By uniting with rural villages in other countries, providing a festival of activities and a thriving cookery class, the Norfolk village of Thurlton is always looking for ways to entertain its young people.

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In 2011 the village, near Beccles, won the WI’s Forward to the Future Award in the EDP’s Pride in Norfolk awards, and last year its innovative schemes helped it to successfully defend the title.

Parish chairman Heather Longman said: “We are very pleased. It is important that we recognise that we cannot ignore the young people in the village, especially as we are in a rural area.”

She added that it was particularly important in the Thurlton area as a large proportion of their community is under 19 years old.

“We have to make sure they have the best facilities and the best opportunities they can,” she said.

The judges were particularly impressed with a youth exchange programme, which sees young people visiting and working with others in Spain, Latvia and Slovenia, a three day event in the village called Frolic, which saw children from two to 11 enjoying a variety of games together, and the successful new Truly Scrumptious Cookery Club.

The youth exchange programme, which is funded by the EU Youth in Action Programme, is a collaboration between six young people, aged 15 to 25, and two leaders from Spain, Latvia, Slovenia and Britain.

The aim is to learn from each other and create a guide to each other’s countries as they visit each one.

In 2011 they went to Spain and in 2012 everyone joined together at the Waveney River Centre, in Burgh St Peter.

From there they had 10 days of activities with walks around Carlton Marshes, trips to Norwich and a variety of activities including fencing and drumming.

Mrs Longman said as well as helping to learn about how other rural communities live, the young people also reassess their own village.

“It helps them to appreciate what they have, to see what there is they can do,” she said.

A network of youth clubs has been created from this and a website has been built, www.snryje.com, to help share information about the exchanges.

Another successful project has been the return of the village’s annual summer Frolic.

This was a three-day event around the parish for children, with cheerleading, pond dipping, poetry, bowls and bell ringing among the activities on offer.

Jessica Mace, of the organising committee, said: “They were able to see what is on their doorstep and see that you don’t have to drive miles away and spend a fortune.

“They were not just sat on their computers, they were having fun, doing things and seeing things they do not normally do.”

The event originally ran from 1972 to 2002 but was brought back to many nearby towns and villages, including Loddon, Norton and Raveningham, after hard work from parents and friends.

Mrs Mace added: “The support we have had in the community is amazing. It really does pull the community together.”

The third aspect that impressed the judges was the new Truly Scrumptious Cookery Club, which enables children and their families to learn about healthy eating and food preparation.

The club is held in the church rooms, after support from the diocese and the Raveningham Community and Enterprise Trust helped Susan Young transform the building which had been set for demolition.

Through the club children are taught about cooking using seasonal, local and organic ingredients.

Mrs Young said: “We started with an emphasis on children, but adults have come forward wanting to do cookery classes too, so it goes right across the community.”

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