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Special beer to get Norfolk guard of honour as it sails from France to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 11:57 05 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:57 05 May 2019

Members of the Ordgar Viking re-enactment group.; photo Adrian Judd

Members of the Ordgar Viking re-enactment group.; photo Adrian Judd

Archant Norfolk 2010

A Norfolk armada - and some Vikings - will gather after a host of boat owners answered a mayday call to help out with a historic voyage from France to Norwich.

Countess of Light will lead the flotilla of vessels bringing the Rouen-Norwich beer to the Waterfront on May 22    Picture: ArchiveCountess of Light will lead the flotilla of vessels bringing the Rouen-Norwich beer to the Waterfront on May 22 Picture: Archive

To mark 60 years of twinning between Rouen and Norwich, and coinciding with the start of City of Ale 2019, a special beer brewed by experts from both cities is being transported under sail along the Seine, across the English Channel and along the Yare to Norwich.

But with the tall ship being unable to get under Whitlingham bridge, organisers put out an appeal through the EDP and Evening News to boat owners to pick up the crew and cargo and take it for the final few miles.

The response has been “overwhelming”, according to brewer and one of the organisers David Holliday.

He said: “Following the appeal by the EDP and Evening News we have been genuinely overwhelmed by the offers of support to help complete the voyage of French crew and cargo up to the City of Ale Launch party at The Waterfront.

Brewers from Northmaen Brewery in Rouen with David Holliday of Moon Gazer and Phil Cutter of The Murderers at last year's Norwich City of Ale. Picture: Courtesy of The Norfolk BrewhouseBrewers from Northmaen Brewery in Rouen with David Holliday of Moon Gazer and Phil Cutter of The Murderers at last year's Norwich City of Ale. Picture: Courtesy of The Norfolk Brewhouse

“Well over a dozen boat owners, with boats of all shapes and sizes, have answered the call for help and currently we are sorting which boats will form the main transport of beer and which will accompany the flotilla as a self-elected Norfolk guard of honour.”

He added: “The lead boat will be the fantastic 1933 Countess of Light - an old wooden river cruiser which has been lovingly restored by Paul and Heidi Rainford to its former glory.

“We even have a sea going rowing boat from Blakeney - as the club will be bringing a boat down because, in their words: 'This sounds like fun'. The Ordgar Viking reconstruction group also came forward and will welcome the French Vikings with a horned salute as the boat moors at The Waterfront.”

He said the boats that offered help would moor up alongside the French vessel at midday on Wednesday May 22 and load up their cargo before making the journey along the river to arrive at The Waterfront at just after 3pm.

Mr Holliday said: “All we can say is thank you Norfolk. All we ask now is for the people of Norwich to come along the riverside at Norwich at 3pm to wave them all in.”

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