Himalayan Balsam - an invasive plant

Written by Brian Frith.

Himalayan Balsam - a special request from the 'Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative'

This article is taken from the recent Norfolk Association of Local Councils update, via Forncett Clerk Anne Rayner

In Norfolk there are several Invasive Non-Native Species which pose a threat to our unique ecosystems and wildlife. One of the main “culprits” is Himalayan Balsam. This plant, which is native to India was introduced to the UK in 1839. It spreads through exploding seed pods and as it grows to more than 3 metres tall, it shades out most native plants where it is growing. The plant usually grows along watercourses and as it dies back in the winter, this leaves bare soil which is then vulnerable to erosion, causing bankside instability and adding sediment to the water. This can have a knock on effect on aquatic plants and may prevent some fish from being able to breed successfully. Studies have also shown that bees prefer this plant and when it is growing in an area, native plants may not be pollinated as a result of bees ignoring them to favour the Himalayan balsam.

The plant can be identified from its pink to white flowers, tall stalks with red stemmed leaves and cocoon shaped seed pods.

At Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative we are trying to map the plants spread across the county, as once we know where it currently is, we are going to take action to stop it in its tracks with the aim of eventually eradicating it. This is the best time of year to spot the plant, when it is at its tallest and flowing. If you think you have seen it growing in your area, please take a photograph (if it is safe to do so) and send this along with the location to 

Coronation Tree Planting Event

Written by Brian Frith.

On Sunday May 7th 2023, an event was organised to mark the Coronation of King Charles III. 

With the help of a grant from South Norfolk Council, a tree was bought and planted on 'Jubilee Green' at the Village Hall, followed by 'tea and cakes' in the Hall.  About 60 people attended.  Thanks to Tree Warden, Robert Hosea, for sourcing and preliminary planting of the tree, to Bev and Keith Humphreys for 'doing the honours' and 'Friends of St Peters' for supplying the majority of the cakes (including the celebration 'Coronation Cake' - and all others who helped in any way. 

Photos taken by Phil Whiscombe (unless otherwise indicated) and reproduced here with his permission

If you have photos of other events and would like them added to the slideshow, please contact me at 

Click the image below for the slideshow

This seems to work best on a desktop / laptop

The plaque commemorating the event

Electricity Pylons are coming through Forncett unless we say ‘NO’

Written by Martin Starkie, Ally Rae.

National Grid is planning to put elecricity pylons 50m high through Forncett as it links off-shore power generation to London.

Pylons Poster sm

You can stop them:

  • Share, share, share!
    • Put up banners or posters - get them here
    • Make a noise on social media
  • Write to your MP:
    • Email:
    • Postal address: Pretoria House
      Ipswich Road
      LONG STRATTON
      Norfolk NR15 2TA

 

Forncett Platinum Jubilee Celebrations June 2022

Written by Brian Frith.

 A selection of images from HM Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Forncett - June 2022 

Most photos taken by Phil Whiscombe and reproduced here with his permission

Apologies that it has taken so long to get the photos together and work out how put them into the 'slideshow' format!

Much has happened since early June - we were worried about rain (in fact many local celebrations scheduled for Sunday 5th June were called off).  Little did we know how the summer would turn out with its record breaking high temperatures and drought conditions.

Queen Elizabeth II was able to play some part in her Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, but sadly she died on 8th September, and was succeeded by her son King Charles III.  Hopefuly this collection of images from Forncett will bring back happy memories of a joyful time of celebration of a long reign and a life devoted to service to our Country and the Commonwealth.

If you have photos of other events and would like them added to the slideshow, please contact me at 

Click the image below for the slideshow: Photos, with thanks, by Phil Whiscombe, unless otherwise indicated  

This seems to work best on a desktop / laptop

 

St Mary an Eco Church

Written by Administrator.

St Mary’s has registered for a project called ‘Eco Church’ – its purpose is to help as many churches as possible celebrate what they are doing to care for the environment.  At the moment we have a Bronze Award for Buildings, a Silver Award for Land, Silver for Community and Global engagement, and Silver for Lifestyle. The church has met some of the criteria due to factors such as leaving a large section of the churchyard for ‘wild’ growing, and having trees planted. There is also a bio toilet, and we are in the process of putting up bat and bird nesting boxes. As we continue to be able to give positive answers to more of the questions we hope to increase those awards to the next level.

Copies of the church guide/history book written by Roy Tricker are available for £3 – contact

eco church

Jo and Raptor OR Joy and Rapture

Written by Terry Hickman Smith (as published in the Forncett Flyer November 2020).

On one of my morning walks with Nutmeg four or five weeks ago I came across a wounded kestrel at the bottom of the Sewage works footpath. It had a badly damaged right eye, it couldn’t fly and its only defence was digging its very sharp talons into my fingers.

