March Newsletter 2020
The Parish Council met on 11th March at Wolferton and one member of the public attended. The main issue discussed was parking, litter and verges in Wolferton. These are all linked – the more visitors there are to the village the more parking and inevitably (but avoidably) the more litter. The worsening situation is caused by the coming together of a number of factors and Councillors agreed that they had never known it to be so difficult previously in the Winter months. Natural England is seeking to attract more people to Dersingham Bog and growing numbers visit the preserved former railway station. Although not yet introduced at the time of writing there is also the prospect of more dog walkers visiting due to the decision to charge for parking at Sandringham Country Park. The issue became acute over a February weekend with cars parked on one side all the way down the road from the Cliff Top car park towards the village and others on the other side, making the road too narrow for agricultural vehicles and dangerous going up the hill into what, in effect, became a blind summit at the top with traffic in both directions using the same residual road space. Concern was also voiced that car parking on the hill, where there is no grass verge, is churning up the soil so that when it rains the water washes the debris down into the village and blocks drains. The matter had been discussed with Natural England and it immediately took action to check and clean road drains where necessary. That is a welcome short term fix, but it does not deal with the wider issues of parking and litter. The Estate agreed to discuss parking arrangements further with Natural England to seek an acceptable solution and will keep the Parish Council informed.
There was growing disquiet at the unilateral change to the hours of the mobile post office which now visits West Newton, by the Church, at 8am on Wednesday mornings for half an hour. Repeated contact with the Post Office has only triggered automatic acknowledgement emails and it is clear that there is very little interest either to listen to local voices or stimulate new business. It was resolved that the Parish Council should write to the Chief Executive of the Post Office, copied to our MP.
We discussed whether to consider starting work on establishing a Neighbourhood Plan. This Plan is the way local residents can influence future development applications to the Borough Council and how they are decided. For most parishes there are clear advantages in having one, but that is less so in the unusual circumstances of our parish. After discussion it was decided to not proceed.
Questions were asked concerning the road safety improvements on the A149 through the parish. The County Councillor confirmed that the average speed cameras either side of the parish are now working and that Orders have been published to introduce the promised 50mph limit between Babingley and Dersingham roundabout. Whether this will be operational in time for this tourist season is an open question. County Council officials will be ready to discuss the junction and road layout improvements with the Parish Council soon, before they are formally consulted upon.
It is hoped that a possible candidate for co-option as the seventh Councillor will be able to attend to observe the next meeting in May. We hope this will trigger interest as an extra Councillor, as we are supposed to have seven (based on the number of electors in the parish) and whilst we can work with six it is not ideal.
The next meeting is on Wednesday 13th May 2020 at the Sandringham Club in West Newton. The Annual General Meeting of the Council will be preceded by the Village Assembly starting at 6.30pm and followed by the ordinary two-monthly meeting of the Council. The Annual General Meeting is where the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected by Councillors and the position of the Clerk is confirmed for the year. It is therefore an important meeting and all residents of the Parish are invited to attend.
It’s easier now to get to Health Centre in Dersingham Extra bus stops have been added on the 35 bus route close to Dersingham Church. These provide ideal access to the Health Centre and shops at St Nicholas Court and the Village Centre right opposite.
VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations at Wolferton Victory in Europe was signed on 8th May 1945 and this year marks the 75th anniversary of that important date. As 8th May falls on a Friday, the usual public holiday has been moved to that date. In celebrating, as they did on that night, famously in London but up and down the country as well, we should pause and reflect that many soldiers from Norfolk were fighting in the Far East and it would be another three months and a week before the Japanese surrendered on 15th August 1945. So celebrate the 75th anniversary but with respect and thoughts for those who were still fighting on a front line far from home. Events at Wolferton Social Club will focus on the actual 75th anniversary day, 8th May. The club will open at 2pm with afternoon tea from 3pm and a BBQ at 7pm. No charge but donations, please, to the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.
Restoration work at St Peter’s Church, Wolferton Scaffolding has gone up again as work is finished on the North Chancel roof and starts on the South side. It is hoped that fundraising will continue sufficiently for the South facing roof restoration to be completed without having to stop again, whether for funding, bats or anything else. If this work is completed this year, then the roof will be secure and waterproof before next Winter, which is critically important. However, it leaves considerable expenditure on the rest of the fabric of this ancient building still to be funded. A coffee morning was arranged by Jacquie Dennis and others on 7th March in the Social Club, which was very well attended, and raised considerable funds. Other events are planned throughout the Summer, watch out for details.
