We review Swan Lake at Theatre Royal, Bury St Eds

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Swan Lake is undoubtedly one of the ballet greats and this performance by Ballet Theatre UK featured new choreography by artistic director Christopher Moore and some really beautiful costumes, designed by Daniel Hope. The gasp of the little girl sitting next to me in the audience as the swan’s classic tutu was revealed testified to their magical effect: mouth open, she crept to the edge of her seat and sat forward for the whole of the second act, apparently dazzled by the layers of tulle and sequins and feathers, lit beautifully in this small and intimate theatre.

Founded only in 2008, Ballet Theatre UK raises awareness of dance within the community by being accessible to people from all ages and walks of life, both nationally and internationally and is inspired by an eclectic mix of classical dance, theatre, popular culture and literature, informing new and innovative versions of those classics.

Featuring  Natalie Cawte as Odette (White Swan), Claire Corruble Cabot as Odile (Black Swan) and Vincent Cabot as the Prince, the company managed the smaller stage space at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds well although at times it was possible to identify where the scale of the wide sweeping sequences of dance steps had to be reined in.

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From the first strains of Tchaikovsky’s haunting score, so many of us think we know all there is to know about this most famous of ballets and so the ending of this (I won’t spoil it by giving it away), modified as it is and featuring a dramatic piece of staged sword play was a pleasant surprise. The portrayal of the innocent Princess Odette by Natalie Cawte – cursed to spend the hours of daylight as a swan by the evil sorcerer was the perfect and pure counterbalance to the dramatically confident and assertive to the point of aggressive Odile, danced with great attitude and audacity by Claire Corruble Cabot . The power and psychological effect of the fouettés en tournant which characterise the role of Odile coupled with the most assertive arabesque I have seen in a while made her compelling to watch although some of the expressive and more actorly gestures might be toned down a small notch. This would leave her competent dancing to communicate nuance of character. Cawte, as Odette fluttered across the stage, her delicately articulated body and arms and precise footwork a well maintained depiction of a bird that masks great power with a feathered lightness. Great head placement and subtlety made her lovely to watch.

Vincent Cabot as the Prince provided us with a well controlled and understated adage variation in which he lamented the news that he must make a wise marriage as opposed to one of the heart: again the stage size limited his leaps and elevation throughout the performance but he managed to depict a Prince dutiful but with a capricious romance in his heart. A duet during the palace scene with Robert Noble and Inês Ferriera was tentative at times but carried a charm, perhaps, because of this. Other highlights were the playful and piquant Polonaise and a coquettish and spirited Neapolitan solo alongside the competent and well timed corps de ballet who pulled off the en masse fluttering of the swan flock despite a smaller number of dancers in the corps.

Altogether a lovely version performed by a young company who already are punching well above their age-weight- Well done.

‘Tis true, my form is something odd, but blaming me is blaming God’ – ‘The Elephant Man’ at The New Wolsey Theatre

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The attractions of acting for a young adult can include the trying on for size of different identities at a period of life when one is not always that comfortable nor secure within ones own. Escaping the limitations and challenges of a rapidly changing physicality has allure, yet for Dominic Crane, the young actor playing the role of John Merrick, known as the Elephant man, this must have presented him with a greater challenge than previous roles have done.

Born in 1862, Joseph Merrick displayed disfiguring tumours before the age of 2 and his condition rapidly deteriorated, resulting in the total loss of use of one arm; protrusions and soft-tissue swellings covered most of his body. In the tradition established by actors such as Mark Hamill and David Bowie who performed in this role on Broadway, Crane used images of Merrick and his preserved skeleton in order to depict the physical and psychological limitations imposed upon John Merrick. For an actor of such youth, his depictions was at times astonishing in its consummate skill and maturity, only occasionally losing focus. Crane manipulated his torso and skeleton into torturous swaying folds and Serpentine curves not once allowing this to become caricature. Close observation of what is known of Merrick’s speech (no doubt informed by medical input as to how the disease process would affect diction and breathing) in conjunction with a decision to deviate from the ‘sing song musical hall’ qualities of the original production led us to hear Crane’s voice as product of a tangled body- words forced past squeezed lungs and out through a mouth pushed to one side by facial growths. We had no need of make up or prosthetics. 

