Retirement

Retirement

After much thought and a lot of prayer I am retiring from my post as full-time Team Vicar in the Benefice of Launditch and Upper Nar.  
Our Benefice of 17 parishes currently has the benefit of two full time paid priests but the parishes barely contribute enough to cover the cost of one of us.  We have been extremely fortunate to have had a second post subsidised by the Diocese but the Diocese is running a large deficit and with the huge negative impact of the pandemic on income this situation can no longer continue.
You may have read that the Diocese needs to lose 10% of clergy posts which it hopes to do without redundancies and our Deanery (group of local Benefices) has been asked to lose a post.  Having studied the overall situation and staffing levels in our neighbouring Benefices I have decided that my post is the obvious one to go and retirement will allow me the opportunity for a much needed change in pace and direction.
I will therefore be retiring on the 31st May and will move out of The Vicarage in Gressenhall.  My last service will be on the 30th May.  I will hopefully be licensed to The Benefice at some stage in the not too distant future but in a voluntary and therefore much reduced capacity.  For now my main priority, licensed or not, will be to support Reverend Miriam our acting Team Rector who is doing an amazing job running the Benefice whilst we seek to appoint a new Team Rector.
I have loved being your Team Vicar and there are a great many things I will miss when I retire but I am very much looking forward to laying down some of the heavy burdens of ministry and exploring a new and exciting chapter in my life.  It is my hope and intention that this new chapter will include some form of ministry within these parishes that I have grown to love.

Reverend Julia

RESUMPTION OF CHURCH SERVICES

Although worship in churches has not actually been prohibited during the current period of Covid restrictions, we decided to discontinue our services due to the growing infection rate.  Now we are seeing a rapid decrease in infection and the majority of our regular worshippers have had at least their first vaccine, I am delighted to say that we will be having a service of Holy Communion at 9am on Easter Morning.  We will be following the arrangements previously made for safe worship and we will receive communion by taking the Bread only.  Easter is one of those feasts when all communicating members of the Church of England are required to take communion and we very much hope that all who have been unable to attend a live service will celebrate with us.  Please note the earlier time of this service, which will give plenty of time after for opening Easter eggs, champagne breakfasts or a good walk.  For those who cannot make it for any reason, the clergy are able to offer a House Communion and may be contacted via the details in the “Who’s Who” at the front of this magazine.
Services on the Sunday following Easter will probably have to remain on line but, if all goes to plan, the lifting of general restrictions will allow us to start our regular Sunday services at 10:15 from April 18th, from when we may even be allowed to sing again.

The flintwork repairs described in the last edition commenced on time, but completion was delayed pending warmer weather and further drying out, as lime mortar does not set at low temperatures.
The PCC will be considering a list of other repairs deemed urgent by the Architect at the last inspection; as always, funds permitting.

The display of wild crocus in the churchyard was particularly good this year, helped by a spell of warm weather, and they are now spreading to other areas including the Church Street frontage.  A welcome sign of spring, and harbinger of hope for a summer of much needed greater freedom.

Richard Vogt, Churchwarden, Litcham All Saints

Litcham Common

Good news
Litcham Common has seen an increase in visitors in recent months and we are fortunate to have this wonderful open space to enjoy.  The common and the ponies are looked after by volunteers and although grants are received from Natural England and Litcham Parish Council, for which we are very grateful, money is tight.  We are therefore very pleased that Breckland Council has recently awarded us two grants of roughly £600 each, one of which will cover the cost of urgent repairs to the stock proof fencing, while the other will purchase materials for some new benches.  Mike Oldfield has kindly offered to construct the benches, which will be installed by the conservation group.  The grants have come from money provided by the developers of the new bungalows behind Litcham Post Office, out of what is known as a “Section 106 fund” to be used for the benefit of the local community.

Respect the common
Although visitors are welcome, the increase in numbers has raised some issues which we need to keep on top of.
Please be mindful of the fact that Litcham Common is a designated Local Nature Reserve and County Wildlife site and must be respected as such, especially as we enter the nesting season.  In particular, dogs should be kept under close control at all times and please do not drop any litter at all, or leave dog poo bags lying around.  Bins are provided in the car park, but even better, dispose of your litter at home.

Parking on the common
Byelaws prohibit any unauthorised vehicles from driving over or parking on the common, including the road verges.  Please only use the car park provided.  We are grateful for Litcham School’s cooperation in getting this message across to parents from outside the area who have been parking on the verges at school drop-off and pick-up times.
We occasionally receive comments from people who say that because it is a common they can do what they like on it!  This is definitely not the case and a full copy of the Litcham Common Byelaws can be found on the internet at: http://www.litcham.org/pdfs/byelaws.pdf 
Please enjoy Litcham Common, but respect it too!

Conservation Group
The next conservation task will take place on Saturday 10th April, meeting at 10am in the car park.  As always, new volunteers will be welcome to join us.  Contact Tim Angell on 01328 700045 for more information.
Tim Angell, Litcham Common Management Committee

LITCHAM PARISH COUNCIL

MARCH MEETING

The March Parish Council Meeting was held by a virtual meeting and attended by 6 Councillors.  