December Newsletter 2019
I would usually report on the meeting of the Parish Council, which is held on the second Wednesday of alternate months and which fits nicely with the copy deadline for Village Voice, meaning that you get the news in a timely way. On this occasion that is not possible, as I shall be away on annual leave and will not be attending the meeting – not only that but I am having to write this a good ten days before the meeting takes place, so I cannot prejudge what will be said or agreed! It has in any case been a quiet couple of months since we last met and I reported on that meeting in the October edition of Village Voice. We are being consulted on planned changes to the boundaries of County Council Divisions – they are the equivalent of Wards at the Borough Council – and for us there is basically no change. There have been no updates on the A149 road safety improvement measures – the average speed cameras have been in place for a while now, but the necessary legal Orders to enable the 50mph speed limit through Sandringham parish, and various junction changes have not been made by the County Council, and until that happens there will be no progress. We are still searching for a seventh Parish Councillor – anyone interested please contact a Councillor or the Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what do we do, and what have we achieved, as a Parish Council? I'm sometimes asked why we need a parish council and perhaps more importantly what we've achieved for local residents. Here's some examples of our work:
- We were successful some years ago in getting the Borough Council to put a large waste bin at the Cliff Top car park in Wolferton and to empty it regularly
- We defused criticism of Natural England's plan some years ago to put cattle on Dersingham Bog by bringing residents and their representatives together in a public meeting at Wolferton
- We held a similar public meeting there as part of our campaign to bring faster broadband to that village which led to its introduction in April 2018 instead of BTs planned July 2020
- We secured post office services being restored in West Newton - a mobile post office now visits Monday and Wednesday afternoons
- We secured County Councillor funding for the footpaths from Carnarvon Cottages to the nearest bus stop in West Newton and from the A149 bus stop to the Wolferton road
- We regularly bring the issue of blocked drains to attention of the County's highways office
- We have improved communications by almost 100% door to door delivery of Village Voice and website
- We have been involved in negotiations to improve safety on the A149 through the parish (yet to be implemented)
- We are notified about all applications for planning approval in the parish, and have a right to, and do provide an opinion on behalf of the parish
- We are consulted on any changes to democratic representation affecting the parish. We successfully fought against the plan to link us with South Wootton for Borough Council representation and instead, from May this year, are linked with neighbouring Dersingham
- We have negotiated with Dersingham Parish Council and the County Council for a bus stop much closer to the Carole Brown surgery which will benefit residents of West Newton who don't have car access
- We’ve taken part in the consultations about turning the old railway line from Lynn to Hunstanton into a cycle and footpath, and are ready to do so again should the current research into whether it is viable to reopen it as a railway line We are not always successful in getting what we ask for. A particular example is the failure to persuade the County Council and Lynx bus operator to provide a later bus home from King's Lynn after the 4pm departure. However, we have a lot more successes than failures.
Christmas is coming!
Christmas is not far away now and, as usual, there is much going on in the villages which make up the parish. In the villages of West Newton and Wolferton there are gatherings in the social clubs and churches, and in Babingley the social club is the focal point.
Babingley Social Club events – there’s plenty going on here, with two women’s darts teams which play on Wednesdays, a men’s darts and dominoes team which meets on Thursdays and a crib team which also meets on Thursdays. There’s a monthly quiz night which raises funds for Tapping House Hospice, and the club will be open every day over the Christmas and New Year period, with music and a Christmas draw.
West Newton: events at Sandringham Social Club – a special Christmas bingo will be held on 10th December, eyes down at 7.30pm. There will be other seasonal traditional events over the Christmas and New Year periods. West Newton: church services on Sunday 22nd December, Christingle will be celebrated at 3.30pm and on 12th January also at 3.3pm there will be Evensong, Wolferton: events at Wolferton Social Club – as ever a full calendar of events, including cash bingo on 1st December, the Wolf Folk Club on 5th and 19th December, and prize bingo on 17th December. There will be other seasonal traditional events over the Christmas and New Year periods. Wolferton: church services – on Sunday 15th December the annual carol by candlelight service will start at 4pm, on 22nd December there will be Holy Communion at 8am, on Christmas Day a family service will start at 9.30am, on 12th January Mattins at 9.30am and on 26th January Holy Communion at 8am. On Christmas Day, if you want to go to Church early, perhaps because you’re away to visit family later, then do join us at Wolferton for the 9.30 service.
St Peter’s Church, Wolferton – fundraising and refurbishment progress Following a magnificent fundraising effort, the first stage of Phase 1 (we’re calling it 1A) has been finished at the scaffolding was removed in the second week of November. Phase 1B should start next March which will see the North side completely reroofed. It is possible that Phase 2 (the South roof) will start immediately after 1B has finished but this is dependent upon success in raising the further funds we’ll need for it. Phase 3 comes later, that is the more general refurbishment of the historic building, but it is essential to secure the roofs first. There has been a number of fundraising events, and more are planned. Next to come is a rather special one, called Cinderella at Christmas: Walk through the story on Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th December from 11am to 4pm. Refreshments will be provided and on Sunday 15th it will be followed immediately by the Carols by Candlelight service.
2019 July newsletter
31st JULY 2019
The Parish Council met on 10th July with a full complement of six Councillors and x members of the public present.
A149 road safety improvements:
Perhaps the most important matter discussed was an update on the proposed A149 road safety improvements between Knights Hill and Heacham. This involves some sections having a lower speed limit of 50mph imposed – including through Sandringham Parish from Babingley Cross to Dersingham roundabout, as well as average speed cameras and other site specific safety improvement measures.
The County Council had produced ideas which included the stopping up of some of the side road junctions in the parish. These were put out to statutory consultation – that means to those organisations (such as Parish Councils, emergency services etc) whom, by law, have a right to give an opinion and, if they feel necessary, to object. We supported the 50mph limit but were concerned by the proposal to close some junctions and came up with an alternative plan which we submitted to the County Council.
