Picture gallery: Michael Palin at Fakenham Junior School’s centenary celebrations

Michael Palin visits Fakenham Junior School to mark its 100th year. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Michael Palin visits Fakenham Junior School to mark its 100th year. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

He has co-written and starred in some of the most influential and well-loved comedy films and programmes of all time.

And yesterday Monty Python legend and travel documentary-maker Michael Palin renewed his long-established links with Fakenham when he joined the town's junior school's centenary celebrations.

Mr Palin's grandfather, Dr Edward Palin, was a GP in Fakenham and he attended the original ceremony to open Fakenham Junior School on May 21, 1913.

The recent Bafta Fellowship award winner's father was also born in Fakenham.

Mr Palin, who grew up in Sheffield, accepted an invitation to join the centenary celebrations which were based around a recreation of the original opening ceremony.

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Mr Palin hoisted the Union flag up the school's new flagpole, which is in the same place as it was 100 years ago, and joined pupils, staff and visitors in singing Land of Hope and Glory and the national anthem.

He said: 'This such an extraordinary and magnificent occasion.

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'There are not many people who would have a chance to do something like this and I'm delighted to be here.

'I always knew I had links to Fakenham. My grandfather died before I was born so I never had the chance to meet him.

'He was a doctor in the town and an important part of this community.

'He was a very generous man and I've heard stories about how he once took someone's tonsils out on his kitchen table on a Sunday, when he was off work, and didn't charge any money for it.

'I've even been able to meet people today who were treated by him. They told me about the great work he did in the town.

'Even though I never met him, I'm very proud of my grandfather.'

During his visit, Mr Palin viewed an exhibition of the history of Fakenham Junior School.

He said: 'I've been to Fakenham a few times but haven't spent a lot of time here.

'I wanted to visit the old family home, which was called The Oaks, but I've been told that it no longer exists.

'I've been very impressed by the school and the wonderful exhibition here. The band did a great job and pupils have been very nice, showing me around.'

Hubert Dunthorne, 91, who lives in Dereham and is believed to be the person with the longest-held association with Fakenham Junior School who is still alive was also a special guest.

Mr Dunthorne was a pupil at the school in 1926 and has been its deputy head teacher.

Mr Dunthorne, along with Fakenham Community Archive, helped the school discover its links to Mr Palin.

He said: 'I met Mr Palin's grandfather when I was seven years old.

'If Michael Palin wants to know what his grandfather looked like, all he has to do is look in the mirror. They were identical.'

Head teacher Lesley Cook thanked the school's community learning co-ordinator Dawn Fairbrother for organising the day.

She said: 'We never thought we would get Michael Palin to come to our school but he agreed straight away.

'He missed some important meetings to be here and has been so amenable and friendly.'

Dr Mike Bridges and Jim Baldwin from the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History have worked with the school to publish a booklet on the history of Fakenham Junior School. This is available from the school and the museum for £2.

The exhibition is open every day at the school for the rest of the week from 3.20pm until 4.30pm and it will then be transferred to the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History.

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