Aylsham and North Walsham residents encouraged to follow Queen of Shop’s lead and watch Portas cash videos

Community campaigners in two north Norfolk towns are urging residents to get online and show support for their high streets to be in with a chance of securing a share of �1m to boost their local economy.

North Walsham and Aylsham are among eight communities across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire vying to become a Portas Pilot Town and receive a slice of the cash - being stumped up by the government - which will go towards regenerating their high streets.

The pilot scheme is being led by retail guru Mary Portas who is choosing 12 towns to receive �100,000 and personal help through her retail savvy skills.

As part of their bid both towns have had to back up their application for funding with a short film, which have now gone viral through video sharing forum YouTube - and Aylsham's efforts have even attracted the attention of Ms Portas herself.

The red-headed 'Queen of Shops' wrote about the market town via micro-blogging site Twitter soon after the video - entitled I Proper Love Aylsham - went online.

She tweeted a link to the video and said: 'This one from Aylsham, made by two sixth form students Sam and Georgia, is moving.'

The five-minute movie features interviews with a High School student, market trader and business owner talking about what makes Aylsham good, how it could be improved and what the Portas cash could do to help.

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Communities from across the country had until the end of March to apply for the cash and the 12 successful towns will be announced in May.

As well as the videos bidding communities have also formed town teams of retailers, traders and councillors to devise innovative ideas to regenerate their high streets. If selected as one of the 12, the funding would be used to put their ideas into practice.

If named as a pilot town North Walsham's team aim to bring more varied and personalized shops, stalls and events to the high street in a bid to tempt visitors of all ages into the centre as well as the supermarkets, which is currently 'as far as most people get'.

John Mullen, community projects manager for North Norfolk District Council, said: 'It is great that North Walsham town team has grabbed a chance to pull all of its experience, enthusiasm and knowledge together to win some support for their ideas.'

Teams from North Walsham and Aylsham are now keen for residents to watch the videos as the number of views they receive will help show the community is behind the bid.

? To watch the videos click on the related links at the top right of this screen.