Wensum, by Jim Harding, February 23

wensum

wensum

OFF TO GHANA: Emily Nicol, Keziah Fearn and Rachel Sneath

Frankly, I reckon this town council play space is brilliant, especially when set against how it used to be in the not so distant past.

The old children’s playground was assembled in pre-health and safety days with a lofty slide to be descended at your peril, a set of swings, a seesaw and a small roundabout, all placed on a gravel surface not kind to little knees or hands.

In family terms I had much personal experience of this particular lottery. There was little else available for diversion apart from the field, occasionally used for football matches. Come the year 2000 and we had the launch of the currently-named park in the presence of the High Sheriff of Norfolk. This £100,000 project transformed the area with a walled-in pond for radio-controlled boats, an improved playground, a circular bandstand and plantings of trees. Sadly, these innovations were largely ignored by Fakenham folk with both pond and bandstand failing to attract regular enthusiasts. In fact they encouraged vandalism and the park was constantly being patrolled by local police. Eventually the two brick constructions were removed.

Now the good news. Over the past ten years, slow steps have been taken to respond to what children really wanted in terms of leisure pursuits. A Park Life scheme supported by the Fakenham Recreation Ground charity pursued a number of priorities which have now largely been fulfilled.

If you are not a regular visitor it would be worth your while to see how improved this space has become and the enjoyment which youngsters of all ages currently appreciate. The playground is colourful and fun and full of a variety of challenges. The surfaces around the various bits of apparatus cushion any falls. Outside these railings and across the other side of the field there’s a ‘flying fox’ for the more dare-devil and a super skate park, officially opened in 2014. I particularly like the static heavy-duty gym equipment in one corner, designed to attract more mature teenagers and also adults. These are freely available to anyone wishing to maintain or improve their fitness at times to suit themselves.

For kickabout purposes there’s a small football field with two sets of goals. So all in all, Millennium Park now caters for a broad cross-section of the community and is well-used as a consequence. Hats off to everyone who helped bring about this very positive transformation.

A near-neighbour who grew up in Fakenham and went through the local school system told me recently about some of her ambitions as she copes with a growing family and a nursing degree course at UEA.

On the immediate horizon is a trip to Ghana in west Africa where she and two student colleagues will work on a medical project in the town of Kumasi. This two-week experience will contribute to their studies and also help support a local hospital with some vital resources.

Keziah Fearn and her friends hope to raise £10,000 to cover costs prior to their flight on August 21. The plan is to try and organise two fund-raising events each month.

For the moment they are flagging up a quiz night at the Gallery Bistro in Fakenham on Sunday March 27 from 7.30pm. Donations of raffle prizes can be made via Keziah on 07919 105326 and your support for this challenging adventure would be greatly appreciated.