Wensum, by Jim Harding, November 1, 2016

A snapshot is provided by the festival itself with its fifty plus decorated trees, most of which champion one charity or another.

If you are a regular of this event – which is now in its sixteenth year – you will know that whilst the whole spectacle provides vital income for the parish church itself, individual charities receive significant contributions from the thousands who attend over the course of its eight days.

After the death of their daughter Ellie three years ago, Nick and Elaine Loades set up the charity Ellie’s Love on behalf of cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families. Ellie was just sixteen and had been a pupil of Fakenham High school. She was also an involved member of FADLOS and as those who knew her will tell you, lived a full and active life despite her daily difficulties. Along with numerous other fund-raising events, a ‘church tree’ has now become part of the Loades’ regular ways of adding to the cause which has enabled them to donate thousands of pounds to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the East Anglian Children’s Hospice.

In October their dedication was rewarded when they were chosen as the N and N’s Foundation Trust’s first Inspirational Fundraising Team of the Year.

Also recognised was Jasmine Lewis who was named Inspirational Young Fundraiser of the Year. Jasmine is 11 and attends Fakenham Academy. She suffers from a rare condition called Juvenile Dermatomyositis, or JDM, which requires regular treatment at the N and N. For the past few years her musical Dad, Craig Lewis, has organised summer weekend open-air concerts in Fakenham under the Rock 4 Jasmine banner which have become increasingly successful. Jasmine sounds to have the positive attitude to life shown by Ellie and must have been thrilled with her framed award.

The Christmas festival will get more mentions in the coming weeks but for now just a reminder that it runs from December 1 to 8 when the church is open from 10am to 8pm with free admission. A special service will be held on Sunday December 4 at 10.30am. 
Enquiries about the whole event may be made on 01328 864685.

We have all heard of beginner’s luck but I can’t resist relaying how a friend of our family got on at Fakenham races last week. Helen is from South Creake and currently taking a Creative Writing course at UEA. We have known her for years, right back to the days when she and our youngest son performed on stage as part of the FADLOS crew. Like many another in this region she had never before ventured out to our track so decided at last that it was about time she did.

As it was half-term week the place was really packed and there was a festive air about the whole atmosphere. Anyway, after observing the first race from the sidelines, Helen decided to take the betting plunge in the second. There were only five horses in contention and the rank outsider was one called Dothraki Raider who had never won before. Apparently the name is familiar to all those who, unlike me, are familiar with The Game of Thrones saga. Priced at 16 to 1 this was clearly the obvious choice. Strangely, after she had laid her fiver on the gelding, its price dropped again and again until it had reached 13 to 2 by the off. The race itself looked to be booked for the hot favourite called Lee Side Lady. But turning into the home straight, Dothraki Raider swept into the lead and dashed home by a significant four lengths.

Beginner’s luck? I’ll leave you to do the maths.