March 12 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
In a 15-minute thriller of firework fun, fizz and thunder, storm-battered Cromer and her shattered pier once again proved that the show can and must go on.
Less than a month after the North Sea put on its own jaw-dropping performance - pounding and ripping chunks out of Cromer’s cliffs, sea walls and pier in the December 5 storm surge - the town staged a sparkling comeback show, using the damaged pier as a stage for the annual fireworks event, and a mercifully calmer North Sea as its backdrop.
Thousands of spectators lined the cliffs and promenade for this evening’s New Year’s Day spectacular, “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” at each fiery, colourful volley.
The £6,000-plus display came as the triumphant end of a day which saw the town “keep calm and carry on” in the face of its December troubles, plus rain and a blustery wind throughout much of the first day of 2014.
Determination and hard work had already seen the pier re-opened just a week after the surge, allowing the pier pavilion theatre Christmas show to continue its run.
And, despite much of the pier decking remaining ripped up, exposing gaping holes to the turbulent sea below, Clive Casburn and his team from Premiere Fireworks, based at Great Massingham, Norfolk, managed to rig up some 500 fireworks from 20 firing points along the pier for today’s show.
“The state of the pier didn’t bother me. We can get round that. I was more worried about the weather.” said Mr Casburn.
Early visitors to Cromer were able to escape the rain and wind in shops, eateries and attractions which opened for the day, including Cromer Museum, where entry was free, and Cromer Church which offered refreshments and somewhere dry to sit.
Outside, some of the 100 or so fireworks volunteers sold mulled wine, and a steam organ played cheery music in the town centre churchyard.
Among the crowds were the Marment family - mum and dad Michael and Andrea, with children Joshua, Jessica and Shannon, from Kingswood Avenue, Taverham.
“We come every year and this year was brilliant - awesome,” said Mr Marment. “They’ve done very well to put it on. We saw the damage on TV and wondered if it might be cancelled. We’re glad it wasn’t.”
The display ended with a shower of red fireworks which seemed to melt on to the surface of the sea; a tribute to the poppy fields of Flanders in the centenary year of the outbreak of the first world war.
Jim Bond, chairman of the firework committee, said they had initially been worried that the pier would be out of action for the display but within a few days of the storm it had been clear that there was a determination to get it re-opened.
Rotten weather saw a marked fall in the number of entrants taking part in this year’s pre-fireworks fun run along Cromer’s promenades.
A brave group of 18, compared to last year’s field of 33, gathered for the start of the race in rain and strong wind.
They included Stephen Bradnock, from Neatishead, dressed as the teacher wizard Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books, his wife Ali and their children Harriet, 15, and Archie 10, who was the first child to cross the finish line.
Mr Bradnock finished second overall, behind 14-year-old Catherine Longe , a member of the City of Norwich Athletic Club and Tri-Anglia.
Catherine, who lives near Holt, completed the race in seven minutes and 24 seconds.
The event, which has been running for about five years, was again organised and marshalled by the North Norfolk Beach Runners.
The full results were: 1 Catherine Longe, 14, Tria-Anglia Norwich, 7 mins 24.5 secs; 2 Stephen Bradnock, senior, Neatishead, 7:54:4; 3 Archie Bradnock, 10, Neatishead, 8:47:9; 4 Maggie Gentry, senior, North Norfolk Beach Runners (NNBR), 8:59:4; 5 Sam Head, 13, Kent, 8:59:4; 6 Evie Cowling, 10, Aylsham, 9:49:9; 7 Harriet Bradnock, 15, Neatishead, 9:45:3; 8 Matilda Gibbons, eight, North Walsham, 10:51:2; 9 Paul Gibbons, senior, North Walsham, 11:19:9; 10 Joe Seamark, nine, NNBR North Walsham, 11:20:3; 11 Jamie Seamark, senior, NNBR North Walsham, 11:21:1; 12 Laurie Cowling, eight, Aylsham, 11:24:7; 13 Beckie Cowling, senior, Aylsham, 12:34:6; 14 David Alcock, senior, Norwich, 14:00:8; 15 Ali Bradnock, senior, Neatishead, 14:18 (single lap); 16 Yasmin Head, eight, Kent, 14:50; 17 Sam Alcock, 12, Norwich, 17:27:5; 18 Lindsey Alcock, senior, Norwich, 17:28:5.
“I think in some ways the damage has helped us,” he said. “It’s been like a double bill - people have been coming as sightseers to look at what’s happened to Cromer, and then enjoyed the fireworks afterwards.”
Bucket collections during last year’s event raised more than £8,500 which funded this year’s display and helped local good causes.