The Green Heart of Poringland


John Overton Elected Vice Chairman

Newly elected South Norfolk Council vice-chairman, John Overton, is enjoying his term of office.  John, who is also chairman of the board trustees for Poringland Lakes, was elected for a twelve month term and is expected to take over as chairman of the Council later this year. 

“It’s a great honour if a bit daunting” said John. “I am really enjoying my year in office, getting out and about in South Norfolk and meeting as many people as I can.” 

Protocol dictates that the vice-chairman is promoted to the chairman’s role in the following year, so it is expected John will become South Norfolk chairman in 2018/19.  The chairman presides at full meetings of the Council, represents the Council at civic events and acts as a community ambassador.  The position is held for a one-year period and is apolitical.

One of the first to congratulate John was Lakes’ president Dave Gudgeon, who himself was vice-chairman of the Council in 2007. 

New Voluntary Bailiff 

Poringland Lakes now has its own Angling Trust accredited voluntary bailiff. 

Ryan Westgarth, who is also a trustee of the lakes, successfully completed his training at Grantham. 

The Voluntary Bailiff Service is a formal partnership between the Angling Trust and Environment Agency, working together to protect fish and fisheries and to keep waterways safe.

 The VBS is funded by freshwater rod licence income. 

Angling Trust bailiffs are unpaid and thoroughly vetted before they are selected. Successful candidates receive an intensive training course on what is expected of them. 

"I am looking forward to working closely with various agencies including the police and anglers themselves to protect our waterways" said Ryan..

If you would like to know more about the Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiff Scheme, please click on 


Norfolk Homes’ Project Celebrated

The end of an ambitious and costly project to restore Poringland Lakes was celebrated when the trustees made a special presentation to Norfolk Homes’ managerial team responsible for the restoration. 

Making the presentations to managing director Philip Makepeace and Ridings’ site manager Sean Eagling, association chairman John Overton praised Norfolk Homes for their commitment and support, not only to the lakes but to the village as a whole. 

The project, to restore three fishing lakes and two conservation ponds, took two and a half years to complete at an estimated cost of over £250,000.  It involved re-profiling each lake to improve access and safety, laying a geo-textile membrane and landscaping. 

Fittingly three of the founding trustees who are still board members, Dave Gudgeon, Ray Noble and Dr George Shearer, were on hand to join the celebration. 

“The transformation is remarkable” said Dave Gudgeon.  “It’s hard to visualise how much has changed since I first visited the site all those years ago.” 

Founding member Ray Noble was equally impressed.  “Norfolk Homes have done a wonderful job.  We can’t thank them enough” said Ray. 

“Now, thanks to Norfolk Homes, Poringland can truly boast one of the finest conservation and fishing sites in the country” he added. 

Task and Finish 

The old adage "task and finish" took on a whole new meaning for two Norfolk Homes' employees recently. 

After working for the Sheringham based company for many years, digger drivers Adrian Pegg and Michael Wright were charged with one last job, digging out and lining the two conservation ponds, before retiring. 

Adrian and Michael have been responsible for all the restoration work at Poringland Lakes which has taken close on three years to complete. 

No one was more appreciative of their efforts than lakes' founder member Ray Noble who was on hand to present the pair with engraved glass plaques to commemorate their efforts.          

"Adrian and Mick have been tremendous" said Ray. "Nothing was too much trouble for them and they have done a magnificent job which will stand testament to their professionalism" for decades to come" added Ray.

Commendation for Peter Aspinall

Lakes trustee Peter Aspinall has been highly commended at one of the county’s top community awards ceremonies. 

Peter was runner-up in the Environmental Champion of the Year category, part of South Norfolk Council’s Community Awards which recognise outstanding contributions made by individuals in support of their communities. 

Peter saw off some strong challengers to reach the final shortlist of three but was unfortunately edged out of top spot by the eventual winner, John Heaser who is well known for his work maintaining the toad population at Little Melton. 

Peter was acknowledged for the tremendous work he does at Flordon Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, south of Norwich. 

A giant screen backdrop to the stage at the glittering awards ceremony at the John Innes Centre, acclaimed Peter’s achievements with a citation which read: 

 “Peter regularly build, installs and monitors nesting boxes in Flordon and arranges litter picks.  Peter’s hard work has led to a huge variety of flora and fauna on the common.” 

“It was a lovely evening” said Peter who attended the event with his wife Samantha and family.  “I still don’t know who nominated me but whoever it was, I am very grateful” said Peter. 

Unfortunately, the tremendous work Peter does at Poringland Lakes was not acknowledged.  Had it have been, who knows but Peter could have landed the top prize. 

Well there’s always next year! 

New Trustees Join Board 

Poringland Lakes has two new Trustees.  Well known local councillor John Overton has joined the board as chairman along with newly appointed trustee Andy Dewar. 

Welcoming the new officials, lakes’ president and founder member Dave Gudgeon was delighted with the new appointments. 