I wasn’t sure how to deal with a wild bird in this state. After a couple of attempt to pick it up – including the bloody fingers – I tried putting my handkerchief over its eyes which calmed it enough for me to hold it. It didn’t really struggle for the whole way home but looked in a really bad way.

image002

Via the Norfolk Wildlife Trust who recommended a lovely man who said he couldn’t do anything for the bird but put me in touch with a raptor rescue specialist called Jo. Jo runs the Phoenix Bird of Prey Rescue and came over to look at my female kestrel that afternoon. She took one look at it and pronounced that there was nothing she could do. The poor bird apparently had something that sounded to my deaf ears like Trowse Trichosis. I later found out it is actually called Frounce Trichomoniasis – a horrible virus endemic in pigeons who are not affected by it. It is thought, after much research, that where pigeons drink they leave a trace of the virus and if a raptor drinks soon after the raptor can catch it. In raptors it leads to blindness, damaged hearing, weakness, digestive problems and death. Great disappointment.

However the lovely Jo said she would try. There might be a small chance that a course of anti-biotics might help alongside intensive care and careful feeding. She took the female kestrel away and I thought that would be the last I would see of her.

About two weeks Later Jo phoned to say that, against all expectations, our kestrel was responding to treatment and was getting stronger. This week (last week in October) Jo rang again with the amazing news that she (the kestrel that is) was ready for release. Today, 29th October Jo brought her here and we released her by the bridge where I found her. It is Jo’s policy to release the birds she rescues from the place where it was found – seems eminently sensible. After a bit of a struggle to get out of the box she flew off in a big arc and landed in a tree by the footpath. Apparently that was a good release. She looked strong and happy to be flying again. Pity it was raining but preferable to release in rain than keep too long in captivity.

The big lesson to me was to have acted quickly. Another few hours may have triggered a less happy outcome. If you find yourself in similar circumstances please do act quickly.

Jo at Phoenix can be contacted on 07914 661385 and her website is www.phoenixbirdofpreyrescue.org.

Musicals & Swing at St Mary's Church

Written by May Prior.

Director & Producer Paul Blake, & the cast of 'Ensemble' performed 'Musicals & Swing' to three packed audiences in St Mary's Church. They included a variety of show favourites, such as Miss Saigon, Les Miserable, Sister Act, Cabaret, and a selection from the 'Rat Pack' era. A finale from the Lion King had the audience singing and clapping.

Laura Macdonald - No one but you from 'We Will Rock You'

Photos by Richard Ball - Click on pic for more

A HUGE thank you to them all for their hard work in putting together and performing the show, helping to raise funds for the on-going restoration of the church.

Murder Mystery Oct 17

Written by Brian Frith.

'St. Flora of the Lake', our second Murder Mystery play, was another resounding success. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the evenings either by preparing and serving food, manning the bar, collecting and building the stage (thanks to the school for lending us this) and general preparation and clearing away ....... and of course everyone in the audience who came along to support us.

Sarah Allen writes :

'Ghostly Goings-on at the Murder Mystery'

On the 13th and 14th October two full houses witnessed the second murder in Forncett this year. The victim was the sleazy and lecherous George Allen, played with alarming ease by Peter Schmidt-Hansen. Murdered on the anniversary of the death of St Flora, who drowned with her young son in 1612, suspicion turned to some ghostly intervention. However the audience had other ideas. Could the murderer have been farmer Jack Farrow (Norman Stevens) who stood to gain financially from George's death? Or the deranged vicar’s wife Florence and her protective husband, played by real life wife and husband team Dee and Nigel Youngman? Or even the timid young girl Josie Carter (Alex Preece)? Suspicion even turned to a Machiavellian plot by the bickering couple Ruth and Arthur Thomas, played by April Carlin and Terry Hickman Smith.

Inspector Halfpenny (John Wilde), of the Tas Valley Police, investigated and his persistence was rewarded with a confession from Josie. Another entertaining mystery in which Brian Frith (stage manager) had an off-stage cameo role as Sergeant Jones and in which a teddy bear was implicated as the murder weapon. The play was again written by April Carlin, and thanks must go to Gill Starkie as director and Margaret Hickman Smith as prompt.

If there are any more dastardly deeds in village we'll have to ask the Parish Council to start twinning procedures with Midsomer. 

The full cast (see main text for names etc)

Photos by Anne Frith: Click pic for slide show

Full cast list (from first photo):

From the left: Peter Schmidt-Hansen (George Allen); Nigel Youngman (Vicar); John Wilde (Inspector Halfpenny); Alex Preece (Josie Carter); April Carlin (Ruth Thomas); Norman Stevens (Jack Farrow); Terry Hickman Smith (Arthur Thomas); Dee Youngman (Florence)