Story of the Make it Marham campaign

It was at the EDP's head office in Norwich on a brisk November morning when MPs, councils, businesses and communities across Norfolk united to launch a bid to save RAF Marham.

Little was known about how many people would back our Make It Marham campaign, which had just two weeks to run before a petition was to be handed in at Downing Street – but a target figure of 20,000 was set.

However, in just 18 days, the target was smashed with almost 37,000 people from across the county – and further afield – showing their support for the RAF base.

The fight to save the Tornado base started when campaigners, led by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, took to the streets in Swaffham on November 13.

The number of people who had backed our campaign reached the 6,000 mark two days later with the number signing our online petition increasing daily.

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Then, six days into the campaign, MPs were told that more than 10,000 people had signed the petition to stop Marham's Tornado fleet being moved to Scotland.

The fight to save RAF Marham then moved to another town which could be hit badly by the closure of the Tornado base – Downham Market.

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Ms Truss again led the signature collection and was joined by an energetic team of volunteers, including town, borough and county councillors, as well as Downham traders.

On November 20, we published a petition form on the front page of our weekend edition – something not believed to have been done in our 140-year history.

The fight to save RAF Marham was also bolstered the same day by a sell-out Carrow Road crowd, many of whom signed a petition before taking their seats to watch Norwich City take on Leeds United.

The campaign to save the Tornado base then received a further boost when celebrities and sporting personalities, led by Amanda Holden, lined up behind our Make It Marham campaign ahead of the petition handover.

The backing of the county's famous residents, which also included TV presenter Trisha Goddard, had an impact as the amount of people backing our campaign soared over 25,000.

It came as the two station commanders of RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth both spoke to the EDP about their love for the Norfolk RAF base and how it would be 'difficult' for them to see it closed.

Then on November 31, a large delegation descended on a snow- covered 10 Downing Street to deliver a petition with nearly 37,000 signatures.

The delegation, which included seven Norfolk MPs and council leaders, also put forward the case to save RAF Marham to defence secretary Liam Fox.

Since the petition handover, it has emerged that RAF Leuchars could be closed with its fighter aircraft moving to RAF Lossiemouth. Should this happen, Marham would remain the main home of the RAF's Tornado fleet, along with the facilities to maintain the aircraft, which gave the Make it Marham campaign a massive boost.

It has also been revealed that armed forces minister Nick Harvey said the cost of relocating the Norfolk base's Tornado fleet and facilities to Scotland would be 'very high,' prompting campaigners to demand to see the costs. The campaigners then demanded that the government keep Norfolk's last RAF flying base open after crews from the base played a vital role in early attacks on Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya.

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