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Welcome to the Bressingham and Fersfield Community Website
Winter Berries by Liz Handy
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When I was approached by Liz Handy to “star as the family of the month” in our Fersfield and Bressingham Website I thought It an amazing opportunity to show just how fantastic this community we share is!

We are a loving, fun but often chaotic family of six. we also have dogs and chickens. We chose to move here just over 3 years ago so we could grow our own veg and keep chickens and we love it.

Unfortunately just over a year ago my partner Paul Bowman slipped a disk which has led to cauda equina syndrome. He is completely paralyzed in his bowel and bladder area has partial paralysis down both legs and again completely paralyzed in both feet. As you can imagine it has turned our lives upside down! What has come out of it is just what a loving, thoughtful and amazing community we are part of. The support has been overwhelming. We have had everything from homemade meals and cakes, whole shops, people mowing our lawns, Money towards oil, to even a holiday paid for us to centre parcs! Unbelievable! It hasn't just fizzled out either. The love we have been shown just keeps on coming! Only recently One man in our village has been like my personal “AA”!
written by Jessica Meek
Janine, Bill and family live in what they describe as “beyond the sticks”!  It’s good to have a sat nav to find them but that's the beauty of living in some of the areas of Bressingham and Fersfield.  Once inside the family home there is a real buzz going on. Bill’s grandfather lived in their cottage back in the 70’s and they themselves have lived here for the last 28 years. 
All three children have gone to Bressingham School and later to Diss High School.  Bill himself was brought up in Roydon and went to Diss Grammar School.  But much has changed since they first moved here.  Diss now has a Designer Makers 21 (click to go the website) which is opposite the Cornhall and where the Aldwrights used to be.  This is a new initiative which promotes the growth of local designers and craft people.  Since May this year there have been 11 designers who have studios and facilities to show piece their work and next year they hope to expand and encourage more young and upcoming designers. Janine is one of the people who has a studio here and where she works on her textile designs (click to go to the website). Diss it would seem is being “culturally regenerated”.
Bill is the senior officer for Colchester and Ipswich Museum Sevrice.  Colchester Castle Museum will be reopening again in the Spring 2014 after a major refurbishment.  The museum when it opens will be a place of interactive learning of history by the latest cutting edge technology and will attract many more visitors to the Eastern Region (click here to visit the website).
The Ipswich Museum is currently seeking funding to start a regeneration programme too.  East Anglia it seems is very much part of a “cultural regeneration programme”.  Bill and Janine are very much part of this programme.

Gail was born in Bressingham and grew up in the same house she is now living in. Her parents Rita and Peter Soar live next door.  I wonder if this is unusual for Bressingham? Gail’s grand parents also lived next door and were farmers. But Gail left Bressingham when she went to University in North Wales. She says she wanted to see a different landscape ie to see some hills  - and meet different people.
Gail and Pete Arnold - photo by Liz Handy
She certainly did, as after doing a teacher training course - she lived and worked in  Scandinavia, South East Asia, Australia and finally Africa, where she met Pete, her husband.  Pete had driven to Nairobi from Yorkshire! They both taught in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda before deciding to come back to England with their 2 children.  At first they settled in Eye where Pete worked locally as a Headteacher and, finally, last summer they moved back to Bressingham. What is it like being back? I asked . "It feels right” said Gail "and it's been great catching up with people from my childhood." "Its so quiet that I no longer have to put any music on - I can listen to the silence” said Pete. They really appreciate the countryside.  Gail has lots of relatives living nearby - mostly called “Hubbard” or “Soar” which are both old Bressingham names. As a child, Gail used to visit her grandmother at The Old Chequers Pub and remembers stories of her mum living there when it was a pub in the wartime. Gail spent much of her childhood riding horses and used to enjoy visiting her great uncle Bob Soar who kept hackney horses and carriages. Gail now works with the Norfolk School Library Service and Pete recently left teaching to concentrate on music. He plays in the local Folk band 'The Gathering Bees' and recently started the Diss Music School (The Hub) - music always having been his great love.  Learn more at their website >.
Ian and Sue Cattermole have lived in Fersfield village for 20 years plus.  Norfolk born and bred.  Ian in Dickleborough and Sue in Carleton Rode where her family, the Briggs, were farmers whose history goes back centuries.

Ian says he has always lived in a house which has a “country view”.  But up until 5 years ago was away from home for up to 50% of his time.  He worked for an American company that made sensors for air bags in cars.  As Company Sales Manager he travelled extensively in Europe , Scandinavia and the US.

