Brandon Fern Hoppers has applied for funding from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme and would like to explain to the local community the reasons behind that application and how we would use the funding if successful.
At the same time we hope to generate more interest in the club and encourage anyone from the local community to join us for a run! Our club has been active in the local community since 1989 providing residents with the opportunity to run in a safe, friendly environment up to three times a week, usually in the wonderful forest environment around Brandon.
The club has always encouraged runners of all abilities and focused strongly on each individual’s improvement rather than competitive running.
With a membership of just over forty there is always someone to run with at a pace to suit most.Over the years the Fern Hoppers have hosted many running events including over twenty editions of the popular Wibbly Wobbly Log Jog: a 5 mile forest run regularly attended by over 300 runners.
2019 will be our 30th anniversary and we would like to mark this occasion by extending an invitation to the local community to improve their fitness through running, either by joining us on a club run or by participating in one of our events. To help us to provide this opportunity we would like to improve the club’s training, event and safety equipment. The club would like to upgrade its equipment, to better promote the club and its inclusive approach to running.Currently the club lacks its own timing equipment and would like to ensure safety equipment is on hand for its free club runs.
By improving club facilities we hope to encourage the local community to engage in free physical fitness and improve their health and wellbeing.
Runners such as Alan, a local Fireman who found it hard to motivate himself to run on his own and so came along to run with the club “the thought of running 10k let alone a marathon was far from my mind.” he said “But in 2018 I ran the London Marathon in a time of 5hrs 6mins, the club supported me all the way and even cheered me on on the day!”
One of the more senior members only joined eighteen months ago, Christine felt inspired to take up jogging again at the age of 70, “I have received so much help and support from the club, although I am their slowest runner, I never feel ‘out of place’ or unwelcome.”
Then there is local Head Teacher Julian who was 53 and by his own admission overweight, he’s now 56 and has shed 3 stone! He finds the friendship and support it gives him, and others who want to run, is immense. “The club supports people of all ages and abilities and uses the natural beauty of the forests near Brandon in which to run. I know I can turn up and run at any pace or distance and find people to support me and run with me.”
The club has been selected for Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme to help buy training and safety equipment to support more runners like Alan, Christine and Julian. We hope you’ll support our appeal by putting your tokens in Brandon Fern Hoppers box at Tesco’s in Brandon.
It is with great sadness that we have to relay the news that one of the club’s most significant members, Sally Dormer, passed on Wednesday 21st November 2018 after a short illness.
I know many of you will not have known Sally but she was quick witted, kind and always seemed happy. Her contribution to the club along with her husband Roger, who survives her, cannot be understated. Together they served, with Roger as Chair and Sally as Secretary and Treasurer, steering the club through many years. To those of us who joined in that period they were the Fern Hoppers, and set the culture for our friendly, inclusive and mutually supportive club.
Sally and Roger moved back to their native Northamptonshire a few years ago after retirement, but still followed club activities and regularly returned to help out at the Wobbly Wobbly Log Jog and even took the opportunity to run it for the first time ever.
Sally had not always been a runner, but she and Roger used to play badminton at the leisure centre and there in 1992 she met Martha Stanton, John Sholine and Derek Haddon (all founder members of the club). Martha said to Sally “You look like you can run!” So Sally agreed to give it a go and the following Tuesday ran 7 miles in her plimsoles! Martha was not wrong, Sally was a talented runner and in our early days with the club it was always worth staying for the prize giving as Sally usually picked up a win in her age category and we could cheer a Fern Hopper success!
Shortly after this Sally agreed to take on the ‘paperwork’ for the club, which turned out to be three sheets of paper in a plastic bag! This change necessitated Sally notifying UK Athletics, so the members discussed registering a new name at the same time. several suggestions were discussed in the leisure centre one evening after a run; Brandon Bramble Busters, or the Nettle Bashers or the Fern Hoppers. Sally registered our name and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was not just our quirky name that Sally had a hand in though, our distinctive fluorescent lime green kit can also be credited to her. One day Sally found a box of lime green shirts for sale in a concession tent at a race and, as they were a bargain, decided to buy them for the club. She had the club name printed on them in dark purple and the colours were duly registered with UKA. These days we have a number of imitators but back when we first ran with the club our kit was almost unique and Fern Hoppers always really stood out at a race!
