Norfolk celebrities and sporting heroes back campaign to save RAF Marham

Celebrities and sporting personalities last night lined up behind our Make it Marham campaign, led by Amanda Holden.

The Britain's Got Talent judge, who lives in Burnham Market, contacted the EDP to back our campaign because she is worried about the impact the base closure will have on the whole county.

'Norfolk's got talent, but there aren't a lot of jobs in our rural areas and we need to keep the ones we've got,' she said.

'Thousands of livelihoods in Norfolk depend on RAF Marham - not just the 5,000 or so who work on the base.

'It's vital to everything from village pubs and shops, to primary schools and even some of the market towns like Downham Market.'

Much-loved cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, who was born at Hoveton Home Farm, near Norwich, was 'appalled' that the Tornado fleet could be moved north of the border.

He said: 'It would change the character of Norfolk because RAF Marham is very valuable to the local economy.

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'Norfolk and the RAF go hand in hand. It would be catastrophic for the area if the government decides to close the base because the base plays an important part in life in the community.

'During the war, Norfolk was covered in RAF bases so it is terribly important we keep hold of Marham and make sure the Tornadoes stay in Norfolk.'

TV presenter Trisha Goddard, who was schooled in Heacham and now lives in Norwich, said she is worried about the psychological impact the base closure will have on people.

She said: 'Closing RAF Marham would have a decimating effect on the region.

'Perhaps the impact of so many thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihoods in an essentially rural area is something those living in big cities might find hard to appreciate.

'Take away the base and there's the very real threat of losing the public services and businesses supporting it; bus services, shops, taxis, disruption to schools and nurseries and so on.

'As patron of Norwich MIND, I can't help but worry about the impact Marham's closure would have on so many of the affected people's mental health.'

Television and stage actress Liza Goddard, who lives near King's Lynn and signed our online petition last night, added: 'We need to keep Marham open because it is such a major employer in the county.

'Closing it will have a knock-on effect not only in West Norfolk but across the county. To lose the base would be terrible and that is why I am backing the campaign.'

Top chef Galton Blackiston, who runs Michelin-starred Morston Hall in North Norfolk, has signalled his support to save RAF Marham and said it would be a 'disaster' if it closed.

He added: 'To lose Marham so soon after RAF Coltishall closed would be terrible for Norfolk.'

Norwich City heroes Darren Huckerby and Craig Fleming have also backed our campaign to stop RAF Marham's Tornado fleet moving to Scotland.

Mr Fleming, who is now first team coach at Lowestoft Town, said: 'I know that RAF Marham has been an important part of the community in West Norfolk for 90 years and employs thousands of people.

'It will be devastating for the area to lose the base and have so many people lose their jobs.

'The local businesses in nearby villages and towns will suffer and the impact of the closure will be felt throughout Norfolk. It will also be a huge blow to the region's economy so that is why I am backing the campaign.'

Fellow Canaries legend Bryan Gunn is hoping an alternative will be found so both RAF Marham and RAf Lossiemouth can stay open.

He said: 'I can remember what it was like here when RAF Coltishall shut and the impact it had on the area.

'If RAF Marham closes then for the local economy it will be devastating. With all the cuts happening, this will be another blow that will not be helpful to the economy here.

'I know there has been a lot of support across Norfolk for Marham and that doesn't surprise me because people here are very good at fighting for their own.

'I do, however, have some feeling for the Scottish base because of my roots and I know a few people who work up there.

'I am caught in the middle having spent 23 years in Norfolk and 23 years in Scotland and I do think both have justifiable claims to keep open but I am sure the government will make the right decision in the end.'