Skipper's dialect rallying cry

A rallying call for Norfolk youngsters to celebrate their local dialect has been made by one of the main champions of the native tongue.Writer and broadcaster Keith Skipper made the plea after stepping down from 25 years as adjudicator at a dialect festival held in his home town of Cromer.

A rallying call for Norfolk youngsters to celebrate their local dialect has been made by one of the main champions of the native tongue.

Writer and broadcaster Keith Skipper made the plea after stepping down from 25 years as adjudicator at a dialect festival held in his home town of Cromer.

After a 200-strong audience turned out to hear a mixture of Norfolk stories and songs from a record number of 17 participants, he was upbeat about the interest among the older generations but a little concerned about the lack of youngsters getting involved in the event.

He told the audience: "One of the disappointments has been the lack of youngsters, and I have had to rely on my own two sons to support the junior section.

"But we hope the Friends of Norfolk Dialect project in local schools will bear fruit, and that youngsters will be supported by teachers and parents."

His Press Gang of rural performers also did their bit to take the dialect to Norfolk village halls, but with next year looking as though it will be their last ever season, Mr Skipper said the group was "looking to the next generation to take up the reins."

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The farewell night at a packed Cromer Parish Hall was an "emotional" event, particularly when a recording was played of the late Victor Dewing, a horseman from Briston, who was one of the early stars of the festival.

Among those taking part was Kathleen Meaney who last appeared in 1972. She read the same test piece she had been given by organisers 35 years ago.

The dialect event is part of the Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music Dance and Speech.

Its chairman Brenda Hare thanked Mr Skipper, who hinted he could be back next year - to take part rather than judge.

There were plenty of jokes at the expense of ITV1's new Sunday night Kingdom series, which is set in Norfolk and the accents of whose actors have come in for criticism.

Organiser Derek Paul suggested Mr Skipper's as yet unconfirmed successor as adjudicator should be a member of the TV show's cast.

Mr Skipper said that it showed there was still missionary work to be done and suggested that any future such a series should be set in Burnham Market, where there would be no need for Norfolk accents.

Festival award winners were:

Honours: Keith Loads, Nora Brinded

Distinctions: Muriel Blowers, Colin Burleigh, Tina Chamberlain, Catherine and Sarah Mapes, Diana Rackham, Robin Skipper, David Yaxley

Commended: Liza Austrin, Cecil Burdett, Andrew Church, Brian Coussell, Lawrie Hall, Anne Hawkes, Kathleen Meaney.