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Why #NorfolkDay must be about embracing change

PUBLISHED: 07:10 23 February 2018

There has to be more to #NorfolkDay than just celebrating its landscape - and its past - says Nick Conrad.

There has to be more to #NorfolkDay than just celebrating its landscape - and its past - says Nick Conrad.

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The upcoming Norfolk Day must reflect change as well as celebrate the county, says Nick Conrad.

A week ago today I was standing in Dereham launching the inaugural #NorfolkDay. Little did we know how much support we’d receive for this campaign. We knew you loved this county but the passion demonstrated in just one week has been outstanding. Endorsements from businesses, organisations, charities, celebrities, sports clubs, churches and schools all pledging to get involved.

I’ve spent this week promoting the initiative and talking to various interested parties. It feels as if the whole county wants to celebrate Norfolk. However you could be forgiven for questioning the long-term effect and how we will measure it.

To find answers I’ve been talking to the team behind Yorkshire Day. Peter Hindle, a member of the Yorkshire Ridings Society, came up with original idea. Talking on my BBC Radio Breakfast show he proudly exclaimed that a quarter of a century on from the inaugural Yorkshire Day and the project is bigger than ever. Better still, people actively travel to the North to join in the festivities.

I must confess I’m slightly jealous of Yorkshire and Cornwall. Each seems to have a clear identity and an ability to cleverly market their excellent offerings. Inhabitants from both counties are fantastically immodest – we too should confidently speak up for unique Norfolk. The success of Yorkshire Day should inspire us to emulate what our northern cousins have achieved.

A few naysayers trot out the tired old arguments about keeping Norfolk ‘secret’. Such defeatist, non-progressive and short-sighted twaddle will do nothing but ensure we’re at a standstill. This while other counties rush ahead. This Norfolk ‘mentality’ of being non-conformist must be challenged if we’re to reach our potential. Though some Norfolkians rejoice in the notion that ‘we do different’, now is the time to proudly push the idea we’re a modern, innovative county. People who hold the opposing view are consigning Norfolk to years of being the other Shires’ poorer cousins.

So what was Peter Hindle’s external perception of Norfolk? He’s visited once but sadly didn’t feel the urge to return. As a proud Yorkshireman he felt Norfolk was ‘out on a limb’ and ‘not keeping pace’ with the rest of Britain. The common over-trumped proclamation of non-conformity is viewed as regressive once you cross our borders. It’s a bit like the individual at a drinks party who claims they are ‘wild’ – when actually they’re desperately dull.

So for me #NorfolkDay is about embracing change. It is a day to celebrate everything that’s wonderful and unique about our county, but to also allow others to reveal in what we have to offer.

Let me echo the clever words of EDP Editor David Powles. In his column launching Norfolk Day he claimed this mustn’t be is a nostalgic look back on days of yore: “Yes we should celebrate our tradition and heritage, because it is so relevant to our success now, but this must be an event to champion the many and varied success stories in this county.”

From the magnificent coastline and endless skies to the magical waterways of the Broads and the amazing people who live here, Norfolk is a one-of-a-kind place to live. So why wouldn’t we shout about it? Clearly many are clearing their voices ready to loudly proclaim their love of Norfolk on July 27.

Individuals and communities, businesses, attractions and organisations have been busy coming up with ways they can celebrate their pride and passion for Norfolk. It’s been so heartening to see how the whole community has rallied around this simple idea. If we get this right we set a legacy for future generations.

So…What is #NorfolkDay? It’s whatever you make of it… over to you!

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