We are now waiting for the next stage in the consultation process, which is when it is opened up to anybody who wishes to do so to comment. Once that happens, we’ll know for sure whether their proposal, ours, or an alternative one, has been adopted by County as the way forward. Latest news is that it is likely to be August before that stage of the process starts.
After that they have to publish legal Orders to bring these measures in to place. It is therefore unlikely that the more ambitious – perhaps controversial – parts of the scheme to be implemented.
Number of Parish Councillors The establishment for the Parish Council is for seven Councillors. Since the local election in May we now have just six, following two retirements and one new member joining us. We agreed that we should seek to have a seventh Councillor. Ideally we are seeking to improve our diversity balance and would therefore like a new female Councillor, similarly to get a better geographic balance we would prefer someone from West Newton but that is not our first priority. Anybody interested in joining the Parish Council should first contact email@example.com We can then arrange to discuss the opportunities and responsibilities with you.
Sandringham Club, West Newton Monthly Tuesday evening bingo is being held on 30th July, 27th August and 24th September, eyes down at 7.30pm. Cash bingo is on 18th August then 15th September, eyes down at 8pm. Non members welcome at both events.
Wolferton village news
St Peter’s Church
On May 11th the Wolferton Plant Sale raised over £3000 in support of the St Peter's Church Roof Appeal. An enormous thank you to all who helped and supported this very successful and enjoyable day.
The fundraising toward the Roof Appeal continues, we have launched our 'Sponsor a Tile' leaflets and have a selection of merchandise for sale. We’ll be at the Sandringham Flower Show this year for the first time as we continue our drive to raise funds towards the cost of the most urgent works, which is to replace much of the North roof. That’s not the end of the project – we have to do similar works to the South roof and then other work on the fabric of the ancient building as a whole. Donations are very welcome, and can be given on line at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/wolfertonpcc
Church matins or family services at St Peter’s will be held at 9.30am on the second Sunday of each month, followed as always by tea or coffee, biscuits and the chance for a good chat.
On Friday October 11th we have our annual Harvest Quiz, held at Wolferton Social Club, tickets available from Judy Scott - 01485 542887
If anyone is interested in flower arranging we are always looking for willing helpers, please contact Fiona Petch - 01485 540651.
Social Club Wolferton Social Club continues with its various activities, including room hire at competitive rates. Check their website for details. Upcoming special events include: • The Wolf Folk Club meets at the Social Club fortnightly on Thursdays. Forthcoming dates are 1st August, 15th and 29th August, 12th and 26th September. • Cash Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 4th August, 1st September, 6th October, 3rd November and 1st December. • Prize Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 20th August, 17th September, 15th October, 19th November and 17th December.
2019 April newsletter
29TH APRIL 2019
Sandringham Parish Council news The Parish Council met on 6th March at Wolferton Social Club, with all but one Councillor present. Two members of the public attended.
Matters of particular importance that we discussed were:
Precept – it was confirmed that alternative arrangements are in place to fund reasonable and unavoidable expenses incurred by the Parish Council. This means that unlike most across the country, you will not be charged extra on your Council Tax to fund the parish council.
King’s Lynn & Hunstanton railway line – there is much debate about the future of this line and also about traffic levels and safety on the A149. Norfolk County Council has developed what it calls its “Greenway” plan for the route, which would turn it into a foot and cycle path. It seemed that little thought has been given to where the route would go in places which have been built over, and how to cross the A149. Two Councillors attended their consultation and were a little bit unimpressed, and we’ll report our views to the County Council.
Parish Council website – all public authorities are required by government to have a website, and for those of us without a precept they provided a grant to fund the cost of running it. Without notice, they ended that last April, so the site has continued using private funding sources until now. From April or May it will be incorporated in the Sandringham Estate website’s new ‘community’ section and at a suitable date after that ours will be closed down.
Parish Assembly – we are also required by government to hold an annual Parish Assembly, to provide an opportunity for clubs and societies and other community facilities to highlight their work. We plan to hold our first such assembly before the Annual General Meeting on 8th May at the Sandringham Club in West Newton. We’ll be asking a number of groups to provide a written account of their activities during the past year, together with contact details for those of you who want to contact them.
Postal addresses in the parish – we all received a letter from the Royal Mail during February telling us that our postal addresses had changed to include the road name as well as the house. This follows on from the naming of roads undertaken – to an extent against our will – by the Borough Council, to comply with central government legislation. Spare a thought for the one resident, just one, in Wolferton who has also got to contend with a change to their postcode. Hopefully this will be the end of the matter.
A new postal service for West Newton – we have been contacted by the Post Office to confirm that their new van service will visit West Newton, parked by the Church opposite the shop, on Monday afternoons from 4pm to 5pm and Wednesday afternoons from 1.30pm to 2.30pm. This is exceptionally good news and it is really important that the service is used, so please do all you can to spread the word and use it yourself. Wolferton is also eligible on the Post Office criteria to have a visit but the earlier attempt by the Post Office to provide a service there came to nothing.
Later bus from Lynn to West Newton and on to Hunstanton – this is an important matter for a small number of residents but also for a larger number of visitors and staff at Sandringham. Until 2017 there was always a bus on what is now the 35 route from Lynn at about 5pm routed via West Newton and Sandringham to Hunstanton. In 2018 it was suddenly dropped with the demise of Stagecoach on the route. The parish council received a number of negative comments and addressed them to the County Council which got agreement from Lynx to provide one from this Summer. They have now not included it in their Summer schedule, and the parish has again brought this to the attention of the County Council, being the responsible body.
A149 road safety issues – a lot has been said and written about this for a considerable time, and the County Council eventually voted to broaden its initial plan just to install average speed cameras from Knights Hill to Heacham, to include two sections with a lower speed limit and to look at redesigning some of the more accident backspot junctions. One of the lower speed limits will apply from Babingley Cross to Dersingham Roundabout, and the Parish Council wholeheartedly endorses that change. We are waiting for the County’s officials to show us and take our views on its plans to change the design of junctions in the parish and will go back to them with our local view as soon as we see what they have in mind. We are completely in support, in principle, of the range of measures now proposed by the County Council.
Sandringham Women’s Institute – is holding a Memorabilia Exhibition in West Newton village hall on 25th, 26th and 27th May from 10am to 5pm, promising crafts, stalls and refreshments. For more details contact Yvonne Browne on 01485 540255.
CarersMatterNorfolk – this is a service to support unpaid young and adult carers alike, across Norfolk, which has been arranged by the County Council and local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. The service is being delivered by Carer Connectors, people who will work with carers in their own homes or a place of their choice. It helps you find your way around the local services available to you, benefits, housing etc and provides emotional support and assistance. CarersMatterNorfolk provides:
- 7 days a week Freephone advice line
- Emotional wellbeing support in the carer role
- Education and training in carer responsibilities
- Grants for local groups
- Other services
Local elections – the four yearly election of Councillors to the Borough Council is being held on Thursday 2nd May. Following the change to the boundaries, we will be part of the Dersingham Ward. That makes no difference to the Parish Council’s work which will continue, it is just that we are represented at the Borough in a different way. The seven Councillors who make up the Parish Council is also up for election on the same day and nomination forms for both elections can be collected from the Borough offices in King’s Lynn and have to be returned there by 4pm on 3rd May 2019. Our March meeting was therefore the last of the Parish Council as currently established.
Wolferton village news There’s a growing list of events taking place in Wolferton, some are long-established but others are being planned this year to raise money for the urgently needed repairs to the roof of St Peter’s Church. The church needs about £90,000 to carry out the immediate repairs, and have so far raised over £50,000, which is quite a milestone. The fundraising group is confident that it will get that up to over £70,000 during the Summer, and plans to arrange a roofer to start work in the Autumn. A number of events is being planned specifically to raise the extra needed, and then start the process of raising about another £150,000 needed to fully repair the building, so make sure they’re in your diary, to include:
*26th April – a Spring Quiz and BBQ in the Social Club. Food at 6.30pm, quiz at 7.30pm. Tickets at £7.50 each from Dr Judy Scott on 01485 542887. *11th May – a plant sale held on the village green from 10am to 4pm. At the same time, refreshments, including a raffle, sale of books, sponsor a tile etc in the Social Club. *During the summer months – a number of events are in planning, more details once finalised 11th October – the ever popular Harvest Quiz and Supper in the Social Club. More details to follow.
Church matins or family services at St Peter’s will be held at 9.30am on the second Sunday of each month, followed as always by tea or coffee, biscuits and the chance for a good chat. The Social Club continues with its various activities, including room hire at competitive rates. Special events include:
- The Wolf Folk Club meets at the Social Club fortnightly on Thursdays. Forthcoming dates are 11th and 25th April and 9th and 23rd May.
- Cash Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 7th April, 12th May, 9th June, 7th July, 4th August, 1st September, 6th October, 3rd November and 1st December.
- Prize Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 16th April, 12th May, 18th June, 16th July, 20th August, 17th September, 15th October, 19th November and 17th December.
2019 February Newsletter
Sandringham Parish Council news
Happy New Year, and let’s hope that it proves to be a good one for all your needs and aspirations. The Parish Council met on Wednesday 9th January with all seven Councillors present. Stuart Dark, our County Councillor, Tim Tilbrook our Borough Councillor and Norfolk Constabulary were also there. We have heard from the Post Office that, after encountering some problems with the project, it is now making progress with its rural mobile post office van which will cover smaller villages including West Newton twice weekly, and possibly also Wolferton once a fortnight.
We confirmed that we want our County Councillor to put any funds he has available (called the Councillor’s fund) towards getting a bus stop close to the St Nicholas Health Centre at Dersingham to provide a valuable direct link from West Newton to the surgery, shops there and Village Centre. By far the most important discussion was about whether to raise a Precept – so whether to charge households – to provide for services that we as a Parish Council have to pay for. From 2019, for the first time, this includes such basic things as holding an election. We have negotiated an arrangement so that the cost of legally required services such is paid for on our behalf, and on this basis, a motion was tabled to not raise a Precept, and Councillors voted unanimously for it. That is really important as it means that households in the Parish will remain amongst only a few in Norfolk that do not pay for services delivered by or on behalf of the Parish.
