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Dereham Chips scheme celebrates

PUBLISHED: 14:43 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 July 2010

It is as much fun now as ever. It's the Chips holiday play scheme in Dereham, which is now in its 30th year.

Children from across Dereham have joined the scheme in their droves since the Rev Peter Marsh set up the holiday play scheme in 1979 to give children something to do as the summer doldrums set in.

It is as much fun now as ever. It's the Chips holiday play scheme in Dereham, which is now in its 30th year.

Children from across Dereham have joined the scheme in their droves since the Rev Peter Marsh set up the holiday play scheme in 1979 to give children something to do as the summer doldrums set in.

The first event was held from Monday, August 13, 1979, and was attended by more than 200 children, aged eight to 12, with staff from Dereham Youth and Community Centre.

There was outdoor games including tennis, rounders and cricket, chess indoors, Fakenham Masque Theatre, art and craft making, a visit to Gressenall Museum, swimming, a police demonstration, cycling, a visit to Kilverstone Wildlife Park, a visit from an RSPCA and more.

Children still get to take part in a wide-variety of events from go-karting to learning new instruments, fishing, bowling, ice-skating and even a trip to High Lodge in Thetford Forest.

Rev Marsh, then Catholic priest at Dereham's Sacred Heart church, says he was pleased the scheme has kept going.

And said what keeps it so strong is people coming back to the scheme they went through as children to be helpers with their own children now taking part.

“I think every town should have a play scheme,” said Rev Marsh, who now lives in Unthank Road in Norwich.

“Dereham had had one or two before, but none of them lasted so long.

“I have followed their growth and progress with great interest and a think it is lovely how well they are doing.”

He said while he started it a team soon took over and organisers, some who have been with the scheme since its start, have been its recipe for success.

Now hundreds of children can call themselves former Chippers - including the Dereham Times' chief reporter Ian Clarke, who was one of those there in the first year.

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