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Dominic Crane as John Merrick

The sound of Merrick’s breathing which mirrored the intensity of his emotions was employed as a narrative and dramatic device. Breath sounds gained meaning for Merrick’s new protector, Dr Treves , becoming the soundtrack to his intrapersonal dialogue and conscience- as Dr Treves nightmare takes hold in his mind, Merricks breathing acts as both chorus and conscience, gaining intensity and urgency. Directors Rob Salmon and Rich Rusk draw from physical theatre in their use of actors to mimic the ebb and flow of sleep waves washing over the characters (and us) and to indicate changes of mood and scene.

Despite a linear story structure, this production introduced the idea of a literal misrepresentation of Merrick’s story by the Good Doctor Frederick Treves, turning into a metaphorical nightmare- his own image of himself as charitable Victorian gentleman is challenged both by events and his own moral conscience – the nightmare intensifies. What starts off as actual swirling crepuscular haze (through the use of smoke) becomes a metaphorical one. Treves is no longer so certain of his philanthropic motives nor assured that his actions will continue to be seen in an altruistic light.  We see the concept of the carnival freak show moving from a highly popular and profitable entertainment to a criticised and inappropriate genre of entertainment. Treves realises that he is not that much removed from Ross in perpetuating Merrick’s status as an attraction that elicits disgust, pity, sympathy and reassurance of ones superiority. In one touching scene between Merrick and Lorna Garside as the rustle of bronze taffeta that is Mrs Kendal, we see the concept of the ‘freak’ as asexual Other challenged when she shows him her breasts because he has not seen a female naked.  However this was only partially realised in a scene imbued with a quasi reliogosity, suggesting that Merrick is too pure to be subject to baser animal desires and only appreciates the Female form in a ‘higher’ aesthetic sense. We, it suggests, are more beastly in this respect. Mrs Kendal feels safe being admired by Merrick and then feels shame because of Treves appalled reaction which is an altogether more ‘human’ one infused with Victorian preoccupations with morality, decency and sexual repression.

The design of both set and costume established an ambiguity of motive, reality and effect from the start with the aforementioned haziness, the rushing, swirling mass of Victorian carnival by standers who then become the rushing swirling mass of visitors to the hospital to gaze upon Merrick and satisfy their need to be good and benevolent people. Ed Yetton should be congratulated on his superb lighting which perfectly evoked time and place as well as being a literal representation of Merrick’s poor eyesight. The costumes (by Faby Pim)  at times had a weird almost Tim Burton-esque feel to them. Jack Tricker as Ross, the owner of the travelling carnival freak show contained echoes of Beetlejuice with stark black and white colourways and his yawning, grin faced carney patter, barely pausing for breath, charming and repelling all at once. Images of carnivals and circus went through my mind as the French accented show girls and onlookers leaped forward then receded in that dream like Hall of Mirrors- did we see that or not- manner.  In contrast to this, we had the upright, uptight forms of Ollie Ward as Dr Treves and Carr Gomm as Stanley Rudkin who managed to make us forget that these men of maturity were indeed being played by young adults. They used space and mannerisms well to convey Victorian middle class success and self regard, even pomposity whilst not alienating the audience from understanding that in their own minds, they had the best of intentions according to the mores of the time in which they lived.

The Studios are a great asset. The space provides good sightlines and an intimacy that still allowed us to step back and observe too. However what did make us very annoyed was the fact that some people do not know how to behave in theatres. We were disturbed for the entire duration of the play by the constant rustling and rummaging of sweet wrappers and bags. The theatre is not the multiplex and this was not a screening of ‘Die Hard’ or some such. We get that the play was set in Victorian times but we could have done without the rat like rustlings from all corners of the auditorium. None of the children responsible were too young to understand not to do this and they were certainly old enough to desist after they were told to be quiet. Despite this and four more requests to make less noise, they continued to make a noise. Please educate your children on how to behave more respectfully; it is unfair to the actors and the audience.