It was fifty years ago in May that the railway line through Wolferton closed. After decades lying dormant, and with much now built over, there are two competing proposals to reinvigorate it. A campaign group is making the case for the line to be re-opened, obviously not on precisely the same alignment as before, but Norfolk County Council is now also suggesting that it is one of four in the County that should be redeveloped as a footpath and cycleway. It has just held public exhibitions of its proposals in Lynn and at Hillington (the line from Lynn to Fakenham, closed ten years before ours and is another proposed candidate).
The Parish Council has received a kind offer from one of the village businesses to provide a seat to be sited in Wolferton. We have had discussions with the Estate, as landowner, which has agreed to a location commanding a good view. We are hopeful that it will be in situ in time for this Summer’s walkers.
The next meeting of the Parish Council will be held at 6.30pm on 6th March at Wolferton Social Club and members of the public are very welcome to come along. The one after that is at 6.30pm on 8th May at the Sandringham Club, West Newton, which will be a bumper triple event, starting with a Parish Assembly, then the formal Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council, and then the normal two-monthly meeting of the Council. The Parish Assembly is an opportunity for residents of Babingley, Sandringham, West Newton and Wolferton to meet and hear from the various clubs and societies in the parish as well as from the Council itself. More information on this will be in the April / May issue of Village Voice.
We have received the notes below from the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney about helping them this Winter.
- All of us should be making sure our medicine cabinets are stocked. It’s also sensible to order any regular medicines you need in good time so you don’t run out, taking care to only order what you need.
- But if you do feel poorly, seek advice from your local pharmacist before it gets worse. If it’s urgent, then a call to your GP or NHS111 is the next step, and they’ll advise you what to do.
- If you’re suffering from norovirus or other common sickness bugs, don’t spread it around by visiting your GP or other public places. Stay at home and rest.
- HomeFirst – your bed is the best bed! None of us want to go into hospital or a care bed, but if we do it’s good to get home if we can. The NHS and social care across all of Norfolk and Waveney are stressing that if someone needs a hospital or temporary care bed they will get one, but their aim is always to help people get back home as soon as possible. This is because older people in particular can lose independence rapidly. Being back home can also help a speedier recovery. So if you know a friend or relative, particularly if they are older, who has to go into hospital it would be kind to make sure they have all they need to get back home, including checking the heating works and they will have food in the house, the washing is done and they feel OK.
- New Year, New You! With the start of a New Year people’s thoughts turn to getting fit and improving their health. To stay healthy or improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises. How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Adults aged 65 or older who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should try to be active daily by doing at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking, and strength exercises on two or more days a week. Why not join a local walking group, go for a swim or join a local class, your library should have information about groups near you.
Wolferton village news
As you will have read above, we are delighted to have been offered a seat to locate in the village and we have chosen an ideal location and are having great co-operation from the Estate to site it. Church matins or family services at St Peter’s will be held at 9.30am on 10th February and 10th March, followed as always by tea or coffee, biscuits and the chance for a good chat. The Church Roof fundraising is progressing but so too is the cost of the absolutely essential building repairs, now priced up from £80,000 to £90,000. A meeting is to be held soon after press date for this article to identify and plan for ways to scale up the fundraising during the forthcoming year. The Social Club continues with its various activities, including room hire at competitive rates. Special events include:
- The Wolf Folk Club meets at the Social Club fortnightly on Thursdays. Forthcoming dates are 14th and 28th February and 14th and 28th March.
- Cash Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 10th February, 10th March, 7th April, 12th May, 9th June, 7th July, 4th August, 1st September, 6th October, 3rd November and 1st December.
- Prize Bingo evenings in 2019 will be held at the Social Club on 19th February, 19th March, 16th April, 12th May, 18th June, 16th July, 20th August, 17th September, 15th October, 19th November and 17th December.
Wolferton air crash remembered 35 years on
2ND DECEMBER 2018
Wolferton Air Crash Remembered 35 Years On
by Ben Colson
This year, the 27th September was a Thursday, and a beautiful sunny day it was too, the perfect weather to commemorate the memory of Squadron Leader Michael Stephens who had been killed thirty five years earlier in the course of duty, when his plane crashed into the marshes North of Wolferton and to re-dedicate the memorial there to his memory.
Much of the information used in this article is taken from the Lynn News and Advertiser of Friday 30th September 1983 and subsequent editions, and from RAF Marham’s in-house magazine article published October 2018.
Back in 1983, the 27th was a rather windy Tuesday, and that evening Wolferton village postmaster, Reg Southgate, walked the couple of hundred yards from his home and post office to the village social club. He later told the newspaper that an aircraft flew overhead which seemed to be heading on a north-easterly course and that “all of a sudden, when it got above me, it cut out and seconds after there was an explosion. I heard this terrific bang and a few seconds afterwards it burst into flames and plummeted to the ground. There were definitely flames coming from the plane before it hit the ground, then a terrible flame when it hit the floor”. Reg said that he was the only person outside at the time “I don’t expect anyone else even heard it. They were all in the club at the time.” He said that when he told his friends in there, they didn’t go outside to see, as they were playing whist! Those still living in the village today confirm that, to the contrary, they most certainly did hear it.
