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S u m m e r 2021

Reasons to be cheerful How Diss makes you smile Community heroes Meet Pat, Suzanne and other local superstars


2 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Welcome A summer state of mind With summer around the corner and COVID-19 restrictions gently easing, this edition of ‘Diss Matters’ is designed with sunshine in mind. Marking the start of a bright new dawn, we look ahead to a season filled with family fun,

Contents 4-5

Council news

6-7

New faces on the council

experienced, we also look back and take stock.

8-9

A mayoral update

We remember past events and special

11

What’s next for our neighbourhood plan?

moments and give thanks for all that’s bright

13

South Norfolk Police news

14

The Corn Hall - Loving local

From fundraisers and food bank organisers to

15

The Corn Hall - June to August events

volunteer vaccinators, bicycle brighteners,

16-17 Keep calm and Park Radio

entertainment and outdoor activities. And, mindful of the challenging year we’ve all

and beautiful about our lovely town. Starting with its people.

Carnival committee members and rainbowpainting morale-boosters, our town is packed

19

Go fish!

with community heroes who bring light and

20-21 Sunshine on four wheels

hope to so many. We say ‘thank you’ to them all.

22-23 Reasons to be cheerful

And, symbolising all of this, is the Beacon of

24-25 The value of volunteering

Hope lighting ceremony planned for 21st June. Celebrating the future, while paying tribute to

26-27 A time to remember and revive

the past, make sure you put the date in your

28-29 Keeping Carnival alive

diary. We’d love to see you there.

32-33 Meet our award-winning citizens

So, light the BBQ, enjoy the fresh air, be as safe

35

Somewhere over the rainbow

as you can and make the most of everything

36-37 Rotary round-up

you have on your doorstep. We’re lucky; Diss is

39

Funding that delivers

a special and supportive town with many

41

Writing history

reasons to stay local and be cheerful. Keep smiling, keep safe and keep in touch! I’d love to hear from you, whether it’s feedback on the mag or ideas for a future feature. Just send an email to fiona.mcsweeney@diss.gov.uk

Fiona

Diss Matters is published by Falcon Publications, Units 10A-11 Red House Yard, Gislingham Road, Thornham Magna, Eye, Suffolk IP23 8HH Tel: 01379 773347 / 48, www.falconpublications.co.uk Design & Artwork: Ian Foster, Copy Concept Diss Town Council: 01379 643848 Diss Matters Summer 2021 3


Council news It’s been over a year since COVID-19 hit.

area has also been transformed. It’s now

And what a year it’s been. Despite the

pedestrianised, with new surfacing,

many challenges, Diss’ community spirit

reconditioned sleepers and refurbished

has shone through. From painting

toilets. It’s lovely to see this iconic part of

rainbows for businesses struggling to

town so well used and enjoyed.

operate to running foodbanks for those facing economic hardship, we’ve witnessed

Restarting events

many examples of kindness, generosity

Despite the challenges brought by COVID-

and strength in the face of adversity. Thank

19, we kept the solemnity and significance of

you for making Diss such a supportive and

Remembrance Day alive and made sure our

caring place to work and live.

pretty town sparkled at Christmas. We also paid tribute to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh through a service of commemoration at St Mary’s church and a book of condolences, which has been archived with South Norfolk Council. And we have lots to look forward to this summer, most of which centres around our lovely park. There will be a special ceremony to mark the installation and lighting of our

Here at the town council, work to enhance

Beacon of Hope, a ‘Meresterious Figures in

our beautiful town has continued at pace

the Park’ event organised by WARTS, a free,

too - despite the lockdowns.

family-friendly walk organised by the Rotary Club of Diss & District, five Corn Hall

Improving facilities

outdoor theatre productions and a

The Diss Youth and Community Centre

university outreach event.

(DYCC) has had a facelift in more ways than

(If you’re interested in running a summer

one. At the end of 2020, we redecorated

event in the park, we’re offering a discount

and installed a

to local organisations, so get in touch!)

new kitchenette. More recently,

On 29th September, we’d love residents to

we’ve supported

join us (in person, not Zoom!) at our Annual

its transformation

Town Meeting (ATM). Our ATM is an

into a COVID-19

opportunity to share ideas, successes and

vaccination site for

plans, and to network with a mix of local

Diss and the

organisations. The giving and receiving of

surrounding area.

our Honoured Citizen awards is also a

The Mere’s Mouth

special part of the meeting.

4 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Allocating grants

Within these priorities, we will work with

During such a difficult time, we’ve been

partners to enhance the Mere and make it

delighted to be able to offer financial

safer and more usable. We will also

assistance to four local organisations, with

continue to manage and improve the other

grant funding totalling just under £16,000.

facilities and amenities enjoyed by many in

From providing resources to help with

the town.

school distance learning during the

We welcome

pandemic to supporting a programme of

community

community arts and wellbeing courses,

involvement in any

these projects have benefited a wide range

aspect of council

of Diss residents. Another £20,000 is now

activity.

available for eligible projects.

Councillors and

Councillors and staff are here to serve the people of Diss. This plan will help us to deliver outcomes that matter and make a difference to people’s everyday lives. Diss Town Clerk, Sarah Richards

Attending meetings

staff are here to serve the people of Diss. This plan will help us to deliver outcomes that matter and make a difference to people’s everyday lives. For more on all of this, please see our

Whether you’re new to Diss, want to find

website: www.diss.gov.uk or contact us at:

out more about the responsibilities of the

towncouncil@diss.gov.uk

Town Council or have an idea you’d like to present, we encourage residents to attend

“I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my

our meetings.

staff, councillors and members of our community who have gone above and

Strategic plan

beyond to help the council deliver its

The Town Council has adopted its second

objectives and services during a really

strategic plan covering the period 2021 to

challenging year.”

2023. This plan focuses on three priorities, all contributing to the council’s vision “to

Sarah Richards,

make Diss a successful, vibrant, attractive

Town Clerk at Diss Town Council

town, where people want to live, work and visit”. These priorities are to: • create a greener, cleaner and safer town • develop and implement the Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan • reduce costs and deliver better value.

