Countryside Notes – November

Poppies and bluets
November is the time when we honour those who died in the First World War which came to an end at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.
Back at the beginning of July centenary commemoration services were held at Westminster Abbey and at Thiepval in France for those who lost their lives in the battle of the Somme. One of those was Lance Corporal Arthur Bernard English from Eastmoor, Barton Bendish who served in the 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, died on September 15th and is remembered with honour on Thiepval memorial. Horrifyingly his name is but one of 72,000 inscribed on the memorial; and Thiepval is just one of many. The televised coverage was very moving and also educational. I wasn’t previously aware that the French equivalent of our poppy is the Bleuet de France, the blue cornflower which appeared alongside red poppies in the fields devastated by the thousands of shells which fell along the Western Front. Both flowers were adopted as symbols of remembrance after WW1. Following the 1916 battles warm weather the following spring brought to life the seeds of many wildflowers scattered across the desolate landscape. In fact the seeds of both poppies and cornflowers will lay dormant in the ground for many years to resolutely reappear whenever the earth is freshly disturbed.
Suzanne Lenhardt, a head nurse tending the wounded, lost her own husband, a serving officer, in 1915. She organized workshops making the bleuets from tissue paper as occupational therapy for the wounded soldiers in her care. These badges were sold to the public and the money raised provided the men with a small income. This continued for many years after the war ended although the sale of bleuets in France on Remembrance Day was only officially recognised in 1935. The idea of making poppies a symbol of remembrance was first adopted by American academic Moina Michael who introduced it to Britain in 1918. In 1921 the Royal British Legion ordered nine million poppies made by disabled ex-servicemen and sold them on November 11th. They sold out almost immediately and the tradition continues until this day. In 1922 the poppy factory was established in Richmond, London and a work force, most of whom are disabled, produce 36 million poppies, 5 million poppy petals, 900,000 crosses and 100,000 wreaths each year. When this tradition first began there weren’t enough left over for Scotland so Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory was established in Edinburgh and now produces 5 million poppies and 12,000 wreaths annually made by ex-servicemen, many of them registered disabled. Apparently Scottish poppies differ from ours as they do not include a leaf. Dr John Macrae’s famous poem ‘In Flander’s Field’s’ was the inspiration behind the choice of these flowers in remembrance.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below

Air Quality Monitoring – Stoke Ferry

The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk has monitored the air quality in Stoke Ferry for particulate matter (PM10) since 2011 as part the Council’s duty to assess air quality across the Borough and compare it to objectives set in the National Air Quality Strategy. Possible sources of particulate matter in Stoke Ferry are industrial activities and agriculture.
Currently, an Osiris dust monitor is located on the junction of Furlong Road and Lynn Road. In 2012 this monitor indicated there was an exceedance of both the annual and 24 hour mean air quality objectives for particulate matter (PM10) and therefore a report called a Detailed Assessment was required. The equipment needed to collect the additional monitoring data required for the Detailed Assessment was being used in other parts of the Borough until now but it can now be relocated to Stoke Ferry. Since 2012 data has shown there have been no further exceedances of the air quality objectives in Stoke Ferry and it is hoped the further monitoring will continue to show this and confirm the air quality in Stoke Ferry now meets the objectives.
It is being arranged for the current Osiris dust monitor to be relocated to Buckenham Drive, and an additional Osiris dust monitor to be installed on the lamp post next to the War Memorial in the near future. We will also be placing a larger monitoring station (called a TEOM) in Self’s Field, on Lynn Road in the new year. We expect that monitoring will last at least 12 months so any seasonal variations can be detected. Once we have collected enough data to carry out the Detailed Assessment the report will be completed and submitted to Defra for auditing, the report will say whether monitoring needs to be continued in future or not.
Monitoring data will be available to view on the Norfolk Air Quality Website We will continue to attend the Village Liaison meetings and provide regular updates to them. For any further information please contact Kate Penn (01553 616324) or Dave Robson (01553 616302) or email

Westminster Diary – October


I recently held a skills summit at RAF Marham to highlight the many amazing jobs available at the base. ˜Fantastic, varied and rewarding” were just some of the descriptions used to highlight the excellent employment opportunities available at Marham. An investment programme of £520 million is currently underway in preparation for the arrival of the first Lightning jets. This is a fifth generation aircraft which has cutting edge technology and consequently will need a suitably skilled labour force to maintain it and fly it. I want to see as much of this multi million-pound investment benefitting the local community and I want the young people in this county thinking about RAF Marham as a long term career choice. Engineering is in high demand so STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering and maths, are vital in securing employment in this area. With global companies like BAE Systems and Rolls Royce situated at Marham, there is significant demand now for engineers to work with the Tornado aircraft and in the future, the Lightning jets. SERCO and ISS also recruit for the base with staff needed in a range of jobs including catering, administration and maintenance. The RAF have a massive recruitment and expansion programme currently underway and are keen attract more women into the service.
Attending the summit were leaders from education, business and local councils and all recognised that Marham is a great asset to the county. But more needs to be done to promote the jobs as well as ensuring Norfolk has the skills base to supply Marham with home grown talent.
With 3600 military and civilian personnel, plus 1200 contractors and 5000 dependents, RAF Marham is in essence a small town and as such requires all the necessary work force to keep it operational. The majority of staff travel from out of the county to work at the base and as one of the largest employers in this region, generating in excess of £100 million per annum for the local economy, the message is very much – “jobs available right here, right now“ so let us ensure Norfolk residents benefit as much as possible.