'I'd give people a car-free holiday' Q&A with Alicia Hull

Alicia Hull, with her partner Peter Crouch. 

Alicia Hull, with her partner Peter Crouch. - Credit: Alicia Hull

We're shining a spotlight on people who live or work in north Norfolk as part of a series of Q&As. This week we're featuring author and environmental activist Alicia Hull, 81, from Roughton.

How would you best describe your job or role in the community? 

It has changed over the years. At first I was sharing village life as a mother with young children and many animals. I started the Holt Playgroup in 1970 which ran for several years, but later I had had to withdraw to focus on my family.  

Much later I taught in the special needs department at Gresham's School and also at the Camphill Community in Thornage. 

Campaigning has been a constant pat of my life, mostly for peace and the environment. Two rare early successes were listing a cottage in Thornage to keep a traffic calming bend in the road, and opposing a Letheringsett bypass to save the water meadows. 

Highland calf on the water meadows at letheringsett.Taken by: Jackie Thompson of letheringsett.

A Highland calf on the water meadows at Letheringsett. Alicia Hull has long campaigned to preserve such sensitive environments in north Norfolk. - Credit: Jackie Thompson

I was very active in Holt Peace Group in the 1980s with vigils, petitions, a carnival float and monthly public talks, and in the 1990s I was active in the North Norfolk Environment Forum which sadly altered little despite the enthusiasm and ideas of many volunteers.

Since 2000, I have also been active in the local Green Party, but as I am now unable now to campaign actively, my contribution to the present emergencies is a book, describing the roots of our problems, but also lauding solutions and the many good people who have identified them.

How long have you lived in Roughton?

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I lived in Thornage for 37 years, andow lived in Roughton for 16 years, where I am a trustee of Roughton Land Trust and a climate ambassador for Roughton WI.

What would you do if you were mayor for a day? 

I would declare a car-free holiday, to give people a 'slow day off' to enjoy local family and friendships. 

What is your favourite landmark?

I particularly love the stretch of coast between Blakeney and Holkham, with their openness and secretive channels. 

What is your favourite pub?

We are not really pub people. We have enjoyed meals at the Foundry Arms at Northrepps and the Hunworth Bell.

Which shops do you rely on?

As vegetarians, Lizzie's Fruits and Vegetables in Cromer is invaluable. We use both the Co-ops in Cromer and All Natural in Sheringham for organic food. Amy’s Sweet Shop and Little Gems in Cromer are essential for my grandchildren, and Made In Cley and Osokozi in Holt have provided many gifts.

What is your favourite place to eat out? 

Indian restaurants are good for their variety of vegetable dishes.  

Eating out has been very constrained since Covid, but we have enjoyed Cromer Tandoori, mostly for takeaways. With friends or family we have been to The Indian on the Cliff in Cromer, Taste of India in Holt, the Art Café in Glandford and the Art House Café in Cromer.

What is a perfect day in north Norfolk for you? 

I can no longer enjoy cycling along our beautiful back lanes, nor can I walk very far, so now I mostly enjoy visiting the parks or the coast  - always in in good company.

The rhododendrons in full colour at Sheringham Park.

The rhododendrons in full colour at Sheringham Park. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Which places would you recommend to visitors? 

All the historic houses and parks are well worth visiting.  

Who is your north Norfolk hero? 

As a campaigner I am very grateful to those intelligent, independent minded people who put the work in, see things clearly and share their knowledge - whistleblowers.  

I am also humbled by kindness, generosity and altruism.  People who put themselves out for others day after day, for their families or local community or in campaigns. I have been lucky enough to meet many such knowledgeable, caring and lively people, but to spare their blushes will name Lord Peter Melchett as my Norfolk hero.

He lived his beliefs as an organic farmer and environmental campaigner, at times executive director of Greenpeace and policy director of the Soil Association. 

Lord Peter Melchett, who died at his Norfolk farm in 2018. 

Lord Peter Melchett, who died at his Norfolk farm in 2018. - Credit: Matthew Usher

What do you most love about north Norfolk?

We moved here for cheap housing and empty roads! It’s is very different today. 

I have been lucky enough to meet many intelligent, creative, courteous and generous people - in campaigns, work and day-to-day life. Some have become good friends. The people are an important part of what I love about north Norfolk.