Diss Matters Summer 2021 5


New faces on the council Since our last edition of ‘Diss Matters’,

2020 and, as well as being a member of the

we’ve welcomed two new faces onto the

Executive and Facilities committees, he

council. Despite coming from diverse

continues to champion younger people.

backgrounds, their shared passion for Diss

“I have found it strange to be referred to as

and commitment to their new role unites

a councillor, and it still feels a bit odd to be

them and makes them an asset to our

a member of local government. But the

town.

other councillors and the council staff have been incredibly helpful and inviting. Being such a young councillor, I’m aware that by fulfilling the role to the best of my ability I’m proving that, in an increasingly more difficult world, younger people are perfectly capable. I am privileged to be able to represent an often under-represented group in local government and this is a real driving force for me.” Living through three lockdowns, when he hasn’t been involved in council business, Kieran’s been rediscovering Diss and his love of food! “Over lockdown one of my favourite places to go was Fair Green. It’s lovely to walk around, the space is clean and well-kept, there’s a great atmosphere, but most importantly the dog loves it!

Councillor Kieran Murphy “Another thing I discovered during A lifelong resident of Diss, Councillor Kieran

lockdown was a love of cooking! It started

Murphy turned 18 in 2020, making him one

when I tried out a few recipes I’d seen

of the UK’s youngest town councillors.

online. Now, I really enjoy cooking – it’s

Kieran joined Diss Youth Council in 2017

relaxing and rewarding and I’d recommend

and quickly became their leader and

it to everyone!”

chairperson. When he turned 18, he took being a junior town councillor one step further and become a town councillor for Diss. He was co-opted at a full council meeting on Wednesday 16th September 6 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Councillor John Wooddissee

as flooding, with people offering to help each other.

Previously an HR Director and now owner of a business management consultancy,

“I love Diss for its character (there are so

Councillor John Wooddissee moved to

many beautiful old buildings), but I’m also

Norfolk in 1990. He made his home in Diss

inspired by its community feel - our first

in 2019, attracted by the good transport

Christmas lights ceremony in a thronged

links, excellent facilities and vibrant culture

Market Place is a memory we hold dear.

(particularly The Corn Hall). “I’m so encouraged by all the new Helping the town grow and develop as it

businesses that have popped up in Diss

recovers from the pandemic is one of his

over the last year. We bought some brilliant

priorities. As is sharing the delights of the

family presents locally at Christmas,

town with his grandchildren.

presents you wouldn’t see on the average high street or online. And it was a pleasure

“I’m looking forward to taking my

and a treat to shop locally and enjoy the

granddaughter to meet the ducks on the

range and choice. Staying local during

Mere and to enjoy the play equipment in

lockdown has made me realise how lucky

the park. I can’t wait for my adult children to

we are, because everything we need is right

visit and to be able to show off our

here on our doorstep.”

courtyards and the town’s wealth of eateries and watering holes.

Want to join?

“I love the community feel of Diss and a trip

If you’re passionate about Diss and want to

to the market on Fridays is a real treat.

get involved in your local community, why not consider becoming a town councillor?

“We walk through the park to get there and

We have just one vacancy remaining – visit

always enjoy it – it’s such a beautiful space.

our website (www.diss.gov.uk) to find out

I really appreciate too how the community

more.

comes together during difficult times, such Diss Matters Summer 2021 7


A mayoral update After serving Diss as mayor for two years,

Easter competition and formed part of the

Councillor Sonia Browne handed over her

COVID-19 Beacon Committee, the Fair

robes this May to Councillor Eric Taylor.

Green Community Group and the Christmas

Here we hear from them both as they

Lights Committee. I chaired Full Council

reflect on the challenges of the past year

meetings each month, attended all other

and look ahead to an exciting new chapter

council committee meetings and networked

for the town.

with people from other councils. I supported our town’s youth councillors and

A message from Councillor Sonia Browne

continued to make appearances on Park Radio. I was privileged to be able to mark Black History month with Norfolk

“This past year has been, for many, difficult

Constabulary officers. And I mustn’t forget

to live through with so many changes and

my virtual photography group, the panto at

restrictions. But, despite this, I’ve seen

The Corn Hall and switching on the

many examples of people living out my

Christmas lights (accompanied by Father

themes of community, communication and

Christmas).

kindness. “I’m extremely proud and privileged to have “Being mayor during a pandemic made

been your mayor and would like to wish our

being in the community very hard. Most of

new Mayor of Diss, Councillor Taylor, all the

the functions and charity events I would

best for his year ahead.

usually be involved in were either cancelled or rescheduled. I found this tough. Not

“And finally…though I’m not your mayor, I

being able to raise money as I normally

will continue to support all of our

would was hard. I also really missed not

communities in my role as town councillor.

being able to meet physically with friends,

And, together with my colleagues, to

colleagues, business owners and all the

promote our council vision to make Diss a

amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough

successful, vibrant, attractive town, where

to get to know since becoming mayor.

people want to live, work and visit.”

“Despite this, with the help of technology and social distancing, I managed to attend quite a few virtual events and meetings. “I took part in a special VE Day commemoration and a very moving Remembrance Day ceremony. I judged an

8 Diss Matters Summer 2021

Cllr Sonia Browne


A message from Diss Town Mayor, Councillor Eric Taylor

“The council’s strategic plan covers areas such as town cleanliness, cost efficiencies and new revenue streams, and Mere

“I feel honoured to be elected to the role of

biodiversity.

Diss Town Mayor for 2021-22 by fellow members of the council.

“We are also nearing the submission stage for the Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan,

“As we emerge from the pandemic, after a

which will help us deliver infrastructure

difficult year, I’m eager to support the many

improvements and good quality homes in

new and exciting projects we have planned

preferred locations, whilst protecting the

to help our beautiful town grow and thrive.

town’s heritage and local green spaces.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a member of council for over three years. In

“And there’s the Facilities Management

that time, I’ve chaired the Planning

Programme, which helps the council

Committee and been a steering group

develop a financial forecast for maintaining

member of the Diss & District

its assets.

Neighbourhood Plan. “I can’t promise I will have all the answers. “We have a number of initiatives in place to

But I can promise to work hard to find them

help us achieve the council’s vision of

and do all I can to help Diss prosper, whilst

making Diss a successful, vibrant, attractive

still retaining its individuality and character.”

town, where people want to live, work and visit.

