Norfolk’s unsung cultural heroes honoured

The unsung arts heroes of Norfolk who give their time to promote cult- ural activities in their neighbour-hoods have been praised for their personal contributions.

Five people from the county were crowned Cultural Champions at a reception in Chelmsford organised by Arts and Business, an organisation which links cultural groups with business people.

Among the award-winners was Barbara Randall, from Wymondham, who is one of the key figures in organising the annual Wymondham Music Festival which has been running since 1996.

The week-long event has now expanded into a fortnight-long festival and offers a diverse range of music through concerts, workshops and even a teddy bear's picnic.

Mrs Randall has also played an instrumental role in the development of the Wymondham Arts Forum, founded in 2001, and the inaugural literary festival Wymondham Words 2010.

On becoming a champion, she said: 'I think it's absolutely brilliant. Arts and Business have been wonderful in the way they have wanted to praise the people who put in the hard graft that goes into these events and all the volunteers behind them.'

Fellow Wymondham resident John Wood was also recognised for his role in the Wymondham Music Festival, the Arts Forum and Wymondham Words 2010.

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Mr Wood, who served as the town's mayor in 1997/98, was given, alongside his wife Kate, a Wymondham Town Council Civic Award in 2007 for the hundreds of hours of voluntary work they had undertaken on behalf of the community.

He said it was good for volunteers to be recognised: 'Volunteers are already enormously important in society and they're going to become even more so,' he said.

Margaret Griffiths, from Harleston, became a champion for being the driving force behind the successful Harleston and Waveney Festival, which has been running since 2002 and whose patrons include novelists Louis de Berni�res and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

This year the festival's events ranged from children's poetry workshops to arts and crafts exhibitions, from film screenings to a flypast of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

She said: 'I accepted it (the award) on behalf of the festival really. It's for the work everyone has done in promoting culture in Harleston and the Waveney area.'

Also named Cultural Champions were Alastair and Suzy Wilson, of Rainthorpe Hall, Flordon, who offer the grounds of their home for events and performances. In August they invited an audience of 500 to the hall to watch a performance of Robin Hood by the Cambridge Touring Theatre Company.

The awards were presented by MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons' culture, media and sport select committee, who said: 'I am very conscious of the huge amount of time, effort and knowledge that so many give to support their local arts and culture without which many events, organisations and institutions simply could not continue.'