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A Hunstanton man who spent his life doing his best for others

In his weekly Turnstone column, John Maiden reflects on the life of Brian Holmes...

When taking my usual glance at ‘On This Week ’ in last Tuesday's Lynn News, I was surprised to learn that 11 years had passed since there was a three-day exhibition in the Town Hall to mark the opening of the railway line from Lynn to Hunstanton in October 1862.

The report also mentioned the fact that in spite of growing calls for the line to be reinstated, in 2012 West Norfolk Council granted planning permission for Marstons to build a new pub on the track bed of the original line. When the company invited the public to suggest a name for this building, I came up with: ‘End of The Line’! Unsurprisingly, it opened as the 'Honeystone', but such a pity that Tesco has not taken the hint, and added some carstone to its store on the other side of Southend Road.

John Maiden and Brian Holmes at the Twinning Ceremony in 2016
John Maiden and Brian Holmes at the Twinning Ceremony in 2016

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but I seem to remember Tesco being obliged to put flint in the walls of its Sheringham store. Come to think of it, the 10 feet of track in our railway flower bed was donated by the North Norfolk Railway!

These snippets of information are all related to one man, Brian Holmes, who died earlier this month at the age of 91. Brian was not named in the Lynn News report, but he was responsible for compiling the three-day exhibition, which played a big part in persuading Mr and Mrs Ward to provide a home at 15 The Green for Hunstanton's very first Heritage Centre. Brian's hard work and creativity were key factors in the establishment of the current Heritage Centre in the former NatWest bank.

My fondest memories of Brian are when he, David Jones and I, took illustrated talks out to clubs and societies, often introducing ourselves as the Civic Society's ‘Last of the Summer Wine Team’!

Neil Quincey, Ken and Karen Wilson, with John Maiden and the Twinning sign
Neil Quincey, Ken and Karen Wilson, with John Maiden and the Twinning sign

Not only did Brian compile all the artwork, but he also made hard copies of words used in describing photographs, most of which were taken by Brian or David. Brian's engineering background was invaluable, especially when it came to the layout of words on signs erected in various locations, to commemorate the town's very special relationship with the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron.

In August 2022 I was lucky enough to be at Brian's 90th birthday party, which made me realise that working hard in the community was just an extension of his many roles within a loving family. His son Jonathan explained it to me as follows:

"Dad was a wonderful husband to Dianne; father to Julien, Jeremy and me. He welcomed his sons' wives into the family, treating them as his own daughters. He gained such joy from his grandchildren: Matthew, Sarah, Kit and Beth; then welcomed his four great-granddaughters, giving him further joy in the last few years. He was such a creative person who had a real commitment towards the community. A life truly spent doing his best for others."

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