Celebration of aspiring journalists’ efforts to record Norfolk’s reaction to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

It might not have looked important, but the small box with a bow on top presented to a Norfolk dignitary contained stories prepared for future generations.

And what started as a concept within the corridors of County Hall, the EDP and BBC Radio Norfolk, was now ready to take its place within the East Anglian Film Archive.

The aim was to find 20 Jubilee Journalists who could help tell the tales of the Queen's 60-year reign from the perspective of the younger generation.

When the search among the county's 16 to 24 year olds started earlier this year, interest was high.

So much so, the latest crop of royal reporters contained 31 fresh faces, eager to unearth a yarn or two.

And thanks to training and guidance from professionals at the EDP and BBC Radio Norfolk, this week's exhibition celebrating the project at Fusion, in the Forum, Norwich, suggests they have achieved this and more.

Topics investigated include life in 1977 during the Silver Jubilee, the Queen's relationship with Norfolk and the fashion of the Fifties at the time of the Queen's coronation.

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For Beth Wyatt, the project was an opportunity to tell a story from the past which had links to her present day life.

Miss Wyatt, a modern history graduate from the University of East Anglia (UEA), said she wanted to find out if the Queen had visited the UEA.

After researching the issue, Miss Wyatt was able to produce a piece looking back to 1968, with an article headlined: 'Queen's UEA visit sparked protests over a lavatory.'

The 21-year-old writer told of how some students opposed the apparent expense of the occasion, including rumours a ladies' toilet had been refurbished at Earlham Hall.

Miss Wyatt spoke to former UEA students and lecturers, with photographs from the visit accompanying the article.

She said: 'It was brilliant – even better getting to be part of a published bit in the newspaper.

'It was nice to be involved in something so historic. I watched the flotilla and the concert on the telly. My granny was going to go to a street party but it rained and got called off.'

EDP editor Pete Waters was among the keen supporters of the project, with 19 of the 31 journalists drafted in to produce a special publication for Monday, June 4.

And Peter Hannam, EDP senior content editor, said: 'Following the Olympics, the big buzzword around is 'legacy' and Jubilee Journalists had legacy at its heart from the beginning.

'This new generation, as it were, of budding reporters has ended up creating a unique legacy, a unique celebration of the Diamond Jubilee year.

'Some of the aspiring reporters came to the EDP, worked in the head office and also the district offices.

'Their ideas were produced in the Jubilee Journalist magazine and they were all the individuals' ideas, developed with professional journalists and page designers.'

Mr Hannam said all the 'talented individuals' deserved to be congratulated and their experience will help them should they choose to pursue a career in journalism.

He added: 'I think some do want to go into journalism as a full-time career and what they have left for the rest of us is a brilliant legacy, something we can all remember the Diamond Jubilee by.'

The remaining 12 Jubilee Journalists joined BBC Radio Norfolk and developed several stories, including royal fashion during the last 60 years and how people from different cultural backgrounds planned to celebrate the event.

Fran Roberts, a UEA American literature and creative writing graduate, explored the latter, and spoke to people from Canada, Nigeria and eastern Europe who lived in Norfolk.

Miss Roberts, who spent the jubilee weekend editing her work, said after watching her programme: 'I thought my idea would work as a film and this was the first time I've seen it fully finished.

'The rest of the team were lovely. It was really nice and I could not have asked to be part of something better.'

Nicky Barnes, of BBC Radio Norfolk, said Jubilee Journalists was a 'bit of a mad idea' at the start, particularly with many of those taking part also having to deal with their GCSEs and A-levels.

But she told them: 'The range and variety of subjects you dealt with, live broadcasting, double-headed presenting, being at the controls –that's something we took years until we wanted to do and you did it in three months.'

Ian Mackie, Norfolk County Council deputy leader, said he was very proud of the hard work put into the project by all those involved.

He said: 'I hope it gives them a real insight moving forward in their careers and it's nice to be able to provide an opportunity like this in the current climate.

'It's something we would like to do again.'

The week-long exhibition is on show at Fusion, in The Forum, city centre, Norwich, between 10am and 5pm until Saturday.

richard.wheeler@archant.co.uk

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