Assemblies

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This project showcases a selection of the groups that make use of the spaces at The Assembly House.

The Assembly House Trust supports a wide range of groups by offering high quality facilities at a subsidised rate. The aim of The Assembly House Trust Community Fund is to encourage the arts and community engagement.

My name is Katherine Mager and I have been commissioned to document these groups and have spent the last 8 months meeting with and photographing a selection of them.

Thank you to all the groups that have taken part and for allowing me to document your clubs.

List of groups:

Norwich Flower Club
Norwich in Bloom
Norwich Speakers Club
The Great Hall Theatre Company

Norwich Support OCD

Norwich U3A
Assembly House Classical


 

Norwich Flower Club

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As one of the older flower groups in the country, Norwich Flower Club was originally founded in 1952 by the late Mrs. Jocelyn Steward. Membership is open to all who enjoy flowers and floral arrangements. They guarantee a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in which to develop your interest through an annual programme of meetings, demonstrations, workshops and outings.

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Photographs feature a flower arranging demonstration by Fiona Harrison entitled ‘Going Dutch’, which took place on 21st May 2018. The event was well attended and it was clear to see the shared enthusiasm for flora. The social aspect of the group and friendship was evident too and it was lovely to see birthday gifts being given out to members of the club.

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I met with Christine Silvester, the current President of Norwich Flower Club at her home to look through and photograph some of the Norwich Flower Club scrapbooks, which are filled with interesting newspaper cuttings and lovely black and white photographs.


 

Norwich in Bloom

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Norwich in Bloom is a community organisation that works to provide stunning floral displays around the city centre. During the early 1980’s local competitions were being run by Norwich City Council. In 1986 Norwich City Council encouraged the Norwich community to take ownership and run the local Norwich in Bloom competition.

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St Stephens Churchyard is a green oasis in the centre of our busy city.
In 2007 after the completion of Chapelfield shopping centre, church members and The Friends of Norwich in Bloom started to replant the churchyard.

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This has had to be repeated again this year due to extensive building work. Sally, Vinay, Reg, Jo and other volunteers are working together to bring the churchyard back to its former glory. We all work together to ensure that these grounds enhance this beautiful old church and gives pleasure to our visitors and residents.

Text from Terry Bane and Jo Chiddick.

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Photographs of St Stephens Churchyard featuring Sally, Jo, Reg and Vinay.

It was lovely to see the planting that had been so beautifully done around the church. It makes such a difference to the environment in a busy city.

Also photos showing the greenhouses at Norwich City College and some of the Friends of Norwich in Bloom team in the Music Room at The Assembly House. When I first met Terry Bane (Honorary Ambassador for Anglia in Bloom) Terry walked me through the surrounding area of The Assembly House and it was so nice to be shown all the areas of planting that I so often enjoy without noticing.


 

Norwich Speakers Club

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Norwich Speakers Club has been running for over 20 years – helping people become confident communicators.

Norwich Speakers Club is a group of people who get together every second Thursday at 7.30pm for a couple of hours of fun to practice the art of effective communication through public speaking.

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This is accomplished by following a tried and tested structure developed by the Toastmasters International organisation to help develop speaking skills in a safe and friendly environment. Members join for many different reasons, some wish to become proficient at talking to groups, whilst others want to overcome their shyness or a fear of speaking to others.

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I visited the group for two meetings and found a welcoming, fun and friendly atmosphere. It was really nice to see the kind and encouraging support that was given to members who struggled with public speaking. There were games and stories and even prizes, which created a really great environment for learning.


 

The Great Hall Theatre Company

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Donald Pyle started Great Hall Players in 1961 as a private theatre club that would periodically put on plays for invited friends and family, staged in his own home, the medieval Great Hall in Oak Street. The group performed in the arena style (in the round) and has continued to do so as it has evolved and moved its base to various other venues around Norwich – the Baker’s Arms, the Friends’ Meeting House, and St Peter’s Methodist Church Hall.

