Page 1

A u t u m n - W i n t e r 2020

Snap happy! Your photos in the spotlight

The new normal? Coping with COVID

2 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Welcome back! Back to business This edition of ‘Diss Matters’ comes from

Contents 4

Council news

due to COVID-19, we feel privileged to be


My year so far, the mayor

able to, once again, celebrate all that our


New faces on the council

community has to offer. And equally


All tied up

the heart. With our spring edition cancelled

pleased to be able to welcome back many organisations that had to close temporarily throughout lockdown and beyond. Chips, pics, poems and people

10-11 The Corn Hall – an update/what’s coming up 13

South Norfolk Police news

14-15 Rotary round-up 17

Youth groups chatroom

individuals, businesses and volunteer groups in


Keeping Diss moving

our community who kept support and services


On the pitch

running despite the challenges presented by


Picture perfect

In this issue, we pay special tribute to the

the pandemic. There’s a focus on mental wellness and physical health with tips on how

22-23 Out and about

we can make the most of all Diss has to offer to

24-25 Mysteries of the mere

help preserve both.

26-27 Keeping art alive

There are new features - including a poetry

28-29 A chip off the old block

page and a themed gallery of photos sent in by


our readers (thank you, they’re amazing!). As

32-33 The great outdoors

well as all the old favourites, from council news


Climb every mountain


Preserving the past

some familiar figures and look ahead to the


Trained to care

rest of the year. We’ve also got a fresh new look


Denny Day Centre reopens its doors

– hope you like it?


2020: In it together

to what’s coming up at The Corn Hall. We meet some new faces, reacquaint ourselves with

The sweet sound of success

So sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy a taste of what matters. 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

Diss Matters is published by Falcon Publications, DBH 21,

Have a great Autumn,

Diss Business Park, Hopper Way, Diss, IP22 4GT


Tel: 01379 773347 / 48, www.falconpublications.co.uk Design & Artwork: Ian Foster, Copy Concept

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 3

Council news The past months have been tough for all

Time to remember

sectors of our community. And, while

An official Remembrance Day ceremony

we’re all making steps to move forwards

may not be possible this year due to COVID-

where we can, it’s important to take stock

19 and restrictions around social

and reflect on challenges our community

gatherings. But, as a council and a

has faced in recent and more distant

community, the day will be marked by

times. With this in mind, here’s an update on what’s new and coming up, but also what we’re doing to remember events that have challenged us as a town. Mere’s Mouth gets a facelift

A working group of the Town Council, together with members of the community, are planning to recognise and commemorate the impact of COVID-19 on town life.

Transformation of the area around Mere’s

Mouth is almost complete. The coordinated

personal and private tributes to those who

programme of works includes

fought for our country, sacrificing

refurbishment of the toilets, resurfacing of

themselves to secure and protect our

the pathway at Mere’s Mouth and repairs to


the sleepers around the mere. A shining light A working group of the council together with members of the community are planning to recognise and commemorate the impact of COVID-19 on town life. Using funding provided by Diss Town Council, a Beacon of Hope, Light & Remembrance will be installed in Diss Park. This beacon will also act as the start and finish points to several ‘Lockdown Loops’ (new walking and cycling routes in and around Diss). Keep an Sarah Richards, Diss Town Clerk

Along the boardwalk Improvements to the boardwalk have finished and the walkway is now open to the public with a one-way system in operation to ease social distancing. Access runs from the rear of the council offices on Market Hill to the King’s Head car park. 4 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

eye on our website (www.diss.gov.uk) and social media channels for more details.

My year so far, the mayor This has been a very strange time to be

to notice the little things around you. I

mayor. The COVID-19 pandemic has

found these very helpful and try to follow as

brought with it many tough challenges for

many as I can.

us all and the theme - Kindness, Communication and Community – chosen

Other highlights this year include: helping

to underpin my second year seems more

out with the Fair Green community group

important now than ever.

whose members went above and beyond to support others through the height of the

Though busy in my role as mayor, I’ve tried

pandemic; speaking about volunteering

hard to find time to promote mental

opportunities in Diss at a virtual Rotary Club

wellness. Good mental health is just as

meeting; and laying a wreath alongside

important as physical health. And, as we

Council Leader Simon Olander to

move through this pandemic, it’s important

commemorate VJ Day on 15th August.

to recognise

My chosen

and support

charities have


slightly changed for

My work in

this mayoral

this field has

year. I’ll be

taken many


forms, from

the Big C

my role as a

cancer charity

mental health

and the

first aider to


my role as a


mental health navigator. Working at

Violence & Abuse Services charity. I have

Citizen’s Advice alongside our project

been thinking outside the box for ways to

partner MIND, I helped devise a workshop

raise money, so watch this space!

aimed at supporting people through a crisis such as the COVID pandemic. Council staff

Please stay well everyone. Don’t forget to

and colleagues took part in these training

social distance where possible, to wear your

sessions, which also provided support for

face masks where specified, and to look

other issues we may face. One of the areas I

after your mental health.

cover in the training is the ‘Seven Ways to

Good Wellbeing’ which include things like

Cllr Sonia Browne

continuing to learn, connect and

Mayor of Diss

communicate with others and taking time

Diss Town Council

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 5

New faces on the council Our most recent recruits to the council,

“I hope to speak up for people in Diss and

Jim Welch and Stuart Warren, are both

can be found in and around the many cafes

passionate about giving a voice to the

in town most days.”

people of Diss. And removing the stigma around mental health. Here they talk a bit about themselves and answer a few sneaky questions from us.

Stuart says… “I’ve lived in and around Diss most of my life. After moving to Norwich a few years

Jim says…

ago, my partner and I moved back to Diss because we missed the area and wanted to

“I was born in London in 1959. I was

be closer to family. Between us we have

grammar school educated, before studying

four children, two girls and two boys.

with the university of life compliments of the Royal Air Force.

