Norwich Star Wars club to celebrate anniversary after busy year

Leia Luke making friends with R2-D2. Christmas shoppers in Castle Mall getting a visit from Norwich

Leia Luke making friends with R2-D2. Christmas shoppers in Castle Mall getting a visit from Norwich Star Wars Club.The Star Wars Club is there to celebrate the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and to collect gifts for Umbrella, which provides support and housing for young single parent families in Norwich. - Credit: Steve Adams

A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away a small group of Star Wars enthusiasts set up a club for fans which is still going strong more than 15 years later.

Christmas shoppers in Castle Mall getting a visit from Norwich Star Wars Club.The Star Wars Club is

Christmas shoppers in Castle Mall getting a visit from Norwich Star Wars Club.The Star Wars Club is there to celebrate the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and to collect gifts for Umbrella, which provides support and housing for young single parent families in Norwich. - Credit: Steve Adams

The Norwich Star Wars Club UK turned 16 last month but will celebrate its anniversary later this year following what has been an out-of-this-world time for the club, which has more than 1,600 members world wide.

In the past 12 months it has moved to a new base at the aptly named New Hope Christian Centre in Norwich and, buoyed by interest surrounding the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, has seen membership swell and has even started a new club night in Suffolk.

Richard Walker, president of the club which has raised between £130,000 and £140,000 for charity over the years, said: 'It's been a very successful year for the club.

'All year we've been inundated with bookings from people for outings and birthday parties. The interest has been phenomenal.'

Mr Walker, who believes the release of the seventh instalment in the Star Wars saga has been responsible for 'rekindling' interest in the film franchise and all things Star Wars, said he could see things continue to go from strength to strength.

The 65-year-old said he was 'very proud' of the club's success but admitted it was not something he envisaged when he and a few friends got together all those years ago.

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He said: 'We didn't think it was going to take off as it has. There were five of us and we thought we were just going to start a club up and get one or two members and it would die off but it's just got bigger and bigger.'

The club, which has a Heroes and Villains costume group, moved last year from its previous base on Bull Close Road to the centre on Martineau Lane which partially shares its name with the classic 1977 movie Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

It meets there on the last Friday of every month but, following a rapid rise in new recruits, has started a second club night in Bury St Edmunds on the second Friday of every month.

But there is also a global appeal to the club which in April this year had some of its members attend the Star Wars Celebration 2015 event at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

In reaching out to friends and other members across the globe, Mr Walker launched a World Wide Flag of Friendship to display club patches of other groups.

In just a few years the club has been sent more than 2,000 patches which have been added to three worldwide flags of friendship.

For more details about the club, call Mr Walker on 01603 461828, or log on to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Norwich-Star-Wars-Club-Uk/205595629515655 to find the club on Facebook.

Have you got an unusual Star Wars story? Email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk