Hockering homecoming for American ‘exile’

She had to travel thousands of miles to be there, but she wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Hockering 'exile' Pauline Souther (nee Lake) first went to the USA on a six-week holiday to the home of an aunt who had married a GI stationed at the wartime Attlebridge USAAF base – actually at Weston Longville. She loved America so much that she decided to stay.

That was 45-odd years ago, but Pauline never lost her affection for the mid-Norfolk community where she grew up. And when villagers started holding occasional Hockering in the Past exhibitions of bygone photographs and archives, she made it her business to get there if she could. And Pauline duly arrived 'home' in time for the third such exhibition, held at the Village Hall on Sunday.

The building was a hubbub of memories and convivial mardling as present-day villagers and Hockering's extended family turned out in force to view some 460 pictures covering the social life, wartime years, church activities and farming heritage in times past.

The archive spilled over into photos taken in neighbouring communities such as Dereham, Mattishall, Honingham and Lyng. And Paul Hindle, who with Delbert Gunns put together the collection, was delighted because some of those who went along added 20 or so more pictures to the display.

Pauline, now living in Scituate, Massachusetts, liaises with Paul and Delbert to make sure she arranges her UK visits to coincide with their events. She explained: 'I think they are great because they give you the chance to meet people you haven't seen for what seems like 100 years – the ones you went to school with, who lived in the village when you did. I think what Paul and the others have done is wonderful.'

And Pauline has another treat to look forward to this weekend when she and husband Kenny receive the VIP treatment and the chance to go on the pitch at Carrow Road at Norwich City's game against Blackburn Rovers. 'As long as I can remember I have been a fan,' she said.

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The �290 proceeds of the event will be shared by the village hall and the Norfolk Heart Trust's Sparks 4 Hearts appeal.

And will there be another exhibition? 'Probably, in a year's time... if we're all still here!' said Paul.