Photo gallery: 1953 flood photo exhibition for vandalised church

Bob Henderson is putting on an exhibition of about 130 old photographs of the Horsey and East Coast

Bob Henderson is putting on an exhibition of about 130 old photographs of the Horsey and East Coast 1953 floods to raise money for Lessingham Church, which has suffered £1,700 of damage. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Photos recalling the devastation and Dunkirk spirit of the 1953 east coast flood will be on show to raise money for a vandalised church.

The fundraising events for Lessingham's All Saints Church window repair fund will display more than 150 press pictures of the dramatic east coast surge which killed more than 300 people in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Lincolnshire.

Between May and December there were four separate attacks on the church windows, which were broken and will cost between £1,600 and £1,650 to repair.

The exhibitions, featuring pictures taken by the EDP, are at Stalham Town Hall on Sunday, March 17 and Bacton Village Hall on Easter Monday between 11.30am and 3.30pm.

They have been organised by retired teacher Bob Henderson, 78, from Lessingham, and will feature images from King's Lynn, Hunstanton, Snettisham, Sea Palling, Bacton, Walcott and Great Yarmouth.


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Mr Henderson was an 18-year-old aircraftsman in the RAF when the North Sea flood hit the east coast overnight between January 31 and February 1, 1953.

Although he helped deal with the flooding on the River Thames, he has always been interested in the floods along the east coast.

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He said: 'I remember waking up on February 1 in my billet after hearing a noise and the orderly sergeant said, 'You will do.'

'I was told to report to the cookhouse with my small pack and there were a lot of other blokes there. We did not have a clue what was happening.

'The commanding officer said, 'OK chaps, it is Operation King Canute.' I only found out recently that was the name given to the rescue operation for the east coast floods.'

He spent the four to five weeks at Tilbury in Essex on the River Thames helping pile up sandbags.

Mr Henderson said he admired people who lived in the communities affected by the floods who risked their lives to save others.

'It was a real Dunkirk spirit,' he added.

Mr Henderson left the RAF in 1955 and went into teaching before moving to Lessingham in 1966. His final job was head of geography at Paston Sixth Form College in North Walsham.

Despite not being a churchgoer he has opened up and locked up the village church, which dates back to 1200, for the past 15 years.

His wife, Margaret, 75, is on the Hempstead with Eccles and Lessingham Parochial Church Council.

Mr Henderson helped decorate the inside of the church last year just before the first attack.

'It was looking so lovely then that happened. I felt gutted after the damage was done,' he added.

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