The Norfolk Wherry Trust is over 60 years old but it still has a continually uphill struggle to keep fund raising to ensure the survival of the Albion. She costs many thousands (hundreds of thousands actually) to keep afloat and the next major project being planned is the rebuilding of her stern. I attended a very pleasant evening earlier this week at the Broadland District Council offices where the chairman for this year (ending in May) had made the Wherry Trust her charity. The evening was to enable a presentation of a cheque to be made and what a nice evening it was.
The thing started with a nice buffet which left me with a question mark about whether any council tax payer money was being expended and I still don’t know the answer. I don’t like junketing at tax payers expense but this was a low-key affair and even if the buffet was provided by the council strangely for me I’m not objecting as I thought it was modest sums well spent. I may be doing the good lady chairman a dis-service and if I am I whole-heartedly apologise as her choice of charity was inspired and there was nothing over-stated or lavish about the evening taken as a whole.
There were a few words from the lady herself and then Henry Gowman from the Wherry Trust gave a speech about the Trust’s work which was uplifting and informative. Typically of Henry it was also well timed and just about right in terms of length and timing. Henry was kind in his speech to the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust as it was he that brought Albion to Coltishall for our event last August. He told the story of the return journey where he said his heart was in his mouth as he flooded Albion’s bilges to slightly sink her to allow passage under Wroxham Bridge. This was an old wherryman’s trick and as Henry said he had read about it but never had to do it before and actually doubted if it had happened to Albion since she was rescued in 1949. Henry was also kind to me personally and mentioned my early attempts to raise interest in a new project to build a Keel which I have spoken of from time to time and will get back to at some point possibly later this year.
There was also entertainment provided by Alan Helsdon who also joined us at Coltishall and if you were there he was the man responsible for all the music with Albion as a backdrop to his stage. He plays a mixture of his own compositions and also Norfolk folk music. He has a particular interest in the wherries as his own family worked on the water. He actually does a lot with the Wherry Trust and entertains school children when they visit the Albion at home base. He is a charming man with an impish sense of humour and well worth listening to if you get the chance. I suspect he could also give a rather good after dinner speech. He certainly has a fund of stories some of which I could print but won’t as I’ll leave it to you to go and see/hear him.
Best of luck to the Wherry Trust, they do a good and, in my opinion, important job; long may it continue but remember they do need support to keep it all afloat.