For the full minutes and report from County & District Councillor please see the minutes on the website http://www.pclitcham@gmail.com

New Problems within the Parish: All highways items reported in December are still outstanding.  The lines have been reinstated at the junction of Druids Lane/Mileham road.  The County Councillor Kiddle-Morris reported that Norfolk County Council have appointed a new highways inspector and he will be visiting the village soon.  The clerk will write a report of all the outstanding items for inspection.  

Litter Bins:  It was agreed to install new litter bins, one to be placed outside the Litcham High School and to place a new litter/dog bin on Wellingham Road.  The Clerk will obtain quotes, and this will be approved at the next meeting.  

Christmas Tree: The Council discussed the possibilities of planting a Christmas tree on the green, opposite the Bull Public House.  The Clerk has contacted the insurance company to confirm if this will be covered under the parish’s insurance.  This item will be added to the next agenda for further discussion.

Community Car Scheme: The Community car scheme has increased booking, but unfortunately only one driver is covering all of these as the other drivers are waiting for their Covid jabs.  

Annual Parish Meeting: Unfortunately, the Annual Parish Meeting was postponed last year, due to Covid restrictions.  The Council has agreed to delay the meeting again this year.  

Finance: The financial position at the end of January 2021 was considered and payments were authorised.  

County Cllr and District Cllr Kiddle-Morris Reports 

The government is putting in place plans to hold Covid secure elections on the 6th May.  In Norfolk, there will be elections for the 84 seats on Norfolk County Council and for the Police and Crime Commissioner which was postponed in May last year.  Currently, hand delivery of leaflets and canvassing is not allowed, instructions on delivery of election material from candidates is awaited.  The government is allocating extra money to local councils to allow polling stations and vote counting venues to be made Covid secure.  Rules on postal voting and proxy voting are being considered.  

The County Council have set the Council Tax budget, it will increase by 1.99%, which is £4.95 for a Band D property in Breckland.  Social Care budget will increase by 1%.  Full details of the whole budget can be seen on the Norfolk County Council Website.  

District Councillor Kiddle-Morris reported that due to some recent problems outside the Litcham shop regarding parking and rights of way, it has now been established that this area is designated Highways.  Pedestrians have right of way across the pavements and vehicles should be approaching this area with caution.  

The full minutes are available for viewing on the notice board at the village hall or on the Litcham Website or Email Mileham Clerk: pclitcham@gmail.com.  

Next Meeting will be held on Monday 3rd May at 7:30pm, this may be in the Village Hall or will continue as a Virtual meeting.  

Donna Secker, Clerk to Litcham Parish Council.

SERVICES SET TO RESUME AT EASTER

After some very bleak months with the arrival of Spring and the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine there are good grounds for feeling optimistic.  The ministry team has been working hard to prepare for resuming services once again in our churches but cautiously and safely beginning with Easter.

The government is discouraging large gatherings over Easter and so our main service will be a joyful online celebration of Easter on Zoom.  However, we recognise that taking Holy Communion at Easter is very important to many people and we will therefore be offering a short service of Holy Communion at 9am on Easter day at three of our churches; Gressenhall, Little Dunham and Litcham.

After the 12th April as the second phase of the release from lockdown begins there will be church services throughout the Benefice.  These will be limited in number but will offer a good range of services.  This will not be the fixed pattern of worship going forward but is a temporary measure as we slowly emerge from lockdown.

Online Services have grown steadily in popularity with a congregation of around 50 each week and so these will continue.  Our online services are easy to join, even if you have no experience with technical things.  All you need is a computer or iPad/tablet and an email address.  Links for joining online worship are given in the weekly Benefice email.  If you are unsure, one of us will happily talk you through how to join in.  If you do not have a computer, it is possible to listen in by phone.  Please ask; we are here to help.  Services are recoded and can be watched later from the Upper Nar and Launditch Facebook page.

