Year in review: What happened in Dereham during 2020?

A taxi driver in Dereham wears a face mask amid lockdown due to coronavirus. Picture: Denise Bradley

A taxi driver in Dereham wears a face mask amid lockdown due to coronavirus. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

It's safe to say that 2020 is a year many of us are happy to see drawing to a close.

There have been some remarkable efforts and moments over the last 12 months along with some devastating news and massive blows to the town.

Month-by-month, we we've looked back at news, events and features reported by the Dereham Times in 2020.

January

The Manor Hotel in Mundesley announced it would cease trading in December 2019, throwing plans for hundreds of weddings up in the air, including that of Dereham couple Bradley Wortley and Tori Vaissiere.

But despite the devastation of losing their planned big day, people in Dereham and surrounding areas pulled together to offer the pair help to make sure their special day went ahead.

Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Elsewhere, the landlord of the Railway Tavern, Paul Sandford, made the heartwarming gesture to put on a minibus service for well-wishers to pay their respects to former Royal Marine, Reg Wilcox.


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It came after Mr Wilcox's nephew Alan Rickett made a plea to the community to give the former serviceman and firefighter the perfect send-off.

Tim and Kayleigh, had to pull over at Roarr dinosaur park to deliver their baby, Isaac (middle name

Tim and Kayleigh, had to pull over at Roarr dinosaur park to deliver their baby, Isaac (middle name Rex). Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Archant

Finally, when 23-year-old mother-to-be Kayleigh Hill went into labour in the early hours of the morning in January, she did not expect to be giving birth next to Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, between Dereham and Norwich.

Partner Tim Earp was forced to pull over at the park while on the way to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Baby Isacc Edward Rex Earp was born at 3.31am weighing 8lbs 3oz.

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February

Randell Agriculture looks set to close its 200-year-old farming and gardening machinery business fol

Randell Agriculture looks set to close its 200-year-old farming and gardening machinery business following a fire at its Dereham depot in October. Pictured: Managing director William Randell at the company's base in Horstead. Picture: Chris Hill - Credit: Chris Hill

Devastating news came for a 200-year-old family business, which was forced to close after a fire ripped through its agricultural and garden machinery depot in Dereham.

Randell Agriculture's managing director William Randell said the decision had been taken with a "heavy heart" in the wake of October's blaze in Toftwood which destroyed buildings and stock, as well as leaving one employee hospitalised with minor burns.

While the worker made a full and quick recovery, Mr Randell said the complex insurance claim of the "substantial" losses had still not been resolved.

Thelma Bond, centre, and Cynthia Bond, right, with Mrs Harmer, the last customer at their toy shop in Dereham High Street before it closed in 2006. Picture: Matthew Usher

Thelma Bond, centre, and Cynthia Bond, right, with Mrs Harmer, the last customer at their toy shop in Dereham High Street before it closed in 2006. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Archant

Tributes flooded in to the Dereham Times after Thelma Bond, who spent her whole life in Dereham, died aged 91.

Miss Bond will forever be linked to her beloved older sister, Cynthia, and A Bond Toy Shop in the town's High Street, which they ran together for decades after taking over the reins from their parents.

Rachel Michaelson, the family's solicitor, said Miss Bond was now reunited with her sister, who died in 2014. 

Fire crews outside Northgate High School in Dereham following an arson attack. Picture: Kim Pearce

Fire crews outside Northgate High School in Dereham following an arson attack. Picture: Kim Pearce - Credit: Kim Pearce

Meanwhile, Norfolk Police launched an arson investigation after a blaze at Northgate High School in Dereham.

Emergency services were called to the high school in the early hours of the morning to reports of a blaze.

Six teenagers faced court over the arson attack, which led to more than £45,000 in damage.

March

PC Jim Wells with Shuck the police dog. Picture: Matthew Usher.

PC Jim Wells with Shuck the police dog. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

After eight years of sniffing out criminals and saving lives with dogged determination, the time came for award-winning police dog Shuck to retire.

PD Shuck had been in active service since 2012 working in mid and west Norfolk.

