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December Newsletter

Our latest newsletter featuring pingos, lanterns and a 10km run…


December 2023

Welcome to the December newsletter

You may notice a few improvements to this edition, it being the first edited by our new Project Support Officer, Jude. Already, Jude has begun making a great impact on what we do and how we do it! 

As I write this introduction, we’re in the middle of that first proper cold snap, and I’m looking out of the window hoping to see some snow. 

The Brecks is a particularly beautiful landscape in winter, and undoubtedly the best place for walking and exploring, when other parts of Norfolk and Suffolk can be slippery and muddy. The area’s beauty has been brought into great focus this month by the submissions received for our BFER Christmas card photo competition. We had a great number of wonderful images sent in, which celebrated many aspects of the landscape, and you can see the shortlist below. The winner will be announced next week. 

As always you can catch up on upcoming events and activities, as well as review just some of the delivery highlights of the past month. All of the updates and news can be found on our website at Also – do look out for our ‘Christmas Special’ edition of the newsletter due out in the middle of the month. 

I hope you enjoy reading this edition, and would like to take this opportunity to wish all our partners, participants and supporters a very merry Christmas and happy new year. 

BFER Scheme Manager

Upcoming Events

We are really excited to share with you some of the wonderful outdoor events and activities that are coming up.

Friday 1st December

Victorian Christmas Murder Mystery 

Ancient House Museum: 5pm to 8pm 

Calling all wannabe Sherlock Holmes!
Come and solve our Victorian Thetford Murder Mystery.
Meet costumed characters, create a range of Victorian Christmas crafts to take home, learn to write with a dip pen, make Christmas sweets, handle real Victorian artefacts and learn to cook a plum pudding. 

Free admission.
Suitable for all ages. 

Saturday 2nd December

Microscopic Marvels Family Walk

Brandon Country Park: 10.30am to 12pm

Join this fun family friendly guided walk at Brandon Country Park, exploring with magnifying glasses to see the hidden wonders of wildlife.

Free admission. 
6 years +

Saturday 2nd December

Microscopic Marvels Digital Microscope Walk

Brandon Country Park: 1.30 to 3pm

Delve into the details of nature on this digital microscope walk, using microscopic smartphone lenses to see the natural world up-close.

Free admission. 
16 years +

Sunday 10th December

Thetford 5K Santa Run

Thetford Market Place: 10am

Get in the festive spirit at this fun, family friendly Santa Run.

Tuesday 12th December

Christmas in the Trenches

Ancient House Museum: 2 to 3pm

Join Steve Smith, author and battlefield guide as he looks at the truth & myths of what happened during the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the involvement of the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment on that momentous day.

Guest Blog

Exploring Thompson Common

by Edward Grierson

(Image credit: Edward Grierson)

Thompson Common doesn’t stay put. Every animal, every tree, shrub, flower, mushroom, and pond, is shooting outward, upward, crisscrossing, expanding here, contracting there. It isn’t just transitioning from one ecosystem to another: it’s many different ecosystems, all evolving into something else, and all mingling. There’s a dynamism in this little reserve that you rarely get anywhere in Britain.

I’ve timed my visit well. The sky is clear and sunny. But it’s not the blue sky of summer. It’s a bleached white sun, giving off solar radiation but no warmth. A cold sun, set in an unsaturated blue sky that feels empty rather than enveloping, and accompanied by a piercing cold. It’s dry and crisp now, but there’s clearly been a downpour lately, and in the sharp sunlight all the branches and leaves have a silver sheen…

To read the full blog post, click here: Exploring Thompson Common

Project Focus

Project 4.6 
BFER Grant Fund
Providing opportunities for communities and local organisation to apply for funding to enhance, restore or celebrate heritage in the project area.

Habitat Creation in Schools

We have just awarded two schools grants for their children to create habitats on school grounds. Drake Primary is creating a pond and bog area which you can read about here, and Raleigh & Admirals Academy is planting a Breckland garden in their playground which you can read about here.

Information Panels at Thetford Train Station

Following a BFER grant, Thetford Station have installed two new information panels to celebrate Breckland, its history and the work of local conservation groups. You can read about the panels here or you can visit them in person! Let us know your thoughts.

Unusual School Pets

Following our really successful Eels in the Classroom project, we have been funding schools to set up their own fish tanks and even choose their own fish. We have just given away our last tank, and you can see the first new school pets being introduced here.


Introducing our New Project Support Officer! 
Jude Clay joins BFER

Jude will be supporting the team with administration and communications. As a writer, she’s looking forward to using her skills to pass on the passion the BFER team has for heritage, landscape and environment. When she’s not writing, she’s usually getting lost in the woods or down-river on her paddleboard. She’s also in the habit of cooking increasingly elaborate dinners. 

Luminous Lanterns
Leaves, lanterns, bats and owls; participants enjoyed celebrating autumn at our Lantern Making workshop and Twilight Walk.

As the Autumn season nights draw-in, cultures around the world mark the seasonal changes through festivals of light such as Samhain and Diwali. To recognise this special time, BFER hosted a lantern making workshop led by wild-crafter, Jon Tyler.

You can read all about it here.


Year 4 pupils from Drake Primary School, Thetford were surprised by a visit from Vikings, Odger and Ulf! 

This term, the pupils have been learning about Vikings through the BFER supported Vikings of the Brecks education pack. The pack has been developed by local theatre company, Magic Floor Productions, through BFER with the support of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The KS2 education pack contains a programme of six lesson plans and teacher resources and will launch soon on our website.

You can find out more about the project here and check out our 360° Viking Exhibition online here.

10k Run Returns to Thetford Forest

Nicole, our Volunteer and Engagement Officer, joined the runners at the Run Breckland event last weekend.

It was a frosty morning but nearly 100 runners took part. You can read about her experience of the run here

29 Years of the National Lottery

National Lottery Selfie Day was the 14th of November and marked 29 years since the first National Lottery tickets went on sale!

National Lottery players help fund BFER projects and activities that celebrate and conserve the wonderful Brecks landscapes and heritage. We said thank you with a collage of crossed fingers selfies from the BFER team and some of our project partners.

Christmas Card Competition

Announcing our Shortlist: 
We had a huge number of entries for our Christmas card competition and they were all of an incredibly high quality. Thank you to everyone who entered; we loved going through all of the entries and narrowing it down to our top 5!

All of our shortlisted photos will be posted on our social media and used as our Facebook banner for December. And our final winner, whose photo will be used for our Christmas card this year, as well as receiving a BFER goody-bag, will be announced next week!

So, without further ado, here is our shortlist in no particular order:

  • Christine Newton – Between Brandon and Santon Downham 3
  • Jean Betts – Brandon
  • Phil Waring – Thetford Spring Walk
  • Trudie Mann – Lakenheath Warren 2
  • Trudie Mann – Sunrise off Bury Road Brandon

You can see the shortlisted photographs and the judges’ comments on our website here.

Congratulations to all of you! And keep an eye out for the announcement of our winner on social media next week.

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