Rallying call for people to support this year’s Fakenham Fair after the town centre fire

The Backdrafts - a band made up from members of the Norfolk Fire service, will be headlining the event. Picture: Matthew Usher. The Backdrafts - a band made up from members of the Norfolk Fire service, will be headlining the event. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Friday, August 22, 2014
2:38 PM

Fakenham is open for business – that’s the message from organisers of the town’s annual fair as they urge people to take to the streets and support this weekend’s event, three months after the devastating blaze which ripped through the heart of the market place.

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Fakenham carnival parade. Picture: Ian BurtFakenham carnival parade. Picture: Ian Burt

Now in its fifth year since being relaunched, Fakenham Fair takes place on Saturday, promising to be bigger and better than ever, as it celebrates the town’s fightback following the fire in May.

And as a “thank you” for the kindness and generosity shown to the fire service by people in the town, Norfolk’s own fire-fighting rock band The Backdrafts will close the day with a special performance.

Adrian Vertigan, chairman of Kick Start Fakenham, which organises the fair, said: “This year, having The Backdrafts playing will put Fakenham back on the map, showing people the town is open and still doing business. It would be good for people to turn out and say thank you to the fire fighters for risking their lives to save the town.”

Since the blaze at the former Aldiss shop on May 27, money has poured in for victims of the fire through the Times’ Let’s Fight for Fakenham appeal, and also to the Fire Fighters Charity.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service wanted to give something back to the town, and it was agreed just this week that The Backdrafts would play at the fair.

“We are over the moon to have The Backdrafts at the fair,” said Mr Vertigan.

“As a town we owe a great deal to the fire fighters of Norfolk for the hard work they did that day and every day before and since then. The fair seemed to be the best option to allow all the people of Fakenham and the surrounding area to see the band. The Backdrafts will be on stage from 4.45pm and will close the fair.”

Nigel Williams, chief fire officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Having fought the fire in Fakenham, we wanted to say thank you to the people in the town for the help and support they have given us ever since. The Backdrafts’ performance this weekend is our way of giving something back to them, bringing the people of Fakenham together and hopefully getting them to sing along to some of the band’s hits while they’re there.”

With a vintage 1950s theme taking Fakenham back to a boom time, this year’s fair is being opened by Norwich City legend Ken Brown and will include a food festival, Great Fakenham Bake Off event and plenty of fun for all the family.

“We wanted to have a big celebration in the town because of what’s happened,” said Mr Vertigan.

“The emphasis is on bringing the town together.”

A procession of vintage vehicles and performers, which makes its way through the town centre from Highfield Road car park at 1pm will include a tribute to Norfolk’s king of the road, Fakenham haulage entrepreneur Jack Richards, who died in May.

A 1954 Bedford lorry and Mr Richards’ Austin Seven Ruby will join the procession, on loan from the haulage company’s museum in Fakenham.

“It will be the first time since 1980 that the company has been involved,” said Mr Vertigan.

“With Jack’s passing this year, it will be a tribute to him and the work he has done in Fakenham.”

Fakenham Fair takes place on Saturday from 11am until 5pm at the Millennium Park.

The procession will go through the town centre from Highfield Road car park at 1pm and The Backdrafts will perform at 4.45pm.

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