Police attended the scene of a fight outside the Wetherspoon pub in Dereham. Picture: Submitted

Police attended the scene of a fight outside the Wetherspoon pub in Dereham. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Elsewhere, a teenage boy was glassed during a fight outside a Wetherspoon pub.

Police were called to the Romany Rye in Church Street, Dereham, on Sunday evening just after 6.30pm, where a 15-year-old suffered a black eye after being glassed.

Alison Webb, the district councillor behind Dereham Cares. Picture: Alison Webb

Alison Webb, the district councillor behind Dereham Cares. Picture: Alison Webb - Credit: Archant

And with the seriousness of the coronavirus coming to light in March, Breckland councillor Alison Webb put out a call to action for volunteers to help protect the most vulnerable people in Dereham.

Along with Philip Duigan and Hilary Bushell, the team began setting up Dereham Cares, which delivered prescriptions and food parcels to people in the town.

In this time, many events began being cancelled and MPs called for second homeowners to stay away from the county. On March 23, the national lockdown was announced.

April

Dereham market place. Can you help the Times continue to carry out important journalism? Picture: Ia

Dereham market place. Can you help the Times continue to carry out important journalism? Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

At the beginning of April, it was announced that hundreds of thousands of pounds could be spent on making sure roads and transport in Norfolk's market towns will be able to cope with new homes.

It came as council bosses feared that pressures would be piled on road networks when new houses are built in years to come.

NHS Paramedic Dave Bacon (left) and Trooper Sam Jones (right) pose for an image representing the wor

NHS Paramedic Dave Bacon (left) and Trooper Sam Jones (right) pose for an image representing the working relationship of both the Army and the NHS. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton - Credit: UK Ministry of Defence 2020

British Army soldiers were drafted to drive ambulances to ease the squeeze on the NHS during the early months of the pandemic.

Sixty troops from the 1st Dragoons Guards based in Dereham were trained to transfer critically ill patients between hospitals to help frontline workers fighting the virus.

May

Stock at the Mid-Norfolk Foodbank.

Stock at the Mid-Norfolk Foodbank. - Credit: Noah Vickers

In May, Dereham and District Foodbank saw a huge spike in the number of people asking for help.

The foodbank gave out 172 parcels to struggling families, a 68pc rise on last year.

Ofsted inspectors announced Neatherd High School in Dereham would keep its 'good' rating after becoming an academy in 2017.

The report praised the school's leadership, atmosphere and friendly pupils.

June

A scene from the Bradenham car boot sale this year. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

A scene from the Bradenham car boot sale this year. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Some normality returned for residents in mid Norfolk as Bradenham car boot opened its gates for the first time since lockdown.

Hundreds attended the event, which was socially distanced.

Adam Coulton has been running socially distanced events all summer, including a drive-thru street fo

Adam Coulton has been running socially distanced events all summer, including a drive-thru street food festival Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

A street food festival with a socially distanced twist took place in Dereham after having its first successful run in Norwich.

Organiser Adam Coulton said the “drive-through” concept saw people ordering food directly from their vehicles. 

Alex Flatt, owner of Abigail's card and gift shop in Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Alex Flatt, owner of Abigail's card and gift shop in Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Shoppers returned to the high street as lockdown restrictions were eased and non-essential shops were allowed to reopen once again.

Business owners called on the public to shop local to keep thriving independent shops trading.

July

A picture Jarl Barnes took before taking off on the Ryanair flight from Stansted to Oslo. Picture: J

A picture Jarl Barnes took before taking off on the Ryanair flight from Stansted to Oslo. Picture: Jarl Barnes - Credit: Archant

Dereham man Jarl Barnes was on a flight from London Stansted which had just landed at Oslo when armed police stormed the plane following a bomb threat.

Jean and Graham King celebrate their diamond wedding anniversaryByline: Sonya Duncan(C) Archant 2020

Jean and Graham King celebrate their diamond wedding anniversaryByline: Sonya Duncan(C) Archant 2020 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Jean and Graham King, who live in Dereham, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, after setting eyes on each other at a Dereham fair, 62 years before.

The pair, who met at the dodgems, said the secret to a long marriage was down to "focusing on their own relationship".