Possibly because the whist was so engrossing, it took the navigator, later named as Flight Lieutenant Nigel Nickles, who had ejected and parachuted to safety before the plane crashed, to raise the alarm. He knocked on the door of the nearest house to where he landed, belonging to self-employed plumber Roy Franklin at Beach Road, Snettisham, and asked to phone his base – and was also offered a beer. Others living in that area certainly had heard it, and ran outdoors to see what had happened, one resident there told the newspaper that “it sounded as if it was stuttering, then there was a tremendous whoosh, like a flame-thrower at close quarters”.
Actually, the search and rescue operation had been mounted before the navigator phoned in, because the aircraft’s disappearance had been picked up by the Eastern Radar defence system, and teams were being dispatched along the coast and for miles around the wreckage and the crater in which it was buried. Local police and Coastguard staff were soon joined by a contingent of servicemen from RAF Marham and its home base Honington near Bury St Edmunds, but it was two fire appliances from Sandringham that were the first to arrive in Wolferton.
The plane had crashed in the wood to the North East of Steer Road about quarter of a mile from the village of Wolferton. The navigator, however, landed in a field about three miles away, close to where Snettisham by pass now runs. He had ejected at 15,000 feet, and the 30 knot wind blowing that night had carried him that distance.
The game of whist in Wolferton social club presumably over, at soon after eleven in the evening, the club was commandeered as Search Headquarters and the first of some 350 personnel were arriving to start the search, including a specialist team from RAF Stafford. The search for missing weapons instructor and pilot, Squadron Leader Mike Stephens, was described then in the newspaper as one of the biggest peacetime operations of its kind ever mounted in West Norfolk. Soon after midnight an RAF Nimrod flew overhead dropping flares as it started a systematic night search. At midnight thirty, Wing Commander Cunningham from RAF Honington, ZA586’s base, said at a hurriedly arranged news conference at Wolferton that “we are literally searching in the dark”.
“Sleepy Wolferton began to take on the appearance of a frontline military camp. Puzzled villagers gathered in small clusters to see what was happening, and press and television and radio teams scurried back and forth trying to establish the state of the search” said Lynn News’ Mike Last in his report.
By three the next morning a field kitchen had been established on the sugar beet pad in Steer Road, and the newspaper reported that by 9.45am no less than 1,500 meals had been served.
That bang, that event, that crash of aircraft code ZA586, led to the RAF’s entire fleet of the then new Tornado aircraft – to be temporarily grounded in what the Ministry of Defence described as “purely precautionary because it is a newish aircraft.”
One of the search team despatched that night from Marham’s Tornado 617 Squadron was then a young man in his twenties, today a successful West Norfolk businessman. He told me at the commemoration this year that the contingent he was part of worked for three days day and night, eight hours on, eight hours off, and the search mission covered an area much wider than just the plane’s crater itself. The initial task was to find the missing pilot, and as day broke on 28th the search area was widened to fifty square miles, and included lifeboats as well.
In the morning press conference, Wing Commander Cunningham said “the search is going on over ploughed fields, marsh, in woodland, and thick bracken; some is easy and obvious, some is murderous”. Later that morning, Mike Stephens’ body was located in the cratered wreckage and the massive search was scaled back. It was speculated that he died because he remained in the aircraft to steer it away from Wolferton, mindful of the inevitable loss of life there that would have otherwise been caused.
Over the weekend of 1st and 2nd October the search for clues continued, including drafting in the Royal Engineers from Waterbeach Barracks near Cambridge as 500 gallons of aviation fuel remained in the wrecked plane. The black box recorder was located and taken to Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, and other pieces of the wreckage, to Farnborough. Thus the search moved to the technical phase.
The subsequent Board of Investigation established that ZA586 was returning to base on a Southerly course as it approached Wolferton. One of the generators failed and as the crew were working through the procedure to shut off non-essential electrical systems, the second one also failed. This double failure led the engines to exceed their governed limit, causing the turbines to fail and the aircraft to lose power, height and navigation and causing it to veer northerly again. The Board of Investigation was unable to ascertain what caused this double failure on what was the first production Tornado, and the first to have been lost. The Parish Council at the time commemorated the event by planting an oak sapling and building a memorial close to the crash site.
Thirty five years later, the sapling had blossomed into a full tree but the memorial and fencing were tired and staff from RAF Marham mounted a project to restore the site. An open air service of commemoration and re-dedication was held on 27th September 2018; the Parish Council was honoured to have been asked to attend and also to invite people living in the village at the time, as the help and support given by the village to the search teams had been recorded with much appreciation by the RAF.
The service, led by RAF Padre Geoffrey Firth, was attended by some 30 people, including navigator Nigel Nickles and Michael Stephen’s sister. A two minute silence was observed, and one of today’s Tornados flew overhead. It was a simple but moving service, and for me the most poignant thing to have learned that whilst the crash happened in this quiet village in a corner of England, Michael Stephens died in the protection and security of the nation, equally as a Tornado pilot today may put his life in danger flying sorties in hostile territory.
