My Village and Other Involvement
At the present time I am involved with the following groups and organisations. Those in bold refer to Hethersett involvement:
Chairman of Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association
Secretary of Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association
Hethersett Parish Councillor
Communications Officer for Hethersett Parish Council
Member of Hethersett Parish Council Village Archive group
Assistant Secretary of Hethersett Athletic Football Club
Public Relations and Press Officer for Hethersett Athletic Football Club
Development Officer for Hethersett and Tas Valley Cricket Club
Chairman of Hethersett and Tas Valley Cricket Club
Public Relations and Press Officer for Hethersett and Tas Valley Cricket Club
Founder Member of Hethersett Writers' Group
Founder and Member of Hethersett Running Group
Founder and Member of Hethersett Methodist Church Table Tennis Club
Public Relations' Consultant for Hethersett Dementia Friendly Group
Archivist for Hethersett Demntia Friendly Group
Director of Hethersett Olympic Legacy Sports Complex
Public Relations Officer for Norfolk Family History Society
Editor of Norfolk Family History Society's quarterly magazine Norfolk Ancestor
In addition I am
Owner and editor of Hethersett Village Web Site
Editor of Hethersett On-line Magazine
Newspaper correspondent for Hethersett for the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and Wymondham Mercury
Editor of Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Web Site
Editor and Owner of Freda Laycock Memorial Web Site
Editor and Owner of Alan Mann, Norfolk Author Web Site
Editor and Owner of Wymondham Coffee Shop Web Site
In the past I have been
Vice-Chair of Hethersett Middle School PTA
Parent Governor of Hethersett Middle School
Community Governor of Hethersett Middle School
Chair of Governors of Hethersett Middle School
Chair of Hethersett Athletic Football Club
Web editor for Hethersett Methodist Church web site.
Helper at Hethersett Methodist Church's ladies breakfast
Member at Hethersett Methodist Church Men's Breakfast
Member of the Friends of Woodcote Sheltered Housing Complex
Secretary and Trustee of Hethersett Memorial Playing Field
Village sports co-ordinator for Hethersett for Active Norfolk
Volunteer for Norwich Samaritans
Public Relations Officer for Norwich Samaritans
Committee member of Wymondham Town Football Club
Committee member of Beccles Football Club
Member of Beccles Round Table
Member of Long Eaton Round Table
Member of Wymondham and Attleborough Round Table
Public Relations Officer for Round Table Area Six (Norfolk and Suffolk)
More Details re my Village Involvement
I am a firm believer in the Big Society idea whereby people work voluntarily to provide facilities and enhance the lives of those living in their local communities.
I have been fortunate over the past few years to win a number of awards both personally and for my village. But that is not the reason for undertaking voluntary work. There is a whole army of people in Hethersett who give tirelessly of their time and effort, mostly completely free of charge. They never ask for anything in return, their satisfaction comes in the shape of knowing that they have provided something for the common good.
Not so long ago I listed as many groups and organisations that I could think of in Hethersett. That list ran to hundreds of groups and individuals. A friend once said to me that if all volunteers throughout our country decided to do nothing for a month or two, the entire infrastructure would fall apart. And that is so true. Just think about it. There would be very few sports clubs, very few youth groups such as Scouts, Guides and youth clubs. There would be very few services for the elderly and so the list goes on. This country is great because of the volunteers and there are literally thousands of them working for charities and working to make the United Kingdom an even better place.
Volunteers by and large are not interested in politics, they are not interested in posturing, they are not interested in making massive amounts of money. They just do things because they care and want to make a difference.
The object of this section of my web site is not to puff up my feathers, not to say "look at what I've achieved" but to show you some of the things that are possible and how I believe an individual can make a difference. Much of my work is in the fields of sport, fitness and well being. Many others work in other areas. All come together to enhance the world in which we live. I am also a passionate believer that if you look after and enhance your own community, things on the wider spectrum will slot into place. Get the smallest denominator right and other things will also work well.
Of course many people will quite rightly say they don't have the time and energy to contribute. This I can fully understand due to the pressures of modern living, the demands from family and work and all the other stresses and strains that make up our society. Not everyone can make virtually a full time job from volunteering. What people can do, however, is contribute something. It may just be an hour here helping at a fete or an hour there. It all counts and it all adds to the bigger picture.
Below is my journey - a journey that I hope has at least enhanced some areas of my local society. In some way I like to think I have made a small difference and that is all I set out to achieve.
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I can't remember exactly when the idea of joining groups and volunteering came to me. It wasn't a deliberate decision on my part, but just something that happened. As a boy I never joined in group things. I was never a member of a youth club or cubs or scouts.
When I became a journalist I soon realised that what I wanted to do was not work in Fleet Street (where the National Press was located in those days) but to work within a community. As my character developed I began to become part of various communities. I found that covering events for the local newspaper brought me into close proximity to clubs, societies and groups. This started at Lowestoft in Suffolk and continued in Cromer in Norfolk and Beccles in Suffolk. I also spent some time as a features writer in Norwich, but found working in a city a little overpowering. I preferred small town and village life.
At Beccles, I became a member of Round Table - a charity based group for young men - and also joined the local football club as a committee member. And I really think that's where it all started. I liked walking down the street and finding people I knew to chat with.