Diss Town Mayor, Cllr Eric Taylor

Diss Matters Summer 2021 9


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10 Diss Matters Summer 2021


What’s next for our neighbourhood plan? The Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan

The DDNP is now almost ready for the final

(DDNP) is a local planning document that

stage of consultation (‘Regulation 14

will, once adopted, help shape the future

Consultation’) when feedback will be

development of Diss and the six

collated and analysed, and any changes to

neighbouring parishes of Roydon,

the Plan can be made in readiness for

Palgrave, Burston & Shimpling, Scole,

submission to South Norfolk Council.

Brome & Oakley and Stuston. While it can’t stop housing development, it

“The Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan is a

gives communities (you!) a voice,

project that’s very close to my heart,” says

empowering people to input into what’s

new Diss Town Mayor, Councillor Eric Taylor.

built and where.

“I’ve been involved in it from the beginning and am a strong believer in its power to

A big step forwards

help us deliver infrastructure improvements and good quality homes in preferred

Hundreds of neighbourhood plans are in place across the country. The DDNP is one of the most complicated, as it involves seven different parishes working in partnership across two different local authorities. But the good news is, after indepth consultation and collaboration, the final draft is nearing completion and will

The Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan is a project that’s very close to my heart. I’ve been involved in it from the beginning and am a strong believer in its power to help us deliver infrastructure improvements and good quality homes in preferred locations, whilst protecting the town’s heritage and local green spaces. Diss Town Mayor, Eric Taylor

locations, whilst protecting the town’s heritage and local green spaces.” It’s hoped that the DDNP consultation period, which must last six weeks, will start

soon be made available for you to read and

in the summer. If social restrictions are

respond to.

lifted, there may also be a public

All neighbourhood plans have to be

information display at a site in Diss where

consulted on by a wide range of statutory

questions can be asked directly to members

bodies, as well as the people living in the

of the DDNP steering group. Watch this

parishes they cover.

space! Diss Matters Summer 2021 11


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12 Diss Matters Summer 2021


South Norfolk Police news Your new Inspector for Diss

“The NPT work closely with my Response Team at Diss and the Safer Neighbourhood

“My name is Richard Freeman and I’ve been in

Team (SNT) to provide a proactive response

post as Inspector for Diss since January. I have

to local crime concerns.

24 years of policing experience all across

Norfolk and am honoured to lead the local

“I know how important it is for you to

team here as they work hard to keep Diss a

engage with local officers and see a daily

safe and lovely place to live, work and stay.

presence in the community. I believe local community policing is key when it comes to

“The last 13 months have seen unprecedented

keeping our neighbourhoods safe. For now,

change for all of us. COVID-19 has touched

I’m asking the team to be as visible as

every part of our lives and this has been the

possible but keep a safe distance from

same for policing. We’ve seen once busy

members of the public.

roads, towns and workplaces become virtual ghost towns during the various stages of

“We’re particularly keen to support local

lockdown. Last year, we experienced a

businesses as they emerge from the latest

reduction in crime and a change in the

lockdown and start to trade again. And we

demand profile for policing services as our

hope, COVID-19 permitting, that the SNT will

community came to terms with the pandemic

be able to restart face-to-face engagement

and the associated regulations which

later this summer. When this time comes,

impacted us all. I’m extremely proud of the

please do join us (dates to be confirmed

way our local policing team has coped with

soon). We’re also continuing to run online

the unique challenges faced during this

public meetings every three months.

period. And, as we turn a corner, look forward

Thanks to all who joined us online in March

to brighter times for us all.

2021 and for your views and suggestions.

“My predecessor, Inspector Symonds,

“I’d like to close by reassuring you that

introduced a Neighbourhood Policing Team

crime remains low and Diss continues to be

(NPT) focusing on priority crime such as

a safe place to live and work.”

burglaries, motor theft and drug dealing. This team has had success in several key areas since its introduction. Highlights include:

· 10 search warrants carried out at local

premises, leading to the seizure of illegal

drugs and ongoing prosecution of offenders.

· a successful investigation into the farm

Inspector Richard Freeman

arsons causing £750,000 pounds worth of damage and the death of 50 pigs. Diss Matters Summer 2021 13


Loving local “Despite its many challenges, COVID-19 has demonstrated how resilient, flexible and inherently optimistic people can be. So, instead of ‘new normal’, why not start using ‘new future’? I believe Diss has an exciting new future ahead of it. I’m confident that people will stay local - shopping locally, exploring local culture and arts and using the wide range of leisure facilities we have on our doorstep.   “The Corn Hall was one of the few venues in Lee Johnson, Operations Manager of The

the UK that had a Christmas show and for

Corn Hall, looks beyond the ‘new normal’

that we’re extremely grateful. And, although

and into a ‘new future’ for arts venues and

immediately after that we closed as part of

other local businesses.

Tier 4 restrictions and another national lockdown, behind the scenes we’ve been

“What strange times we find ourselves in.

busy. We were successful with the ‘Act Now!

This year has been like no other in living

@ The Corn Hall’ project. We continued to

memory. Lockdowns came and went. And

deliver our ‘Time With Friends’ sessions

came again. We were told it would take 12

online. And we were busy working on

weeks to turn the tide on COVID-19. Then

applications for the second round of the

12 weeks turned into 12 months and only

Culture Recovery Fund, in which we were

now are we seeing any turning of the tide.

successful. There’s also another exciting

But, even now, we must be careful as we dip

community project coming out, but we’re

our toes back into the water. The tide could

keeping that one under wraps for now.

come rushing back at any moment and that’s something no one wants.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many and we must play our part in helping

“When COVID-19 hit, businesses across the

remember those who lost loved ones. But

country ground to a halt. Family and friends

the pandemic has also given us an

stopped seeing each other. And the term

opportunity to reflect, to adapt and change,

‘new normal’ appeared. But what is this

and to be ‘new future’ ready.”

