Stephen Fry says
With many â€˜firstsâ€™ already to its credit, including Julian of Norwich, the first woman to write a book in English, the first pedestrianised street, London Street and Harriet Martineau, the country's first female journalist, I fervently hope to see Norwich as the first UK City of Culture in 2013.
At a difficult time, with the recession in full-swing and shortages and cuts at every turn, it takes a city with courage and vision to take on the challenge of a bid of this kind. I supported the cityâ€™s previous bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2003, and have seen the changes that have transformed the city thus far even without the benefits of winning and I wonder what they could achieve given the support of the rest of the country?
The growth in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the establishment of the Writersâ€™ Centre Norwich, Norwich as a City of Refuge, the bid for UNESCO City of Literature and many other initiatives are all signals of the effects of the Capital of Culture bid which has started to change perceptions of the city but there is still a long way to go before people in the far off places to which I travel say, â€˜ah yes, I know about Norwich, a true city of cultureâ€™.
The city of Norwich has many fans, of which I am one. It has a fantastic and historic urban fabric, a glorious rural hinterland and an unparalled coastline of which I am proud to be able to tell people. I support the football club here and applaud the initiatives which I see taking place all over the city, wrought by the many excellent cultural organisations who work together to ensure an excellent quality of life for the citizens and those who are lucky enough to visit or stay.
I hope that the judging panel will visit the city and see for themselves that it is a place fully deserving of the title of City of Culture, able to make the most use of winning 2013 to complete the journey started in 2003.