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People of the Parish


Aislinn Russell

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.

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.


Deborah Hamilton-Grey

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.


Stephen Hubbard

Stephen writes: I was born in Bressingham in Marina Villa near the Old Chapel on the main road. At the age of two my parents Gordon and Vera bought what was then Cherry Tree Cottage on high road where the village blacksmith, Vic Gardener used to live, next door at Meadow View lived Wilfred Buck, a dear friend to whom I owe so much.

After getting married to his childhood sweetheart Denise and living for a few years at Valley Bungalow, now with two children, Joanna and Emma, I moved back to the house, built my parents a bungalow next door and converted  the two houses into one which is now Anvil House. Tragedy stuck in 2002 when Joanna died after a battle with cancer, she is remembered  every day, even more so recently as she would have been a wonderful Auntie to Millie Jo, Stephen and Denise’s first grandchild. Emma will later return to work as Operations Manager for the ASK chain of restaurants around Sheffield. Denise having done all aspects of nursing is now Day-Care Manager at All Hallows, Ditchingham. Stephen, with his team continue to provide first class building services and have a long list of satisfied customers, contact him at, anvilhouse@live.co.uk


Brenda Oates

Sadly for us  – Brenda Oates left Bressingham at the end of May  to go and live near her son and grandson in Devon.  Brenda came to Bressingham to live in The Highlands with her husband John back in 1965.  In 1990 they moved across the road to Waveney Rise.  Sadly John only lived there 3 nights before he went into hospital and died later that year. Brenda’s two great loves are children and flowers and she not only brought up her own two children Martyn and Rosemary, but also two of her grandchildren Rowan and Jessica.

They all went to Bressingham School. Brenda was one of the first people who got the Parish involved with the Friend of Chernobyl’s Children’s Diss Branch – the charity is about bringing children aged 8-12 from Chernobyl  each year to live for a few weeks with host families in the Diss area.  She has endlessly fund raised  and helped the project.Brenda was heavily involved with the Flower Show for over 35 years ending up as President.  In those days the Flower Show was held in the school.  Brenda has also for the last 20 years been in charge of  flower arranging for Bressingham Church where many of you will have seen her beautiful arrangements. And back in 1999 she was one of the key helpers  who organized an appeal in Bressingham Village Hall for the families who fled to Albania during the Serbian massacres.   They collected over 20,000 blankets which were donated from people in the district and organized lorries to drive the provisions out there.  It was a massive operation. Bressingham Church will always remember the Oates for their generous donation which started off the “Bell Restoration Project” and lead to  the bells ringing full circle again.  We now have 6 bells one dedicated to John Oates – read more >

A big thank you too  to Brenda for all the tireless fundraising events she has organized on behalf of Bressingham Church and all her generosity and friendship.


The Kinnear -Kings at home in France
The Handys pay them a visit

Charles and I were delighted to visit Adrian and Moira Kinnear King in their new home, a 900-year old farmhouse just outside Sguret in Provence in France, which they bought two years ago. Built by the Knights Templers as a Commanderi, the house had not been lived in for at least 100 years before Adrian started transforming it into a family home. It already has a new roof, new wiring,  new cedar beams and new plumbing, all being done or project managed  by Adrian.  Moira is yet to begin on the garden.  The view from their windows is to die for – they look out over the vineyards of Rasteau and Roaix and can see the foothills of the Alps which rise from the Rhone Valley. Their village is one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’.  Moira and Sam (their dog) are there for a two-week visit from Fersfield. You can see Sam is very much at home in front of their wood burning stove in their first ˜almost finished” room. Adrian’s paintings cover many of the walls – the walls if they could speak would I am sure have many stories to tell.  Good luck to the Kinnear Kings – they will be much missed back in Norfolk once they sell their house and make the final move.


Lesa Orford

The FABS are getting ready to organize the School Summer Fete which is to be held with the Flower Show on Saturday 20th July 11am to 3pm at Bressingham Village Hall and Playing Field.  More details about this will be on the website soon. Lesa Orford is the secretary of the Friends Association of Bressingham School and their aim is to raise money for the school.  As we read from Kirsty – they raised £200 from their garage sales and hope to raise a lot more from the fete.  It sounds as if it will be a great event with a grand raffle prize (Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 kindly donated by Midwich Ltd), lots of craft stalls, ferret racing,  teddy bear naming, a gymnastic display, karate display, tug of wars, a fire engine and ambulance and lots more for you to come and browse.  Park Radio will be coming so the fete will be “on air” – as well as giving music and entertainment.  They are hoping that many of the school children and their parents will enter the competitions that are running with the flower show and maybe many of the parents will enjoy the “pimms” bar available.

