayor, Mary Coleman. The theatre itself is a reminder as to how local people working together, with a strong vision, can deliver a fantastic asset for an area that benefits so many people. At All Saints Church in Belton, I met the Village Voice team as they made their final preparations for their “Celebrating Community – Understanding Mental Health” event. With an impressive line-up of expert speakers, it was an opportunity to discuss how the community can tackle loneliness and have a better understanding of mental health issues.

Throughout the area, there are individuals and groups that are dedicated campaigners for their community. Whether it’s campaigning for action to tackle coastal erosion, to see a speed limit lowered or to protect cherished open space they care about their community. It’s no different for those involved in the Fritton Rescue Action Group who I met to discuss the latest threat to Waveney Forest from plans for a new quarry – something they successfully blocked before.

These are all examples of the people making Norfolk special and the Great Yarmouth great. We should celebrate them every day of the year.