‘new normal’? Face coverings, hand sanitiser, spaced-out seating? I’m actually not a fan of this phrase because, for The Corn Hall (like many other businesses) life the other side of the pandemic will be anything but normal. 14 Diss Matters Summer 2021

Lee Johnson Operations Director at The Corn Hall


June to August Events THEATRE Saturday 19th June, 7pm, Diss Park ‘Macbeth’ – The HandleBards Saturday 24th July, 2pm, Diss Park ‘The Wind in the Willows’ – Kick in the Head Theatre Productions Saturday 24th July, 6pm, Diss Park ‘Three Men in a Boat’ – Kick in the Head Theatre Productions

The Wind in the Willows

Thursday 19th August, 7pm, Diss Park ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – The Pantaloons COMEDY Friday 30th July, 8pm, The Corn Hall The Corn Hall Comedy Club – Angelos Epithemiou (Headliner) Saturday 26th June, 3pm & 8pm, The Corn Hall Jon Boden – ‘Last Mile Home’ solo tour Friday 13th August, 8pm, The Corn Hall ‘A Slightly Naughty Night Out 2021’

Jon Boden

Image: David Angel

MUSIC Saturday 3rd July, 8pm, The Corn Hall The John Lennon Tribute UK Friday 20th August, 7.30pm, The Corn Hall The Alter Eagles in Concert

The box office, café and galleries are open Monday to Saturday between 10am to 3pm. To book or for more information visit www.thecornhall.co.uk, pop in or call 01379 652241.

Alter Eagles All shows will be run in a COVID-secure environment and follow the latest government guidelines. If, for whatever reason, these shows can’t happen, ticket holders will be contacted directly and offered an exchange, credit or refund. Diss Matters Summer 2021 15


Keep calm and Park Radio Despite temperamental transmitters and

radio by the station so he could continue to

the ongoing challenges presented by

enjoy his regular feed of local broadcasting.

COVID-19, Park Radio has continued to

''It was so good of Park Radio to organise

offer support and a calm, reassuring

the loan of the internet radio so I could get

presence to all sectors of the community

my morning Park Radio fix,” said Robert. “It

throughout this extraordinary and

was greatly appreciated.”

unprecedented year. Supporting businesses, keeping communities connected and informed, providing new opportunities and engagement for young people (not to mention playing some of the most eclectic music around), it’s proved a lifeline for

The value of a local station like Park Radio is more than demonstrated by the way it’s able to cover developments like the COVID-19 testing arrangements in Diss. Robert Green

many. Two of the many beneficiaries

The loan of the radio coincided with the

share their stories here.

mass surge testing which took place in Diss in February. It meant Robert (and others

Going above and beyond

affected by the faulty transmitter) were kept informed about what was happening.

When the transmitter serving the Harleston area had to be switched off due to health

“Having been fortunate enough to be able

and safety, many listeners were redirected

to listen in over the last few days, I think the

online to listen to their favourite Park Radio

value of a local station like Park Radio is

programmes. Some, however, didn’t have

more than demonstrated by the way it’s

the equipment to do this. Robert Green was

able to cover developments like the COVID-

one such listener. But he wasn’t left Park

19 testing arrangements in Diss,” said

Radio-less for long. Like others in a similar

Robert. “This is what stations like Park Radio

situation, Robert was loaned an internet

do better than any other.”

Robert Green

16 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Supporting a new generation of

Since then I’ve learnt core media skills and

broadcasters

how to present a radio show effectively. It’s also built my confidence with public

Two new presenters have recently joined

speaking. The skills I learnt led me to

the Park Radio team. Looking forwards,

secure a place at an online radio station,

the station has made an extra effort to

where I’ve been presenting since July 2019.

provide more opportunities to the young people of the area - with programming

“When I was invited back to Park this year, I

time devoted to the next generation of

was met with great regard and made to

broadcasters.

feel very welcome. Park Radio is the

Teams from both Diss and Archbishop

perfect platform for anyone wanting to

Sancroft high schools have taken to the air

learn the art of radio, no matter what their

with Archbishop Sancroft pupil, Matt

age is. They’re brilliant at what they do -

Hallsworth, hosting a regular slot each

serving the local community with style.''

Sunday at 3pm. ''I've worked with Park Radio multiple times over the past two years and the experience that it’s given me is priceless,” said Matt. “I started here when I was 14. Diss Matters Summer 2021 17


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Go fish! Diss’ iconic Mere is home to over 50,000 fish, which makes it a natural location for the Diss and District Angling Club. Keen to promote this rich resource - and the delights of Diss and its Mere as a whole - in 2019 the club launched the Mere Masters. The one-off event attracted 20 competitors, with the winner Tony Watling (who’d never fished the Mere before) claiming the title of first ever Mere Master.

this has led to lots of people contacting us

It’s great to have someone as well-known as Bob Nudd enter the Masters and fish the Mere. It really does put this beautiful venue in the spotlight within the angling world. Ben Wilby

about wanting to fish the Mere.” Riding the wave of popularity generated by the Mere Masters and its world-class competitors, the club has now introduced a Junior Masters competition. “The Junior Masters is about getting more young people active and giving it a go,” said

Due to the pandemic, there was no Mere

Ben. “Anyone under the age of 16 can take

Masters competition in 2020. But, this year,

part at no cost. We’re expecting this to be

they’ve brought it back. And attracted some

popular and we hope the juniors have a

world class talent too.

great day’s fishing.”

Having recently fished in the Mere, fourtime world champion angler, Bob Nudd MBE, decided to dip his rod into the water and enter the Mere Masters. 76-year-old Bob, who won the World Freshwater Angling Championship in 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1999, represented England at international level for more than 24 years. He was awarded an MBE for services to fishing and narrowly missed out on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. “It’s great to have someone as well-known as Bob enter the Masters and fish the Mere,” said competition organiser and club chairman, Ben Wilby. “It really does put the beautiful Mere in the spotlight within the angling world. Bob uses social media a lot to talk through his angling experiences and Diss Matters Summer 2021 19


Sunshine on four wheels

If you live or work in or around Diss there

know it was time to head off to work,” says

are many reasons to be cheerful. There’s

Pat of his time at Diss’ iconic Brush Factory.

the glorious Mere and park, a vibrant and

Now a resident of Burston, Pat has never

eclectic mix of shops and businesses,

driven a car, preferring bicycles instead.

tranquil outdoor spaces and walks, a

“All I’ve ever had is a bicycle,” says Pat. “I

supportive and caring community spirit,

didn’t fancy learning to drive a car. I’ve been

and then there’s Patrick Woods. Or ‘PAT 85’

cycling all my life.”

as many of you will know him.

