Story of one of Norfolk’s most influential figures to be brought to life in Wells

Sam Peel in 1955. Picture: Archant archive

Sam Peel in 1955. Picture: Archant archive - Credit: Archant

A play based on the life of a man who spearheaded change across Norfolk and stood up for ordinary people is set to be performed at the Wells Maltings.

The Wells Discussion Group in 1939, with founder Sam Peel, front 3rd left.Photographer: SubmittedCop

The Wells Discussion Group in 1939, with founder Sam Peel, front 3rd left.Photographer: SubmittedCopy: Angi Kennedy....Centro.Copyright EDP pics 2003 Tel: 01603 772434Contact: - Credit: Archant Ltd.

It will be based on a book written by Mr Peel’s granddaughter Susan Wild and highlight how he oversaw the reorganisation of post-war education in the county and laid the foundations for the National Health Service in north Norfolk.

The famous campaigner grew up in Wymondham and moved to Wells in 1909 at the age of 31. When he arrived in the seaside town he was appalled by the level of poverty and began preaching the Gospel and warning that excessive drinking could impact on a working man’s pocket, family and health.

He soon expanded his personal campaign by opening a men’s institute above a local shop to provide an alternative social setting to the pub and started adult schools for both men and women.

By the time the First World War was underway, Mr Peel had entered politics and was responsible for the first council houses built in Wells.

As the first chairman of the Cromer Area Hospital Management Board he also laid the foundations for the NHS in north Norfolk and was elected to Norfolk County Council in 1919, he served for 44 years.

Mr Peel became known as the “Father” of the council.

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From 1943 to 1964 he was also chairman of the Norfolk Education Committee and oversaw the re-organisation of post-war education in Norfolk.

He was responsible for, amongst other things, the establishment of Holt Hall, Easton Agricultural College and Wymondham College.

He was awarded an OBE and a Coronation Medal for his services to Norfolk and became fondly regarded as Norfolk’s Clement Attlee.

The play is being produced by the Wells Maltings and performed by a community cast at the Alderman Peel High School, which was named in Mr Peel’s honour.

The production, directed by Ben Francis, runs March 2 and March 3 at 7.30pm, with an afternoon matinee at 2.30pm on March 3.

Performances are at the Alderman Peel High School in Wells and tickets are available for £5 from Wells Maltings. To find out more phone 01328 710885 or visit the Wells Maltings website.