Norfolk writing gems uncovered

Mary HamiltonSix months ago they had hardly even put pen to paper before, but now a group of Norfolk people are celebrating the launch of a book of their stories, poems and art.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websiteMary Hamilton

Six months ago they had hardly even put pen to paper before, but now a group of Norfolk people are celebrating the launch of a book of their stories, poems and art.

Uncovering Gems is an anthology around the theme of work, created by people attending workshops around the county - many of whom had never written creatively before.

Ian Hall, of Laundry Lane in Thorpe St Andrew, got involved in Uncovering Gems after the organisers contacted his employer Anglian Windows about the project.

The 44-year-old production line worker said: 'When I turned up I didn't know anything about it at all - I probably wouldn't have gone if I'd known it was writing, because I didn't think I had anything to say that anyone would want to read.

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'I know I can put pen to paper now. I might start a diary. I wouldn't have thought of that before, but now if I want to write a story about something I know I can.

'It's a real sense of achievement. You always think you're not good enough to do something, but everyone's limits are different and you can explore those limits and maybe find out that they are not quite as limited as you thought.'

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Organisers Richard Crook and Heather De Lyon brought together more than 130 people in 40 workshops in Norfolk and Suffolk, from factory workers and apprentices to young mothers and older people in care homes.

The pair believe that grass-roots programmes like Uncovering Gems are a great way to use culture to help people grow in confidence, and that Norwich's bid to be City of Culture in 2013 could be a catalyst for more and more people to develop their artistic talents.

Ms De Lyon said: 'Uncovering Gems shows that if we win the bid the cultural projects will reach people outside Norwich and outside the groups who would normally get involved - it can reach everyone and anyone no matter what they have done in the past.

'And it shows that there is a demand for these projects. Norwich has both the creative people who can get these things off the ground and a huge number of people who could benefit.'

The project is one of six commissioned by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and funded by the Transformation Fund, a �19m national pot supporting informal adult learning projects with lasting legacies.

Others included Pathways to the Future, a community gym running family activities for people in the NR2 postcode, and Space to Transform, a cultural activity project for people on housing support.

The book is available to read on the Uncovering Gems website at or at all Norfolk libraries.

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