Wensum, by Jim Harding, April 12, 2016

Update picture of the old Aldiss shop now Original Factory Shop site in Upper Market in Fakenham ANL-140526-132323009
Update picture of the old Aldiss shop now Original Factory Shop site in Upper Market in Fakenham ANL-140526-132323009

AFTERMATH: Fire devastated the Aldiss store in Fakenham.

Their particular passion was our Museum of Gas and Local History which they served in various capacities and promoted in all sorts of ways.

Dennis joined the town council for many years and was proud to wear the mayoral chain for one term. The council has indicated it will hold a minute’s silence to remember him, prior to its full meeting tonight[April 12] at the Connect offices. He was a regular communicant at Fakenham parish church and I have particular reason to recall his confirmation ceremony which was also attended by our youngest son who was a new teenager at the time. He and his wife were also great supporters of our Twinning Club and made frequent exchange visits to Olivet.

With increased frailty into his nineties, Dennis had moved south in the past year to be close to relatives. I know that his friends from the museum are keen to acknowledge his passing and have discussed ways in which this might be done. Perhaps a memorial service, a gathering at the museum itself and probably the placement of a suitably inscribed bench down by the river or in St Peter’s Garden next to the church. He loved this town and would have been delighted to know that something of such permanence had been set in place in his memory.

n It was highly appropriate that our local fire brigade should receive recognition for the amount of money it raised last May, just one year after the horrific fire which destroyed the former Aldiss building on Upper Market Place.

You may well recall that to mark the first anniversary, more than a dozen members of the brigade took part in a sponsored bike ride over four days which took in all 42 fire stations in Norfolk. This staggering feat – and a few of them were staggering by the end of it – added up to almost 400 miles. The reception when they made it back to Fakenham was terrific. Such had been the commitment to fight the fire along with brigades from right across the county that the local community had rallied round in the aftermath with great generosity. By the time all the donations had been added up following the ride a year on, some £11,000 was able to be presented to the Fire Fighters’ Charity which supports serving and retired personnel and their families. The award itself was classified in terms of being the greatest contribution to the charity which, in my understanding, implied a huge ‘thankyou’ to the whole community of Fakenham. I’m sure you’d agree that the thanks go both ways.

n A river walk this time last week had been highlighted by no more than the sight of an egret taking off and circling around before perching in a tree. Until I made it to the field just across from Aldiss Park , that is, and spotted some familiar outlines darting hither and thither. Surely they were swallows. A number were lined along a telegraph wire, preening themselves in the early morning sunshine. I counted seven in all, plus two more on the wing. I would never dare claim that these were the earliest arrivals but their mere presence was such a joy to see. I had waded through water flooding the riverside footpath earlier, reminding again that late winter had delivered more than its share of rain this year. But these returning swallows put any negative thoughts to one side and also put a spring in my step for the remainder of the day.