“I have worked in the care and support sector as well as in mental health, welfare

“While in the services, I was able to

rights advice and social housing. I’m also a

participate in my passions of archaeology,

qualified vehicle technician. At the moment,

genealogy and war gaming. My time in the

I work for Citizen’s Advice in Diss and Equal

service was spent in an intelligence role,


which has given me many skills to fall back on when needed. I moved to Diss with my

“I’m passionate about helping and

family looking for a slower pace of life, only

supporting others, particularly those with

to find I had come home; my mother’s great

mental health difficulties. I have a mental

grandfather was born in Diss in 1847!

health illness and am quite determined to show others that it is perfectly acceptable to

“I was co-opted onto the council in 2020

suffer from ill mental health. I want people

after finding I had time on my hands. I

to see that it’s good to be open and honest

needed something to help me get over a

about it to help combat stigma.

bout of depression and I wanted to improve

life for the residents within the town. 6 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

“I decided to join the council team because

 Jim: I love to visit Cafe Culture with its

I’m passionate about the town and want to

friendly sta and can be found in there

provide a voice to those that wouldn’t

most days.

normally get involved. I want to help improve our town and continue to make it a

What three words could you use to sum

lovely place to live and for people to visit.�

up Diss?

We asked‌

Stuart: Traditional, vibrant and friendly.Â

What do you most like about Diss?

Jim: Picture postcard and friendly.

Stuart: The sense of community (this has

Any tips for staying happy and healthy?

been very apparent since COVID-19, the lockdown and the willingness of people to

Stuart: Make use of the excellent leisure

pitch in and help others).

centre and pool or get out and about and take to one of the many footpaths in the

Jim: Being an ex-Londoner I love the slower

area. Walking and the feeling of being out in

pace of life.

nature is great for the body and mind.Â

What’s your favourite local place to visit?

Jim: Number one, don’t fall out of bedđ&#x;˜Ż! And number two, just take a few minutes to

Stuart: I really enjoy visiting the town

listen to the ducks by the mere - they always

centre and I love searching through the

seem to be in good spirits.

charity shops. I think we should embrace Diss and put it on the map as a place to come and visit each of the charity shops.

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 7

8 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

All tied up Nestled in The Shambles (once two old butchers’ shops) in the centre of Diss Market Place, Diss Museum has kept our community connected with its past since 1993. Run by manager Basil Abbott and a group of active volunteers, its combination of exhibitions and events regularly attract both visitors and awards. Then came COVID-19. Diss Museum was forced to temporarily close its doors. But, undeterred, and despite little chance of re-opening this season, work has continued behind the scenes. The museum has always enriched its permanent exhibition with temporary collections and exciting plans for a

Basil’s collection will be on display when the

fashionable new display have been revealed. If you’re looking to smarten up

museum opens.

your image, this display could be just the inspiration you need.

When I looked, I realised I had acquired about 120 neckties since my teens.

“I have never consciously collected them,” says manager Basil Abbott. “But when I

looked, I realised I had acquired about 120 neckties since my teens. While planning to fill our next Collection Cabinet slot, it suddenly dawned on me that I had a collection that people might be interested in! Some have quite a story behind them. They recall a time when every man, even watching a football match, wore one.” Following the death of his father, the collection of ties (many of which belonged to

TIES, a poem by Basil Abbott Boy, he would say, what you doin’ with them ties? And I would say, Well, you’re dead now, Dad, And I didn’t think you’d be needing them anymore. You’ve got a lot here. You liked ties, didn’t you? I’ll bet this one goes back a bit. You can tell by the frayed edge And the pattern. 1930s? You must have thought You were a heck of a fellow in that. And this one – Pure new wool. I think I brought you that one from Wales. You could have started a tie shop. You wore your cap and overalls in the week; But you were quite a dandy on Sundays, The smartest bloke at church. I’ll wear them now and I’ll be nearly as smart as you were. When I put them to my nostrils I can smell you, Dad, Even though you have gone.

his dad) formed the inspiration for a poem. Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 9

An update from The Corn Hall were directed to close and everything was brought to a standstill. We receive about 95% of our income through ticket sales and, without this, we were in a very vulnerable position. We have since been awarded emergency funding from Arts Council England and a small amount from the British Film Institute. But, we’re far from out of the woods. On 5th July the chancellor announced that £1.57bn would be made available as a lifeline for theatres. While this is welcome news, this lifeline is not a given and we have to apply for a small part of this money. It’s been over a year since I started as Operations Manager at The Corn Hall and what a year it’s been! 2019 was one of the best yet with over 52,000 people walking through our doors to meet friends, have a drink or view some of the free-to-access art we have on display. We showed over 200 live performances, alongside films and screenings from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. These were seen by 24,000 people. The professional pantomime at Christmas was another big hit. I had so many audience members complimenting the performance, I think it proved to be one of our best pantos ever! From comedy nights and tribute bands to big name acts such as Dom Joly, The Corn Hall has put Diss on the cultural map – not just locally but also regionally. Then COVID-19 struck, theatres

10 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

But we’re still here and we couldn’t have survived the pandemic without the dedication and commitment of our staff, trustees and volunteers. Working from home, the box office team kept things running behind the scenes. They are, quite frankly, the best in the business. We’ve got a packed programme this autumn, so please support us, keep our box office team busy and keep The Corn Hall a beacon for the arts in Norfolk. Last year, I described how The Corn Hall takes my breath away whenever I approach it along St Nicholas Street. Well, one year on and it still takes my breath away and for that I’m truly grateful.   Lee Johnson Operations Manager

October to December Events

FILMS Wednesdays 10:30am & 7:30pm 14th Oct – The Personal History of David Copperfield (PG) 21st Oct – The Gentlemen (18) 28th Oct – Ford v Ferrari (Le Mans 66) (12A) 4th Nov – Emma (PG) 11th Nov – Portrait of a Lady on Fire