“John brings a wealth of experience and boundless energy while Andy has lots of good ideas as well as practical ability.  Both will be a big asset to the Association” said Dave. 

The name Overton is synonymous with Poringland.  John has been the local councillor for the best part of ten years, having first been elected to South Norfolk Council in 2007. He is chairman of the Eastern River Valley Neighbourhood Area and serves as a member of the Growth and Communities Policy Committee. 

John has long been a firm supporter of the conservation area and was instrumental in helping the Association obtain funding for its various projects. 

 “I was delighted to be asked to be chairman” said John.  “The committee and volunteers do a tremendous job and I hope I can make a contribution for many years to come.” 

Andy Dewar has lived locally for the past 30 years and in Poringland for the last eight years.  A keen and committed fisherman, Andy took up the sport at the tender age of eight.  His father owned a boatyard and Andy fishing career was weaned literally on the River Chet.  After taking a ten year sabbatical in his mid Thirties, Andy got back into the sport and today is keen as ever. 

Now retired, Andy devotes much of his time volunteering, especially for the Nancy Oldfield Trust, a local charity which gives disabled and socially disadvantaged people the opportunity of boating on the Norfolk Broads. 

“I was really pleased to be asked to join the committee” said Andy on his appointment as a Trustee.  “I love my fishing and it’s good to be able to give something back to the community.  I haven’t done much conservation work but I’m really looking forward to getting actively involved” he added.

New Trustee Appointed 

A new trustee has been appointed to Poringland Lakes. 

Peter Aspinall will replace founding trustee Richard Gooderham who has served on the Board for over ten years. 

Announcing his surprise decision to stand down, Richard said “Now that the Association is financially stable and we have some younger helpers, I feel that the time is right to tender my resignation as a trustee and committee member.” 

Fellow trustees Ray Noble and George Shearer, themselves founder members, were quick to sing Richard’s praises. 

“On behalf of everyone connected with Poringland Lakes, we would like to sincerely thank Richard for the wonderful support and encouragement he has given to the Association since it was founded over a decade ago. 

“His sound counsel has been greatly valued and much appreciated and we will certainly miss his contribution to our management meetings and ad hoc meetings at the lakes” they said. 

Incoming trustee Peter Aspinall has a wealth of wildlife experience. He is the warden of Flordon Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest whose calcareous fen has gained internationally important conservation status.  Peter is also a South Norfolk tree warden and member of numerous wildlife organisations. 

Peter joined the management committee in February and has brought his considerable conservation experience to the table. 

“Having given the matter a lot of thought, I was happy to put my name forward as a trustee.  We have come a long way in the past twelve months and I am looking forward to continuing to make a contribution” said Peter enthusiastically.   

Lakes Attract More Photographers

Poringland Lakes is becoming something of a Mecca for local photographers.

Following the recent visit of reknown Norfolk photographer Mark Edwards, (see feature on People page) another well known photographer has also become a regular visitor. 

Wildlife photographer Liz Dack regularly contributes to several websites including the prestigious Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) site.

“I can't believe I have lived in Stoke Holy Cross for 24 years and didn't know these beautiful lakes existed” said Liz.  “I am passionate about wildlife and enjoy photography as a hobby.  I shall be up there regularly from now on” she added. 

Since retiring three years ago, Liz now spends much of her time as an events volunteer for the NWT and RSPB and has dedicated herself to taking wonderful wildlife photographs including these magnificent shots taken earlier today at Poringland Lakes.

We hope to feature more of Liz’s wonderful photographs as the year progresses.  A selection of Liz’s superb photos can also be viewed on her Flickr site by clicking on               


Dave Gudgeon – New President

Dave Gudgeon has been elected as the first-ever president of the Poringland Conservation and Fishing Lakes Association. 

The widely applauded decision comes after Dave stood down as Association chairman to spend more time with his wife and help develop a new dementia support group. 

A founder member of the Poringland Conservation and Fishing Lakes Association (PCFLA), Dave was instrumental in negotiating the purchase of the site and subsequent fund raising.  He has served as PCFLA chairman and trustee for over ten years. 

Announcing his departure to the committee, Dave said

“I think that the site is now in really good hands. I would like to say how much I appreciate the hard work everyone has put in to make the site as good as I imagined it could be when I first saw it all those years ago - a really beautiful haven, to be enjoyed by all our residents.

“As some of you may be aware, I am now becoming involved with a dementia support group, which we are setting up in Stoke Holy Cross which is taking up a good deal of my time and energy.  In order to do this, I am reluctantly compelled to resign from the lakes committee” said Dave with regret. 

“The lakes will always be one of the proudest projects that I have ever been involved with and one, I hope, for which I will be remembered, but, as I have already said, I think its future is assured by the team that is now in place ” concluded Dave. 

His fellow trustees were quick to acknowledge the outstanding contribution Dave has made to the lakes and had no hesitation in inviting him to become the Association’s inaugural president. 

