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Fakenham racecourse trip and 'Don Bradman' begin positive new year

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It’s early days yet but as we step lightly into a new year, my hopes are that my own experiences thus far continue to be positive. I’d like to think that many readers may feel something similar.

The first day, easily recalled, was more like spring than midwinter.

The sun shone, the wind was warm and there were plenty of people out and about. On behalf of this newspaper, I cycled out to Fakenham racecourse to report on the meeting there.

New Year’s Day racing at Fakenham Racecourse, 2022. MLNF-22PM01030
New Year’s Day racing at Fakenham Racecourse, 2022. MLNF-22PM01030

On the way I stopped off at Woodspring House on Bridge Street to make contact with carer Chloe Lawlor who works there.

During the Christmas Tree Festival she had got lucky with a raffle ticket and had won a three-figure cash prize. I had helped on the desk with the raffle from time to time and my wife was responsible for contacting those who had been successful.

We were both delighted for Chloe who was herself understandably chuffed.

Out at the course I joined my colleagues in the upstairs press area at the top of the old stand. It’s somewhat spartan but does provide a good view of the whole track.

My day got off to a fine start when I backed the winner of the opening steeple chase for amateur jockeys. This grey, Goodnight Charlie, had been trained by Caroline Fryer at her yard just down the road in Wymondham.

My other reason for making the selection was in memory of my dad, often referred to as cheerful Charlie.

After the entrance limitations over the past year and more it was lovely to be part of a big and enthusiastic crowd again. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon.

When I got home I found out that another raffle winner was a former footballer friend with whom I played for Fakenham on Barons Hall Lawn before it was given over to the housebuilders.

Micky lives about 100 yards along Norwich Road from our home so I was able to take the cheque down to him and ‘talk football’ for a while.

A couple of days later whilst walking through that same estate – now named The Lawn – I spoke to a gentleman struggling a bit with a stick. He said how a pain in his foot had only recently slowed him down and he was unable to explain why.

He thanked me for stopping and chatting, something I’m often guilty of doing with strangers, and before long we connected on a number of levels.

His upbringing was in more of an urban environment than mine though his youthful memories of the war were such that I knew he must now have been in his eighties.

Christened Donald it surprised me to be told that he was named after the great Australian batsman Don Bradman. One thing that did link us was that the place where we were standing at the time was formerly where I had spent many a Saturday afternoon charging up and down in pursuit of a football back in the 1980s.

When I bump into Don again, as I’m sure I will, I do hope he will be walking more comfortably.


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