Stolen from Suffolk - but so much better already. The story behind the first ever Norfolk Day
PUBLISHED: 13:14 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:00 24 July 2018
Eastern Daily Press editor David Powles explains the story behind the first ever Norfolk Day.
There might not have been a Norfolk Day, had Suffolk not have gotten their first.
There you go, I’ll get that admission out of the way at the outset, this is not only an idea shamelessly stolen, but taken, no less, from our friends at the other end of the A140.
That’s right, the ones we share so many rivalries with - but also have a lot that is in common.
In June 2017 the first ever Suffolk Day was held. It looked nice. A pleasant event to celebrate a county I have a lot of fondness for, especially given it was actually where most of my childhood was spent, though don’t worry I used to tell strangers I was from Norwich.
But I couldn’t help but feel Norfolk could do better.
Not because of some weird desire for East Anglian oneupmanship - but because I had this sense the people of Norfolk would truly get behind such a day and really welcome the opportunity to celebrate with others why so many of us feel this is the best county in the land.
And fortunately that is how it has proven.
Once we’d teamed up with our friends at BBC Norfolk, here’s one example where close collaboration with other media ‘rivals’ can have real impact, we pitched the idea to about two dozen people from various walks of Norfolk life.
And in that very first meeting the excitement was tangible.
The answer to whether there should be a Norfolk Day was a resounding ‘yes’, so the debate quickly moved onto what a great Norfolk Day actually was.
At its core it was agreed that having a day on the calendar to encourage thousands to unite over their pride in Norfolk could only be a good thing. A chance for communities to come together and individuals and organisations to show off the roles they play in making the county tick.
However, there was also a strong desire for Norfolk Day to be the chance to highlight the fact this is a county that deserves more recognition than it gets.
So rather than just celebrating our rich heritage, agriculture and unspoiled landscape, here was an opportunity to highlight the innovation that goes on here, our creative talents and so many more of the virtues people don’t necessarily think of when they hear our county’s name. Maybe we could go some way to changing that?
I went away from that initial meeting enthused but still nervous as to what the reaction would be from the rest of the community. And so, on a bitterly cold morning in February, I stood somewhat fearfully in Dereham town centre alongside Radio Norfolk’s Nick Conrad as Norfolk Day was announced to the world.
But I needn’t have worried, because within moments it was clear lots of people felt Norfolk Day was indeed a very good idea after all.
And in the months since I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve spoken to about ways they can get involved and how they can show their support. We’ve now more than 200 events and it looks likely that on Norfolk Day itself (July 27th in case you’ve missed it) thousands of people will be taking part.
What I’ve loved is how people have taken the concept and used it to grow an idea. These include the Chamber of Commerce’s 15 second videos, Norwich Cathedral’s all-day talent showcase, our Norfolk Day beer from Woodforde’s and the brilliant tour of the county being hosted by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
Norfolk Day has already become much more than simply lots of nice community events.
And the key word there is already, because I want Norfolk Day to be an ever-growing and ever developing thing. It hopefully won’t be the first and what it is in 2019 might be different to what it was in 2018.
Norfolk Day is what Norfolk people make it - just like the county itself.
10 (of the many) reasons why I love Norfolk...
■ Is there a better place to grow up or to have a family? Safe, friendly and so many things to do and see on the doorstep.
■ Wells-next-the-Sea. It’s a hard choice but officially my favourite place in the county. A perfectly sized town with great shops, pubs and restaurant, as well as walks along THAT seafront to Holkham.
■ Amazing running routes (and flat). The North Norfolk coastal path, villages and countryside of South Norfolk, the Run Norwich route and Marriott’s Way are my favourites.
■ So many great towns to explore. After more than a decade back in this fine county, I still keep finding new things I’ve never seen before.
■ The football team. Maybe not in terms of trophies, but Norwich City truly are the best football club in the land.
■ The seals at Horsey. It’s no longer the top secret it once was, but what a fantastic opportunity to experience nature close up. Don’t get too close however.
■ Norwich’s Lord Mayor’s Celebrations. My favourite weekend of the year and one the diary is always kept clear for.
■ Parklife. Rarely a week goes by where I haven’t found a reason to visit Eaton Park. And when I haven’t, there are so many more to choose from.
■ Our varied coast. I love a walk along Great Yarmouth seafront stopping for chips, donuts and a go on the machines, just as much as the tranquillity of places like Blakeney.
■ So many music choices. I don’t get to gig as much as I used to but the UEA, Waterfront, Arts Centre and Open are responsible for so many happy memories.
More about Norfolk Day 2018
• Read more stories about Norfolk Day on our website including a comprehensive events listing.
• Follow @norfolk on Twitter and use the hashtag #NorfolkDay for more coverage from this year’s events.
• Join our Norfolk Day Facebook group to advertise your event and talk with other Norfolkians.