I am indebted to Betty Woodhouse for lending me her collection of newspaper cuttings from the time and Chief Technician Rob Swanson of 9 Squadron, RAF Marham, for sight and use of his article for their in-house magazine.'
2018 December newsletter
Sandringham Parish Council news
The Parish Council met on 7th November with one member of the public in attendance. The Chairman reported progress on a number of items.
The most important issue concerns whether we should raise a Precept, which means that householders would pay increased Community Charge bills from next April. We are being required to provide ever more services – many to save the Borough or central Government providing them – and this costs money, and the question for us has been how to pay, because we are one of a very small number of Parish Councils that doesn’t charge at all. A decision for the next financial year, which starts in April, would have to be taken by a formal vote at our next meeting in January. We are close to reaching an agreement that would enable us to meet this need for funds without charge households, so I am hopeful that in January we can avoid having to raise a Precept.
We have had no further news regards a mobile post office service for West Newton.
The Parish Council has been told that a later bus from King’s Lynn to West Newton and then going on to Hunstanton will be introduced at the next timetable change sometime about Easter next year. This will make it much better for students attending the College in King’s Lynn as well as workers and visitors to the town. In addition it will mean that those working at Sandringham, coming from Dersingham and points North of there, can return home at the end of the day.
Each County Councillor has a County Council fund which can be spent on small items in his or her own Division. We are part of the Dersingham Division, and therefore share a County Councillor with them. We have decided to support their Parish Council’s request for some of this fund to be put towards making a proper bus stop close to the Health Centre, and new Village Centre, on Chapel Road, as that would make it easier for our residents from West Newton and Sandringham reach the doctor’s surgery and other facilities.
There is concern at the number of blocked roadside drains in the parish, and we were advised that a scheme to alleviate the regular flooding at the entrance to Sandringham Visitor Centre car park will start in November. However a list of other blocked drains was put together to be forwarded to the County Council Highways Rangers service. This visits each parish in rotation dealing with small-scale matters that have already been advised to them, and it is hoped that some of these drains will be cleared before Winter weather really sets in.
Members of the Parish Council, and local residents of Wolferton who lived in the village thirty five years ago, were invited to, and attended a re-dedication of the memorial to Squadron Leader Michael Stephens, the Tornado pilot who was killed when his aircraft lost power and navigation and came down over the marshes on the edge of the village. A memorial was erected soon after and has now been refurbished by RAF personnel, and was re-dedicated at a special service there on 27th September. The story of this, the first of two air crashes on Wolferton Marshes, is told elsewhere in this edition of Village Voice. Please note that the memorial cannot be visited as it is on private, restricted land.
October 2018 newsletter
13TH OCTOBER 2018
Notes from Sandringham Parish Council
The Parish Council met on 5th September, and six of the seven Councillors were present but this time there were no members of the public in attendance.
We discussed issues that were brought forward from our July meeting as well as new ones which had arisen between then and this most recent one. Brought forward from July in particular included the lack of bus service from King’s Lynn after 4pm during the week, which had not only highlighted the difficulty faced by people returning from work or college in town, but also visitors to, and those working at Sandringham, wishing to return home to Dersingham and beyond. We had taken this matter (and related issues about bus stops at Elizabeth Cottages in West Newton) to the County Council, and whilst they had raised the issues with the Lynx bus company, nothing had yet been resolved to our satisfaction. County Council officials have assured us that they will continue to make the case for a later bus from Lynn running through West Newton and Sandringham to Hunstanton. We have been required to complete surveys for the Borough Council to indicate the extent of problems with dog fouling and general littering. We highlighted spots in West Newton where dog fouling is especially a problem, as well as the litter coming from the Cliff Edge and Scissor car parks in Wolferton. The Borough Council has asked anybody seeing waste that has been fly tipped to report it to their hotline phone number so that they can take action.
The Borough Council appears set to take back in-house the running of sports, leisure and entertainment facilities from the charity Alive Leisure. Meantime, we have completed a survey for Alive on the recreational and sports facilities in the parish. Separately, we have queried the fact that the much heralded placing of road names in the parish by the Borough has yet to be completed. The County Council is examining ways of improving safety on the A149 which passes through the parish. Their original intention had been to erect average speed cameras between Knights Hill and Heacham, but we and other parish councils expressed the view that speed alone was not the sole cause of the more serious accidents along the route. We are therefore pleased that the County has taken notice of this and is now looking at the bigger issue of road junction layout as well as speed and will present a changed plan sometime soon. We have asked that the layout of the junction with the B1439 Lynn Road, where right turning traffic going on to the A149 mostly wrongly uses the left side of the grass triangle at Butlers Cross be reviewed as part of this exercise. Sadly, there was yet another accident at the junction of the A149 with Folly Hill leading to Sandringham on Sunday 2nd September showing again the incidence of these accidents is at junctions and not necessarily related to speed. Finally, Councillors continued their discussions about whether we should raise a Precept (a small amount added to your Council Tax bill to enable us to fund our own local priorities), discussions which started at the July meeting. It was reported that there have been conversations taking place that may enable the Parish Council to continue to function, but without the need for such a tax, and that more information will hopefully be ready in time for the November meeting. The next meeting of the parish council is being held at Wolferton Social Club at 6.30pm on Wednesday 7th November and all are very welcome to attend.