Pat’s current bike is, however, rather special. Unlike any of his previous models,

Flowers, feather dusters and fluffy

it’s a four-wheeler. And it’s covered in…

parrots

stuff! So, what prompted the change?

Anyone who’s bumped into Pat by the Mere,

All because of a hoover

on the market or in the park will no doubt have left wearing a smile. Festooned in

“It’s laughable really,” says Pat. “I went into

flowers, feather dusters and topped with a

the electrical shop to buy a hoover. When I

fluffy parrot, Pat’s favoured mode of

was inside the shop, I fell down and broke

transport when he’s travelling into town is

my thigh. After a long stay in hospital, and

his beloved four-wheel bicycle. And it’s this

some time convalescing, I had a follow-up

bike, and Pat’s equally colourful personality,

appointment with my consultant. He

which are guaranteed to raise a smile.

advised me not to ride a bike again. I

A local from birth, Pat has spent most of his

couldn’t bear the thought of this and of

85 years living and working in Diss and the

losing my independence. So I decided to

surrounding villages.

compromise and buy a bike that was as safe

“At 8am, you’d hear the loud hooter and

and stable as it could be. I went to Madgetts

20 Diss Matters Summer 2021


and bought this fantastic four-wheeler and

on my bike, but I usually forget to switch it

it’s the best thing I ever did.”

on), but I’d say it’s quite a few.”

The bike, made in Kent, has transformed Pat’s life, in more ways than one.

The decision to decorate the bike has also changed Pat’s life for the better.

People come and chat to me when I’m out on my bike. They love to look at everything I’ve got on it and ask me questions about it. It’s made such a difference to me and my state of mind.

“This bike is a lifeline for me because it’s

“People come and chat to me when I’m out on my bike. They love to look at everything I’ve got on it and ask me questions about it. I’ve got to know lots of people through my bike which, as someone who lives on his own, makes such a difference to me and my state of mind.”

given me back my independence and helped me keep fit and healthy,” says Pat. “I can go

And the fluffy parrot?

where I like. I live on my own in Burston and to get into town I would have to pay around

“I found that in a charity shop,” says Pat. “It

£16 for a taxi. Now all it costs me is pedal

sat there begging for me to buy it. I would

power. I love to go to Diss Market on a

say it’s put the finishing touch to the bike,

Friday. It’s nice and busy again, which is

but I’m sure there’ll be more additions

good, but luckily there’s still space for me to

before long. Especially now the charity

park my bike. I recently cycled to Billingford

shops are back open. I can’t resist a

Windmill and on another day to Bloom’s in

bargain!”

Bressingham. I’m not sure how many miles I do each week (I have a speedometer fitted Diss Matters Summer 2021 21


Reasons to be cheerful An exhibition by you We love photos. Particularly photos of our beautiful town. And who better to capture the true heart of Diss than you, the people who live and work here? So, we set you a theme and you rose to the challenge.

Heidi Lucas

Gemma Johnson

Kevin Smith 22 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Kim Cordy

Tracy Keating

Janice Garman

Julie Frost

Janet Blomfield Diss Matters Summer 2021 23


The value of volunteering Most charities and community groups are run by volunteers. And without these volunteers the good work these organisations do to help those in need or provide services which would otherwise not be available, would simply not happen. Volunteers are, and always will be, a vital part of a kind and caring society. But, during the past year in particular, voluntary groups have been more in demand than ever. Due to the pandemic, many of us have experienced financial hardship. Others have experienced loneliness and isolation. And all of us have experienced the fear and

it operates regularly through a team of loyal

vulnerability of catching and spreading a

volunteers from the Diss Youth and

virus, not knowing how (or how long) it

Community Centre (DYCC) with the support

would affect us.

of Tesco, Diss Town Council, MTM Youth Services and other individual donors. For

Despite this, our town is relatively lucky.

those (particularly families) experiencing

Diss has many amazing voluntary

unexpected financial hardship due to the

organisations and community groups, all of

pandemic, it has helped enormously.

which have gone above and beyond over the past year. But, during this pandemic,

“I was very honoured and humbled to be

there have been three examples of

invited to see how the FareShare scheme,

volunteering in action that have targeted

based in DYCC, has continued to support

the key areas of hardship, loneliness and

the communities of Diss through this year

vulnerability most in evidence since the

of lockdown,” said Diss Town Councillor,

virus hit.

Sonia Browne. “A big thank you to Sam, Julia and colleagues for their steadfast support.

Help with hardship

The food was originally only received from one of the supermarkets. Now, however,

FareShare redistribute surplus food from

other shops are donating not just tinned

some of the UK’s top food companies to

food, but essential toiletries, nappies, fruits

those in need. A nationwide organisation,

vegetables and frozen food.”

24 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Mark Gingell

Giving protection

A friendly and informative voice

The UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is

Social distancing and self-isolation have

the world's first mass immunisation

been a necessary, but challenging, fallout of

campaign and the biggest of its kind ever

COVID-19. With so many people at home for

undertaken by the NHS.

a variety of reasons, local radio became a vital source of information and

But, with NHS staff also tasked with keeping

entertainment. Park Radio’s team of over 50

other vital services going, delivering on such

volunteers has helped those living alone or

a scale requires reinforcements. Which is

in isolation feel connected and cared for. It’s

why, from GP practices, care homes and

also given a lot back to the volunteers.

pharmacies to hospitals, sports stadiums and community centres, volunteers are helping

“Being part of Park Radio has been a dream

with the rollout of the vaccine at sites all

come true - something I didn't expect to

around the country. Including here in Norfolk,

happen in my late 40s and early 50s!” says

where one of those volunteers is our very

volunteer and presenter, Andrew Cooper.

own Diss Town Councillor, Mark Gingell.

