Earlier this month the Town Mayor, Carol Bower, was taken on a blindfold tour of the High Street to find out for herself how blind and partially sighted shoppers cope with its various obstacles, one of which was described as a ‘foot way trip hazard’.
At 4.25pm on October 28 I had the misfortune to encounter one such hazard myself when crossing the High Street from west to east on my way to Barclays Bank in search of the November edition of ‘Town & Around’.
The incident was witnessed by at least two passers-by and it subsequently transpired that this is a well known accident black spot for pedestrians, regardless of any visual impairment they might have.
Incredibly, Norfolk County Council appears to be blissfully unaware of this fact and its insurance department is refusing to acknowledge the fact that a raised kerb is not what one expects to find on a pavement when the road has been safely crossed at a designated crossing point.
An update on this story is certain to follow in the new year, but since this is traditionally a time for looking back over the past twelve months I will endeavour to pick out just one really high point in 2014.
Granting the Freedom of Hunstanton to the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron on October 4 was undoubtedly the most significant event.
Unfortunately, there are still some people in the town who appear to be unaware of the circumstances that made the Freedom ceremony possible, so at the risk of facing accusations of repeating myself, here is a brief synopsis.
Back in 2011 I was contacted by RAF Flt Sgt Mark Service who is also the official historian of the 67th SOS. He informed me that the 67th came into being in 1952 and was formally activated at RAF Sculthorpe on November 14, 1952.
In those days it was known as the 67th Air Rescue Squadron and Reis Leming was soon to become its most famous member for his part in rescuing 27 people from the Floods during the night of January 31, 1953 when the 67th responded to calls for assistance from the overwhelmed local emergency services.
Thanks to Mark Service, on November 10, 2012 the 67th SOS celebrated its 60th anniversary by marching from the area inundated by the sea in 1953 to the Flood memorial where a footpath was named in honour of Reis Leming, who sadly passed away just days before the event.
On January 31, 2013 Mark arranged for the 67th to be back in town for the 60th anniversary of the Floods, together with Reis’s widow, Kathy, his son Michael and daughter Debra. Reis’s younger daughter, Gail was unable to attend
It was Mark’s involvement in planning these two major events that made the Freedom ceremony possible, thereby enabling the town to bestow the same honour on all three of Reis’s children, as well as on Kathy. Mark’s role in fostering such good relations between the 67th and Hunstanton has been largely overlooked, possibly because most of his work has been behind the scenes, but my hope now is that the town will find an appropriate way of honouring Mark in 2015.