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Wensum column: Fakenham excelled in Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

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I thought Fakenham excelled itself to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

As I wandered from place to place over the four days, there was a genuine sense of pride in our town and what it represents.

I know we are small, a bit off the beaten track, hardly a holiday destination and were once categorised as ‘the most boring place on earth’. But hold on a bit ... My first engagement was with the evening beacon lighting out at Millennium Park.

Jubilee celebrations in Fakenham with the market square in street party mode, taken from the top of The Crown pub.
Jubilee celebrations in Fakenham with the market square in street party mode, taken from the top of The Crown pub.

The venue is an easy walk from my house and on a night when there was just a sliver of moon, conditions were perfect for the spectacle.

A couple of hundred people had gathered and I seemed to know plenty of them.

New mayor Angela Glynn said a few words to acknowledge the occasion and then the fire brigade lit the beacon on time to coincide with hundreds of similar lightings across our country – and further afield.

That was about it, really. But it was enough to start the celebratory ball rolling for the ensuing few days.

Next on the agenda was to be part of Fakenham in party mood on the Friday with the weather doing its best to help by staying sunny and warm.

The market square and both Norwich Street and Bridge Street became picnic grounds as people took over these spaces to sit down with friends and family to share food and drinks as if it was quite the normal thing to do.

There was up-beat music from the Town Band, red, white and blue in abundance and a genuine sense of shared community. I loved it. Earlier in the day I had met a couple of newcomers down by the river and did my best to put them on the right track.

Something one of them said stuck with me: “This is such a lovely old town, we do hope it stays the same.” Come the Saturday it was back to Millennium Park again, this time for a fun-filled afternoon. A cool northerly was a nuisance but at least it stayed dry.

Once again, the turn-out was generous and there were lots of activities along with plenty of stalls. Our football and rugby clubs presented challenges for youngsters and the Sports and Fitness Centre was also on duty.

Up on the big stage, live music was belted out by a rock band led by local residents Tony Edwards on guitar and vocals with Andy Cooper and his son Sam on keyboard and guitar.

Keeping it all on course throughout the afternoon was Richard Tree with the mike. In quieter mood, the Civic Service on Sunday morning paid tribute to Her Majesty on this very special anniversary.

The officiating minister was former canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Andy Windross and in front of a good congregation the mayor read the first lesson.

The sermon was delivered by Captain Adrian Allen of the Salvation Army.

Our church choir has a deserved reputation led by Jonathan Dodd and for me, the highlight of the whole morning was their singing of Handel’s stirring Zadok the Priest. Brilliant.

Now, as I write this on a wet morning after it’s all done and dusted I shall certainly cherish the memories of these few days. I must also congratulate the small group of people led by town clerk Linda Jennings who set everything in motion.


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