“I've been able to offer some of my skills to the station (my background is in teaching

"I decided to train as a vaccinator when I

and leadership) and, in return, I have learnt

heard that there was an urgent call for

so much about making good local radio. I

volunteers to help with the rollout of the

have built some good friendships and met

COVID-19 vaccination programme,” says

many interesting people from the local

Mark. “I’ve always felt comfortable receiving

community. It's been a pleasure to be part

injections and felt I had the skills, limited

of this great local initiative.”

experience, knowledge and capacity to undertake the role. I also saw it as another opportunity to extend the work I do for Diss Town Council and support the residents, businesses and visitors of Diss.” Mark has been one of the many volunteer vaccinators based at the Diss Youth & Community Centre (DYCC) since it opened as a vaccination centre in mid-May. Diss Matters Summer 2021 25


A time to remember and revive

Over the past year, a working group

“We wanted to celebrate the good, and to

formed by members of the town council

remember all of those impacted by COVID-

and local residents, has been looking at

19,” said Cllr Sonia Browne. “We chose a

ways to recognise and commemorate the

beacon because, as well as being a powerful

impact COVID-19 has had on our

symbol of light and hope that would

community. Keen to focus on the future

resonate with all of our communities, it’s

too, the group has also been looking at

also a very prominent feature that people

what we can do to move forwards with a

will see when they’re out and about in

spirit of energy and determination. Here’s

town.”

an update on developments so far. “The beacon was originally planned to A powerful symbol of light and hope

commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE

A Beacon of Hope, to be installed in the

Day in 2020,” says working group member,

town’s park, near the Mere and with the

Charlotte Valori. “The COVID-19 pandemic

church in the background, will be lit for the

put paid to all plans to celebrate VE Day

first time on Monday 21st June, marking the

with large public events. But the beacon

end of lockdown. It will then be lit on special

idea was carried forward by our committee

occasions and as a focal point for

to become the Diss Beacon of Hope.”

community celebrations, commemorations and unique events (such as the Diss Carnival). It will also be a focus for future projects with local schools and artists. 26 Diss Matters Summer 2021


By creating some new walking and cycling trails around the town, we can look back and remember this time. But we can also look forwards, promoting the importance of keeping active and living a healthier lifestyle. Charlotte Valori

Remembering and promoting the power

Designed to cater for all sectors of our

of exercise

community, these Beacon Trails have both a

As well as installing a beacon in the park,

symbolic and practical purpose.

two new walking trails and one new cycling trail will be created in and around town.

“COVID-19 challenged all corners of society,

These include:

particularly during periods of lockdown when lifestyles rapidly and dramatically

• a short walking trail

changed,” says Charlotte Valori. “Exercise

2km long, this trail will be fully accessible

become a lifeline to many of our residents,

and routed around the historic centre of

helping both with physical health and

Diss

mental wellbeing.

• a long walking trail

“By creating some new walking and cycling

12km long and accessible for pushchairs,

trails around the town, we can look back and

this trail will incorporate the historic centre

remember this time. But we can also look

of Diss and its surrounding villages to the

forwards, promoting the importance of

east and south

keeping active and living a healthier lifestyle. These trails act as a fitting legacy of this

• a cycling trail

challenging time for future generations.”

15km long, this cycling route will take in

Detailed information and maps for each of

the historic centre of Diss and its

the trails will be available at

surrounding villages to the north and west.

www.diss.gov.uk/diss-beacon-of-hope Diss Matters Summer 2021 27


Keeping Carnival alive Diss Carnival is often described as “the party of the year”. Every June, thousands of you turn out to watch the procession with its fantastic variety of floats and walking groups, followed by a jam-packed afternoon of entertainment at the Fun Day. Every June that is, until COVID-19. Last year, the Carnival Committee was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions. And this year was, sadly, no different. Keen to keep the spirit of Carnival alive until it can return in full force next year, we thought we’d take some time to reminisce. So, here are some pics and memories to keep you going until next June. Enjoy! “The Carnival was revived to bring the community together. It has achieved that and become the most popular and successful event in Diss. Every year has been different and had its own special moments, with acts ranging from Newfoundland dog displays, marching pipe bands and zorbing to the RAF Falcons Parachute Displays team and displays of local crafts!” Cllr Doreen Collins, former Carnival Co-ordinator “One memory that stands out for me is having over 40 of my Tribe performing in the arena on a beautiful sunny day with the crowds cheering and clapping!” Amy Bobbins, Tribe ALL Fitness “Diss Carnival is always a great day out. I enjoy seeing people getting involved in the Carnival spirit! My favourite Carnival theme was ‘Countries of the World’ where Diss Museum entered as Ireland…great fun!” Basil Abbott, Diss Museum Manager 28 Diss Matters Summer 2021


“I used to love going to Carnival at Diss - it was one of the highlights of the year! I can remember one year in the early 1970s walking from Scole to Diss when the Carnival was on the football ground in Roydon Road. There was a huge container full of bubbles that I was thrown into by a member of Diss Rugby Club. Fortunately, it was a warm day so I soon dried off! Ten years later I entered my daughter in the baby competition - she “We love the lead up to Carnival; the hours of planning, the dressing of the tractor and trailer. The preparation is just as much fun as the day itself! Our favourite theme was ’80 years of Disney’. The children were so excited to dress up as their favourite characters. Carnival day brings new emotions; the excitement of the children clambering into the trailer, lunch boxes crammed with goodies and excited parents

came second! I remember watching the

waving them off as we leave the car park

various routes the procession took over the

(tissues always at the ready). Then, there

years from different vantage points,

are the crowds as we start on our journey…

including from the flat above The Wool

wow! A sea of faces, waving hands and

Shop, where I worked in Mere Street, the

cheering voices. It’s a day that will be part of

corner of Fair Green, by the fish and chip

our memories forever.” Sharon Everett,

shop, and at the top of Uplands Way when I

Merryfields Nursery Manager

lived in Walcot Road.” Roella Trudgill, Diss Resident  “I organised the Fun Dog Show in 2019, because I know how much people love a dog show! It was a great way for people to show off their gorgeous hounds, while raising money for charity! My favourite theme over the years was 2019’s ‘Pre-DISStoric’. The kiddies loved the dinosaurs and the outfits were great!” Hannah Defoe, Hannah’s Pet Services Diss Matters Summer 2021 29


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Diss Matters Summer 2021 31


Meet our award-winning citizens In March, we announced the winners of

walks and church services for residents free

our Honoured Citizen awards. There were

of charge. She is also a longstanding trustee

many worthy nominees, but two

of local children’s bereavement charity,

candidates stood out from the rest. These

Nelson’s Journey.

were Anne Beckett-Allen in the Honoured

Roella Trudgill, who nominated Anne, said:

Citizen category and Lily Mills in the Junior

“Anne works tirelessly… and is an

Good Citizen category.

inspiration to everyone to try and keep positive.”