David Copperfield Sale

18th Nov – Military Wives 25th Nov – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ROYAL BALLET screenings Tues 20th Oct – Giselle Thur 10th & Sat 12th Dec – The Nutcracker THEATRE Fri 23rd Oct – Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde Fri 6th & Sat 7th Nov – Chekhov Comedies WORD

The Nutcracker

Sat 24th Oct – Iain Dale: LBC Radio Presenter Sat 31st Oct – BBC TV’s Bargain Hunt presenter, David Harper: Unexpected Tales ROYAL OPERA HOUSE screenings Tues 3rd Nov – Manon Lescaut Thur 26th Nov – Macbeth ART EXHIBITIONS 4th Nov-Sat 5th Dec – Phil Greenwood 9th Dec-9th Jan – 12 Days of Xmas Corn Hall Art

Iain Dale

BOX OFFICE Monday to Saturday 10am-2.30pm

01379 652241 · boxoffice@thecornhall.co.uk

All events may be booked at any time via our website www.thecornhall.co.uk Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 11

Do you have a spare room to rent? Help someone looking for accommodation We have an experienced team who can help you as a landlord to offer an affordable room in your home. We provide free advice and support to landlords, working closely with you to match the right lodger to your spare room. We will take necessary safety precautions in respect of Covid-19 when meeting or visiting people. Please call Solo Housing on:

01379 640250 Charity Number 1068017

Registered provider Number 4696

Park House, Mere Street, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4JY. 01379 643555 Offices also in Harleston, Ipswich and Felixstowe. www.jackamans.co.uk 12 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

South Norfolk Police news It's been a busy period for officers in and

However, crime

around Diss and what has really been

figures remain low

highlighted is the great community spirit

and Diss continues to

around the market towns. My team and I

be a safe place to

have spent a lot of time out on foot in Diss

work and live.

engaging with you and it's been inspiring to see how people are moving on through the

Nevertheless... it

year in many different ways - from residents

would be fantastic to

and visitors to council staff and business

have some more officers to engage with


you all. Which is why we are promoting recruitment into the Special Constabulary.

We have continued to help people in the

Special Constables make a big difference

area with any crimes which have been

and if you can volunteer some time every

reported - and have made some key arrests

month we’d love to hear from you.

this quarter from a suspected burglary series to cross-border drug dealing.

Inspector Laura Symonds

What is a Special? Being a Special Constable is about doing the work of a police officer, having the powers of a police officer, but serving as a volunteer. But why would you do that? Here are a few reasons… Because you enjoy a challenge. Because you have 16 hours a month to spare to help your local community. Because you want the sense of pride, togetherness and satisfaction that comes from learning new skills. Because you want to make a difference. Because...you can! Whatever your reasons, come and join a team of dedicated volunteers from the local community who provide tremendous help and support to the regular police officers. To find out more check out the Norfolk.police.uk website, telephone us on 01953 425699 (Ext 3212) or email: specialsrecruitment@norfolk.pnn.police.uk We look forward to hearing from you!

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 13

Rotary round-up For most Rotary clubs, regular face-to-face

made possible

meetings and a packed calendar of

because members

fundraising events are the norm. But,

diverted payments

since COVID-19, both of our town’s clubs

for their evening

(Diss & District and Diss Waveney) have

meeting meals to

had to adjust to a new way of operating.

the club charity

Here’s what they’ve been up to and their


plans moving forwards.

The flexibility of online meetings has freed the club up to mark 50 years of friendship

Fundraising feats and 50 years

with its twin club in Hadsten, Denmark.

of friendship

Using Zoom, Hadsten Rotarian, Jens

Despite most of its fundraising events not

Soendergaard, spoke about the many

being held, since lockdown the Rotary Club of Diss & District has allocated £12,000 to local good causes. Over half of this (£6,156) was the result of the Boudicca Walk held in early July led by outgoing club president, Phil Catchpole. Phil (joined by others along the way) walked the entire distance, 72 miles there and back, in under 24 hours. A few weeks later he walked to Norwich to present a cheque for the proceeds to the Norfolk and Norwich Boudicca Breast Cancer Appeal and the UEA Prostate Tiger Testing Research Project. Other charitable donations have only been

14 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Our families have met over 37 times for shared holidays, weddings, confirmations and funerals spanning three generations – all brought about by Rotary.

Despite the success of its Zoom meetings, faceto-face meetings are the heart, body and soul of the club.

will be distributed during the autumn term. Since COVID-19, Diss Waveney Rotary Club has been holding its meetings by Zoom; inviting speakers and members of other exchange visits that were originally initiated

clubs to join. Speaking via Zoom, Diss Town

by late local Rotarians, Ted Mercer and

Mayor Sonia Browne talked about the local

Ernest Cole. And experienced by others including the late Peter Faires, wife Ann and daughter, Jo-Ann, who fondly recalls youth exchanges with Dorthe Henricksen, the daughter of a Hadsten Rotarian. “The friendship between our two families has existed for over 40 years,” says Jo-Ann. “Our families have met over 37 times for shared holidays, weddings, confirmations and funerals – all brought about by Rotary.” It is hoped that a further exchange visit might

volunteering opportunities that might open

be on the cards for next year.

up to members once schemes set up to provide support throughout COVID-19 have

For more info see:


http://www.dissrotary.org.uk Despite the success of its Zoom meetings, Dictionaries 4 Life and volunteering

which are set to continue for the

via Zoom

foreseeable future, face-to-face meetings

Part of Rotary’s Basic Education and

(the heart, body and soul of the club) will

Literacy initiative in schools, Diss Waveney

resume as soon as government guidelines

Rotary Club will be presenting 285 Year Five


pupils in 10 local primary schools with individually named Usborne Illustrated

For more info see:

English Dictionaries. The dictionaries,


always well-received by pupils and teachers,

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 15



Timber Merchants

MOT BY APPOINTMENT We are now proud to offer another great service for our customers – we can carry out MOTs! Victor has now been appointed as an MOT tester, expanding Diss Autocare to benefit customers old and new.