The award winning visual theatre company Gecko  collaborated with the acclaimed New Wolsey Young Company to present Bernard Pomerance’s celebrated hit play.

http://www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/?gclid=CLag8dq6iL4CFWT4wgodoAwAzQ

“The Most Serious and Unaddressed Worldwide Challenge is the Deprivation and Abuse of Women and Girls” – Jimmy Carter

We review ‘A Call to Action – Women, religion, Violence and Power’ by Jimmy Carter

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President Carter marches to the beat of third wave feminism and  intersectionality in this call to action. He believes that prostitution, the disparity in pay between the sexes, international human (and female) trafficking, oppression in the name of faith and female genital mutilation (FGM) are problems which affect us all, not just women and he does not differentiate between western, first world issues and those of the developing world either. All this, from what appears on paper to be the unlikeliest of sources- a peanut farming, Southern Baptist Nonegarian white man; a man of ninety who has visited over 145 countries as both politician and co- founder of the Carter Centre, set up with his wife Rosalyn to highlight and combat global poverty, inequality and ill-health.

In 2002, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” These travels inform his world view that when educational, political, social, economic and cultural structures are owned by men, then women can become trapped, along with their children, in cycles of poverty, war and violence. “There is a pretty good correlation between the overall economic well being of a country and how they treat their women with the right to education, for instance, or the right to jobs,” he stated.

In a A Call to Action, President Carter sets out 23 recommendations “that can help blaze the road to progress” and encourages people to visit The Carter Center web site and work alongside him and his wife to this end.

Yet Carter does not fall into the trap of defining Africa solely by images of disease, corruption and poverty, nor does he hold up the west (and the USA in particular) as shining beacons of How To Do Things. Rwanda has a parliament composed of nearly 2/3 women but in the West, the average is about 23%. We will let that comparison stand without further comment. The USA comes under severe criticism for the way in which the seriousness of rape and sexual assault are diminished by its military and educational establishments who are deemed to be lackadaisical in their efforts to tackle the rising tide of aggressive and overt misogyny that feeds and ‘permits’ such behaviours. The economic motives behind this, of not wanting to damage the reputation of their institutions in these times of aggressive educational marketing, are castigated and in his action plan Carter goes on to state that any right to obstruct the prosecution of an alleged rapist should be removed from commanding officers. Further highlighted is the US commitment to capital punishment and the Hawk like foreign policy which in his eyes, sets a moral example to everybody in the West. The example? That violence is the way to resolve problems.

Those of us who saw the way that AIDS rampaged through continents will also remember the inhumane way in which the christian right influenced foreign and domestic policy: they damaged initiatives aimed at tackling the HIV and AIDS crisis, hindering attempts to promote barrier contraception as a preventative measure and using a warped misinterpretation of the teachings of God to justify this. Countries such as Uganda were starting to make progress in reducing the rate of new infections until far-right American leaders influenced Nancy and Ronald Reagan to take a stand against condoms. These influential ‘Men of God’ (for they were usually men) obstructed further attempts to fund research- research that could have benefited people worldwide. These men who proselytised the love of God, bear direct responsibility for the deaths of many innocents, including children.

Carter is true to his strong faith but he is able to discriminate between it and a church that promulgates a hard-to-span gulf between the teachings of Christ and the interpretation thereof. His own resignation from the Southern Baptist Church as a result of its stricter reinterpretation of scripture which resulted in an edict that ‘wives should always be submissive and subjugated to their husbands’, denying them the right to seek out a chaplaincy, was the act of a courageous and unhypocritical man. Seen in the light of a childhood in the Bible Belt where life was permanently interpreted through that filter of faith, his decision is all the more admirable. He connects the rise in global violence and wilful, self-serving misinterpretation of religious scripture to justify the subjugation of women, to deeper issues of poverty and economic disparity. Where women serve and work at the highest levels, we see a corresponding rise in economic prosperity and social harmony.

It is not surprising that Carter has been seen by some of his countrymen and women as sanctimonious and reflective of the small town Southern Sunday School teacher and Pastor he was for many years. But there is nothing small town about President Jimmy Carter. His influence, thankfully, is global and his vision ahead of its time.

Gaining Experience in Theatre via Summer Schools

Technical Theatre Summer School

Monday 4 – Saturday 9 August 

All participants will receive an introduction to and orientation in the theatrical disciplines of lighting, sound and stage management over six days.  Working alongside theatre professionals you will gain hands-on experience through exploring each area both practically and theoretically.  You will then be able to put your skills into practice by choosing a specialism to work within on the Musical Theatre Masterclass performance at Norwich Playhouse.  This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to see how the dark side of theatre works, whether you want to polish your skills further or just gain an insight into technical theatre.  The course aims to accommodate and tailor the content to suit your level of experience, knowledge and interest.

