'We will continue' - How Fakenham plans to look past pandemic

Fakenham's Market Place, and some of the symbols set in stone there PICTURE: Ian Burt

Fakenham's Market Place, and some of the symbols set in stone there PICTURE: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The market town of Fakenham thrives on its community spirit and gathering for Thursday and Saturday markets. This last year saw both shut, one only temporarily, another gone for good.

Businesses who thrived on this increased footfall suffered too, with the pandemic meaning everyone had to adapt to the changes.

North Norfolk saw its first confirmed case of coronavirus on March 13, 2020, and a year later, people are optimistic about their future as they look past the pandemic.

a women smiling at Fakenham Christmas light switch on 2019

Fakenham Mayor, Gilly Foortse - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Mayor for Fakenham, Gilly Foortse said how proud she was of the town’s surgery in the vaccination roll-out and the gratitude they have for all the key workers, but the last year will be marked with sadness at the loss of so many.

She hopes the town will look forward to a better future.


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“The schools reopening is going well and the town council is working on many regeneration projects for the benefit of our community. The last months have seen no fewer than three new independent businesses open in the town centre.

“We pulled together this last year and we will continue.”

Diss Market. Tony Fields at his stall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Diss Market. Tony Fields at his stall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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Market trader Tony Fields runs Tony’s Discount Stall and has been there every Thursday he could to provide trade to the town’s residents.

He said that the footfall has dropped dramatically as Thursdays would bring in people from across the county to visit the market, the flea market and the auction.

He hopes the market will be more appreciated when they are all back together.

“The last year has been hard work, I hope when we all get back people will appreciate us more than before,” he said.

“I miss seeing people stand and chat for an hour, that’s what the market is all about.

“Hopefully the market will thrive on their return.”

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson. Picture: Aaron McMillan

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson. Picture: Aaron McMillan - Credit: Archant

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson said there has been an increase in demand for their services over the lockdowns, especially food parcels at the start of 2021.

The service which thrives on supporting people has only been able to open twice a week, two hours at a time.

Along with this increased work, they are currently trying to secure their future with additional funding.

Mrs Belson who hopes to start slowly reopening on April 12 fears that fallout will continue long after restrictions are lifted.

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Pict

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Picture: Aaron McMillan - Credit: Archant

“I think because we have the furlough in place people might not have jobs to go back to so the aftermath will carry on. We will carry on picking up the pieces for years to come.

“Services like this will be vital. It is important for us to get the funding to secure the future for the people who need it.”

Owner of Tudor’s tea room, Colin Johnson believes that people are “lacking confidence”. Picture: Aar

Owner of Tudor tea room, Colin Johnson - Credit: Archant

The owner of Tudor tea room, Colin Johnson said without the government’s support, they would have been in a ‘muddle’.

The cafe which is yet to reopen this year believes that Fakenham residents just want to get the pandemic over, and they have taken this latest lockdown ‘much more seriously’.

They opened as a takeaway but decided not to return in 2021 until they could open their doors on Norwich Street.

However, he fears that things won’t get back to normal for his business.

The Tudor Tea Room, on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillan

The Tudor Tea Room, on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillan - Credit: Archant

“It’s going to take a lot to get back to where we were.

“I don’t think we will be as busy again. Maybe if we get back to normal after social distancing ends and we get more chairs in.

“As it is at the minute we will have fewer customers because of the building but will have to look at what happens in June.

“We are just going to keep going and see what happens.”

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