Picture: Woman levitated in North Walsham Market in support of town’s bid for Mary Portas cash

North Walsham was in buoyant mood as the town launched its bid for a share of �1m government money from the Mary Portas pot by 'levitating a lady' in the Market Place.

A crowd gathered yesterday to watch North Walsham resident and professional magician Roy Davenport 'float' school science technician Holly Jacobs in front of their very eyes.

Town mayor Vivenne Uprichard said the stunt was aimed at creating a bit of a buzz around the bid.

A dozen Portas pilots will be picked to share the cash and turn around their towns following shopping guru Mary Portas's report on the state of Britain's high streets.

Mrs Uprichard hoped the town would receive up to �100,000 which would be used to appoint an events manager who would organise a succession of historical, musical, dramatic, artistic and other entertainments in the town.


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'It will improve life for residents and draw in more tourists to north Norfolk's largest town which is at the heart of north Norfolk,' said Mrs Uprichard.

She hoped the whole community, including the town's industrial estate, would embrace the idea and become involved.

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Students from North Walsham High School and Paston College filmed the illusion and interviewed shoppers who had gathered to watch, for a supporting film on the bid which will be placed on YouTube before the March 31 bid deadline.

Eric Seward, a North Norfolk District Councillor and chairman of the town's Leadership of Place community-led regeneration project, said the town had a great deal of heritage to celebrate.

'We are an historic market town which is struggling with the vibrancy of its town centre. Let's use this opportunity to put North Walsham back on the map,' he said.

Mr Seward hoped an events manager would be able to make the most of everything from North Walsham's historic links to Lord Nelson, to continental markets and street theatre.

Market-town neighbour Aylsham is also competing for the Portas pennies.

A warts-and-all commissioned Urban Delivery report on Aylsham's strengths and weaknesses highlighted possible improvement projects which town leaders would like to see realised.

They include attracting a petrol filling station to the town, improving road gateways with better signs and landscaping, and creating cycle routes to National Trust stately homes Blickling Hall and Felbrigg Hall.

Jo Cottingham, Broadland District Councillor for Aylsham, hopes the schemes would attract more people and jobs to the town.

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