Course Director: Nikk Turnham 
Nikk has been working in technical theatre for over 25 years. Formerly Technical Manager at the New Wolsey Theatre, she currently works in a freelance capacity as a Production Manager, Technical Theatre Consultant and teaches on two undergraduate university theatre courses. Current & recent credits include: SPILL 2012, Arts Admin: Pilot FestivalSPILL 2014A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lakeside Theatre, Outdoors).  Film: On Landguard Point (London 2012 Cultural Olympiad).  Nikk is never happier than when she is introducing people to the amazing possibilities of what can be achieved technically on a stage.

Course fee: £350
Accommodation and refreshments not included.  May include one or two evening sessions.  Takes place at The Garage and Norwich Playhouse.  Participants must be aged 17 or over.

Musical Theatre Masterclass

Monday 4 – Saturday 9 August 

Six full days of intensive training, working with a professional director, musical director and choreographer on scenes and songs – culminating in a performance at Norwich Playhouse in front of an invited audience.

This is vocational training for people with some prior experience of musical theatre, which will enable them to learn at a faster pace. Concentrating on process and development, it will nurture your versatility as an actor and singer and prepare you to take your next steps towards more extensive professional training, hone your existing skills more finely, or simply give you a deeper understanding and increased enjoyment of musical theatre.

Course Director: Tim Welton 
Tim studied Languages at Durham University before training at RADA. He subsequently acted for a number of years before concentrating on directing. He has been associate director on the West End and touring productions of Sleeping Beauty (Barbican Theatre and New York), Tintin (Playhouse Theatre) as well as Cabaret with Will Young (Lyric Theatre, Savoy Theatre and National Tour) and the award-winning London Road (National Theatre). More recently he was resident director for Bill Kenwright Limited working on, amongst others, the West End and touring productions of Blood BrothersEvitaDreamboats and Petticoats and The Pitmen Painters.

Course fee: £350
Accommodation and refreshments not included.  Will include one or two evening sessions.  Takes place at The Garage and Norwich Playhouse.  Participants must be aged 17 or over.

#NSFTCrisis- The start of the campaign for a Healthy Mental Health Service in Norfolk and Suffolk

This is the open letter to the Trust board of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust that kicked off the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in our two counties.

This open letter is being presented to the directors of Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) by members of the campaign at the NSFT Board Meeting in Bury St Edmunds today.  We are doing what we agreed at our first meeting and challenging the Board to change or be removed. The Board has lost the confidence of service users, staff and the public.  Our opinion poll shows that 96% visitors to the campaign website believe that the NSFT Board is incompetent.

Print this letter, give it to friends and colleagues, put it up on noticeboards, in cafés and on the back of the bathroom doors.  Forward a link to this page to everyone who will be concerned about the crisis at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).  Contribute in our forums and help us expose the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

OPEN LETTER TO NSFT BOARD OF DIRECTORS

There is a serious crisis in the delivery of mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has challenged the use of the word ‘crisis’ but in so doing has shown how far out of touch it is with the views of its own service-users, carers and front-line staff. The recent extensive media coverage, both local and national, dating back to at least last August, also gives the lie to the Trust’s official statements. The warnings from the emergency services and professional bodies such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists should be heeded. Over 300 people attended our launch meeting on 25th November (many more could not get in) and a resolution of no confidence in the management of the Trust was passed unanimously. Given this, the NSFT Board of Directors should either take urgent action to rectify a situation which is in danger of spiraling downwards, or resign.

In order to restore some degree of confidence, the Trust needs to act quickly in six key areas:

  1. Call a halt to the policy of bed closures and reopen wards wherever possible, until community services can actually show in practice that a number of inpatient beds are not needed.
  2. Withdraw the proposal to reduce the number of qualified Band 6 staff in the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) teams. Continue with the proposed policy of boosting the home treatment capacity by employing more support workers.  Give priority to providing a sufficient level of medical input to CRHTs so that access to a psychiatrist is readily available in a crisis.
  3. Restore link workers and carry out an urgent review of the role of Access and Assessment teams, especially in relation to CRHTs.
  4. Restore Early Intervention In Psychosis (EI) teams in Suffolk, in line with the Department of Health and Schizophrenia Commission recommendations.
  5. Establish a caseload management system so that care coordinators and lead professionals in community teams do not carry individual responsibility for excessive workloads.
  6. Carry out an urgent review of the prevention of suicide strategy, which should include a major rethink around the abolition of specialist assertive outreach and homeless persons’ teams.

