PICTURE GALLERY: Procession gets Dereham Festival off to a colourful start

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Dereham as a procession of local groups celebrated the launch of the town's fourth biennial festival.

The spectators came out in force despite overcast skies and light drizzle as the Dereham Band led the group from the Cherry Tree car park, down the high street before finally gathering at the Memorial Hall for the official opening by Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman.

Students from Northgate High School with face paint and yellow T-shirts carried a giant crown to mark the Queen's jubilee.

Tabi Street, 13, said: 'We wanted it to be like the carnivals like Rio – they have the colours and the face paints.'

A large contingent from Dereham's U3A, formed last year, also donned yellow for the event, and held aloft symbols representing some of the 34 interest groups they have formed, including scrabble, debate and discussion, walking and knitting.

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The colourful parade also included members of the rainbows, brownies and guides, children promoting the Railway Children at Dereham Railway Station next month, and members of Dereham Theatre, and a collection for armed forces charities.

Festival chairman Jim Stebbings said: 'The people of Dereham waited so long for [the Memorial Hall] to be built. They should show that they are going to use it because this is going to be a measure of the sort of support other people will be looking at.

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'They will want to see that there's a big enough audience to continue to put things on commercially, and this is a measure of what the town is prepared to do to support it's own theatre.'

Tickets for all events are available online at www.derehamfestival.org.uk or at the Memorial Hall box office. For information about the festival call 01362 692377.

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