Thursday market continues to be a popular attraction in Fakenham

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The Thursday market place at Fakenham.

It matters not whether you live here or happen to be visiting, the buzz of a crowded Thursday morning is not to be missed.

Throw in a stroll around Beck’s auction hall down towards the river and refreshments at one of our numerous coffee shops and your mood will surely be lifted.

An often overlooked positive of the charter market stalls, controlled by the town council, is the use to which tolls from their pitches are put.

Some of the money collected goes towards developing the market itself but a considerable amount is distributed as grants to organisations based in the town.

There’s a wide interpretation of this but it does exclude commercial groups and the majority of beneficiaries must be local residents.

The council’s market and development committee considers applications every month and during the course of each year thousands of pounds from this source support what are considered to be worthy causes.

I know from personal experience that numerous youth groups have successfully applied for grants, the new Fakenham Tourist Hub in the market place was supported and our volunteer Fakenham Area Conservation team has been able to continue with its footpath preservation work along the river thanks in no small part to market tolls.

So all in all this has become an excellent investment for the good of the town. Should you be interested, you can print off an application form from www.fakenhamtowncouncil.org.uk/responsibilities/markets In similar territory there exists at the discretion of the council a so-called Trustees of the Fakenham Charities.

This fund has a broad reach which can make payments to those in sudden distress or living with disabilities or other hardship.

Its remit also extends to education where difficulties might exist in affording uniforms, equipment and even covering transport costs.

The size of each grant is in the gift of the trustees but is usually in the region of £100 to £300.

Application forms are available from Fakenham Connect behind the library, or its near neighbour, First Focus.

Apologies to readers disinterested in horse racing but as a life-long enthusiast I feel bound to make reference to the highlight of the National Hunt season which kicks off today and continues through until Friday.

I refer, of course, to the Cheltenham Festival which annually draws massive crowds to its Prestbury Park track, including thousands from Ireland, to be a part of the ‘greatest jump racing show on earth’.

Doing battle over the four days will be the finest horses, jockeys, owners and trainers in the land, very many of whom have over the years plied their trade around our own charming course here in north Norfolk.

Every race from Cheltenham is beamed on the big screen in the centre of the course. The afternoon’s highlight will be the running of the Gold Cup.

Most bookmakers will accept bets for both meetings and, if recent years are anything to go by, the day will provide terrific entertainment. The seven-race Fakenham card jumps off at 2pm on Friday.