Wensum - Wow! What a lot to shout about in an eventful 2012

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Well, 2012 may have been an amazing year for the whole country but it was also quite special for Fakenham.

The indelible highlight has to be that exceptional July afternoon when the Olympic torch was paraded from one end of the town to the other with thousands lining the streets to clap and cheer it on its way.

Contributing in no small way to the success of the big event were the 70,000 so-called Games Makers. I met teacher Jill and child-minder Lesley, who both work here, and their excitement at having been selected to be a part of it all in this role was very evident.

Fakenham Laundry also had plenty to shout about after winning a contract to wash the outfits worn by all those accompanying the Olympic torch on its 70-day relay right round the country. On a more personal note, my wife and I were invited to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee garden party at Sandringham.

As I wrote last week, people power finally triumphed in the saga of the Highfield Road car park. But it took the best part of a year to be resolved. News that the district council would charge users of the facility was relayed to a shocked town council last January. Ever since there’s been a determined campaign by the community to keep the car park free and to this end our council has now taken over its management.

It’s bemusing to recall that in March we were actually landed with a hosepipe ban. This scuppered the traditional Fakenham in Bloom display which has brightened up the town centre for many summers past.

Former head of the junior school, David Stapleford, sadly died in late summer but his amazing work on behalf of red squirrels over the past forty years was recognised with a presentation out at Pensthorpe in March. David received the Red Squirrel Survival Trust’s lifetime achievement award to great acclaim.

Inveterate local historian Jim Baldwin published his tenth book on the town, this one a photographic record going back to the late 19th century. Many of the old pictures were sourced from our Local History Society, of which Jim has been a member for over 40 years.

The rarity of a Sunday wedding was celebrated in the parish church in April when Tony Sims married Ann Rae. So rare, in fact, that our rector had to check the legality of the arrangement before going ahead with all the preparations.

It was the first time in his 41 years of ministry that he had conducted a wedding on the Sabbath.

The town’s Museum of Gas and Local History marked its 25th anniversary in fairly low-key style – just a gathering of the faithful who have volunteered their time and energies to preserving this living monument, the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales.

Your correspondent reached a happy milestone of three score years and 10 in December, cheered by a rousing night at The Bell in the company of Dixiemix jazz stars Simon Nelson, Chris Wigley and all. More significantly, Flo Wadlow, who I’ve been ferrying to church on Sunday mornings this past year or so, clocked up her personal century, also in December.

Now that’s what I call an achievement. Happy New Year to you all.

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