Suppliers of All English & Foreign Hardwoods Softwoods, Veneers, Plywoods, etc. House Beams cut from old logs. Logs sawn to Customer’s requirements. Specialists in Tree Surgery and Firewood. Timber Yard, Heath Road, Eccles


Quidenham, Norfolk NR16 2PD


Tel: 01953 887919, 01953 887415 Mob: 07833 794803 email: cfatimber@aol.com


Darrow Farm, Shelfanger Road, Diss IP22 4XY 01379 423827 07752 000930


Open Monday-Fridays 8am-3pm Saturdays 10am-2pm Jafcaf, Hopper Way, Diss IP22 4GT Tel: 07796 957807 16 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Youth groups chatroom Social distancing doesn’t come naturally to teenagers. And the restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 have presented unique challenges for members of the Diss Youth Group and Diss Youth Council. But with a bit of creative thinking and a large dose of technology both groups have kept connected and active throughout. Here’s how… Paper peacocks and lockdown time capsules With planned activities halted due to COVID19, Diss Youth Council members have been working together to reach out to young people in the community, despite the restrictions in place. Initiatives include the production of a video demonstrating how to make an origami peacock and a redesign of its recruitment flyer. Plans are also in place to launch a lockdown sound time capsule. The sound capsule will include a collection of audio clips chosen by members of the council with explanations as to why they were important to them during lockdown. Scavenger hunts, scaling the stairs and bingo Diss Youth Group (DYG) has been meeting online weekly since April. This is all thanks to support offered by South Norfolk Youth Advisory Board who continued to fund the Youth Work hours and MTM Youth Services CIC who helped with the online risk assessments and policies.

interactive activities, ranging from scavenger hunts, bingo and ‘how to draw’ tutorials to tours, quizzes, memory games and physical challenges. The sessions have had a positive mental and physical impact

During the scavenger hunt, I used the stairs more in one night than I did for a whole week!

on both the young people and staff. “It was great seeing everyone through Zoom,” said one member. “During the scavenger hunt, I used the stairs more in one night than I did for a whole week!” DYG is for young people in years 6, 7, 8 and 9, though young people from Year 10 and over can join the volunteer team. If you’re interested in joining contact Julia on 07546 059061 or julia@mtmyouthservices.org.uk

Led by the members themselves, the virtual sessions have included a variety of Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 17

Contractors to H.M. Government

Scrap Metal Collection Free Metal Dump We Buy in Metal Why not pop down and see what we have from nuts and bolts to picks and shovels, buckets and spades, tools and hardware from racking and shelves, benches to kitchenware and cutlery. Items to recycle from vintage to retro.

Open 8.30am-4pm Weekdays 8.30am-noon Saturdays Call us on 01379 642983 Oxford House, Mission Road Diss IP22 4HX peter.gillings@virgin.net

18 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Keeping Diss moving We all know that walking and cycling is

People need to feel safe on the roads,

good for us. And it’s good for the

especially families with young children,

environment too. Already a popular sport,

school children cycling to school and those

more people took to their bikes during

with disabilities. There need to be clear

lockdown, when less cars were on the

cycle routes, safe cycle parking and

road. Walking too, became a daily lifeline

walkways that are well maintained and

for many in isolation due to COVID-19.

signposted.” The survey, which closed recently having had nearly 1000 responses from people living in and around Diss, invited comments on a range of transport issues, including whether or not people wanted to see the centre of Diss made more pedestrian friendly. “The results, which comprised not only statistical data but also hundreds of comments, are currently being

At the end of July this year, the Council

analysed, and some clear themes are

launched its Diss District Neighbourhood

emerging,” confirms Cllr Burn.

Plan (DDNP) Issues & Options Community Consultation Survey. Mindful of the timely shift towards a more healthy and active lifestyle since lockdown, the safety and provision of footpaths and cycleways featured highly in the survey.

Traffic and safety for pedestrians and cyclists is a major issue in Diss and the surrounding parishes.

“We know that traffic and safety for

“From this evidence, we can include policies

pedestrians and cyclists is a major issue in

in the plan that encourage sustainable

Diss and the surrounding parishes,” states

transport and support linked-up routes and

the chair of the DDNP, Cllr David Burn. “This

safer networks across the area.”

is why we devoted a large section to getting

To track the development of the plan and

around the area on foot, on a bike and in a

view the survey results when they’re

car in our recent Issues & Options

published, visit:

Community Consultation Survey.


Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 19

On the pitch

The year has seen a major impact due to

Our First Team started last season strongly,

the COVID-19 outbreak. Our leisure

but a dip in form from around Christmas

activities of football, small-sided football,

meant that there was no chance of securing

youth football coaching and clubhouse

one of the four promotion places that were

parties came to an abrupt halt in mid-

on offer. The season was eventually

March. Small-sided football and eleven-a-

deemed null and void, with four promotion

side football were able to restart on 1st

places available again in the 2020/21

August. Other activities, however, will not be

season. A ‘lucky draw’ entry was secured for

able to restart until government guidance

the FA Cup, with the first match taking place


on Tuesday 1st September (a 1-0 win against Framlingham Town). A later start to

There has been an adverse financial impact

the season means that there will be more

on the club during the last five months.

midweek matches and cup competitions

However, grants and support from central

may be suspended for the season.

government, South Norfolk District Council, Sport England, the Football Foundation and

Our Reserve Team were in with a good

Greene King Brewery have been a massive

chance of winning the Reserve League

help to ensure that our facilities will be

when the season was halted and declared

available once guidance allows. This will

null and void. Our Thurlow Nunn Youth

allow the organisations that use the club for

League Under-18 team were heading for a

meetings and presentations, fundraising

second place finish when the season was

events, staff parties and private family

halted and declared null and void.

parties to return to our excellent facilities – bookings can be made on 01379 651223.

