Thursday, January 3, 2013
A month before that memorable opening ceremony to London 2012, the flames of excitement were igniting across our region with the Olympic torch relay, each runner bringing his or her own personal story of inspiration.
Our reporters joined the enthusiastic crowds in every village and town as the torch burned lifelong memories for every watching child.
Meanwhile, ambitious plans were unveiled for the development of Whitlingham Country Park on the doorstep of Norwich. Architects had been invited to come up with ideas and their bold visions included everything from a spa and an open-air theatre to water lodges built on stilts around a new lake. An equestrian centre, mountain bike trail and hotels were also included in the varied plans that will be decided on by the Crown Point Estate.
The idea of residents taking over village shops has been seized on as a very modern way of helping to keep rural communities alive – but it is nothing new in Itteringham, in north Norfolk, where the community-run shop triumphantly celebrated its 18th birthday in July.
With milk in supermarkets being sold cheaper than some bottles of mineral water, Norfolk dairy farmers descended on London for a summit to demand a fair price.
The Academy debate – is it the best way forward for education? – was firmly focused on Great Yarmouth where the headteacher at Greenacre school (soon to become Yarmouth Primary Academy) was infuriating parents with his plans for a 45-hour week, extending the school day to 6pm.
Villagers in Runham, near Great Yarmouth, were celebrating the completion of renovation work to St Peter and St Paul church, the once dilapidated condition of which was symbolised by a 1974 Christmas Day edition of Some Mothers Do ’Av ’Em when a hapless Frank Spencer (actor Michael Crawford) descended through a hole in the roof.
The EDP’s Make It Marham campaign seemed poised for success as secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond dropped the biggest hint yet that the base would become home to the British military’s new joint strike fighter.
Oil company executives flew in from Texas for a poignant service at Yarmouth Minster to commemorate the North Sea helicopter crash that killed nine offshore workers and two crew 10 years earlier.
And TV chef Jamie Oliver dropped into his new restaurant in Norwich’s Royal Arcade on the eve of its opening.
Former EDP photographer Angela Sharpe was embarking on a 100 day charity mission to take 10,000 pictures and upload them on her website to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK in memory of her father.
When London 2012 finally arrived, the breathtaking opening ceremony was even more of a surprise to Wisbech engineer Kim Allington. It was only then he discovered that the copper petals he had been commissioned to make were not for a statue in the Olympic park, but for the flaming cauldron.
The kaleidoscope of memories from those glorious weeks in August included an inspiring bronze medal performance by Lowestoft boxer Anthony Ogogo. Meanwhile, the agony of the games was brought home by local girl Emma Pooley missing out on a medal in the cycling time trial.
The positive power of the Press was shown by a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of Stalham market, which had dwindled from 100 stalls in its heyday to just three when the EDP took up the campaign. Weeks later the situation was far healthier after the district council had been stung into action with a reduced rents initiative.
Harvest time was a real landmark for farmer John Fisher – he decided his 90th birthday was a good enough excuse to put his feet up and leave the hard work to the younger generations on his land near Melton Constable.
Blake the tortoise was looking for a new home in Blakeney after a colourful life that had seen him brought to Norfolk by a soldier returning from the first world war campaign in Gallipoli.
While our Olympians were going for gold in London, a gathering of considerably less well-honed athletes were girting for gold in the world dwile flonking championships at the Dog Inn, Ludham Bridge. (To put you in the picture, if it makes it on to the Olympic stage in Rio, the sport involves launching beer-soaked rags at each other.)
The small Broadland village of Fleggburgh was disclosed as a world-leading centre for cob building with experts in mud house construction Kate Edwards and Charlotte Eve putting on courses for students as far afield as Japan and Canada.
By September, the impact of the rain and lack of summer sunshine had spread from tourists to bees with local honey producers reporting a dire shortage.
Alarm and horror brutally displaced the late-summer tranquillity of the Broads as the bodies of Annette Creegan and John Didier were discovered in the River Bure near Salhouse Broad.
The awesome power of fire was shown by a blaze at Camp Farm, Roudham – visible 40 miles away in Suffolk – in which 2,500 tonnes of grain was destroyed.
With just enough time for people to catch their breath from the Olympics, the Paralympic Games ignited the excitement all over again.
This time, the region had a golden celebration with Gorleston swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate proudly showing off her medal during a civic parade on Yarmouth’s road train.
A new era for local television was announced with Mustard – a joint venture involving EDP publisher Archant – winning the licence to broadcast to 250,000 viewers around Norwich.
Descendants of one of the victims of the Yarmouth suspension bridge collapse, which claimed 79 lives in 1845, gathered at the spot on North Quay where it happened in a poignant ceremony. Meanwhile, local woman Julie Staff was stepping up her campaign for a fitting memorial.
A Capital One Cup match against Doncaster took on an extra significance as Norwich City players stood in tribute before the kick-off to one of their longest serving managers, John Bond, who had died.
October saw the launch of the EDP’s much-supported Ambulance Watch campaign highlighting the disgrace of poor ambulance response times across the region.
Bob the seal, rescued from a muddy bank of the River Great Ouse by the fireman who gave him his name and nursed back to health at the RSPCA’s East Winch wildlife centre, was released back into the Wash, his joyful liberation captured on camera.
Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson dropped into the Ocean Room in Gorleston for a sportsman’s dinner with fans paying up to £200 for a ticket.
The first Norfolk outbreak of chalara dieback in ash trees was confirmed in woodland near Norwich.
Meanwhile, in Strumpshaw, Ben London, 15, was reliving his great escape when an Audi car careered through the wall of his family’s home and came to a halt in his bedroom while he was asleep.
Forensic advances enabled a body washed up on the beach at Weybourne in 1989, and buried nameless in the cemetery there, finally to be identified as Michael Sutherland, of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.
November dawned with a rallying call for people to turn out to homecoming parades for the 1st battalion of the Royal Anglians.
Lovers of all things weird and wacky were dismayed to learn that Yarmouth’s House of Wax – renowned for its less than lifelike waxwork depictions of celebrities – was likely to close.
Zoey Peace’s internet blog, written to entertain her boyfriend, Corporal Sam Garwood, of Long Stratton, while he was serving in Afghanistan, became an international hit with her revelations on losing weight, becoming a domestic goddess and learning DIY.
Cromer was left stunned in the run-up to Christmas by the violent deaths of council leader Keith Johnson and his wife Andrea. It emerged he had shot her and then turned the gun on himself.
In Yarmouth, a campaign was launched to keep the Nelson museum and turnaround a trend in falling visitor numbers.