Active Fakenham group plans to host 2014 ‘Shopkeepers’ Olympics’

Richard Crook (right) organised the Fakenham 50 cycle ride in 2013 - pictured with him is Paul Harri

Richard Crook (right) organised the Fakenham 50 cycle ride in 2013 - pictured with him is Paul Harris from East Coast Riders. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

After winning county-wide recognition, a group founded to boost activity in Fakenham wants to 'raise its game' – by bringing sports clubs, voluntary groups and shopkeepers together for an innovative town-centre contest.

Just eight months after it was formed, Active Fakenham won a runner-up prize at the Norfolk Sports Awards earlier this month for its work to promote wellbeing and social cohesion in the town.

But organisers were determined not to rest on their laurels and immediately set out their plans to build on the success of their inaugural year.

Among the ideas being developed for 2014 is a 'Shopkeepers' Olympics' – part of a wider programme of events being drawn up for Easter Saturday, April 19.

Although the idea is still in its early stages, the concept is for the town centre to be divided into streets, whose traders will form into teams to compete in competitions set by local clubs and organisations in the town centre.

Two team captains have already stepped forward – Lisa Mallett of Sweets n' Things will represent Oak Street and Rebecca Codman of the Tudor Tea Rooms will lead the Norwich Street team.

But more competitors and leaders are needed, as well as sports clubs to put on events which the organisers hope could include archery, table tennis, pitch and putt, a triathlon, and even a military obstacle course.

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Richard Crook of Active Fakenham, who is also a town councillor, said: 'Shopkeepers are notoriously difficult to get involved in things like this because they are always so busy. But they all seem really interested. A lot of the shopkeepers will be busy on Easter Saturday, so they might have to pop out and do a quick triathlon and then go back and sell some vegetables.

'Potentially we could have maybe five teams, as Fakenham is not a huge place.

'The other principle is we can ask the sports clubs to organise events for these teams, and I will co-ordinate it. For example, the table tennis or the archery club can organise the event, and we will promote it so it brings everybody together and it brings more people into the middle of town.

'When we started Active Fakenham in March these were the objectives. It is about wellbeing and having fun. But it is also about working together to add synergy. It is about promoting the town economically and socially, and everybody has been really positive about it.'

Active Norfolk's plans for 2014 also include entering teams for the Norfolk Village Games and repeating the success of last year's Active in Fakenham Week in August, including the Fakenham 50 bike ride.

At the Norfolk Sports Awards ceremony in the Forum in Norwich on November 6, Fakenham was a runner-up in the most Sporting Village category, behind winners Hethersett.

Mr Crook said: 'The award is really for Fakenham's many clubs, businesses and organisations which have so much to offer.

'We are hoping to raise our game in 2014, not to win prizes or awards, but to help develop and support our town.

'These ideas are dependent on us getting the necessary resources and support together but things seem to be progressing well.

'We are a voluntary group with no staff and no funding so we rely on local support. I am pleased to say that the Fakenham Racecourse and Aldiss have agreed to sponsor some publicity and to help the town with these events. I would welcome discussions with anyone who wants to help out.'

To volunteer as a team captain, competitor, sporting event organiser or to help with sponsorship or promotion, contact Mr Crook on 07887 803091 or richard@activefakenham.org.uk

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