Wensum, Tuesday, January 31, by Jim Harding

Lesley Pegg, who died recently.

I got to know her well through the drama and musical activities she regularly promoted at the village hall.

These featured a long list of outstanding performers who somehow found their way to this friendly community off the beaten track.

Of course, the annual programme depended to a large extent on the generous financial support of Creative Arts East.

But, as with other small villages doing similar things, such as Hindolveston and Kettlestone, the need for a passionate, locally-based organiser was paramount. Such a one was Lesley.

During a period when the arts were often seen as an easy target for reduced spending, rural locations struggled more than most.

The fact that the lights never actually went out is tribute enough.

Over the best part of the last 12 years or so, I must have made the four-mile road trip from Fakenham to Whissonsset for a night at the theatre at least a couple of times per year.

Thanks to Lesley’s promptings and pushings, the audiences were invariably good and one of the real charms of these get togethers was the prevailing sense of bonhomie.

As anyone who knows it will tell you, the hall is quite an intimate space.

Plays were often ‘in the round’ and for one just recently I sat in the front row with my feet actually on the tiny ground level stage.

There is something magical about getting this close and somehow being drawn into the drama itself.

As a stalwart of the community, I know Lesley was also much involved in other local activities. It was almost by chance that I learnt of her long-running battle with cancer.

When we sometimes met in Fakenham on one of her shopping forays to the town, she would bring me up to date on her most recent treatments.

As awful as these sounded to my ears, Lesley refused to make a fuss or complain about her ill-fortune.

She would just take it in her stride and look forward with a smile on her face to the next event at Whissonsett Village Hall.

It has often been said in tribute to the departed, but there is no doubt that this remarkable woman will be much missed.

I was genuinely charmed to see last week’s Memory Lane in this paper, which featured 14 young members of Fakenham Grammar School’s angling club.

They were pictured in February 1980 with the late George Parsons, who, besides being the school groundsman, was himself a keen angler.

As a newly-arrived teacher myself, I was unaware that the club had excelled itself the previous year by winning a national competition run by Angling Times magazine.

The event had extended for the best part of a year and it was not until the very latter stages that the club’s victory was confirmed.

Apparently, three members had clinched the trophy with the final catches they made from the banks of the River Wensum.

Part of the charm for me was in being able to recognise more than half of the boys involved, even though I would have been hard pressed to name them all.

How smart they all looked in their blazers, jumpers and ties. George was a strict task master who knew his stuff and held regular teaching sessions on the school site and also arranged trips to nearby fishing ponds.

The club continued throughout his remaining years, but never again quite reached the heights achieved in 1979. Those were the days.