Tony Collins Honorary Treasurer Diss FC

20 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Picture perfect Tina Ewart has more than a soft spot for Diss. Born and brought up in the town, she’s lived here all of her life. And worked locally too. Starting out as a firefighter for the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service, she’s spent the past 30+ years working as a truck driver for Smurfit Kappa. And she’s recently added another string to her bow….world-renowned photographer. “When I reached 30 years’ service with Smurfit Kappa I was given a long-service award,” says Tina. “I thought carefully about what I should do with the money. But there was really no question. I had to buy a camera.”

but also by people as far away as Australia,” says Tina. “I’ve been contacted by people who used to live here or visit. Looking at my photos brings back lots of fond memories for them. I get a thrill from taking a good

Going through Roydon, I saw a sheep with the sunrise in the background and I just had to stop and capture it.

From Diss to Oz

the local and national press (including ITV),

Photography was something that had always interested Tina. And since buying the camera she hasn’t looked back. Self-taught and highly motivated, Tina joined online photography groups locally and worldwide. Learning from others and through her own experiences, her photos of Diss have gained her a reputation as a quality photographer in her own community and also further afield. “My photos of Diss have been picked up by

photo, but I also love it when photos I’ve taken mean something to people.” Making the front cover Eyes wide open for the next great photo opportunity, Tina carries her camera wherever she goes. Which is how she managed to capture the great pic we’ve used on the cover of our magazine. “My cat, Mongo, was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I had to take him to the vet really early one morning. On my way, going through Roydon, I saw a sheep with the sunrise in the background and I just had to stop and capture it. Luckily, Mongo was understanding!” Look out for more of Tina’s fantastic shots on our Diss Town Council website (diss.gov.uk).

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 21

Out and about 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.

t Bloomfield

ing walk by Jane

A peaceful even

Serenity by Gemm

a Johnson

Olde tyme Diss on film 22 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

by Robert Rogers

Autumn at the

ost mere by Julie Fr

Through the

keyhole by Ti na



y by Tracy Keat

Diss morning sk

Our beautiful mere

The mere durin

g lockdown by

by Janice Garman

Rachel Farrow Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 23

Mysteries of the mere Saxon for ‘ditch of standing water’, Diss

Mystery no 2: What lurks beneath its

takes its name from the mere that forms


the heart of the town. Just 60ft deep

A favourite destination for anglers, the

(with 40ft of mud), the 5 to 6-acre “ditch”

mere is home to over 50,000 fish, including

may be small, but it holds many

crucian carp, tench, roach, rudd and

mysteries in its waters.

perch. Despite being well-stocked, its fish are elusive and difficult to see. Watch

Mystery no 1: How was it formed?

quietly for movement on the surface of

According to ancient folklore, the mere

the water and you may catch a glimpse.

was a bottomless pit formed in the crater

But fish aren’t the lake’s only inhabitants.

of an extinct volcano. Geology, however,

The mere’s also housed a few more

suggests it was created by a glacier retreat

extraordinary items over

back in the last Ice Age. Or, perhaps, a clay-

the years including: a

filled depression formed out of the chalk

£20 note, an acrylic cast

which sits around 100 feet below the

of a human head and a

surface. The truth? Nobody knows for sure.

122lb (55kg) 8ft catfish.

24 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Mystery no 3: What grows on its banks?

Mystery no 4: Whose wings grace its

Being a large body of fairly still water, the


mere suits many delicate aquatic plants.

The mere is home to a wide variety of

Look carefully along the areas on or near

waterfowl. Best-known for its ducks, many

the banks and you’ll discover an unusual

other birds can be seen living and nesting

mix of plants ranging from hoary willow

around the water’s edge. From the Canada

herb to the common reed and yellow iris.

goose to the coot, the great crested grebe

to the grey heron, mallards to moorhens

The mere’s housed a few extraordinary items over the years including: a £20 note, an acrylic cast of a human head and a 122lb (55kg) 8ft catfish.

and the mute swan, there’s a lively community of birds that make the mere their home.

Did you know? Feeding wilds birds too many carbohydrates (such as bread) eventually leads to obesity, which in turn makes them sluggish and unable to fly. This makes it harder for them to evade predators such as foxes and dogs. Wild ducks and waterfowl will live longer, healthier lives eating natural food such as aquatic plants, grasses and insects. If you want to feed the birds on the mere, try deseeded grapes cut in half, cracked corn, oats or other grains or frozen peas or sweetcorn that’s been defrosted. If you can, please give them food out of the water and from the park side of the mere (to stop the pigeons from nabbing the grub!).

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 25

Keeping art alive The therapeutic benefits of art are well

challenges, such as drawing the view from

recognised. But when COVID-19 hit, most

your window, a kitchen cupboard item or

art and craft groups were forced to close.

doodling. Members could then share the

Without the regular companionship and

results of their work in a positive forum to

inspiration provided by face-to-face

inspire others.

workshops, many attendees were left feeling isolated. However, with a bit of creative thinking and a lot of commitment, our community has discovered new ways of keeping art alive and kicking. Keep doing what you love Julie Filmer is a textile artist living in the Diss

This has really shown how important it is to keep on doing the things that you love, despite the changes and challenges that life may throw at you.

area. In January 2020, she set up an art/craft

“Some members were just happy to connect

group (Arty Crafty Tuesdays) that met on

with others, while some took on the

Tuesday mornings at The Space in Burston.

challenges with gusto and produced some

They were just getting into their stride when

lovely drawings and crafted items. This has

the COVID-19

really shown how important it is to keep on doing the things that you love, despite the changes and challenges that life may throw at you. And the need to connect with others who share similar interests to keep a healthy mind.” Feel better together And Julie’s endeavours didn’t stop there. “I heard about an initiative called Better Together and immediately saw another way of reaching out,” says Julie. Better Together helps people set up projects that bring communities together. It

lockdown began and put a halt to their

also offers information and support to

collaborative sharing sessions.

ensure people make the most of activities

“It became apparent, after a few weeks of

and opportunities in their area.

isolation, that there was a need for

In partnership with Better Together and

members to get drawing, painting and

Harleston Information Plus, Julie set up a

crafting again,” says Julie. “So I formed a

Facebook page called ‘Arty Crafty Norfolk’.