Lesa is new to her role as secretary for the FABS team.  Her daughter Ruby is in year 1 class 2 and her son Charlie will join Bressingham School in September.  Although the Orfords live in Roydon they wanted their children to go to Bressingham.  They wanted a smaller school and were most impressed by the open day they went to when they were shown round by a class 4 pupil.  Funnily enough, Andy, Lesa’s husband went to Roydon school although he grew up in Bressingham!  But he did play  in Bressingham football team under 9’s to under 16’s.  Lesa works for Midwich Ltd in Diss where she is a Senior HR Advisor and Andy works for Brownes Butchers in Harleston where he is Manager.  So they are a very local family.


Linda Holly

Linda Holly has lived  in Bressingham for 4 years.  Linda has considered East Anglia her home since childhood – (she lived in East Anglia for 5 years as a child and her mother still lives here).  Linda has lived in many countries round the world and travelled extensively. She worked for Gulf Air in Bahrain as a stewardress. It was there she met her husband Jack who is an American.  After Bahrain they briefly lived in the US and Jack’s 3 teenage sons came to live with them. Later Jack worked for the US Navy in London. When they bought a house on the edge of the fens Linda did a  BA in history at UEA and then went on to do an MA in early English history. 

It was then that Linda became interested in the historical environment.  She has spent much time researching l7th century records of  the “drainage of the fens” and the management of the landscape which was operated by the “court of sewers”.  She is interested in how language and thought eventually lead to the origins of modern capitalism. Linda is also interested in the countryside and the sustainability of land.


Alison Orford

Alison was brought up in Fersfield and although she moved away to Kent for 15 years after she got married, she’s back and has been working in her family’s farming business – G J Orford and Partners in Fersfield – for the last four years.  There are six employees and four family members. The farm is very diverse –  they own 600 acres but also have a contracting business using their farm equipment for fertilizing, spreading and tilling. They have a recycling business on which Alison spends most of her time. They recycle fertilizer bags, spray cans, seed bags, black plastic cover from silage – which has to be collected from approximately 200 farms in Norfolk and Suffolk – 98% of what is collected is recycled and made into other products. Alison has taken courses in agriculture in Stoke Mandeville Buckinghamshire and at Easton College, but what she most benefited from was learning to drive a tractor as a child – and also spending time working in the field with the team at Hill Farm who have helped her.  Alison can, and has to, multitask from doing the wages to tilling the land.  Seeing women driving tractors or lorries is not unusual today. I asked Alison what work an average year in the farm was made up of:

January and February – quiet months when time is spent on maintenance of machines.
March, April & May – spraying, drilling and fertilizing (crops are spring barley, wheat and sugar beet)
June & early July – busy recycling time collecting seed bags etc from the farms – machines are checked in readiness for the harvest.
End of July – harvest begins
August – oil seed rape is drilled and is the first to be combined.
September – the busiest time lifting sugar beet, drilling for winter crops (winter wheat and barley)
October, November & December – lLifting sugar beet and sprayingFarming she says has changed over the last 15 years with a lot of admin and paperwork – but  the big advantage is the mobile phone.  It means the office can be in touch with those working in the fields as well as those in the fields being able to be in touch with each other.  The mind boggles as what way farming will have changed by the time Alison’s son Joe grows up.


Becky and Brian Greathead

Rebecca and Brian Greathead have lived in Bressingham for 14 years.  Brian has his own architectural firm in London and lives there during the week.  Rebecca was brought up in rural Herefordshire and loves being in the country.  She has been very busy home schooling their two children – Briony and Bobby.  They both went to the Play Group in Bressingham and so have quite a few local friends. Briony  is now at  Diss High School and Bobby will follow her next year – he plays in the Diss Rugby team that plays at Bressingham playing fields and also goes to the Swimming Club in Diss with the Otters.

Rebecca went to Falmouth Art School and later did a masters in education and art at Norwich.  Before the children were born she taught art at a local school and ran creative workshops with schools and galleries.  Lucky for them both their parents have followed them  to East Anglia and live  near by.


David Choules and Denise Port from Bressingham

David Choules and Denise Port came to Bressingham 10 years ago from Essex where David was a builder and Denise worked as a cook in a childrens day nursery.  They planned to buy a house where they could do B&B and work together. When they found Rodger Groome’s old house for sale they knew this was the ideal place to convert for their B&B business. Many people will remember Rodger and Janet Groom who  lived in Bressingham for many years.

