Top award for campaign to save RAF Marham
Eastern Daily Press readers have helped the newspaper win a prestigious award for its Make It Marham campaign.
The initiative, which united the county and helped secure the future of Norfolk's last RAF flying base, took the Community Campaign of the Year at the EDF Energy East of England Media Awards 2011.
In just two weeks nearly 37,000 people signed the petition – which was printed on the front page of the EDP – in a fight that saw MPs, councils, businesses and communities rally behind the Make It Marham banner.
The signatures were delivered to Number 10 Downing Street and afterwards the government announced the Tornado station would stay open – saving more than 5,000 local jobs and more than �1bn for the local economy.
'The campaign not only worked, but the defence minister told Parliament that reprieving Marham was in large part due to the strong community campaign,' the judges said.
With the Tornadoes likely to be replaced by the Joint Strike Fighter in 2020, Make It Marham campaigners are now fighting for the base to be the home of the new hi-tech military jets.
EDP editor Peter Waters was joined by reporter David Blackmore and photographer Ian Burt in receiving a trophy and certificate from Paralympian Ben Rushgrove and EDF Energy's Gareth Wynn at the awards ceremony.
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Mr Waters said: 'I'm thrilled for the newspaper and staff, but this win is not just for the Eastern Daily Press.
'This award belongs to everyone who got involved in the Make It Marham fight – the Norfolk people who signed the petition, and our MPs and councillors who, with the EDP, took the fight all the way to Parliament.
'Nonetheless, while Norfolk should be proud of this award, the battle continues to secure the long-term future of a base that is so vital to the local economy.'
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, whose constituency covers RAF Marham, was delighted the campaign was honoured by the award.
She said: 'A truly well deserved award. The backing by the EDP to support the campaign to Make it Marham made all the difference in the battle of the bases.
'I regularly sent the press cuttings to the prime minister and the defence secretary to illustrate how important RAF Marham is to Norfolk.
'The whole paper embraced the campaign, with EDP journalists joining politicians, businesses and local residents to collect petitions across the whole of the county.
'The next step is to secure RAF Marham as the home of the Joint Strike Fighter. I know the EDP will join with me and the rest of Norfolk in maintaining the pressure on the Ministry of Defence to achieve this goal and to ensure the long-term future for jobs and the local economy.'
West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney added: 'This was a campaign that could not afford to fail.
'Success proved the power of quality journalism, effective press and co-ordinated co-operation and action between the borough council, county council, MPs and the community.'
Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'This is great news and shows what can be achieved when Norfolk and its leaders unite behind an issue with determination and speak with one voice.'
He added: 'Should we need to, I'm sure that Norfolk will unite again in the future and continue the fight to keep Marham flying.'