Give a child in care the gift of reading this Christmas

Would you like to spread a little cheer to a child in care in Norfolk this Christmas?

Norfolk County Council and Waterstones have got together for the eighth year for people to help give a gift to children who will be without their families this December.

The Giving Tree has returned to Waterstones’ Castle Street store in Norwich and

Give the gift of reading this Christmas Picture credit: Gary Lau

Give the gift of reading this Christmas Picture credit: Gary Lau

is decorated with tags that represent dozens of children’s book wishes. Last year over 240 books were bought for children in care and this year we’re hoping you can help to grant the wishes of even more children.

The wonderful thing about the giving tree is that it allows people to give a present that the child will really love and cherish and will help them to continue their love of reading.

Taking part is easy, all you have to do is choose a tag, which will tell you about the particular child and the book or the genre they would like to receive, then purchase the book at the till where it will be collected by the County Council and wrapped in time for Christmas.

While books bought for children up until Sunday 15 December will reach children in time for Christmas, books bought after that date will be given to children in the New Year.

We would like to thank everyone who has bought books from the Giving Tree in previous years. It’s lovely to see everybody is so generous and willing to work together to help give children who haven’t had the best starts to life the Christmas they truly deserve.

The Met Office’s outlook for UK winter

Some of you may have seen slightly alarming headlines today that the Met Office is warning of an exceptionally cold winter.

No one, not even the Met Office, can say with any certainty what the weather is going to do weeks and months in advance however. Nor can they give any realistic indication of whether there’s likely to be a white Christmas at this stage.

They’ve written a handy blog post to clarify the situation, it’s really useful and worth a read. The link to it is below.

The Met Office’s outlook for UK winter.

Why wouldn’t you drive sober?

The Think! Norfolk road safety partnership launched a reminder today about the very serious risks involved in drink-driving, timed ahead of the festive season. Unfortunately the continuing need for such a campaign was highlighted by a tweet from Norwich Police at lunchtime…

During the festive season last year – from 1 December to 1 January – 83 drivers were more than the legal limit when tested by police. To date this year, 532 have been charged with drink or drug driving by Norfolk Constabulary. In addition, alcohol has been identified as a factor in 13 of the 266 road traffic collisions in which people have been seriously injured or killed this year. That’s 13 too many.

Please stop and think before having a drink and getting behind the wheel of a car. As well as potentially putting yourself and others at risk, anybody convicted of drink driving will have a criminal record and could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years, could be banned from driving, fined heavily and also possibly lose their job and their home.

If you suspect someone of drink driving to police by calling 101 or dialling 999 if someone is already behind the wheel. People can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 – calls are free and confidential.

Think! Norfolk’s anti-drink driving reminder is part of a wider ‘Why wouldn’t you…?’ campaign that wants to make us all more aware of the elements that can make car journeys much more dangerous than they need to be. There’s more information about the campaign and advice on the Think! Norfolk website.

Think of a name – and get it on a gritter!

As mentioned on the blog earlier this week, Norfolk County Council has welcomed 24 new gritters to its fleet. To celebrate, we’re asking children from schools in Norfolk to come up with names for eight of these gritters and find out more about gritting along the way.

Norfolk County Council's new gritters need names!

One of Norfolk County Council’s new gritters

Name ideas have already been flying in! Brundall Primary School have suggested ‘Frostie’, ‘Budgie’ and ‘Snowy’ and Thorpe House Langley Prep School have come up with a fantastic suggestion, ‘Chitty Gritty Bang Bang’! Do you know any quick-witted kids who can beat these name ideas?

To take part in the competition children must complete a short quiz online where clues and answers can be found on the gritting section of the Norfolk County Council website. It is then up to them to think of a wintry-themed name for a shiny new gritter which, if chosen as a winning entry, will then be printed on a locally-based gritter alongside the name of their school. Of the eight names chosen, an overall winner will be selected and the winning school will get a visit from their named gritter and its driver. 

It is up to each school whether they enter as a school, a class or each pupil. The competition is now open and will run until Thursday 12 December. The winners will be chosen by a judging panel and will be announced on Friday 13 December.

For more information and to enter the competition visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/grittercompetition. Good luck! 

Countdown to Christmas with festive switch-on events

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City Hall in Norwich, all dressed up for Christmas. Photo credit: mira66

The Christmas lights are being switched on in Norwich tonight, with Norfolk boy and TV presenter Jake Humphrey doing the honours and lots of performances, a lantern parade and fireworks at 7pm. Even if you’re not going it’s worth knowing about as the city is going to get pretty busy from rush hour and getting around and parking are likely to be more difficult than normal.

If you can’t go to the Norwich event tonight there are several switch-on events happening in towns across Norfolk over the next few weeks, so wherever you live you can get into the Christmas spirit. Here’s some of the ones we know about, if you know of more please leave a comment below.

Gritters throwing their considerable weight behind this year’s Norfolk Winter campaign

Norfolk Winter is back for the 2013/14 season! As of today we’ll be blogging, tweeting and updating Facebook regularly with lots of useful information and advice that will help people living and working in Norfolk stay safe, healthy and happy over the next few months.

To mark the occasion we found ourselves standing at the Ketteringham Highways Depot, just south of Norwich, this morning admiring the newest gritter lorries that have been added to our highways team’s fleet. There are 24 new gritter trucks for this winter, all replacing older gritters. As well as being more reliable and efficient, these gritters are going to help us get the word out about the Norfolk Winter campaign this year by encouraging people to check in with this blog, the #norfolkwinter hashtag on Twitter and the Norfolk Facebook page when the weather is cold, icy and snowy. There’s some pictures from this morning below, what do you think?

We got some video with some of the people responsible for gritting Norfolk’s roads this morning too, we’ll post this to the blog over the next few days.

The work of our gritting teams has always been one of the most important parts of Norfolk Winter – throughout the winter we post updates on Twitter and Facebook about what the weather’s doing, if the gritters are going out and, if so, when. So it’s brilliant that the gritters are getting even more involved in helping to keep people safe this winter.

What we also need is support from people living in Norfolk to help us get helpful information out. Last winter people were fantastic, using the #norfolkwinter hashtag and retweeting on Twitter and using the Norfolk Facebook page as a forum to share useful information about travel conditions, weather updates, pictures and advice. We also had people linking to this blog from their own websites and signing up to receive email alerts whenever a new blog post was added.

In fact, it was the way people got behind the campaign that made it such a success and led to last year’s Norfolk Winter campaign winning an award for the Best Use of Social Media earlier this month.

So thank you! Please keep this support coming and we promise to try our very best to keep you in the loop about anything that could help you cope during the winter.

Blogging again soon

The Norfolk Winter blog will be launching again soon, with lots of information and advice that should help you keep happy, healthy and safe for the next few months.

A snowy sunset in Norfolk. Picture credit: Paul Tomlin

A snowy sunset in Norfolk. Picture credit: Paul Tomlin

We’ll try to make it even more useful this year by updating it more frequently during times of severe weather to alert you to weather warnings, disruptions to services and any other winter-related problems we’re aware of.

We’ll also once again be tweeting useful winter information using the #norfolkwinter hashtag and updating the Norfolk Facebook page as we did last year.

If you’ve got any ideas for how we can make the blog or our winter communications as a whole more useful, or suggestions for a blog post, please leave a comment below. As far as we’re concerned, this blog and the whole Norfolk Winter campaign belongs to everyone in Norfolk and the more people who get involved with it and get behind it, the better service it will be.

See you soon!