David and Denise opened their B&B two years ago and say they have been very busy.  During the summer they have had a  90% capacity.  They say that many people come back again and most of their guess come through word of mouth or through Trip Advisor. They are amazed at how many tourists come to South Norfolk.  They tend to like to bird watch, walk on the Fens or visit the beautiful churches.  They also have a lot of guests who come to local family weddings or parties or people who are house hunting in the area.David and Denise support local businesses by recommending local eating places and also buying everything they can locally.  They find Norfolk people very friendly and wish they had more time to join in local events.  You can read more about them on their website.


Sharon and Dave Cole

Sharon and Dave 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!

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.


Sophie Gorman’s Adventures

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 >


Sally, Adam, Jasmine and Hazel Pankhust

Sally and Adam Pankhurst came to live in Fersfield 11 years ago from Billingford. Jasmine was only 2 and Hazel was not yet born.  Now they are 13 and 10 and Hazel is still at Bressingham Primary School and Jasmine is now at Diss High School.  They live in what was once the old post office.  They love living opposite the Church Meadow.

Some time ago Rob Mellowship started the tradition during the summer months of a weekly game of rounders every Friday night.  The community space, the girls say, is a great place for meeting their friends – and especially good for playing 40/40 on! The Pankhursts like cycling – when the weather is good Hazel cycles to school and Sally cycles to her work in Banham where she is an administrative assistant.  They often cycle together to Diss along the back roads.  Adam is self employed and works from home as a wiring technician assembling control units for lithographs.


Jan Scott

Jan and husband Neils came to Fersfield 14 months ago after living for 20 years in Sonning Common, Berkshire. Jan worked as a teacher for children with special learning difficulties and Neils worked as a civil enginner. Their two children grew up there and are now, in their late twenties, have left home.

Jan is the 4th generation of farmers from Norfolk – her Aunt still lives in the county. Jan’s grandmother raised chickens and cows on a small piece of land and also ran a bed and breakfast near Bungay. Jan has many happy childhood memories of helping with the animals. So it was in Jan’s blood to want to be a smallholder.  During their first year here they had 2 pigs on their 2 acres of land and this year they bought 3 Ryeland Sheep who have produced 6 lambs. They also have 12 chickens provide eggs and have a very bossy cockrel!  Once a week one of Jan’s neighbours, a young man from Fenners Residential Home, comes to help her with her animals. Jan is also very active keeping fit by going to twice-weekly aqua fit classes at Diss Swimming Pool and has joined Natalie’s Knitters held weekly at the Reform Church in Diss.  Jan also loves craft work and has done courses on weaving, spinning and felt making for which she plans to use the fleece from her sheep. Neils is interested in history and is busy tracing his family roots in Lincolnshire where his grandfather was an Architect.  He often takes visitors to Fersfield Church and wishes more churches were able to stay open.


A tribute to Barbara Brookes by her husband

We met at a Young Farmers dance in Bungay and we lived at Valley Farm in Bressingham all our 61 years of married life. The last couple of years we have been at Walcott Hall.  We did mixed farming cattle and arable on 110 acres, before the children came Barbara helped on the farm.  Now our son John and grandson Robert run the farm. Barbara was always very much part of the village, she was school governor, church warden and trustee of the Fuel Allotment. She was always the first  to welcome newcomers to the village bearing a cake. She ran annual coffee mornings in Valley Farm barn and over the years raised hundreds of pounds for the community. She used to welcome a classroom of children from the school to show them round the farm, and what they enjoyed most was eating strawberries and cream and cake in the garden – many generations enjoyed this.

She was a wonderful mother to John and Angela and a very active grandmother. John and his family lived in the bungalow next door. Barbara each year took a special pride in arranging the Remembrance Day service and maintaining the war memorial site throughout the year.  Robert  has, for the last couple of years, read the role call of all the names on the memorial. Grace (his sister)  is now living in Diss and working in Long Stratton.  Angela worked at Barclays Bank in Diss for 40 years and sadly died last year.

Chris Scott

Chris Scott is also a new member of the parish council.  He lives in Fersfield and has only been here since March, and works for Sentry Ltd who are Farm Contractors and Chris works at Hall Farm. 75% of Sentry’s work is in East Anglia and  there are 7 or 8 farms in Suffolk and Norfolk. Chris’s job consists of looking after wheat, linseed, sugar beet, rape and spring wheat – so he is always busy, especially at this time of year with the harvest coming up. Chris has not come from far – he grew up near Colchester and his family still live there, but Chris loves the peace and quiet of this part of the world. 