The Trust board members need to ask themselves why there is such a gulf between their perception of the state of affairs and that of front-line staff and service users. Denying that a problem exists will not bring about a solution. The Trust, the CCGs, Health Minister Norman Lamb, have all been in denial for some time. It’s no longer good enough to blame one another. We need decisive action from all. If you cannot provide it, you should go!

On behalf of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk on 19/12/2013

http://goo.gl/sWneqe

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How to build a burger – we review Benson Blakes

download (3) Home of Britain’s best burger offer category in the National Pub Food Challenge 2013, this bar and grill was well ahead of the metropolitan Burger Johnny Come Latelys, having been serving excellent gourmet versions for the last few years. When Giles Coren claimed that nowhere outside of London served a decent burger, he was running off at the mouth with a load of ill informed nonsense.

One of those places that is adaptable in its appeal , Bensons is full of families, couples. friends having lunch and groups of newly emancipated teenagers in the day and early evening. We saw a slip of a thing demolish a burger bigger than her head.

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The menu lists the usual favourites- burgers with cheese, burgers stuffed with ribbons of Suffolk black bacon, chicken, tuna and veggie patties and a rotating selection of burgers best described as whimsical, often inspired by news events. Today’s was the Big Ben Burger, created to commemorate the month in which Big Ben was actually cast (April) and presumably riffing off the towering structure it is housed in. Teetering in a rather more dangerous fashion than its namesake with beef brisket, tangy Oggleshield cheese and  bacon jam, garnished by a vinegar hit of dill pickle, lettuce and salad all stacked in a bun made by the Gastrono-me Deli over the road, it was drenched with Russian dressing and tempered by the sweet heat of chiles in the meat, counteracting the often overly sweet dressing.

You could of course choose a pulled pork sandwich with sweet apple barbecue sauce or a beef brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries; both of these predate the current London fashion for these Southern and Texan specialities. Bensons were ahead of the game. Their meat comes from Edis of Ely who have their store opposite and is hand ground to their specifications.

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Bacon stuffed burger

The menu mines the great easy eating foods of the World: po boys from New Orleans made not with oysters but faithfully served inside split crusty bread and French style  pate with spiced red onion chutney, the recipe a close guarded secret. Served with a decent portion of bread, this inexpensive starter of less than a fiver is more than enough and is prepared behind the bar, ensuring easy availability throughout the day. There are flat breads and falafels, salads and tuna burgers served with enough coleslaw to swim in plus those gorgeous sweet potato fries or the more usual potato ones.

We have yet to meet a child who doesn’t love the sweet potato fries- skin on, soft in the middle sweet-salty fingers. The pimped up onion rings aren’t rejected either. They appear to have been soaked in a rimey buttermilk before being dipped in batter and fried, keeping the onion sweet and juicy with none of the bitterness that can result from over enthusiastic frying or stale oil.  Seating varies from slouchy leather sofas and banquettes with low tables through booths to individual tables. It gets crowded at weekends and on some evenings although we often walk in on a Saturday and always manage to be seated immediately and at busy times, service can get a little sketchy. Booking is recommended for evenings and for larger groups. By night Bensons serves great cocktails, real ales including many from the local area and has a good wine list too.  http://www.bensonblakes.co.uk/

Beanz don’t have to mean Heinz

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As delicious as they are (and a staple in our house), there is so much more to these legumes than the most well-known form in the UK suggests- canned in a tomato based sauce. Used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Native Americans and hardy in storage, they are the perfect and versatile carriers for all kinds of flavours- from the more subtle to punchier, earthier ingredients.

The subtle rosiness of the cannelini bean, much beloved by the Etruscans who baked them in sealed bottles flavoured with rosemary forms the backbone of this simple and inexpensive gratin, augmented by the borlotti – another ‘Italian Stallion’, much grown in the Veneto region and prized for its beautiful dappled-pink jacket. I have used canned beans but there is no reason why you cannot use dried although this removes the store cupboard spontaneity of this meal as they will need to be soaked for several hours.

