Buttercross, December 19, 2014: Swaffham groups deserve praise for festive care

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Well, we are rapidly approaching another Christmas. As some of us get older Christmas’s appears to be about three months apart.

The decorations are all now dusted off and in place and this includes our town’s where we are now officially “lit up”, apart from one unfortunate shop where their tree decorations were unfortunately stolen, notwithstanding the fact that they were some 15 feet up a wall.

One thing we are always good at locally is providing good festive cheer for the elderly amongst us and particularly those that may be on their own. Being a retirement area we have a higher proportion here than many towns and we need to be thankful to many supporting organisations who are aware of that fact and respond.

To mention just two, the Lions and the Iceni Partnership are especially to be thanked for their efforts. The latter is actually organising a Christmas Day lunch in the Assembly Rooms for those that otherwise would be on their own, with the organisers unselfishly giving up a proportion of their own Christmas Day.

The annual “switch-on” of our Christmas lights appears to have gone off well with impressive crowds turning out on a very cold afternoon and evening. There was a general wish that we had a bigger light show but, as has been stated recently, more retailers around the market place need to support the occasion for it to be really successful.

Some townspeople also remember that not that many years ago a considerable quantity of our Christmas lights appeared on the Stones one Saturday to be auctioned off. Not the best way to build up the stocks for year on year use.

On the lighting theme, the Festival of Christmas Trees in our parish church was a great success with people still entering the church right up to the official four o’clock finish.

There were 29 trees all decorated to reflect the organisation they represented and it was very impressive. Hopefully donations made at the event will give our parish church the encouragement to have a similar event next year.

As an aside, it is noticeable that the new car park at the entrance to the churchyard is already not looking too good with a muddy surface prominent . With the area being anything but free draining ongoing problems may occur unfortunately.

One cannot but regret the downgrading of this area compared with what we used to enjoy. A church walk straight out of a Dickens scene leading through what were impressive Palisade gates, all contributing to a very impressive approach to the church and at Christmas a truly Festive scene.

Unfortunately the possibility of this now occurring has long been lost. The advent of the motor car has contributed here, together with people’s perceived need to drive close up to the building they are visiting. Short walks, and exercise, should perhaps be more valued.

It has also been said that our fire service needs better and closer access to our church. It is not known how this squares with the fact that our church, in its 600 year history, has never had to experience such an alarm. The actual “risk” of such an occurrence must be almost non-existent.