Wensum, by Jim Harding, May 10, 2016


Seen after the concert in Wensum Lodge are the Aurora Trio, featuring Heather Wrighton,harp, Emma Halnan,flute and Joe Bronstein,viola. 
Picture by Chris Gill

This initiative was started up in the first place by the parish church as a fund-raising exercise but blossomed into something beyond the wildest dreams of its humble beginnings.

The town welcomed some great professional performers every couple of years and the organising committee somehow managed to keep prices well within the scope of the majority.

In the post-festival era we rather suffered from neglect in terms of top-class artists finding their way to us, apart from occasional visits by touring theatre companies. All the more welcome, therefore, has been the brave effort over recent years by local music teacher Dawn Wakefield to set up Fakenham Classic Music and lure quality musicians to the town on a regular basis. She’s also managed to cooperate with the Yorke Trust in South Creake to host some outstanding young players from the renowned Purcell School of Music.

Until recently, the main venue here for her concerts was the Methodist church on Oak Street but as this is no longer available, the search was on for an appropriate alternative. Happily, the function room at the Wensum Lodge Hotel has come up trumps and last week a good audience gathered there for a delightful performance by the Aurora Trio – Emma Halnan [flute and piccolo], Heather Wrighton [harp] and Joe Bronstein[viola]. These young stars studied together at the Royal Academy of Music in London and formed their trio in 2012. They have quickly made a name for themselves. Not surprisingly, few composers have written music for this combination of instruments, something which has never deterred the threesome. In fact it has inspired them all to write many of their own arrangements of other pieces.

We were treated to five compositions, only a couple of which were specifically composed for harp, flute and viola. I must admit to only being familiar with Prokofiev’s Dance Suite from Romeo and Juliet. But what a treat the hour was as these fine players wove their enchantment.

Dawn’s next event will be on Sunday, July 10, at the Old Chapel in South Creake with leavers from the Purcell School. If you want to know more, get in touch on dawnwakefield7@gmail.com

n When the district council withdrew its funding for tourist offices in Fakenham and North Walsham there was an understandable outcry. The feeling was that had we been communities ‘on the coast’, no such money-saving exercise would have occurred. Anyway, our determination to provide a similar facility resulted in the creation of a Tourist Information Point in the town library. This was run by community group Fakenham Area Partnership, supported by the town council, and kept going thanks to a band of volunteers. Many of these were students from Fakenham College. There were shortcomings in the exercise, which was limited to about six months of the year. The library space was limited and there was a feeling that people often missed the fact that the TIP was functioning there.

The latest development has come about since the Partnership has stepped back from running the facility. Active Fakenham, which has been on the go for the past four years, has come forward to keep up the tourist profile of the town. It hopes to occupy a function room in the new Sweets ‘N Things shop which has just transferred its business from Oak Street to the Market Place. The ideal location is seen as a big advantage and the possibility that opening hours might be able to coincide with the shop itself also a big plus. Talks are still ongoing and volunteers will obviously be key to the success of the enterprise.

As someone who has been involved with the Partnership from its origins, I’d be delighted if any problems with this can be overcome and such an important facility can be maintained.