Another plus point for gratins in general is their ability to be either the star of the show or an accompaniment to something else. Served as it is with some bread, this gratin is absolutely fine and leaves nobody feeling cheated. Or you can add sausage: the rough-hewn chunkiness of the Toulouse;  a few slices of the terracotta-juiced chorizo or a classic Lincolnshire will all turn your gratin into a real down home feast. It even works with Quorn vegetarian sausages because the gratin has enough residual sauce to counteract the lack of flavour-packed fat in these. Leave the crumb topping as it is or add in some grated cheese-whatever you have lying around in your larder. Like most comfort foods, it originates from a place of using up what you have.

Smokey Bean Gratin with Crumbs.

One can of Borlotti Beans and one can of Canellini beans, drained and rinsed of the salted water / One red bell pepper / one large white onion fine sliced / two garlic cloves fine sliced or a good squirt of garlic paste / 1/2 can of plum tomatoes / one teaspoon of either Tomato Paste or La Bomba tomato paste / one teaspoon of Sweet Spanish smoked Paprika / salt and pepper to season / one teaspoon of Thyme / Olive Oil for frying / One slice of dry bread/ small end piece of Chile (optional)

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Heat the oven to 180C . Add olive oil to a frying pan and slowly cook down the onion, red pepper, tomato chunks, thyme, chile (if using) and garlic with the tomato paste and salt to season until softened and glistening. You will need to cook this down for at least fifteen minutes to allow the tomato paste to mellow in its flavour. If it looks like it is drying out, add a little more canned tomato.

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Whilst this is cooking down, grate the bread into crumbs, stir in some smoked paprika, a little more Thyme and some salt, drizzle with Olive Oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Place the breadcrumbs into the oven for a couple of minutes to fully dry out but don’t let them colour. Taste the onion and tomato mix and adjust the seasoning if you feel this is necessary.

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Add the beans to the onion and tomato mixture, mix and pour into a baking dish. Top with the breadcrumbs, drizzle over a little olive oil and place in the oven. The gratin only needs ten minutes maximum and keep an eye on it. Depending upon your oven, the crumb topping may brown faster or slower. When it is ready, remove and eat immediately. We ate ours with sausages and some left over roast chicken.

 

St Edmund- One cool dude.

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Our current patron saint of England, St George, is a Roman soldier who slew a fierce dragon. Our former patron saint, St Edmund was a former East Anglian King (crowned aged just fifteen) whose decapitated head was reunited with its body with the help of a talking wolf. The wolf is now commemorated on Southgate Roundabout in Bury St Edmunds, complete with Bury Town Rugby Club scarf proudly tied around its furry (wooden) neck as it guards the crown of St Edmund. The wolf is the work of Halesworth-based wood sculptor Ben Loughrill.

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Photo by Bury Free Press

Both have been patron saints, and both have supporters who passionately promote their chosen one to be awarded the title of patron saint of England. However the admirers of St Edmund have embarked upon a reinvigorated campaign to have him reclaim the title from good old St George. A previous attempt in 2006 was rejected by the then Labour government after a petition was raised in Parliament.

One of the prime reasons for the reinstatement of St Edmund is that for many, St George has been spreading himself a little too thinly being the patron saint of seventeen other countries. Whilst St George is not subject to the vagaries of a manager and agent having been dead for quite some time now and therefore not having to juggle a packed diary of public events and appearances, there does exist a feeling that we would like our saint to be a little more exclusive. On a more serious note, in these multicultural times, our celebrating a man who will be forever associated with Richard the Lionhearts successful and murderous campaign against Muslims during the Crusades could be seen as hostile to other faiths and especially the Muslim faith. Indeed Richard The Lionheart credited his battle success to his prayers to St George- not quite the peaceful and tolerant image of Christianity as espoused by Christ and one we need more than ever in these turbulent times.

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In the meantime, the good town of Bury St Edmunds is a living testimony to St Edmund  with the Abbey, which dates back to 633, renamed in his honour and a recently commissioned contemporary artwork designed by Emmanuel O’Brien and constructed by Nigel Kaines of Designs on Metal in 2011. This can be seen on the parkway Roundabout

Bury St Edmunds is also famous for being the site where In 1214 Cardinal Langton and 25 Barons swore an oath which changed the history of England. Seven months later, they compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta. Not a bad legacy for such a small market town!

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