Wensum, by Jim Harding, July 5, 2016

cranmer house fakenham ANL-140417-182732001
cranmer house fakenham ANL-140417-182732001
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Campaigners are fighting to keep Cranmer House fully functional

It wants to replace six beds with a community care team whose role would be to care for elderly patients in their own homes.

A trial period for the plan was to have started this month but has now been put back until September. The fear is that another seven beds, financed by the West Norfolk CCG, would likely be shut down as well. In the worst case scenario, the 20 beds under the control of Norfolk Social Services would also be vulnerable as would the important Day Care Centre.

Fighting its corner with great determination is the Friends of Cranmer House group who have collected thousands of petition signatures in Fakenham and surrounding places. The chair-elect of the Friends, Gilly Foortse, pleaded with town councillors recently to ‘shout very loudly’ on behalf of the campaign to keep the home fully functional.

An approved tactic is for those who have spent time in Cranmer House, or have reason to be grateful for its services, to write a personal letter about their experience. You can email gillyfoortse@hotmail.co.uk

One amazing development has been the involvement of the Mothers’ Union in this campaign. The Fakenham branch of the MU contacted the London headquarters seeking ‘unprecedented’ permission to crusade through its name and this was granted. According to Felicity Randall, the group process is derived from the Swahili word ‘Umoja’ which means ‘being of one mind.’

As a footnote to all this, I should add that Ms Foortse has just been co-opted on to the town council which now has its full complement of 16 members. I feel sure she will be a positive presence.

n A reminder if you need it that the latest Fadlos Kidz production of The Phantom of the Opera opens tonight (July 5)at the community centre from 7.30pm. There will be evening performances through until Saturday.

Gabriella Green, a member of the group since 2008, stars as Meg alongside her brother Zachary, who has the demanding role of the Phantom. Katy Ferris will play Christine, singing the songs which composer Andrew Lloyd Webber originally wrote for Sarah Brightman. Tickets at £6 and £7.50 may be bought from Sweets ‘N Things on the market place, 01328 855172, or online from www.ticket-source.co.uk/fadlos.

n At long last our eldest son has got his feet on the first rung of the housing ladder with his wife. And what a house. We’re talking late 17th century Newmarket here and a quiet one-way road just off the main parade.

Amazingly, their residence is Nell Gwyn House on Palace Street, built at the bequest of King Charles II for his favourite mistress. On one wall is the inscription attributed to him just prior to his death in 1685 – ‘Let not poor Nelly starve’. It’s Grade II-listed and a wonderful example of the period with three fireplaces in different rooms, quirky stairways connecting three floor levels and a surviving cellar. It is said that a tunnel once existed connecting the house to the king’s former palace just across the road.

Having studied this era as part of my history degree, I’m all of a sudden transported back again and delighted to be so. And as a ‘sport of kings’ enthusiast, as was the merry monarch himself, I’m enchanted to be making such a close connection between our town with its 110-year history of jump racing and Newmarket, the home of flat racing.