Wensum - How times have changed – with the growth of charity shops and eateries

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A newcomer to Fakenham might well be forgiven for thinking it a town much dominated by a combination of eateries and charity shops.

I’ve chatted about this phenomenon with a number of long-lived residents and it’s stirred quite a bit of interest.

The rector even took the trouble to count what he reckoned to be eat-in and take-away establishments, arriving at a figure in excess of 40. Forty! Can that be possible?

I suppose if you add in the quick-fix caravans and include the Hempton and Morrisons outskirts of the town the total does indeed hover around that mark.

To a degree, of course, these businesses are all competing with each other for our custom and at this time of the year it must be quite a challenge.

In winter few tourists and visitors are about and the temptation to stay at home rather than venture out in the cold must strike a chord with the vast majority.

Time was when people only ate out on very special occasions and the thought of including coffee and cake stops with the regular weekly shop was a bit exceptional.

Nowadays shopping is often a daily occurrence and the influx of so many cafes and take-away establishments is surely a reflection of the way society has changed in the past twenty years or so.

With a new charity shop just opened on Norwich Street and another about to be launched up the way on Norwich Road, I’m also trying to keep pace with the local ‘op-shop’ scene.

We certainly have eight and it’s always possible I’ve managed to miss one.

Not everyone is overjoyed by this preponderance on the Fakenham retail landscape but there’s no doubt that when so many families are feeling the pinch, the good quality bargains they offer are a great boon.

Plus, of course, their financial dedication to the particular charities they support.

For what it’s worth, we’ve noticed a dramatic shift in the shopping experience here since we first came this way more than 30 years back.

And with so many people now opting to shop online, who’s to say there won’t be something equally as dramatic taking place over the next 30 years.

Volunteers are often the unsung heroes who contribute a vital dimension to any community.

Think of your own little neighbourhood and how much this is true.

Some 10 years back when he was mayor, Alan Tickle decided it would be a good idea to present an annual volunteer award from the town council in recognition of a worthy individual who had gone the extra mile.

It has since been won by some outstanding people who have made a big difference to the lives of others in Fakenham and its environs.

At the January meeting of the council it was decided that in 2013, nominations for the award could be extended to groups as well as individuals.

Nominations are now being accepted and if you have a person or group in mind you think worthy of such an accolade, please do get in touch with the council at Fakenham

Connect by either calling the clerk on 01328 853653 or emailing info@fakenhamtowncouncil.co.uk

It’s important to know that only Fakenham residents may be selected and any group has to be located in the town.

The deadline for nominations is March 31 and the award shield will be presented by the mayor at the annual town assembly in April.