After leaving school Chris trained as a chef and went to catering college.  But after joining the Young Farmers in Essex as a member he decided he wanted an outdoor life – and so went back to college to study agriculature for another 2 years at Writtle College in Chelmsford.  There he spent one day a week working on a farm as well as most weekends. After leaving College Christ trained as a manager with Sentry  – and then started work. Chris loves his work – as there is always something new to learn.  His puppy Cleo now 20 weeks old rides on the tractor with him and is nearly always by his side.  Chris has just joined the Young Farmers Group in Diss.  He was also a member of the Young Farmers Tug of War Team in Essex that came 6th in the national competition competing with 610 other teams.His dream is to have his own arable farm one day of about 1,000 acres – in the meantime he is looking after other people’s farms.


Sam Darlow and Heidi Henderson

Both Sam and Heidi subscribe to Bressingham tennis court and love playing there. As a child Sam lived in Bressingham and went to go Bressingham Primary School and often played tennis on the Bressingham court.  He was also a member of the Bressingham Youth Club and played was in the Bressingham football team.  Sam then went onto  Diss High School.  Heidi also went to Diss High School but they did not meet until they had both left!

Sam went to University in Derby where he studied Sports and Exercise Science.  Heidi did a foundation course in design at Wentham Lodge and then went on to study shoe Design at De Mortford College in Leicester. But they have both come back to live in Diss.  Heidi has just started a job in Norwich with the Florida Group and is doing design for Van Dal footware company.  Sam is now a plasterer and general builder but teaches tennis and is a sports coach in his spare time. Sam likes teaching adults as well as children and you can contact Sam on T: 07714 706033. (Re playing tennis at Bressingham Court contact Brenda Webb on T: 01379 688375 and see the Sport section opposite).

Sam in the meantime is teaching Heidi tennis which luckily she loves as its something they will be doing alot of in the future – but shoe design is Heidi’s passion as you can see from her tennis footware!


Sophie Gorman (Would you like help from her?)

Sophie lives with her parents and sister in Fersfield where she has lived for 5 years and for 10 years before they lived in Shelfanger. But Sophie is very determined – she left Diss High School to go to the 6th form in North Walsham, which meant travelling 4 hours a day – leaving home at 6am, cycling to Diss Station and getting back at 6pm or later.  Sophie did this as she particularly wanted to do the Art Course there for her A levels. She achieved an A grade, and hopes to go on to Art School next year and study film. But this is her gap year and she is determined to raise enough sponsor money to go on Raleigh International (see their website – click here). They run expeditions to Borneo, Costa Rica and Nicaragua and Tanzania for individuals to work on sustainable and worthwhile community and environmental projects alongside young people from the host country and local skilled workers. Sophie has to raise about £2,800 to enable her to join one of these expeditions.  So far she has raised £260 so has some way to go.  But her poster describes the kind of jobs she is willing to do for a ‘donation’ eg house cleaning, gardening, car washing, dog walking, sweeping leaves, babysitting, lawn mowing etc. She can also give references.  To contact Sophie email her or ring 01379 687587 or 07788 239122.


The Marshall Family

If you have a family of  3 horses, 3 children, 1 dog and 1 cat, it can be difficult to find a house to rent.  But the Marshall family were lucky to find such a place in Bressingham where Lynn Fox had her riding school.  They moved in last August and are really happy to be here – it was the second time they had moved in a year as the last house they rented had been condemned!But its an unusual family in that they also have 3 teachers in the family. The reason for their move from Cambridge was that Peter had been offered a headship at Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft.  He was due to start in January but in September the school was placed into “special measures”, so Peter took up his post in October 2012. Tanya was running the Young Actors Company in Cambridge for 2 years but gave up her job when they moved.  She has now started a company of her own for acting workshops for children as well as a children actor agency (see her website).  This week she starts her first workshop in Bressingham Village Hall on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings see poster for more details. Rosie their daughter is a teaching assistant at a Hobart High School in Norfolk.  She has her final year doing an Open University Degree Course in Sports and English.  She hopes to train as a teacher with the Schools Direct placement scheme. Tom now 12 started at Diss High School this term.  He has been elected to the school Council. Tom has always liked acting since the age of 2, and at 5 he entered the Young Actors Company which his mother eventually worked for.  Living in Bressingham with Diss’ frequent trains to London makes it possible for him to go up to London for auditions. Harry started at Bressingham Primary school this term and has recently had his 5th birthday.  Lucky for him he was one of the l7 new pupils starting this term.

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