North Walsham in Bloom has “launched” a new flower-planter boat in memory of a local woman.

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The Spirit of Jill honours Jill Whalley, who died in August.

Her husband and children decided to donate the collection at her funeral to North Walsham in Bloom because Mrs Whalley had loved flowers and appreciated the work done by the in-bloom volunteers to keep the town looking attractive.

And the group decided to show their appreciation by naming a new boat, donated to in-bloom, in her memory.

The boat, given by a Roughton man, has been restored by Dave Bonney, with the help of his wife Sandra who is an in-bloom volunteer.

Mrs Whalley, a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, travelled extensively with her husband Bob, who worked with the Met Office.

Their last posting was to RAF Coltishall where they intended staying a few years, which turned into 37.

Mrs Whalley worked as a hairdresser, at the Contrast salon, in Station Road, North Walsham, for a number of years.

The boat is “moored” on a strip of grass on the Norwich Road, near North Walsham Railway Station.

It replaces an earlier craft which had been on the site, and previously outside Paston Sixth-Form College, for about 10 years, according to in-bloom secretary Liz Cornwall.

“It was wooden and falling to pieces. This one has been beautifully restored and fibre-glassed so it should last a long while,” said Mrs Cornwall.

The new boat, which has been planted out with pansies for the winter months, was launched at an event attended by Mr Whalley.

Both the old and new boats have been sponsored by North Walsham Lions Club and Mrs Cornwall said they would welcome new in-bloom sponsors.

Cash from a recent North Norfolk District Council Big Society Fund grant has been spent on replacing about 20 wooden planters throughout the town with more robust fibreglass models, and installing two flower towers outside the entrance to North Walsham’s parish church.

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