Ian and Sue Cattermole - photo by Liz Handy

Sue was busy being a mother to their daughter Samantha and being on her own so much had to be very independent and became what she describes as “A Domestic Engineer”.

Many of you may have seen Ian at Morrison’s Check Out where he works 2 days a week. He likes this job as it is a no stress situation and working with teenagers is great fun and they are very hard workers.  It also gives Sue and Ian a break from being together 24/7! Samantha went to Bressingham Primary and then on to Diss High.  She now has a job with Mencap as a one on one carer.  She too loves living in the countryside. Ian for the last year has been Chairman of Bressingham and Fersfield Council.  He would love to see more jobs being created for people in the countryside. And sees the job of the Parish Council as providing opportunities and maintaining facilities for the community to use, such as the village hall, the Churches and the playing fields.  He also sees the role of a Parish Counselor as being there to listen to people’s views without bias or favor and to assist those people in their needs. We wish Ian and Sue, every good luck and health for the future.

Pam is a member of the Bressingham and Fersfield Parish Council - she was opted onto the council 3 years ago. She was brought up in Barking in Essex and has lived in many different places before coming to Bressingham 9 years ago.  Now she lives in the heart of Bressingham on High Road with her son and her sister Chris. Since moving here two other members  of her family have moved to the village, with another one hoping to move here in the summer, so Bressingham has become quite a “family hub”.

Pam Dowling - photo by Liz Handy

When they decided to share their resources and buy a house together they wanted a house where they could have their own space as well as share some facilities. They also wanted it to be in a village and part of a community.  Pam said that as soon as she walked into the kitchen of their home she knew it was where she wanted to live. Pam has done various jobs from working in a children's home to teaching refugees English. Her work has always involved working with people. She now works locally in Adult Education teaching English as a foreign language and English Literacy. When she first moved here she wanted to be involved with the local community and has done various things such as helping with the local youth group when it existed, and was a member of the Parish Plan Committee.  Last week she helped the lighting team for the pantomine at the Village Hall.  She has always supported the village shop, and is now able to make more use of it since it has been open for longer hours and on Sunday mornings.  Pam loves living in the middle of the village and as a Parish Councillor wants to work towards making people in the community feel “inclusive” both socially and in taking local decisions. Being very interested in history she is hoping to see our Bressingham’s Grade one  Parish church used for more community events as well as  for services.  A plan to hold a  a monthly coffee/tea in the church is underway starting from April.  (more of this later).

Janet and her husband Tony came to live in Fersfield 3½ years ago. Janet was brought up in Havering Park,  Essex and is a country lass. She learnt to ride at 4½ and as a teenager worked for her rides by being a stable lass and back rider at Havering Park Stables. She has always been involved in horses.

Tony was her neighbour and his family moved next door to Janet’s when he was 17. They got married 4 years later!  They have 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Their daughter lives in Chelmsford and their son in America. Janet’s  grandfather and great grandfather on her father’s side came from North Norfolk, and so Norfolk is in her blood. They fell in love with their home an old barn in Fersfield as soon as they saw it.  They love the rural aspect and being so aware of all the seasons.  Janet enjoys being part of such an active community - she is a member of the Ladies Group and the Gardening Club at Blooms. Janet is also member of the Parish Council and is now Chair. She believes that her work as a counsellor is to be unbiased and be a voice of the community.  She hopes to encourage more people to attend local functions. Janet has been involved in charities since she was 9 when she fund raised for local people’s food parcels.  At present she is actively involved with Hopefield Animal Sanctuary at Brentwood, Essex. She worked 15 years in Scouts and was a Group Scout and District Cub  Leader when the children were small.  She has also been active with the Pony Club, Riding for the Disabled and her local Red Cross and animal charities.

