Dereham figure in the spotlight: Q&A with Hugh King

Councillor Hugh King

Councillor Hugh King was elected as Dereham's deputy mayor earlier this month. - Credit: Submitted

In our first Q&A with a Dereham local, we speak to Hugh King.

Mr King, 76, was recently elected by his town council colleagues as Dereham’s new deputy mayor. 
How would you best describe your job or role in the community?

Working for the good of Dereham and supporting the mayor. I’ve been a town councillor for about three years. It’s been an eye-opener - I enjoy it, and I’m now the chair of the personnel and social and welfare committees. It’s good to engage with the other councillors, and to work together. It doesn’t matter what party you are - we all work for the same cause. That’s the most important thing.

How long have you lived in the Dereham area?

41 years. My family moved to Dereham from Canterbury in 1980. I served in the forces in Canterbury, and when I’d finished my time with them, we decided to buy a house here and come up to Norfolk, after spending some years in Whitstable. My brother and cousin were living here and we thought it was a lovely place. It was so different - a slower pace of life. We just enjoyed it. I didn’t take long to become part of the community. My wife and I bought a fish and chip shop in Shipdham. I later worked for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, and I’m presently the county chairman for the Royal British Legion in Norfolk. 

A train on the Mid Norfolk Railway.

Mr King previously worked on the Mid-Norfolk Railway - Credit: IAN BURT

What would you do if you were mayor of Dereham for a day?

We need to engage more with the youth, not necessarily putting in clubs, but I’ve been looking at drop-in centres or something like that, and engaging with our employers around the Dereham area to take on the youth of Dereham, so to speak. So if I was mayor, I’d probably be looking at the youth of Dereham, engaging with them. It’s time to start looking at [provision for] the youth, because the simple reason is they’re our next generation, and we really need to look after them. 

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What is your favourite landmark in the Dereham area?

The river Tud - I like walking along it looking at the wildlife, when I have the time. It’s nice to walk it down towards Scarning. 

The Bull

Mr King is a fan of the pensioners' lunch on offer at the Bull - Credit: Noah Vickers

What is your favourite pub in the Dereham area?

I tend to use Toftwood Social Club more than anything, because the Dereham branch of the Royal British Legion have our meetings there. I don’t use many pubs, but sometimes I’ll go with family for a Sunday lunch at the Bull - from Monday to Friday, they do a pensioner’s lunch. 

Hugh King, county public relations officer for Norfolk, speaks at the service for the Royal British

Hugh King, pictured at a Royal British Legion event in 2018 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Which shops do you rely on in the Dereham area?

I don’t rely on any shops but I would welcome a good men’s outfitters in the town. There’s nowhere in Dereham you can get a [tailored] suit. I suppose Tesco do suits on the peg, but you can’t get measured up or anything like that in Dereham. I think you’d even have a job nowadays in Norwich to find one - the only one I know is on Lower Goat Lane. 
What is your favourite place to go and eat in the Dereham area?
I do enjoy the Sunday lunches at Cafe Verdi at Mattishall. It’s just like home-cooking - that’s why we like it. It’s self-service - or it was, until we get back to normal. It’s a place where you can sit comfortably. 
What is a perfect day in the Dereham area for you?

I love working at home in the garden. 

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Which places in the Dereham area would you recommend to visitors?

Dereham has a lot to offer visitors such as Bishop Bonner’s Cottage, Dereham Windmill and the Mid-Norfolk Railway, as well as Gressenhall Rural Life Museum. 

Dereham Windmill. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Windmill. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Who is your hero, associated with the Dereham area?

I have no heroes, but there’s a hell of a lot of history around St Withburga, and she’s our town saint, so this must be my first choice. 

Dereham town sign with St Withburga ©Archant Photographic

Dereham town sign with St Withburga ©Archant Photographic - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

What do you most love about the Dereham area?

The people of Dereham and the countryside around the town. It’s the centre of Norfolk. The transport system in Dereham is brilliant - we’ve got a terrific bus service, although they can block the roads, and we’re working on that. Without alterations, Dereham still has its market town appeal. Like anything else, the town has to change.  A lot of people from the south and north have come to buy property in Dereham, because it’s a really lovely place to be.