Many of you will of course be familiar with ‘Dormer Corner’, one of our regular re group points in the forest. Originally given a somewhat cruder name it was renamed in her honour. Dormer Corner is a forest crossroads atop a small ascent and one day on a club run Sally, who was no doubt leading the field, achieved the summit first! To (humorously) emphasise her athletic prowess Sally began to do press ups as others struggled to the re group. As we all know, pride comes before a fall and on standing upright Sally discovered she had placed her hand in some dog poo!
There were times when membership and attendance dwindled to unsustainable levels but Sally and Roger kept going and without them I doubt our club would exist for us to enjoy today. Our club, with its wonderful warm ethos, is her legacy and we should all strive to honour it!
The next time you rest at Dormer Corner maybe just spare a moment to think of a slight red haired lady doing press ups.
Paul Meader & Steve Brodie – November 2018
Back in 2006 I took an impulsive decision to move from Somerset to Norfolk/Suffolk, I really didn’t have a clue what I was going to do, other than I had a job with the MOD, or how things were going to work out. Luckily for me I had got in touch with this running club before travelling up for my interview. I turned up on the Tuesday evening to run. They were all welcoming and friendly and I ran along with a lady called Sandra and we chatted along the way including about my situation. A week or so later back in Somerset I get an e-mail from a guy called Ian telling me if I get in touch with a guy called Roger he may be able to help with accommodation. The outcome was I had a little annex (49a) on the side of Roger & Sally’s cottage, they immediately welcomed me into their home, so much so that the first thing Roger said to me after introductions was ‘hurry up and get sorted, we’re going up the pub!’
Roger and Sally effectively took me under their wing at a time when I was very unsure of my future, Sally kept me running, regularly dragging me off to XC races on Wednesdays, Tuesdays to the club and at weekends if it wasn’t club we’d be off with other Fern Hoppers across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex or Leicestershire for a race somewhere. I owe Roger, Sally, Sandra, Ian and the Fern Hoppers so much more than most of them (you) will ever know.
Six Fern Hoppers battled record temperatures for a May bank holiday to compete in our neighbouring club’s annual 10k event at Croxton near Thetford.
The Breckland 10K is a popular event which is always well supported by the Fern Hoppers whether running, marshalling or just shouting at people!
Well done to all our runners who turned in some excellent times, especially considering the heat!
A busy period for the Fern Hoppers continued this week with Stephen ‘Frankhopper’ Spencer taking part in the British Heart Foundation 40th anniversary 5k at the Tower of London. An event which provided him with ample opportunity to indulge in some of his much loved puns. I don’t know what his ‘beef’ is, but I wish he’d stop ‘raven’ on about it!
Afterwards he observed that it was the first time he had run in a moat. Perhaps you should give Framlingham a try Frank!
On Thursday evening it was the turn of an old favourite in the form of the Newmarket Heath Race, or ‘The Gallops’ as it is sometimes affectionately known. I’m personally very fond of this race as it often seems to herald the start of the summer and longer evenings, although I have also stood at the start in the biting cold and the rain!
We had a great turn out of club runners as well as some friends of the club there to run or support, with a total representation of eight Fernhoppers and Paul to shout at us!
It’s a challenging course (I pity the poor horses, but I suppose they are pros!) but everyone did well, top billing has to go to Lily who walked away with the F-U21 prize. Very well done to her!
The club had great representation at The London Marathon this year with Thomas, Alan and Tim all doing us proud! Meanwhile Greg was tackling the off-road Thetford Forest Marathon on the same day as London.
The week before Natasha had performed well in the Brighton Marathon.
Of course hardly a week goes by that David isn’t running a marathon somewhere! He’s just back from the Betteshanger Marathon.
Chase the Train is a 8.9 mile race from Aylsham to Wroxham. It follows the footpath next to the Bure Valley Railway, Norfolk’s longest narrow guage steam railway. Then catch a Free Return Train from Wroxham