Facebook group where I could set 26 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

“Just like my Tuesday group, Arty Crafty

the last few months, so we’ve been keen to

Norfolk has the same positive and inclusive

support people, like Julie, who have found

approach to arts and crafts, where anyone -

other ways of connecting people. We look

regardless of age and ability - can share

forward to doing more of this.

their work,” says Julie. “There are also fun activities, ideas and competitions for adults

Want to find out more?

and children.”

For more information about Arty Crafty Tuesdays or Arty Crafty Norfolk contact Julie

And Julie’s project isn’t the only one the

on 01379 742704 or email

initiative has supported.

the.peacock.emporium@gmail.com. To find

“Whatever people’s ideas are, they can talk

out more about Better Together Norfolk

to us about how we can help make them

phone: 01379 851917 or email

happen,” says Pam Spicer, Outreach Officer


for the program. “We also have small grants that people can apply for.” “Our aim is to reduce social isolation in rural villages and towns in South Norfolk and Breckland,” says Pam. “We usually bring people together through face-to-face groups. But this hasn’t been possible over

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 27


When I see people walking around with a bag of my chips in their hands it always puts a smile on my face.


28 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Image: Tina Ewart

A chip off the old block As it nears its 100th birthday, Diss’s iconic

Creativity in the face of COVID

Chip Cart has a lot to celebrate. It’s

The mode of transport’s not the only thing

survived two rounds of war rationing, an

that’s evolved over the years. After an

invasion of fast food chains and, most

unprecedented 11-week period of closure

recently, the threat of COVID-19. But,

during the height of COVID-19, the Chip Cart

despite the odds, business has never been

returned with a unique invention that

better according to owner, Simon Reeve.

proved a big hit with regulars. “COVID-19 was the first time we’ve really

Keeping it in the family

stopped serving in over 100 years,” says

Perched at the top of the Market Place in

Simon. “I missed the routine and seeing all

Diss, the Chip Cart has been part of the

of our regulars, so it was great when we

town’s landscape for almost a century. The

were able to reopen.”

culinary creation of Harry and Mary Youngman (Simon’s great

With customer safety a

grandparents), the

priority, Simon and his

business started life in

long-serving assistant, his

1921 as ‘Youngman’s Chip

mum Rita Bassett,

Saloon’ and has remained

designed a socially

in the family ever since.

distanced serving system

“My grandparents, Alfred

that made his customers

and Sylvia, took the


business over when my

“I installed a picnic table

great-grandparents could

two metres from the van to

no longer run it,” says

put people’s orders on,”

Simon. “They had it for a

says Simon. “But I needed

long time - my grandmother, Sylvia, was still

a way to get the orders from the van to the

working on the van well into her 80s! Then,

table. So, I invented a pulley system using a

when I was 19, I was asked if I wanted to

wooden slide, some fishing line and a

pick up the reins.”

couple of baskets!”

From four legs to four wheels

Simon’s chips have become a weekly treat

30 years later and Simon’s still at the reins.

for generations of local families.

The big difference now is that the reins no

“We have lots of regulars,” says Simon.

longer pull the horse-drawn carts that his

“People turn up every week, just like their

grandparents travelled around on.

parents and grandparents did. They’ve

“My grandparent’s cart was powered by a

grown up on our chips. It’s comfort food

coal fire, equipped with a hand chipper and

really. When I see people walking around

pulled by their faithful horse, Jack,” says

with a bag of my chips in their hands it


always puts a smile on my face. “ Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 29

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The sweet sound of success 10 years ago, Park Radio started

the volunteers who devote so much time

broadcasting from the basement of

providing a first-class local radio service to

Candies before setting up studio at Diss

the communities we’re licensed to serve.

Youth & Community Centre (DYCC). One

We also couldn’t have kept going without

decade and one pandemic later and it’s

the many listeners, advertisers and

now transmitting much of its output from

supporters who have stuck with us.”

living rooms all across our area. An unusual move? Here’s how it happened…

The station’s mix of music and local news has proved particularly popular with

“We vacated our studios at the DYCC in

listeners during the pandemic.

March when the COVID-19 lockdown was

“Local issues are so important,” said one

announced,” says station manager, Chris

fan. “During the COVID-19 crisis, Park Radio

Moyse. “For the duration of the lockdown

has risen to the challenge of keeping our

we carried on broadcasting either live from

community updated and informed.”

our homes or packaging up programmes remotely for later transmission.”

Plans for the future With its round 2 application for funding

Powered by its 40+ community of

recently approved by OFCOM, the station’s

volunteers, the station’s kept households in

future is looking bright.

Diss, Harleston and Eye connected despite the challenges faced by social distancing.

“We have a busy programme of work in

And while they’re now back in the studio

place,” says Chris. “We plan to expand our

some of the time, many of their

broadcast area so we can reach more

programmes are still being broadcast

listeners across the Waveney Valley. We’re

remotely from presenters’ homes.

hoping to take the show on the road by launching a series of live programmes from

“2020 has been dominated by COVID-19,”

different locations. And we’re working on an

says Chris. “But we haven’t let this stop us.

exciting new ‘Friends of Park Radio’

We’ve maintained our upbeat and


informative output throughout.” So, lots to look out for and look forward to. A heroic contribution

Keep in the loop on their website:

A lifeline to many in isolation, the

www.parkradio.co.uk/ or on their Facebook

commitment of the station to keep


broadcasting has been recognised by South


Norfolk Council. “We were all delighted to receive the South Norfolk COVID-19 Community Heroes Award,” says Chris. “It’s meant a lot to all of Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 31

