Norwich young carers on the Broads

Taking part in fun activities on the Broads has been a rite of passage for generations of youngsters growing up in Norfolk.

However, for one group of eight to 13 year olds visiting How Hill, near Ludham, on Saturday, a boat trip and adventure on the marshes were far removed from their everyday lives.

For the children are all members of Norwich Young Carers and take on responsibilities beyond their years in helping to look after sick or disabled parents or siblings.

For Georgina Mason, 11, it meant a day off from helping her mother, Lisa, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a disabled scooter; for Joshua O'Toole, nine, it meant a break from supporting his disabled father, Mark who has to use sticks to walk; for Sophie Peach, 10, it meant a day away from helping to care for her 12-year-old brother, Sammy, who has learning difficulties.

Sandra Farmsworth, young carers' project manager, said through monthly meetings at Coronation Hall in Hellesdon, their aim was to provide support, help the youngsters in their caring role – and, most importantly, give them some fun.

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She said: 'A lot of them don't get the chance to go out to places like theme parks. That's why taking them to Bewilderwood and bringing them on days like this are so important.'

The 25 children were taking part in a two-day eco-team challenge organised by the charity Norfolk Education and Action for Development, which seeks to raise awareness of global issues.

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They had already completed the first day which included games such as a water relay around a theme of saving water and energy.

Charity spokesman Liz Bowes said on day two at How Hill they were going on a boat trip to Barton Broad and taking part in conservation activities such as reedbed restoration.

She said: 'They will be looking at water levels and learning about climate change and how we are affected here in Norfolk as well as how people in other parts of the world are affected.'

The Broads Authority is paying for five groups to take part in the challenge through its sustainable development fund.

Education officer Nick Sanderson said: 'Our aim is to promote understanding about the local area and this challenge is helping us deliver that to hard-to-reach groups.'

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