Wensum, by Jim Harding, November 10, 2015

Action Fakenham Racecourse 'Count Danilo Jockey Tom Scudamore ENGANL00220131218084751
Action Fakenham Racecourse 'Count Danilo Jockey Tom Scudamore ENGANL00220131218084751
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A DAY AT THE RACES: Fakenham Racecourse

This had me trawling through my files and the most recent Town Guide to come up with some facts and figures. There’s so much we take for granted when going about our day to day activities that we often lose sight of the variety of choices which even a small community like this offers. Even the obvious may not be so to neighbouring towns. Easy to say we have a popular market every Thursday – after all it got its original charter in the thirteenth century - but not everyone out there knows this. Or the fact that there continues to be a vibrant auction hall run by James Beck, following in his late father’s footsteps, on the same day from 11am. Not so well known, because much younger, is our Farmers’ Market which sets up on the square on the fourth Saturday of each month. This has developed a keen reputation for its locally-grown and farm-fresh produce. The new kid on the block on that same day is the Makers Market in the parish church. This is a re-vamped version of the former craft market which operates to a similar theme and is now run by photographer Keith Osborn and his artist wife Debbie. Between them these two have really energised the hand-made range of stall-holders supporting the venture. It functions from March to December from 10am to 2pm. And then there’s the Museum of Gas and Local History, kept going by a sturdy bunch of enthusiasts. Frankly, despite its pedigree as the only surviving gas works in England and a scheduled ancient monument, it’s not somewhere that’s much visited by townsfolk. Unless an exhibition or suchlike tempts them in. Outsiders are much more likely to make the pilgrimage which is one good reason why the Guide should highlight its presence. For the winter months, opening times are limited to market day mornings. From June through to September its 10.30am to 3.30pm on both Thursdays and Fridays.

Obviously our race course stands alone as a major sporting venue with widespread appeal. Next year it will play host to thirteen meetings, the vast majority in the winter months. I’m always a bit surprised by the comparative lack of local supporters who turn out on race days. Why is that, I wonder. What else for entertainment? Well, the Superbowl has six ten-pin bowling lanes and a fun indoor play area, the Hollywood cinema three screens as well as live screening of ballet, opera and theatre, the Gallow Sports Centre caters for indoor bowls, squash and archery.....I could go on. Compared to our early days here when few of the above were available, we’re definitely now spoilt for choice.

Fakenham Area Business Community[FABCOM]has certainly been industrious since it was set up in 2012 to help promote the ambitions of local businesses. Founded by Keith Osborn and Steve Hall, both of whom run their own small business enterprises, the not-for-profit company has increased its membership year on year and has made a significant impact with its initiatives. Business fairs have flourished from small beginnings and the production of town guides since 2013 has provided residents and the wider community with up-to-date booklets publicising details of what’s on offer here. Next on the agenda for FABCOM is a business start-up and development fair in the library on the afternoon of November 18. It will particularly appeal to anyone who may be thinking of investing in their own enterprise or who is already established but needs to grow. Lots of exhibitors have agreed to take part and North Norfolk District Council’s business development team will be on hand to give advice and support.

The event is free and there’s no need to book but you should contact www.fabcom.co.uk/business-startup-development-fair if you’re planning to attend.