Vicar dons dress to kick off Brisley village fete

A vicar swapped his holy robes for a garish gown to open a village fete dressed as a pantomime dame.

The Rev Robin Stapleford took a break from his duties as Upper Wensum Rector to open the event on the school playing field in Brisley, between Dereham and Fakenham, dressed as 'Dame Britannia'.

Resplendent in a patriotic dress covered in Union Flags, the vicar reprised his annual role in the village panto, undeterred by another British institution – a summer downpour.

The Rev Stapleford, who is from Colkirk, near Fakenham, said the good-natured fun was a great way to launch the fete on Saturday, which raises funds for the village's primary school, church and community hall.

'A lot of people know me as the pantomime dame, so it was not too alarming for them to see this man dressed up as a woman,' he said.

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'I suppose it may seem a little eccentric. I think a lot of vicars like a bit of theatre, and there is a lot of theatre in the church when you think about it, with people dressing up and reciting words. In a funny way, there is a bit of overlap. 'Dressing up as a woman and doing it for laughs just shows a human side. People can sometimes think vicars are 'holier than thou', so it is good to show a bit of humour sometimes.'

More than 200 people attended the fete to enjoy a bouncy castle, inflatable slide, traditional games, stalls and a children's cyclocross course.

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Between the rain showers, the Rev Stapleford also kicked off a school football tournament.

'There is something very British about having a fete in the rain,' he said. 'This is a lovely community occasion, and it brings together the church, the school and the village hall. The whole village gets involved.'

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