Norfolk does best

PUBLISHED: 11:21 04 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:49 20 February 2013

Norfolk does best

Norfolk does best

Well-known residents speak about the county's finest points

What Norfolk does best

As we celebrate the very best of British in this Diamond Jubilee and Olympic year, Mark Nicholls speaks to well-known residents about the countys finest points.

For us who live in Norfolk, we need little convincing about what is so good about our rural county. Centred around the marvellous medieval city of Norwich, we have a county with a diverse natural landscape, with numerous lovely villages and market towns in between, great places to eat and drink, numerous tourist attractions and a history and culture to be proud of.

In fact, it seems as though there has never been a better time to live in Norfolk or to be British.

With the Queens Diamond Jubilee year and the Olympic Games, there is much to celebrate.

And just to underline that, weve asked a handful of well-known people who live and work in Norfolk from the arts, business, tourism, theatre, sport and agriculture sectors just what is so special about our county.

What is best about Norfolk, and what it does best? Heres what they told us:

Author DJ Taylor lives in Norwich and is a passionate Canaries fans. He is author of the recent novel Derby Day and also won the Whitbread Prize for his biography of George Orwell:

"Crossing the border into Suffolk, 40 years ago, my father used to instruct his family: Take your last breath of clean air. I know exactly what he meant.

The most wonderful thing Norfolk has to offer is space. Not simply physical space in which to roam the windswept beaches and blasted heaths but the kind of environment that nurtures idiosyncrasy.

Norfolk humour, built on a sense of irony which hardly anyone beyond Norfolk can understand, is practically unique: Understated, oblique, warm yet wholly unsparing of pretension and selfesteem.

It would take a PhD thesis to explain what a native of the county really means when he demands Whatever are you like? I couldnt live anywhere else."

John Purling, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and the mastermind of the Royal Norfolk Show, lives at Witton, east of Norwich, and is a passionate golfer, enjoying the game on many of Norfolks outstanding courses: "I have lived and worked all over the world and always one of the delights of coming home was to hear the glorious Norfolk accent.

I love the coast especially in north Norfolk of all the beaches in the world Holkham must rank near the very top. The Norfolk Broads are unique and the associated wildlife is spectacular.

Farming and food production both arable and livestock are extensive. Yields and quality rank among the best in the world, with some of the best land in the UK to be found around Stalham and in west Norfolk bordering the Fens.

We are all very proud of the Royal Norfolk Show. It is the largest and best attended two-day agricultural show in the UK and carries a top class reputation, contributing many millions of pounds to the local and national economy."

TJ Baldwin, from Tharston, is a member of the GBR ski team and top of the British downhill ski rankings, making him the nations number one in four of the five Alpine disciplines:

"Being a professional ski racer, Norfolk isnt the obvious choice to live but it provides so much to me from a training perspective and also as a place to relax.

The countryside and the quiet roads are the ideal place to get out on my road bike and do long, hard training sessions. Spending up to four hours on a bike can become tedious but with the spectacular views and the fresh countryside air, Norfolk is a road cycling heaven.

As far as relaxing goes, a trip to the beach is just the ticket for me. The whole coastline round Norfolk is truly beautiful, from the vast sandy beaches of Holkham to the crumbling cliffs of Overstrand. Whether it is laying on the beaches soaking up the sun, swimming in the sea or enjoying the seaside villages, the Norfolk coast is one of my most favoured and cherished places to retreat to and unwind."

Caroline Williams, chief executive officer, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce:

"Norfolk companies show real passion about their businesses and employees. This passion has enabled Norfolk to develop world class businesses across a wide variety of sectors, sizes and physical locations.

Leading the way in innovation and technology, many of our businesses in the engineering, energy, health and life science, and creative sectors are bucking the current challenging economic trend and seeing their businesses grow.

Our young people are becoming an increasingly important part of Norfolks vibrant business community ensuring that Norfolk is, and will continue to be, a great place to live and work."

BBC Look East presenter Stewart White:

"Having lived in Norfolk for nearly 30 years, there are so many things I love about it:

The big skies out towards the Fens, the views from the fifth tee box at Sheringham Golf Club and the saltmarshes up around Brancaster. But perhaps our greatest achievement is to safeguard the best of the past, but to be open to the promise of the future."

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal:

"Im struck by the degree of respect that Norfolk people have for one another. St Georges in Great Yarmouth is approaching a glorious revival because of the collaboration of politicians, public servants and funding bodies; the Arts Centre in Kings Lynn is cautiously re-flowering into a major force with the support of a wide range of individuals; and the Bonfire Group, composed of performing arts representatives from Yarmouth, Norwich, Kings Lynn, Sheringham and Norfolk County Council, is dedicated to helping one another to do better what we already do well.

And the teamwork that has brought forth Familiar Fields, the Norfolk and Suffolk-wide umbrella body dedicated to celebrating the centenary of Benjamin Brittens birth, is a perfect example of respectful cooperation.

We do different we respect one another."

Richard Ellis, chairman of Norfolk Tourism:

"Norfolk has an unrivalled offer for the visitor all within an hour of wherever they choose to base themselves.

Nowhere else has such variety a traditional family bucket and spade holiday or an expanse of natural coastline, wetland of international quality, an incredible diversity of countryside and all together with such wonderful heritage, cultural, retail and food.

Great strides have been made in recent years both to improve the quality of the visitor offer and in effective partnership working to market Norfolk as a destination."

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