Wensum, by Jim Harding, November 17, 2015
Yes, the afternoon was dry and not especially cold but the packed assembly must have heartened the Royal British Legion and all others involved in the ceremonials.
What I found particularly encouraging was the number of young people taking part, far more than I recall previously. Such was the extent of the Town Band-led parade marching along Norwich Street and then into the square that it had some difficulty fitting everyone around the war memorial. You could argue that the Rainbows, Beavers, Brownies and Wolf Cubs from the Fakenham Lancaster groups might not have been fully aware of what was taking place in front of their eyes. But I’m sure the whole experience was something they were bound to remember and bound to recall having attended with some pride. It was a nice touch to have locally-based piper Richard Dawson playing the bagpipes in full regalia as part of the last post and reveille proceedings. I know he loves being involved. I counted twenty two wreaths laid on the steps of the memorial.
On the next day I was in town when a posse of children from our Infant school arrived at the square. One of the accompanying teachers explained what the memorial was all about and why various wreaths had been laid at its foot. Again, there may well have been some confusion in these young minds. But how good that they were being given this opportunity to begin understanding. It’s never too early to start.
On Armistice Day itself there was another excellent congregation for the two minutes silence at 11am with the square bathed in warm sunshine more like spring than autumn. Deputy mayor George Acheson read the familiar words from the poem by Laurence Binyon, ‘For The Fallen’, Fakenham rector Rev Francis Mason led the prayers and Hannah Baxter from the Town Band provided an excellent rendition of the last post and reveille. All in all an impressive conclusion to this annual salutation by our town.
There’s to be a reunion of the class of ’84 at Fakenham College – formerly Fakenham Grammar school – this coming Saturday, November 21. My teaching career here began in May 1979 when I joined the Grammar on a temporary basis to ‘fill in’ for a term due to staff illness. This became a permanent appointment as the member of staff never returned and my wife and I were able to move from our home in Lowestoft. In 1982 the two schools at opposite ends of Field Lane were combined to form Fakenham High school. This was no easy transition and the class of ’84 would have been very familiar with the conflicts created by separate sites, daily walks between the two and, in many cases, unhappy students along with unsettled teachers. It really took the appointment of Lee Muston as head in 1984 to bring about the needed transformation. I still meet a number of students from that era in and around Fakenham to remind me of days gone by. The reunion, appropriately set against a background of 80s disco music, has been organised by Sharron Marriott. Proceeds from the event will be given to local charity Ellie’s Love in memory of Ellie Loades who died aged 16 in 2013. Her father Nick Loades was one of the class of ’84. The evening kicks off at 7.30pm but do call Sharron on 07775 721866 if you are planning to attend. Will Wensum be doing the time warp? Possibly.