The great outdoors COVID-19 put life in perspective. With

understood that the boundary belt of trees

most shops and entertainment venues

was originally planted for the Taylor family’s

closed, the great outdoors became the go-

Sunday strolls.

to place for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Some of the boundary belt still exists on

Rich in green spaces and abundant in

public land but, while some of the original

wildlife, our community has lots to offer

trees have survived, the area has been

those keen to walk on the wild side.

extremely neglected. “We’ve run several volunteer working

Diss’s Green Promenade takes shape

parties to put in new fencing and plant new

A green walkway has been slowly taking

trees. There’s also a stumpery which should

shape over the year for the residents of Diss

attract wildlife and help the biodiversity of

to enjoy. With support from Diss Town

the area,” says David Whatley from Parish

Council, work has begun to reform a

Fields Friends, a group formed to help

walkway running alongside the car park

protect local green spaces. “There’s still lots to do though, so if you’d like to help in any way – wielding a spade or raking up leaves, we’d be delighted to see you.” If you’re interested you can contact Parish Fields Friends through Facebook or email parishfieldsforever@aol.com Bringing nature closer Over in Palgrave another environmental facelift’s underway. Committed to bringing the natural world closer to residents, volunteers are transforming a neglected section of the community centre playing field into a species-rich, wildflower meadow. “The establishment of a wildflower meadow will take time, but will offer a diverse and

adjacent to the health centre and behind

attractive habitat,” says volunteer and

the Heritage Triangle car park.

trustee Phil Dyer. “Plant diversity attracts

This is no new path, however, but the

insects, butterflies and bees, birds and

restoration of part of the historic walkway

mammals. And the flowering species will

around the publicly owned section of The

add a changing palate of colour to our local

Lawn, otherwise known as Parish Fields.

environment throughout the seasons.”

Landscaped in late Georgian times, it’s

32 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

A group of volunteers has completed an initial clearance of the site. They’re now awaiting local authority funding to continue preparing the ground. Managed by a small working group reporting to the Palgrave and District Community Centre Trustees, the team is keen for residents to get involved. “Active involvement of the local community will encourage ownership,” says Phil. “There are lots of opportunities for education and recreation (from nature studies to art lessons) and we’re encouraging people to actively help with the ongoing planning and

All-weather walkers Fancy getting fresh air and exercise in the company of others? Why not hook up with a Health Walk?

management of the site as we progress.”

Independent of other organisations, the group is relaxed

If you’d like to get involved, either helping

“We walk throughout the year in all weathers,” says group

prepare the site or giving input into the future management, the working group would love to talk to you. Contact Phil Dyer at phildyer2114@gmail.com or Ian McClintock at iwt.mcclintock@gmail.com for more info. You can also track progress of the project through The Palgrave Star or at

and informal and open to everyone. leader, Betty Whatley. “We didn’t even stop for the pandemic; keeping safe distances and being considerate of others. We meet every Thursday at 10.30am, walks are usually between 3 and 4.5 miles, and we tend to alternate between the town and local villages.” You can find a list of walks at The Corn Hall, Diss Library, Morrison’s, Tesco and Diss Town Council noticeboards and the health centre. Or ring Betty Whatley on 01379 642249.


Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 33

Pick up your copy of The Official Diss Town Guide 2020-21 Available from Diss Town Council offices or from Falcon Publications 01379 773347

There’s so much more in store for you!

34 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Climb every mountain From equipping a ground-breaking mountaineering expedition to facing off a global pandemic, Norfolk Feather Company continues to conquer every challenge it faces. At the heart of its success? Its people and its products. From Norfolk to Nepal It’s been in Diss for almost 50 years and in business for over 90, but few locals know

Company proved to be just as resilient and

about Norfolk Feather Company’s rich

robust as its altitude-defying jackets.


“COVID-19 has been a huge challenge for

2020 marks the 45th anniversary of us being an Official Supplier of the 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition.

us,” says Peter. “But our people have worked efficiently and flexibly throughout. Some have been based on site; working long hours to make sure orders are manufactured and shipped on time. Others have worked from home, taking orders and maintaining communication with

In 1975 Dougal Haston and Doug Scott

customers. Thanks to them, we’ve been

became the first Britons to reach the

able to support all of our customers,

summit of the world's highest mountain,

despite the impact of the pandemic.”

Mount Everest. Led by Sir Chris Bonington, the team was equipped with the best gear

Local sourcing, global outlook

worldwide. Including feather-filled jackets

Looking ahead, the company has big plans.

all the way from Diss.

“New product branding and packaging

“2020 marks the 45th anniversary of us

concepts are in place and will be presented

being an Official Supplier of the 1975 British

to the market very soon,” says Peter. “We’re

Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition,”

proud of our heritage, of the quality of our

says Peter Crellen, CEO of Norfolk Feather

products and of our commitment to local

Company. “The jackets worn by the climbers

sourcing. All of this will become an

were all made by Wycombe Feather (our

important part of our future as we take our

previous business name) at our Feather Mill

offer out to higher and wider levels.”

site in Diss.” Production through a pandemic Fast forward to 2020 and, when coronavirus hit, the workers at Norfolk Feather Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 35

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36 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Preserving the past On 1 Jan 2026, historic routes in England

• An interest in local history

that aren’t properly recorded will be lost

• Interpretation of old documents and

to the public forever. Part of Project 2026,


The British Horse Society (BHS) is looking

• An eye for detail

for people to volunteer time and skills to

• Problem solving

identify and register these routes before

• Patience

it’s too late. What will you be doing? 2026 research can be done as and when you have the time and energy. It could involve some or all of the following: • Identifying routes and carrying out research from home using online resources •

Visiting your County Records Office and other archives to gather evidence

Walking or riding routes and putting

Completing and submitting forms as part

notices up on them To meet this challenge the BHS has received funding from Sport England to safeguard as

of the Definitive Map Modification Order

many bridleways and byways as possible. It

application process

will do this by offering training, advice, support and financial

What help will you receive?