After a disappointing period in the Midlands, I returned to Norfolk and that's where fate took a hand. I missed Beccles and our first thoughts were to move back there. We couldn't find a suitable home and so looked closer to Norwich where I had started work as a sub editor on weekly papers. For some reason, which I cannot explain, we were drawn towards Hethersett.
Again there wasn't a definite decision to join groups in Hethersett but the birth of our children seemed to act as a catalyst for involvement. I remember standing for the parish council but doing no publicity on that fact. I quite rightly came bottom of the poll because nobody knew who I was or what I stood for. A few years later when I stood to become a governor at Hethersett Middle School I topped the poll. Somewhere between those two events I had decided to up my profile and become involved in local village life.
It all started when I joined Hethersett Middle School PTA. That was extremely hard work but also very rewarding and great fun. I ended up as vice-chairman of that and left at the same time as the chair as our children moved onto High School. But before leaving the PTA I became a governor at the school and eventually stood for the position of chair after being asked to do so by a number of the other governors.
Over the next decade or so, and long after my own sons had moved on, I believe I helped to achieve a number of improvements at the school. These included modernising the management structure, improving relationships between governors and staff, keeping the school's swimming pool open against the odds and instigating major renovation and overseeing the pulling down of an antiquated and dangerous design and technology block and replacing it with a new purpose built classroom, cutting the time of governors' meetings to a maximum of two hours and improving the committee system. This was all achieved by people working together as a team - and that is a theme that you will see featuring large in this article. People working for the good of a community have to shed their egos. There is no place for personal aims.
I stayed on as chair of governors for many years, finally deciding that I needed a break. Being a Governor had become more of a chore than a pleasure, just too much paperwork and too many demands on people giving up their time. I suppose in many ways I have always been a rebel. Being a chair of governors might be seen ultimately as conforming to society, but I found myself all too often at odds with the powers that be. It made me think that essentially I wanted to lead rather then be subject to the whims and demands of politicians. In essence I didn't want to be told what to do and how to behave by those with very little grasp of village life and those for whom party politics played a bigger role than caring for young people.
Ultimately the London 2012 Olympic Games acted as the big spur I needed and a realisation that the area I could make a difference in was leisure and fitness. As a former sports editor of a series of local newspapers in Norfolk and a passionate lover of sport in all its forms, I felt I could use my organisational and Media skills to good effect.
Hethersett Athletic Football Club was founded in 1991 by my close friend Mel Perkins with just one youth team. A year or so later I joined Mel to start a second youth team, which included my eldest son. I also took over coaching and running of the local cubs football team, did some coaching at the local infants school and eventually took over the running of the Hethersett Middle School team. I coached teams from cubs, through under-10s right up to adult level, before retiring to give time to club administration.
Initially the individual teams ran themselves and there was little or no formal club structure. We eventually decided that a better structure had to be developed and a meeting was called of key club members. I was one of two people standing for the new post of chairman. To me the other person was totally unsuitable to take the club forward. I narrowly won the election for the post and now over 15 years later I have just retired as club chairman and taken on the post of assistant secretary.
Over the years the club has become one of the most respected in Norfolk and the holder of top national FA awards. We were one of the first club's in Norfolk and one of the first 100 in the country to be awarded the FA Charter Mark and then improved on this with the award of an FA Community Charter.
Being chair of the football club showed me the importance of sport in the lives of many young people. It engendered in them a teamwork ethos, discipline and I like to think had an affect on their lives.
Running alongside my love of football was an interest in cricket. I joined Hethersett Cricket Club and began to play again on a regular basis at the club's home on Hethersett Memorial Playing Field. My youngest son is also a keen cricketer and I remember playing in the same team as him at Bressingham when he couldn't have been much more than eight or nine years of age.
Hethersett Cricket Club has a rich heritage, stretching back over 150 years, and a number of years ago moved to a new purpose built ground at Flordon, about nine miles from Hethersett. Today under the name Hethersett and Tas Valley it is one of the top clubs in Norfolk, fielding teams in the Norfolk Alliance, Norfolk League and Mid Norfolk Sunday League as well as running a number of youth teams and taking part in a number of cup competitions. After finally hanging up my bat, when I realised I wasn't seeing the ball quite as well, I took on the role of club development officer and helped it to achieve the national clubmark status.
In 2010 Hethersett hit upon the idea of creating a lasting Olympic Legacy and parish councillor Shane Hull set-up the Hethersett Olympic Committee and invited me to become a member - something I enthusiastically agreed to. Another thing I really wanted to achieve was the setting up of a sports association for Hethersett and the nearby villages of Little and Great Melton. The idea behind the sports association would be to bring various sports and clubs together to discuss matters of mutual interest, improve facilities, support existing clubs and set-up new clubs.
Hethersett and the Meltons' Sports Association has gone from strength to strength and meets quarterly at Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett. It has been able to start up a running club, a table tennis club, a petanque club, a croquet club and support numerous groups financially thanks to grants from South Norfolk Council. In 2014 it merged with the Olympic Committee which had changed its title after the London Olympic Games to the Hethersett Olympic Legacy Committee.