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In 2005 we made our fourth move, to become the resident theatre company at The Assembly House. As Great Hall Theatre Company we continue to produce six plays in each season. The performance space at The Assembly House is the Noverre Suite, and the players also benefit from rehearsal facilities in the old projection room above.

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Text from Jeremy Amies.

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These photographs document the rehearsals for the play ‘The Devil at Midnight’ written by Brian Clemens and directed by Richard Hand. This was performed in late June 2018.

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Projection room rehearsals show Sabrina Poole reading her lines, Jenny Belsey and Sabrina watched by Zanna Foley-Davies, Poppy Frost and Jeremy Amies (chairman). The stage rehearsals show Phillip Rowe with Jenny and Sabrina embracing, Zanna on set with script and Jenny on set. The play also featured Alec Mann as Billy.


 

Norwich Support OCD

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The Norwich and Norfolk OCD Voluntary Support was founded in 2004 by Geraldine Scott, with the aim of providing support to those with OCD, carers and family members including those who want to gain a better understanding of this anxiety disorder. The group offers empathy, support and psycho- education in a non-judgmental, confidential environment and an opportunity to share and communicate knowledge and personal experiences.

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I visited the group on two occasions and was surprised to see such a large number of people. This is the most well attended voluntary OCD support group in the UK. The first session I simply sat in and listened and joined the discussion group for hoarding. The atmosphere was very welcoming and friendly. I brought my camera along to the next session and focused on photographing people’s hands as they sat in groups discussing their experiences of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


 

Norwich U3A

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The University of the Third Age was founded in Paris in 1979, based on the Universities. In the UK the term ‘University’ means “coming together for the pleasure of learning”. U3A Norwich, is an opportunity for people aged 50 and over to enjoy meeting others in an informal atmosphere, frequently in members homes, to learn and enjoy various educational, creative and leisure activities.


 

The Recorders for Pleasure group: U3A Norwich

The group has been operating for 5 years. It has two aims, one to provide an opportunity for recorder players to join together in an ensemble and two, to encourage those who have not played the recorder for some time to pick up the instrument again. All the group members have been new players of the recorder at some time. We say to those who are new to the instrument ‘play the notes you can manage – the others will come later as you practice’.

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Text from Hilary Hammond.

I photographed The Recorders for Pleasure group at Eaton Park Community Centre on the 14th August 2018. The photos feature Hilary (group convenor) and John, Pam P laughing, John on bass recorder, Anne laughing on tenor and Pam, Marion, Jean and Anne.


 

Monday Longer Distance Walking Group: U3A Norwich

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The group was started 15 years ago by Esme and Paul Staniforth, initially just to walk the ‘Weavers Way’, but at the end of the venture everyone voted we should continue as a group and walked the whole way round Norfolk in a year, covering 234 miles (Weavers Way, North North Coastal path, Peddars Way and Angles Way). The group not only enjoy walking, but each other’s company and sometimes deep discussions! We celebrate that four members have walked 2,000 miles since they joined the group. Namely Ann West, Hilary O’Donnell, Esme Staniforth and Robert Marshal.

Text from Esme Staniforth.

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I joined the group for a walk in Hindolveston on a hot day in August. I felt very welcome and enjoyed the walking and talking. Having left my water behind, I was lucky enough to have some squash and biscuits shared with me during the halfway break, there was even time to stop and buy some plums.The group photograph shows (from left to right) Derek, Douglas, Hazel, Aidan, Ann, Sholto, Robert, Paul W, Hilary and Jean.


 

Assembly House Classical

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Assembly House Classical presents a series of lunchtime classical recitals, showcasing prize winning musicians in the stunning Georgian Music Room of The Assembly House in Norwich. The series is programmed by Roger Rowe and Administered by Iain Lowery.

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These photographs were taken on the 19th July and show the performance of Swiss pianist Jean-Selim Abdelmoula, introduced by Roger Rowe.