Jan and Richard Hewitt
The Hewitts moved to Fersfield in 1987, with their two young children: Maria (8) and Mark (4).  Their previous home was Newbury, Berkshire. Jan was born in Edinburgh and brought up there and in Poole; Richard is Portsmouth and Hampshire born and bred. 
Jan and Richard Hewitt
Norfolk is now very much the family home, with Maria also living here in Scole, and working  in health and care.  Mark lives in Scarborough where he is technical manager of the Spa entertainment complex.  He comes back to Norfolk often.  The family’s other member is Laragh, the beloved black Labrador. Jan, like Richard, a teacher, taught for much of her Norfolk career at Chapel Road School, Attleborough, a school for young people with complex needs.  She also taught at Kenninghall Primary School.  Richard was for 20 years Headmaster of Hartismere, and oversaw its expansion programme and development of the 6th form. Having retired in 2006, Richard had not intended to seek further employment in the field of education …. and thus became Course Director of the International Educators Programme at UEA. He has since retired again, but is still in his final year as external examiner for ARU’s Masters’ Degrees. Jan is a member of Bressingham Ladies’ Club. She is a great gardener and loves working with flowers.  Many people will have seen her beautiful arrangements in Fersfield Church. Richard has a variety of interests: he  goes to Michael  Dann’s ‘Discord’, enjoys cricket, rugby and football (‘a desperately worried Pompey fanatic’) and is a keen fisherman.  He likes growing vegetables and helping Jan in the garden. He became a Reader in our local churches when David Hunter was our Rector and is still a member of the Diss Ministry Team, taking services in Bressingham and Fersfield and the other team churches. He has recently become a Church Warden at Fersfield, where he is currently supporting the electrical and heating upgrade and its associated fundraising. He is very keen to make the church accessible and a major community resource. As a Parish Council member, Richard is particularly concerned with the quality of our roads and also sees a role in helping people ‘to be heard’ and to think ahead in order to share in a good quality of life. He considers his greatest, and most fortunate, achievement was to marry Jan 40 years ago this summer.

Leo and Philip came to live in Bressingham 8 years ago.  However they have been living and working in East Anglia for the last 40 years.  Leo had one of her first jobs in Ipswich as a nurse and it was there she met Philip who was working as an electrician. Leo was brought up in Elstree near London and so she found Ipswich a bit of a culture shock at first. 

Leo and Philip Pearce

Philip too up until the age of 10 had lived in Chiswick and Battersea and took sometime to get use to being so far from London. Ipswich was very different back in the 70’s.  Their first home  in 1972 was a rented flat which had no bathroom, so they would go to the “St Matthews Slipper Baths” - a local “ public bath” to have a bath.  Their flat was also freezing cold!  There were not many properties around to rent then so in order to get  something a little larger and more comfortable they had to move to Felixstowe and that was where they started a family.  Lizzie (Elizabeth) was born in 1974 and Keziah 18 months later. Leo had a variety of nursing jobs in Felixstowe and Ipswich.  Philip worked as a laboratory technician in a local school, later working specifically with computer technology in schools. When they got their first car in 1983 one of their first trips was to take the children to Bressingham Steam Museum. As the children got a bit older Leo specialised in all aspects of wound management. In 1992 Leo's brother who was very ill came to live with them and so they needed a larger house. It was then that they moved to Kesgrave near Ipswich. Philip was then working at Suffolk County Council Education Department, creating software and computer networks. He was later seconded to the East of England Broadband Network (E2BN) which covers the whole of East Anglia.  He is still working for E2BN for 3 days a week.

Leo retired from nursing 2 years ago after her last job in Bury St Edmunds hospital.  Up until then she had often left home at 7am and not returned until 7pm, but since then she has had more time to get to know people in the community.  Through joining a choir in Gissing she met Pam Dowling and through her joined the Parish Plan Committee and now is a member of the Parish Council.  Leo has become very involved with the Fuel Allotment Charity and supporting the Allotment Association. Leo is particularly interested in creating opportunities of bringing people in the community together at different stages in their lives. She would like to find ways of using heritage buildings, such as our church, for doing this. She would love to see a local choir in the village. Philip and Leo love walking. They have done the 200-mile coast to coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire. They also enjoy the 46-mile long Peddars Way from Knettishall Heath to Holme-on-Sea as well as local walks from their home in Bressingham Some favourite walks are to Roydon Fen and the Waveney Valley - click here for details and map.

Aislinn, born in Lambeth in London, moved to Bressingham when only a few weeks old and her sister was only 3. Aislinn graduated from West Suffolk College last year where she took a degree in applied computing. Now she works for a software solution company doing websites and integrating hardware. The company employs 8 or 9 people who work from home.
Aislinn Russell

They work from 9 to 5.30pm with an hour's lunch break. Aislinn’s boss is in touch with her by email or telephone most days and the team of workers regularly talk to each other or have text based chats on the internet.