Anne Beckett-Allen

Finding out she had won was a moving moment for Anne.

Anne Beckett-Allen receives the Honoured

“When I heard the news, I was really

Citizen Award for her work promoting

emotional, because it was just four years

mental health first aid in the workplace and

ago that I was watching my late father,

for all she does to support our town’s

Harold Rackham, receive the exact same

bereaved residents, particularly children.

award,” said Anne. “And I know that he

Anne has led on the delivery of mental

would have been so proud of me. Through

health first aid courses and training to

my work at Rosedale, we have won many

employees all over the local area. A

regional and national awards. But this one,

founding funeral director, and one of the

being closer to home, is somehow even

most qualified funeral directors in the

more special.

country, Anne runs bereavement groups,

“In these difficult times, it’s more important

32 Diss Matters Summer 2021


than ever to try and maintain a healthy mindset and positive attitude. Part of that should be celebrating and expressing gratitude for all the things that are good in our community. The Honoured Citizen awards do just that, and I think the Junior Good Citizen award is particularly powerful. Celebrating and publicly acknowledging a young person’s contribution means they are more likely to continue their good work and encourage others to be their best selves too. The very process of nominating someone is an easy kindness to pass on. It benefits one’s wellbeing in a positive way,

summer of 2018 aged 12. I wanted to help

and really is of enormous importance.”

make Diss more ‘youth friendly’ and provide a voice for youngsters on matters that

Lily Mills

concern us. Helping and working in the local community is really important, but it’s been

Lily Mills, a pupil at Diss High School,

especially important over the past year with

received this year’s Junior Good Citizen

COVID-19. It’s been great how everyone has

award. As well as being a Diss Youth

joined together and supported each other

Councillor, Lily volunteers for Scole Nature

through the pandemic.

Trails Trust and Gissing Children’s Centre.

“Getting this award has been fantastic. It’s

She’s also a rookie lifeguard and qualified

really good to say thanks and reward people

first aider.

for working hard. Giving back to the local community helps build a good community

Chris Brook, a trustee at Scole Nature Trails

spirit and I like to show that young people

Trust and one of her nominators, said:

can be altruistic and generous with their

“Lily isn’t afraid of hard work. It was

time too and that our community does

particularly impressive to know that, prior

matter to us.”

to the restrictions last year, she would attend early morning lifeguard training sessions before rushing home and then

Annual Town Meeting

turning out to work for us.”

The awards will be presented to Anne and Lily at the Annual Town Meeting on

Representing the needs of others –

29th September. The public are warmly

particularly the young people of Diss - has

welcome to attend. Registration details

always been a big motivator for Lily.

will be available nearer the time.

“I joined Diss Youth Town Council in the Diss Matters Summer 2021 33


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Somewhere over the rainbow

The rainbow has taken on iconic

almost every shop in the town and at other

significance over the past year or so since

places around Diss. But I didn’t sign them,

COVID-19 hit; symbolising support for the

so at first no one knew they were from me -

NHS and hope and happiness following

it was kind of a mystery. But, somehow, they

adversity. One member of our community

found out. And here I am!”

made it her mission to share this symbol of support and encouragement

Having shared

throughout Diss and beyond. Meet the

rainbows with most

remarkable Suzanne Barclay.

businesses and other organisations locally,

A volunteer at The Big C charity shop in

Suzanne decided to

Diss, Suzanne started crafting rainbows at

distribute her artwork

home during the first lockdown.

further afield.

“I drew them at first because I wanted to

“I sent one to Boris

keep myself busy,” said Suzanne. “The

Johnson,” said

charity shop was closed and I had more

Suzanne. “I even sent one to Donald Trump.

spare time than I normally would have had.

Boris Johnson thanked me on TV. Donald

Once I’d drawn them though, I didn’t know

Trump didn’t get back to me though!”

what to do with them. Despite her transatlantic snub, Suzanne “As well as keeping active, I really wanted to

doesn’t plan to stop there.

make people happy, because everything

“My friends at The Big C gave me more pens

was so strange and worrying (especially for

as a Christmas present. So, I’m ready to

people in shops and businesses). I also

start up again. I’m a big Norwich City FC

wanted to show my support for the NHS,

supporter, so I’m going to do a special one

particularly everyone working in the Norfolk

for them. I’m hoping if I do they might send

& Norwich hospital, where I was born.

me a message back. It’s my birthday soon and, if they did, that would be the best

“So I decided to give the rainbows out. I

present ever.”

distributed them by hand and by post to Diss Matters Summer 2021 35


Rotary round-up Diss Waveney Rotary Club It’s been a busy year for the Diss Waveney Rotary Club, despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Last autumn, they delivered over 250 Usborne Illustrated English dictionaries to Year 5 pupils in 10 local schools (receiving over 70 thank you letters from pupils in return). Working in partnership with Diss & District Rotary Club they then went on to plant 75 trees on Brewers Green to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day – there are plans to install a memorial plaque later this

The Gates Foundation matches each £1 with £2, so the total for Polio Plus now becomes £654. Then there was Christmas a time most associated with the Rotary Club. Determined to bring some Christmas cheer to Diss, the Deneside Ramblers, organised by the club's International Team, performed Christmas carols outside the United Reformed Church.

year.

This was followed later in the month by

Unable to undertake their usual bucket

(We’ve checked his diary, and he’ll be there

Santa’s special appearance at Mere’s Mouth.

collections in local stores, the club found an alternative way to raise money for Polio Plus. Inspired by the 1240 miles of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, the Foundation Team encouraged members to empty pockets and purses of loose change and tip the money into jam jars. The aim was to collect 1240 coins by World Polio Day on the 24th October. The target was reached and more. 2018 coins were collected, amounting to £218 for Polio Plus.

again this year on the 18th, 20th and 22nd December from 10am to 2pm.) More recently, the club has been involved in supporting the Computers for Schools initiative. Early this year, club president, Beverley Blake, presented computers donated by club members to 121 Computers in Diss for refurbishing and sending onto local schools for pupils to use during lockdown.