August

Stuart Green, 27, the new mayor of Dereham, and believed to be the youngest they have ever had. Pict

Stuart Green, 27, the mayor of Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Dereham Town Council elected Stuart Green as its new mayor - thought to be the youngest in its history.

Mr Green said the decision was an "unexpected surprise" to be given the title at the age of just 27.

The house on London Road in Dereham which was damaged by a car.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2

The house on London Road in Dereham which was damaged by a car. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A woman in her 20s and her infant child had to be pulled out of a car after the vehicle crashed into a home in Dereham's London Road.

The crash, which happened at the start of August, saw the road fully closed for months and a single lane opened by the end of 2020.

Former owners of The George Pub in Dereham Rebecca and Gareth Williams. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

Former owners of The George Pub in Dereham Rebecca and Gareth Williams. Picture: Abigail Nicholson - Credit: Archant

The former owners of The George Hotel pub in Derheam bade farewell to customers after six years of service.

Gareth and Rebecca Williams, who took over the lease in February 2014, also managed the Carpenters Arms in Wighton but have decided not to renew their lease in Dereham so they could spend more time with family.

September

Players and staff at Bradenham Cricket Club have been left feeling angry and hopeless after finding

Players and staff at Bradenham Cricket Club have been left feeling angry and hopeless after finding their newly treated cricket ground full of tyre marks on Friday, September 18. Picture: Brett Gates - Credit: Archant

The owners of Bradenham Cricket Pitch were left feeling "angry and hopeless" after vandals caused severe damage for the second time in 13 months.

A vehicle was driven over the pitch, not long after it had been treated.

The Rivelino Clowns from Uncle Sam's Great American Circus, which is coming to Dereham. Picture: And

The Rivelino Clowns from Uncle Sam's Great American Circus, which is coming to Dereham. Picture: Andrew Payne - Credit: Archant

People began rolling up to Dereham as the town hosted it's first post-lockdown circus.

Uncle Sam's Great American Circus came to Dereham Park at the end of September, brought joy and some normality to residents in the town.

October

Venture Farm Mattishall currently has 40 kittens. With more on the way, they're hoping to get them r

Venture Farm Mattishall currently has 40 kittens. With more on the way, they're hoping to get them re-homed or recieve some donations for cat food. Anna Thirkettle, Venture volunteer. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Cat rescue charity Venture Farm in Mattishall warned cat owners to be responsible and get their cats chipped and neutered after seeing a "kitten explosion".

The charity was home to 35 kittens with more or the way with multiple pregnant mothers also being looked after.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Archant

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Archant - Credit: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman called for a U-turn for the free school meals vote that took place in October.

The MP issued a 972-word statement saying "no child should ever go hungry in Britain."

November

Dereham town centre. Picture: Archant

Dereham town centre. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Norfolk, along with the whole country, went into a second national lockdown after cases began to rise again.

Many shops began selling items online ahead of the festive period.

A cordon in place and emergency se vices on the scene of an incident in Old Becclesgate in Dereham.

A cordon in place and emergency se vices on the scene of an incident in Old Becclesgate in Dereham. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Meanwhile, June and Stanley Grout were found unresponsive in their home on Old Becclesgate after a gas leak.

Tributes flooded in for the pair, who would "do anything" for their friends.

December

pub landlord couple

Gavin and Victoria Hunt, who have taken the decision to close temporarily after Christmas Eve because of a lack of customers. - Credit: Archant

The owners of the Award-winning pub, The Fox at Lyng, announced they would be closed from Christmas Eve, with plans to reopen when Norfolk returns to Tier 1.

Receptionist Diane 'Di' Borgars at Toftwood Infant School. 

Receptionist Diane 'Di' Borgars is retiring after 21 years at Toftwood Infant School. - Credit: Toftwood Infant and Junior School Federation

A school receptionist who has seen more than 2,500 children through a Toftwood School over her 21 years announced her retirement. 

And as the county was forced to contend with severe flooding, people in Yaxham found themselves facing raw sewage in the street and people in Shipdham had days of power outages.

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