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Norfolk’s only dry ski slope celebrates 50 years

PUBLISHED: 15:05 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 06 November 2018

Norfolk Snowsports Club ski slope being layed. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports Club

Norfolk Snowsports Club ski slope being layed. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports Club

Archant

What started out as an idea between friends has grown into one of the best dry ski slopes in the country with 4,000 members.

Norfolk Snowsports Club, in Trowse, home of Norfolk’s only dry ski slope, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The club, originally called Norfolk Youth Ski Club, was founded by Ivan Palfrey and Nancy Clarke in 1968 after a skiing trip.

Before the slope was built trips were made to Crystal Palace dry ski slope but in 1972 a slope made out of plastic ski matting, scaffold poles and wooden boxes was built in Wensum Lodge, Kings Street, Norwich, before moving to Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, in 1976.

Skiers had to walk-up the slope as there was no lift system but in 1978 members designed and built their own.

Norfolk Snowsports Club ski slope being layed in 1976. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports ClubNorfolk Snowsports Club ski slope being layed in 1976. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports Club

The club continued to grow, with more members and volunteers, and in 1981 improved the material used on the slope to Dendix, a plastic mesh that mimics snow.

The club was handed a National Lottery grant for £300,000 in 1991 which was used to make further improvements including a club house, allowing the ski slopes to host the All England Championship in 1993 before going on to host it four more times.

Club chairman Richard Oliver has been a member at the club since 2006. He said: “The club has just continued to grow and grow.

“People are able to come along and try out tubing, skiing and snowboarding which is a good introduction to the club and to the slopes. If they enjoy that they can then go on to take on more snowboarding and skiing lessons.

Will Feneley and Pat Sharples (pictured) from Team GB at Norfolk Snowsports Club for their 50th birthday celebrations.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWill Feneley and Pat Sharples (pictured) from Team GB at Norfolk Snowsports Club for their 50th birthday celebrations. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“We saw a big increase in users off the back of the Winter Olympics with a number of Olympic freestylers taking part in championships at the slope.”

Norfolk Snowsports Club held a celebration with more than 130 people who have played a role in the development of the club. Amongst the revellers were skiers who were part of the original trip in 1968 that inspired the creation of the slopes.

The club hosts a variety of national competitions and is regarded as one of the best in the UK.

Mr Oliver added: “To be called one of the best ski slopes in the UK was great especially as people think of Norfolk as being flat.

Cameron Kirby, 14, who has just become the U16 British ski freestyle champion, practicing his jumps at the Norfolk Snowsports Club at Trowse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCameron Kirby, 14, who has just become the U16 British ski freestyle champion, practicing his jumps at the Norfolk Snowsports Club at Trowse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It’s all down to the volunteers who give up their time.”

A family affair

For Neil Ramsay, 46, of Thorpe Road, the Norfolk Snowsports Club has been a family affair.

He was first involved in the club when he was biking past the site aged 15 in 1987. He was watching the slope being built when someone asked if he wanted to help.

Mogul Madness at the Farmers Jam at Norfolk Snowsports Club, Whitlingham Lane. Competitors competing against the clock, some in fancy dress and some taking a tumble. Photo: Steve AdamsMogul Madness at the Farmers Jam at Norfolk Snowsports Club, Whitlingham Lane. Competitors competing against the clock, some in fancy dress and some taking a tumble. Photo: Steve Adams

Although he had never skied before he was offered free skiing hours for his work. From then he was hooked and became an instructor.

In 1992 he met his wife, Jane Baron, at the slope and the next year they moved to New Zealand to ski. Returning to Norwich in 1997 they headed straight back to the snowsports club and continued volunteering.

Now, Mr Ramsay’s son is a tubing supervisor at the slope and the family continue to ski.

Mr Ramsay said: “So many people are missing out if they have not gone to the slope.

Mogul Madness at the Farmers Jam at Norfolk Snowsports Club, Whitlingham Lane. Competitors competing against the clock, some in fancy dress and some taking a tumble. Photo: Steve AdamsMogul Madness at the Farmers Jam at Norfolk Snowsports Club, Whitlingham Lane. Competitors competing against the clock, some in fancy dress and some taking a tumble. Photo: Steve Adams

“The club tries to make skiing affordable for everyone and it is just like skiing on snow.”

The English Schools’ Ski Association finals took place in Norfolk last weekend (October 6).The English Schools’ Ski Association finals took place in Norfolk last weekend (October 6).

Young skiers slalom down the slope at Trowse.Young skiers slalom down the slope at Trowse.

The original club hut in 1976. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports ClubThe original club hut in 1976. Picture: Norfolk Snowsports Club

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