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Kes play helps boy overcome bird fear

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:23 01 July 2010

Nick Hewetson, who will star as Billy Casper in Aylsham High School's production of Kes

Nick Hewetson, who will star as Billy Casper in Aylsham High School's production of Kes

Alex Hurrell

When an Aylsham audience listen to a boy describing the wonder of a kestrel next month, they will be hearing words spoken from the heart by a young actor who has overcome his fear of birds with the help of an expert local falconer.

When an Aylsham audience listen to a boy describing the wonder of a kestrel next month, they will be hearing words spoken from the heart by a young actor who has overcome his fear of birds with the help of an expert local falconer.

Nick Hewetson is set to star as Billy Casper in Kes, a poignant play about how a neglected and bullied Yorkshire schoolboy finds hope and purpose when he captures and trains a young kestrel.

But for 13-year-old Nick the demanding role included the added challenge that he does not feel comfortable around birds.

“I've never liked the flappiness and the feathers,” he said.

But his phobia has been cured thanks to working with birds of prey expert Gordon Hiscock, who spent hours introducing the youngster to his collection of owls, hawks and falcons.

He taught Nick how to work a food-laden lure, and gave him the confidence to enjoy supporting a kestrel and a falcon on his gloved fist.

“It was slightly nerve-wracking at first but it's really fun - they're great,” said Nick who now fully agrees with one of Billy's lines in the play, when the boy says to his teacher: “It's when it's flying though Sir. That's when it's got it over other birds. That's when it's at its best.”

Nick is among an Aylsham High School Youth Group cast who will be staging the play at the school on Thursday and Friday, July 1 and 2, at 7.30pm.

There will be no live birds on stage but footage shot by fellow pupils Sam Meyer and Finbar Hendry of Nick swinging a lure, and of falcon Phoenix in flight will be shown on a screen while Billy talks about training Kes.

Tickets cost £4, concessions £3 and are available from twiseman@aylshamhigh.norfolk.sch.uk or phone 07901 828478.

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