Wensum, by Jim Harding, April 5, 2016

Pensthorpe will celebrate a decade of ‘Wild About the Wensum’ events in 2016

Can’t see it myself. Surely most of us living here anticipate with some joy the turning of the season from winter to spring which is all wrapped up in April.

This year has been a bit different, of course, with winter hardly putting in a blow but regardless, I’m relishing the prospect of cricket on the green, overcoat in the wardrobe and sunshine carrying some warmth.

Ten years ago Pensthorpe staged its first Wild About the Wensum day this month, charging a few pounds per vehicle but opening the park up for free. I may be wrong but I think the guest of honour joining the crowds then might have been one Chris Packham. Anyway, the pattern was set in 2006 with all manner of tented diversions on the go, primarily nature-related but room being found for the likes of archery. The tenth anniversary this year just happens to coincide with St George’s Day on Saturday April 23 with the gates opening at 10am. Students from Fakenham Academy will be standing by to provide some hands-on activities for younger visitors just as the former Fakenham High students did all those years back. There’s now an entry charge of £2 per person.

On the same day and slightly closer to home, the villagers of Hempton will be staging a multiple celebration to acknowledge the Queen’s 90th birthday two days earlier, the opening of a refurbished children’s play area and the tenth anniversary for landlords Jason and Rebecca at the bar of the Hempton Bell. I love the fact that the playground was originally set up to mark the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Local company AOT Engineering has been busy assembling play equipment and for everyone involved on the day, the Marquess Townsend will make the official opening at 2pm. Not to be outdone by Fakenham’s beacon which will be lit for the Queen on her actual birthday, Hempton will have its own light-up on St George’s. Never let it be said we allow such occasions to pass unheralded.

I recall the days when our town council was almost entirely dominated by men, most of them retired. The only lady round the table back in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the redoubtable Heather Barrow whose no-nonsense approach kept everyone else on their toes. As many residents may recall she was proud to serve the town as mayor and also became a district councillor.

Over the years the balance has been adjusted somewhat with increasing numbers of women becoming councillors and quite a few wearing the mayoral chain. These days a full council consists of 16 members and for some reason the balance has slipped way out of kilter again, depleted to just three women with the resignation of Annie Clausson-Reynolds last month.

With the last council meeting on March 8 coinciding with International Women’s Day, former mayor Janet Holdom put forward the suggestion of pushing for more gender parity. With two vacancies now waiting to be filled she called for the encouragement of community spirited women in Fakenham to put themselves forward for co-option. Applications may be made to town clerk Linda Jennings in writing at Fakenham Connect council offices, email info@fakenhamtowncouncil.co.uk Phone contact is 01328 853653.

The co-options will be decided at this month’s meeting on Tuesday April 12 to which the public, as always, are invited. Proceedings begin at 7pm at Fakenham Connect.