Donations made by Diss Waveney Rotary Club between Oct 2020 and April 2021 include: Diss Salvation Army, Diss Citizen Advice Bureau, Banham Zoo Conservation Project,Leeway, (a womens' refuge in Norwich), Lend with Care, (an international microfinance charity,) End Polio Now campaign, Polio Plus and The Rotary Foundation. As soon as all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the club has a full programme of fundraising activities planned. Watch this space! Find out more about Diss Waveney Rotary Club at: disswaveneyrotary.org.uk

36 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Diss & District Rotary Club A farmer for 50 years and a Rotarian since 2007, David Gooderham from Tibenham has always enjoyed drawings cartoons. It’s a talent his fellow Diss & District Rotarians only discovered through COVID-19. “Due to the pandemic we haven’t been able to meet in person,” said David. “We’ve been using Zoom, but we also thought that having a newsletter would help us keep in contact and keep the group spirit alive. The members discovered by chance that I liked to draw cartoons and suggested I include some in each newsletter. I started off doing some of the members. They went down well and they’ve now become a regular feature. “As you can see from my drawings, I get inspiration from the news, as well as everyday situations around me. After a while, we thought we could try and use the cartoons to raise some money for charities – particularly those people most impacted

by COVID-19. So, we created a downloadable pdf of them. It’s a lighthearted record of events as they unfolded since last March, plus a few others for good measure. People can download the cartoons for a voluntary donation (suggested £5) and the money is split evenly between Cancer Research UK and the Norwich Hospitals charity. We’ve raised £1080 so far.” Over the years, David has drawn cartoons of, and for, all of his children and grandchildren. “Most of them are cartoons of them having fun on the farm,” said David. “This Christmas, they all received personalised copies of them on coasters, which they loved.” David’s collection of cartoons is available at: www.dissrotary.org.uk

Simply Walk 2021 The second annual Rotary Club of Diss & District walk is due to take place on Sunday June 27th. It’s free and there are distances for all abilities. It starts from the new beacon in Diss park between 8am and 10am. There are no entry requirements, so you can just turn up and join any of the route options. Groups, clubs and families are invited to make up a team, maybe in fancy dress, and raise sponsorship, which will all go to the club’s charity account. For route details, full instructions and sponsorship forms go to: www.dissrotary.org.uk This year, the Rotary Club of Diss & District has distributed nearly £25,000 to local, national and international charities. Diss Matters Summer 2021 37


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Diss Lighting White House Farm, Burston Road, Dickleburgh IP21 4NP Tel: 07938041777 www.disslighting.co.uk

38 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Funding that delivers If you’re a voluntary or not-for-profit organisation working for the benefit of Diss residents, you could be entitled to a council community grant. Three of the town’s beneficiaries this year- the Diss Primary Academy Partnership, Diss Youth Work and Diss Community Team - share how the grant has helped them. Support for schooling provided opportunities and support for the “The community grant received by Diss

whole community and helped a wide range

Primary Academy Partnership has had a

of people. All of us involved are extremely

huge impact on our families,” says Executive

grateful for the extra funding.”

Headteacher, Jo Cerullo. “It meant we could ensure every family in our school

Support for the high street

community had home internet access by supplying wifi boxes and usb sticks to those

“The Diss Community Team is a Community

who needed them. We were also able to

Interest Company run by volunteers,” says

give families the loan of a school laptop to

Alan Franks, one of its directors. “When

support learning from home. I felt

Beales department store closed in early

incredibly humbled to receive the grant

2020 (rapidly followed by COVID-19 and the

from Diss Town Council. Their generosity

first lockdown), we decided to shift our

made sure all of our children could

attention from events to helping reverse the

communicate with their teachers and peers

decline of the retail sector. A variety of

and continue to develop their skills

initiatives were discussed with the town and

remotely.”

district councils, all designed to safely bring people back into the town and brighten up

Support for youth work

the streetscape.

“Diss town council’s community grant

“With the help of our community grant, we

scheme has funded a Youth & Community

were able to start a project covering the

Worker to run local Diss Youth Work

fronts of empty shops with attractive

projects including the Diss Youth Council, a

window displays. This has made a real

range of media, gardening and

difference. A number of empty units have

intergenerational projects, some detached

now been taken over by independent

youth work and the FareShare scheme.

traders bringing interest and variety back

Youth & Community Worker Julia

into the town.”

Fairbrother, says, “This funding has Diss Matters Summer 2021 39


40 Diss Matters Summer 2021


Writing history Diss Museum has been closed for over a year now due to COVID-19. But its manager, Basil Abbott, has found a good way of keeping busy, while also helping keep the museum in the public eye. He’s published a book. ‘Call back the past: Giving a buzz to history’ hit the digital shelves earlier this year and it’s packed full of fascinating facts and curious characters. “I decided that a book would keep the museum in the public eye during lockdown,” said Basil. “So, I collated a selection of articles I’d written and ‘Call back the past: Giving a buzz to history’ is the result.” The Abbott family came to Diss in 1914, when Basil’s grandfather, Amos, was

“Included in the book is a script written for the children of the junior school to mark the school’s 150th anniversary,” says Basil. ‘Call Back the Past’ concludes with the

appointed as waterworks engineer.

efforts that went into commemorating the

“Our family’s been in Diss for over a century

on Amazon and Kindle.

and the book contains a lot of family anecdotes passed down over the years,”

R34 airship centenary. The book is available

Name that badge

said Basil. “There’s information about unusual objects such as the Green Man on the church porch. And there are insights into historical characters ranging from Thomas Paine and the 18th century teacher, Anna Barbauld, to Scole inventor William Pretty, evacuee Eric Hancock and Sir George Edwards MP.” Current residents will be familiar with some of the sites and areas which also feature in the book, including Croft Lane, Rectory Meadow, the Mere, Parish Fields and the schools.

Anyone recognise this army badge? If so, we’d love to hear its history. Email us at: towncouncil@diss.gov.uk Diss Matters Summer 2021 41


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