Commemorating the centenary of the end of World War 1 on 11th November 2018
The centenary of the end of hostilities in World War I is on 11th November this year, fittingly a Sunday. It means that the annual Remembrance Day services, in churches and at war memorials up and down the country, will take place on the actual day rather than the nearest Sunday. “The eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month” has taken a special place in the national psyche ever since the Act of Remembrance was introduced in 1919 or 1920.
“We shall not forget them”, and in particular we don’t forget those of this parish who lost their lives in this and subsequent wars. The biggest single of men from here was of all but one of the hundred or so of E Company of the 5th Territorial Battalion of the Royal Norfolk regiment. All were men from the Sandringham Estate, who had grown up and worked together, led by the Captain, Frank Beck, who, in peacetime, was the King’s Agent. Their first experience of battle was on 12th August 1915, at Gallipoli, in the Dardanelles campaign, and having charged forward they were all lost without trace. The toll on the community must have been immense and it is right and proper that we remember them and their families at this time.
As elsewhere we shall commemorate the ending of World War I on Sunday 11th November. The day will start with a lone piper playing the classic retreat march “When the battle is o’er” outside Sandringham Church at 6am. There will be a Remembrance Day family service at Wolferton Church at 9.30am, and the Act of Remembrance at Sandringham this year will start at 10.50am. At 6.50pm – the exact time of the end of the war – there will be an Act of Remembrance outside Sandringham Church with a bugler playing the last post. This will be followed by the lighting of a beacon in the park as part of a national programme.
We are grateful to the Borough Council and Norfolk Community Foundation for the granting of a small fund to assist the preparation and holding of the events on this important day of Remembrance.
Wolferton village news
St Peter’s Church services are held at 9.30am on the second Sunday of each month, which are followed by coffee and biscuits, making it quite a social occasion which draws from adjacent parishes. Next services are on 13th October (Mattins), 11th November (family Remembrance Day service) and, to be confirmed, 9th December (carol service) – please see next Village Voice for confirmation. Holy Communion is held at 8am on 28th October and 25th November. The Church Roof project group has made an application to the Norfolk Churches Trust and other funding bodies as it moves towards the start of the essential work to repair the roof to protect other vital timbers in the building. It has received, and gives thanks for, a really helpful significant contribution to the fund from a local charity event. This has given the fundraising a really good kickstart and other activities will start to follow later in the year and into next year. The Social Club remains an active centre for village activities and especially the popular folk club and prize bingo held there. The club is open Wednesday to Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes and all are welcome.
Eyes down for Prize Bingo is at 7.30pm one Tuesday a month, on the following dates:
The Wolf Folk Club meets at 8pm alternate Thursdays at the Club and advertises its “music on the wild side” and ‘singarounds’. Dates for the rest of the year are:
October: 11th, 25th
November: 8th, 22nd
December: 6th, 20th
August 2018 Newsletter
18TH JULY 2018
The Parish Council met on 4th July at the Social Club at Wolferton. Two members of the public attended who were welcomed.
June 2018 Newsletter
19TH JUNE 2018
From Sandringham Parish Council
The Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council was held at the Sandringham Club, West Newton, on Wednesday 2nd May, with three members of the public in attendance. Parish Councillors Ben Colson and Cecil Smith were elected as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively for a further year. Gordon Wilkinson has been reappointed Clerk for a further year.
Sandringham and West Newton bus times change
4TH APRIL 2018
On and from Sunday 29th April bus operator Lynx will take over from Stagecoach to provide the local bus services for Sandringham and West Newton, including the Sandringham Caravan site and the Visitor Centre.
Buses will continue to run at hourly intervals seven days a week but the times they call will change. English free bus passes will continue to be accepted with the same time restrictions. Please use our links page to Lynx Buses for full details.
Wolferton gets superfast broadband mid April
The Parish Council is delighted that superfast broadband is to come to Wolferton from mid April, hopefully ending years of frustration with being unable to access cheaper rail tickets, air fares and hotel bookings for some, whilst others not accessing on line research for A level exams and for others to access their continuous professional development papers. And for us all, a chance to join others in watching TV programmes only available online.
April 2018 newsletter
From Sandringham Parish Council
The Parish Council’s own website is now up and running. Visit us at www.sandringhamparishcouncil.org and tell us what you think. You can see who your Parish Councillors are, meeting dates – which you are welcome to attend and observe – and Agendas and Minutes of meetings. You will also find formal letters we have written, such as recently to the Boundary Commission, and, Minutes of meetings. You will also find formal letters we have written, such as recently to the Boundary Commission, and, click on News for past Village Voice notes which will be updated for each edition. With easy access to the website, and, as you’ll read below, soon Wolferton will also have superfast broadband, the Parish Council has decided to no longer post Minutes of its meetings on the village notice boards at Babingley, West Newton and Wolferton. Agendas will continue to be posted but NOT Minutes.