“The amount of work Dave put in, especially in the early days, was phenomenal” said PCFLA treasurer George Shearer who worked alongside Dave for many years, producing the Five Plus village magazine. “His contribution will be a lasting legacy for the village.  It is fitting that he should be the first president.” 

Another trustee, Richard Gooderham, was also full of praise for Dave’s efforts. 

“It’s probably fair to say that without Dave’s drive and commitment, the lakes would not be the wonderful community facility we enjoy today” said Richard. 

“Dave can always be relied upon to offer good advice and guidance” said another of the original trustees, Ray Noble.  “We’ll miss his day-to-day involvement but it is great Dave will still be there in background to offer advice and guidance when needed.” 

Tree Warden Impressed

Poringland's tree warden Henry Gowman paid a visit to Poringland Lakes yesterday and was impressed with what he saw. 

“This was the first time I had explored the site.  I was struck by what a valuable habitat it provides, not only for wildlife, but for people as well” said Henry who has  advised the Association how best to manage its tree stock and has suggested some planting regimes aimed at both enhancing the landscape and encouraging wildlife.

“It’s a great pity that the area is going to be totally surrounded by development which will no doubt reduce the range of animals visiting the site, there being no ‘wildlife corridor’ to provide access” he added.

“I would suggest that the focus of the site be on insect, reptile, bat and bird life, as well as widening the species of tree and flora to provide an even more diverse habitat”  advised Henry. 

Following a career, firstly in the Royal Navy and then 30 years with the Police service, mainly in criminal investigation and special intelligence, Henry has a wealth of experience in countryside management.  He has been a tree warden since 1990 and led a project to improve the natural ponds that are the source of the River Wey. 

Henry retired in 1999 and moved to Norfolk to be with his wife’s family where he continued his voluntary work as a tree warden and has initiated several tree planting schemes in South Norfolk.  He also took up a post as a wildlife warden and tourist guide for the Broads Authority at How Hill, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.  

Henry retired from paid work two years ago but is clearly a man who likes to keep  busy! 

Besides having an interest in environmental issues and town planning, Henry also has an interest in ‘wellbeing’ and is the chair of Sing Your Heart Out.  He has recently taken up the role of vice chair to Poringland and District Men’s Shed project.  He has been a crew member of the Norfolk wherry ‘Albion’ since 2005 and a skipper since 2009. 

Not withstanding his voluntary commitments, the coming months could see Henry having a greater involvement with Poringland Lakes. 

“I was really enthused by Poringland Lakes and I would be interested in becoming involved with the project on a long term basis” he said enthusiastically.

Top Photographer Visits Lakes

A regular visitor to Poringland Lakes is well known Norfolk photographer Mark Edwards whose stunning pictures appear in London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ulster Museum and even 10 Downing Street. 

Mark has also exhibited his work internationally at the Lianzhou Festival in China and the Calais Museum in France. Closer to home Mark's photographs have also been exhibited at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art and the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. 

Mark has also lectured in photography at several well known universities including Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge De Montford, Lincoln, Southampton Solent and the UEA. 

Reviews of his work have appeared in the Guardian, Independent and Times newspapers.

For more information and to see a selection of Mark's excellent portfolio, including some photographs of Poringland and the surrounding villages, click on www.markjedwards.com

Leading Conservationist Joins Committee

One the Norfolk’s leading conservationists has joined the Lakes management committee. 

Peter Aspinall is warden of Flordon Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest whose calcareous fen has gained internationally important conservation status. 

Not only is Peter a well-known figure on the county conservation scene but is truly a ‘local’ having been born in Shotesham and attended Framingham Earl High School. 

Peter’s appointment was warmly welcomed by Association chairman Dave Gudgeon. 

“Peter has a wealth of experience in nature conservation and will be a great asset to the Association” predicted Dave. 

Peter was equally enthusiastic.              

“The lakes were a big part of my boyhood and were instrumental in developing my love of the countryside, so I am delighted to be involved” he said.

Degree Student Joins Team


student, studying for a degree in fishery management and sustainable aquaculture, has joined the team at Poringland Lakes.

Following an approach from Suffolk’s Otley College, Neil Edwards has started a part-time placement to get some valuable hands-on experience of fishery management.

A keen angler, Neil was plunged into the deep end, metaphorically speaking, at the weekend giving a helping hand to sprinkle Bentonite into the lakes and being part of the boat crew. 

“I am really looking forward to learning more about fishery management” said Neil.  “Everyone is so supportive and friendly.  I am sure I will learn a lot and I am looking forward to getting stuck in” he added. 

Head bailiff Ray Noble is delighted to have Neil working alongside him. 

“Neil has already contributed positively and has given some valuable input, especially on stocking levels and water quality management.  He’ll be a great asset to the lakes and hopefully the placement will benefit his studies” said Ray.