Every blessing, Miriam, Julia and Shawn

Adders on Litcham Common

The European Adder, or Common Viper, is one of Britain’s three native snakes and our only venomous reptile and we are fortunate to have a population living on Litcham Common.
What do adders look like?
Male adders usually have silvery-grey colouration, while females can be copper or brown.  Both have a distinctive, black zig-zag pattern along their backs.  Fully black adders can be seen in some areas too.  Once fully grown, adders usually measure between 60 and 80cm in length.  Young are almost perfect replicas of adults and measure around 17cm in length at birth.
Hibernation
Adders hibernate through the coldest part of the year.  From around October to March they sleep in sheltered, dry spots such as old rodent burrows or within fallen trees.  A few years ago a member of our conservation group got more than she bargained for when pulling up a bramble by the roots to find a sleeping adder underneath, which was swiftly covered over again to resume its slumber.  
The males come out of brumation (a type of hibernation for cold-blooded animals) first, with the females being spotted within the following 2 to 5 weeks.
After a couple of weeks of the males emerging, they shed their skin.  Next on their mind is to mate.  Once the females are “awake” they leave a scent from a gland at the base of their tail.  The males will smell this, and follow it to find the female.  They then writhe their body over the female, flicking their tongue in and out in a courtship ritual before settling down to copulate.
Dance of the adders
If a second male comes across the female then the first will stop the courtship to defend his possible mate.  What follows is a beautiful and elegant display which is known as the “Dance of the Adders”.
The “dance” usually only involves two snakes, but can number many more.  It is a test of strength and stamina with each male trying to force the other to the ground.  They can raise the first half of their body up off the ground before trying to push the other male down to the ground.  The males will completely intertwine their bodies together while trying to force each other out, and often show very staggered and jerky movements.  This ritual can last for several minutes and often happens on many occasions over many days.  During the “dance” they never try to bite each other, but just keep competing with strength until one of them gives in and slinks off quickly into cover.
Unlike some snakes, adders do not lay eggs and instead give birth to up to 20 live young in late summer.  The species has been known to live for more than ten years, although it can sometimes fall victim to other predators, such as birds of prey, crows and even pheasants, especially when young.
What do adders eat?
Adders feed primarily on small mammals, such as voles and mice, and lizards.  They will also eat frogs, newts and small birds and their chicks.  They are active during the day.
Unlike grass snakes which constrict their prey, adders use their venomous bite to subdue their meals.
Where do adders live?
Adders are found across Britain but are absent from Ireland.  They are associated with open habitats such as heathland, moorland and woodland edges.
The adder is the most northerly-occurring snake species in the world and has been recorded within the Arctic Circle.
Signs and spotting tips
Your best chance of seeing an adder is in spring, when they are emerging from hibernation and spend the early part of the day basking in sunlight.  They are sensitive to vibration and quick to slip away when they feel footsteps approaching.
Aware of the Adder’s love of sunshine, and the need to tread carefully, Shakespeare wrote: “It is the bright day that brings forth the Adder, and that craves wary walking” [Julius Ceasar, Act II, Scene 1]
In fact these snakes are shy creatures that will naturally retreat from humans.  It is rare for adders to bite people, but this can happen if humans try to handle them or accidentally step on them.  To quote Spike Milligan:
“There’s nothing madder than a trodden on Adder!”
What to do if bitten by an adder
Adder bites are rarely fatal, but can be very painful.  NHS guidelines suggest that medical treatment should be sought immediately.  In the meantime you are advised to:

  • remain calm and don’t panic;
  • try to remember the shape, size and colour of the snake;
  • keep the part of your body that’s been bitten as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading around your body;
  • remove jewellery and watches from the bitten limb as they could cut into your skin if the limb swells;
  • do not attempt to remove any clothing, but loosen clothing if possible.

Slightly more commonly, dogs will be bitten, often on the nose, due to their natural curiosity.  Guidance is to seek immediate advice from a vet and in the meantime keep the animals calm and as still as possible, carrying the dog if it is small enough.  Again, bites are rarely fatal.
Threats and conservation
The UK’s adder population is in decline.  Habitat loss is thought to be the leading factor in this worrying trend, with both intensive agriculture and increases in woodland cover destroying suitable habitat and causing adder populations to become fragmented and isolated.  The species is fully protected by law.
Sightings of adders
We are keen to build up a picture of the population size and location on the common and would be grateful to receive reports of any adder sightings, including the date, location and a description of the snake (for example its size and colour).  Please report sightings to Tim Angell who can be contacted on 01328 700045.

OPERATION NO COLD SHOULDER

Are you (or is someone in your community) feeling lonely or isolated?
There is FREE support that could help!

 

Operation No Cold Shoulder is a year-long project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund running in your area from April 2020 until March 2021 and is offering the following free support;

Free Creative Wellbeing Packs  -Provided by Creative Arts East for people aged 18+
A series of postal packages containing creative arts activities to try at home, including music making, crafts, movement activities and more!
No prior experience is needed.Call Lea or Sydney on 019953 713390 or email lea@creativeartseast.co.uk

Free Telephone Befriending  – Provided by Age UK Norfolk for people aged 60+
Offering people aged 60 and over friendly conversation by telephone from a dedicated befriending volunteer. We call weekly for an enjoyable and stimulating chat.
Call 01603 785 223 or email befriending@ageuknorfolk.org.uk

Free Befriending Support in West Norfolk
Provided by West Norfolk Befriending for people aged 60+
Matching isolated older people age 60 and over with a volunteer befriender who can contact them on a regular basis (by phone during lockdown) – supporting socially isolated older people and their carers in West Norfolk. Call 01553 763500 or email info@wnbefriending.org.uk

Free help to set up Good Neighbour Schemes
Provided by Community Action Norfolk (CAN)
Would you like to help lonely or socially isolated neighbours?
The project is offering free support for communities who would like to set up Good Neighbour Schemes in their area where volunteers help those most in need in their neighbourhood with practical support.
Step-by-step support, advice, a resource pack and funding support to
help a scheme get up and running along with ongoing advice and support including an option of online training sessions provided by Future Projects. Call Tracey on 01362 545024 or email tracey.allan@communityactionnorfolk.org.uk