Aislinn has many interests.  Besides her job she also helps friends with websites and has set up one for the South Norfolk Symphonic Youth Band (she is their website manager). The band is based in Diss and for young people from 8 to their mid 20's. They give about 30 concerts a year and have raised thousands of pounds for charity. Aislinn plays the clarinet with them - see their website >>.  Aislinn also plays with the RAF Honnington Voluntary Band. They too do concerts for charity and recently raised £8,000 for “help the heroes” - see their website >>.  Aislinn was born with a disability called arthrogryposis and muscular dystrophy. She cannot walk or stand for long and uses a wheelchair when she goes out. She has had 19 operations in her life because of her condition, but she was brought up not to think that this should stop her from doing anything. She keeps fit by going to the gym and swims once a week. She was 3 when her father died, bBut she feels a great connection with him as not only was she born on his birthday - but she also uses his clarinet. She is thinking of taking up the saxophone too to broaden her repertoire.

Anyone looking to set up a website ought to be in touch with Aislinn - T: 07729 435 344 and email.  She has great talent and there is nothing stopping her.   

Sharon and Dave Cole
Are new to Fersfield - they moved recently from the small village of Huntley near Ross on Wye in Gloucester. The company Dave works for (Koch Industries) sent him to work as their Finance Director for JH Bunn in Norwich which specialises in fertilisers. For the last year Dave has had to spend the week in Norwich to be close to his work and only be at home in Gloucester at weekends.  So its a very welcome change just having 40 minutes to drive to work.  Last February they began house hunting in earnest and saw 18 houses in one week.  The Fersfield house was the last one they saw!
Sharon and Dave Cole
They are both enthusiastic gardeners - which is just as well as they have inherited a large and beautiful garden from the Kinnear Kings.  They have a dog, 2 cats and 3 bantam chickens - so appreciated the space they have.Dave is a long way from home.  He was born in Kansas and the youngest of 7 children.  His company which is based in Kansas sent him over to a job in St Albans in 1991.  Sharon’s home village was Redbourn - and soon after he arrived they met through a friend in the office and got married.  Dave has lived in England ever since! Sharon was very involved in the village - she was chair of the ladies group, was on the village hall committee and did a lot of baking of cakes!  Welcome to you both and hope you will be very happy in your new home.

Many of you may remember the interview I did of Sophie last year (click here). Sophie was trying to raise £2,000 in order to take part in the Raleigh International Project.  Well she worked hard and achieved this - she did cleaning jobs, washed cars, gardening work and also worked for 6 weeks in Cambridge for a Field technician doing soil samples. Sophie was then able to go with Raleigh International to Borneo for 2 months. She and 14 others learnt to be self sufficient by trekking through the jungle, sleeping in hammocks and rationing food. They helped to set up treks for others in the jungle learning how to do woodwork and making wood walks. On her return and to thank people who had helped support her Sophie gave a lantern show using puppets she had created herself to illustrate her adventures in the forest. Before she left for Borneo Sophie had re-applied to do VSO - ICS programme (for young people aged 18 - 25), which both her parents had done for 2 years in the 80’s in Kenya and Tanzania, and it's where they met. Sophie was told on her first attempt that she wasn't confident enough to do it so she wanted to show them that she was! As soon as she knew she had been accepted she had to fundraise for her trip, so she decided to follow in her father's footsteps by cycling from Edinburgh but instead of going all the way to Tanzania like he did, Sophie decided to cycle to Ghent where her Dad is now works. It became a real family event - her Mum cycled to Yorkshire with her for the first 5 days, her Dad cycled to Hull with her, and her sister who is disabled did the final stretch from Zebrugge to Ghent.. She raised over £900 and is very grateful to everyone who helped her.
Sophie is now in Malindi on Kenya's north coast, very close to where the terrorist attack recently took place. She is absolutely fine, living with a host family and is settling in well. We hope there won’t be any need to send her home prematurely. She working in a number of schools with disabled children and also teaching them about climate change. Sophie has decided to delay going to university until 2015 as she is very keen to go to Bournemouth where she will study film production. To see more photos of Sophie's Borneo adventure click here >
Deborah and her husband Michael have many new things happening in their lives. They have recently moved down from Yorkshire and Deborah was ordained this July in Norwich Cathedral.   Michael worked as a Teaching Support Assistant in a school in Newcastle with a range of children including those with special needs. He still does their website as well as for other Charitable Organisations. 

Deborah had a business as Clinical Director of Northumbria Counselling and Psychotherapy.  Deborah has been employed in a variety of  roles including setting up and management of projects, counselling services and housing projects for many years. Deborah has just spent two years in Theological College at Mirfield in West Yorkshire living alongside a monastic community. They love Diss and find it a most welcoming place. They  love the sea and walk beside it when they have the chance. They have recently discovered Gorleston which is luckily near Diss. Deborah has visited Bressingham and Fersfield mainly times in the past few months - and has officiated at the regular services as well as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

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