PICTURE GALLERY: Royal VIPs grace North Walsham’s Diamond Jubilee street party

A royal couple graced North Walsham's celebrations on Monday when Denis and Barbara Payne presided as queen and king of the town's street party.

Mr and Mrs Payne, of Spenser Avenue, North Walsham, celebrated their diamond wedding in March and were chosen as jubilee VIPs for the day.

Their family picnic table, one of more than 40 ranged along the length of Market Place, was sited right outside the entrance to the parish church where they were married 60 years ago.

The Paynes were among many hundreds of picnickers who enjoyed home-grown entertainment from the town-based Footnotes dance school, whose display included a can-can.

The day's celebrations began with everyone standing for the National Anthem, led by North Walsham singer Marc James who later entertained with songs and acted as master of ceremonies.

Glasses were later raised when new town mayor Dave Robertson proposed a toast to the Queen and the afternoon also featured traditional children's skipping, hoop and ball-bouncing races through the town where more than 30 shops and businesses had decorated their windows on a patriotic theme.

Town crier Roger Hopkinson was using the original North Walsham crier's bell especially for the occasion. It was in use from 1900 to 1939 when the town crier was William Smith.

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'It's very heavy - a two-handed job - but it's got a very nice tone,' said Mr Hopkinson.

On Saturday Don Birch and Lindsay Spalding, of the town's Beechwood Hotel, judged a jubilee pudding competition which was won by Sue Guest.

Entrants followed a recipe, similar to Christmas pudding, which has been prepared and served at North Walsham street celebrations dating back to Victorian times. Entries were shared among picnickers on Monday.

Revellers also flocked to the parish church where nearly 40 local organisations and businesses took part in a jubilee weekend flower festival, organised by Jane Cooper, with donations invited for �265,000 worth of church tower, roof and stained-glass window repairs.

A folder of North Walsham children's poems to the Queen, written as entries in a jubilee competition, was on display in the church and will be sent to Buckingham Palace.

The church also hosted a packed Last Night of the Proms concert with Wherry Brass, and a civic service over the weekend.

Derek Earis, Vicar of North Walsham, was delighted with the jubilee holiday. He said: 'We have seen a real coming together of the community in many ways - it's been very happy and done the town a lot of good.'

And Mr Robertson echoed his words. 'It has been excellent,' he said. 'There has been a willingness to take part among all age groups. The community spirit has been really strong.'

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