assistance to volunteers

You will receive support from a dedicated

who are researching and

2026 project manager as well as technical

making applications to

support and help from a wider community

their local authority to

of volunteers. You will be covered by Public

record these historic

Liability Insurance and receive ongoing


training covering the basics of rights of way, the interpretation of historical evidence,

Who are they looking for?

mapping and research. Financial assistance

You don’t need to be a member of BHS – or

will be given to volunteers to help cover

even an equestrian – to take part. They are

expenses incurred in the submission of an

keen to hear from volunteers with a range

eligible Definitive Map Modification Order.

of skills and abilities including: • Computer literacy, with access to the internet • Map reading skills

How to get involved? To register, please contact the Volunteer Support Team at volunteer@bhs.org.uk Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 37

38 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

Trained to care The care industry is under pressure. Care workers are in high demand but, with restrictions in place due to COVID-19, training and retaining the right people is challenging. Unable to upskill individuals using traditional face-to-face methods, First Choice Home Care adapted its approach. “We’ve been training our own staff for over eight years,” says Jean Knappit, First

training new people into the care sector,

Choice’s Online Training Administrator.

existing staff members can keep up-to-date

“When COVID-19 hit, we adapted our

with mandatory refresher training.

training immediately to deliver it online.” With the presence of COVID-19 still a threat,

“We’re passionate about this situation

the care sector needs to attract new,

because as an industry we are already

enthusiastic individuals to meet growing

under great pressure,” says Jean. “Working

demand for its services. But, delivering a

in care is tough and it’s not for everyone.

compelling training programme online

Our training manager can take a novice to

requires a unique approach.

NVQ level 2 covering all 15 standards in

“E-learning packages can put people off if

three days.

not delivered or designed with the user in

“We’ve met the challenge of delivering

mind,” says Jean. “Some new courses that

COVID-compliant training with a high

have been rushed out since COVID-19 are

completion rate. Our new challenge is

more damaging than helpful. Large

letting colleagues across this sector know

numbers are pulling out mid-way or within

about our offer so they can keep staffing

their first few days of shadowing. For new

and skill levels high. And meet future

starters particularly, the compulsory

challenges the pandemic might present

induction training which takes three days

with a resilient and robust workforce.”

can be intense. Without support, interaction and reassurance we risk losing the attention

For more information email

of the youngsters we’re trying to attract.”

jean@firstchoicehomecare.co.uk, call 01953 667950 or 07593 855365 or visit:

First Choice Home Care’s not-for-profit


courses start at £50 per person which covers the amount required to deliver the programme. As well as attracting and

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 39

Denny Day Centre reopens its doors The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult

ensure a safe return for both staff and

for everyone, but particularly the most


vulnerable in our community. With many

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our

support networks and services

colleagues and customers has always been

temporarily closed, customers and carers

our priority,” says Laura Edgar. “Throughout

were left without support. But, after a

the pandemic, our care and support

difficult few months, care is once again

services have adhered to government and

back in the community. Run by Empanda

public health guidelines. Working closely

Care & Support Ltd CIC, Denny Day Centre

with Norfolk and Suffolk county councils

is reopening its doors and couldn’t be

we’ve been busy getting our centres ready

more delighted.

to reopen. We’re excited to be welcoming our customers back and meeting new customers.” With over 90 staff, Empanda Care & Support Ltd CIC provides a range of care and support services across Norfolk and Suffolk. Anyone interested in coming along will first receive a home visit to help customers learn more

Located in Thomas Manning Road, Diss,

about what the service can offer and help

Denny Day Centre had to close at the end of

staff find out about new customers; their

March, just a few weeks after opening its doors for the first time in two years. This left many of its customers and their carers without the support and respite they’d come to rely on. “Many of our customers live alone,” says Laura Edgar, Day Care Services Manager.

We’re excited to be welcoming our customers back and meeting new customers joining us for the first time.

“Others live with a family carer. We give our

interests, likes, dislikes, health issues and

customers the opportunity to socialise,

requirements. All care and support staff are

meet new people, participate in activities

fully trained and are able to support

and enjoy a nutritious two-course lunch,

customers with personal care needs.

while giving family carers a well-deserved

Enquiries can be made to

break. Our forced closure left those people

daycare@empanda.org.uk or by

particularly vulnerable.”

telephoning 01603 552102 (option 3). More

The team has been working hard to

information on Empanda can be found at www.empanda.org.uk

40 Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020

2020: In it together

There was a young lady of Diss Who cried: “What a year has been this! Who’d have thought at the start It would tear at the heart With memories of all we would miss.

“We know, we need to keep safe We know, we need to keep well The risks are still high But, hard as we try, What’s involved is a pretty hard sell.”

“I remember a time you could pop out for wine Without ever needing to queue You could meet up with friends Mornings, evenings, weekends High days and holidays too.

“That’s all true” said the bright lad in Scole. “2020 has taken its toll. There’s a lot that is sad But it isn’t all bad Because I think we discovered our soul.

“You could go to the pub or head out for grub At a range of choice destinations And sit in a room With your mum (not on Zoom) And party with all your relations.”

“There’s stuff we need to remember The kindness and care being shown The help and support Given to those that fought With demons they’d never before know.

“You’re right!” said the old man of Eye “It’s been tough these few months passing by. I’ve missed all my mates Stuck at home behind gates. Although I totally understand why.

When we take off the mask I think we should ask For the chance to sit and reflect.

“When the day centre closed I guess I supposed It would be for a week, or two, never more. But months have gone by and, hard as I try, The loneliness is hard to ignore.

To remember a summer Unlike any other When, with lives and liberties lost, Kindness won. And We Just Kept Going.”

A Beacon of Hope, Light & Remembrance is going to be installed in Diss Park. Look out for more information and set your calendars for a special New Year’s Eve lighting ceremony. COVID-19 continues to impact us all. Let’s take time to remember.

Diss Matters Autumn-Winter 2020 41


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