Organisers hail success of first ever Dereham Day

Freddie Norris, three, and his mum, Sarah Dacvey, feed the sheep at the mobile petting farm, Wycomb

Freddie Norris, three, and his mum, Sarah Dacvey, feed the sheep at the mobile petting farm on Dereham Day - Credit: Denise Bradley

Organisers say they were overwhelmed at the success of a new event which celebrated all things Dereham.

The first ever Dereham Day was held on Saturday (May 14), with the Memorial Hall and adjacent Fleece Meadow at the centre of proceedings. 

Poppy Ikins, six, and her mum, Holly, take a close look at some bees on Dereham Day

Poppy Ikins, six, and her mum, Holly, take a close look at some bees on Dereham Day - Credit: Denise Bradley

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, officially launched Dereham Day at 10am, before a packed programme of demonstrations, activities and entertainment got under way. 

Hundreds of people dropped in throughout the day as more than 50 local groups showcased their skills and services following a difficult couple of years. 

Tim Cara, chairman of Friends of Dereham Memorial Hall - which helped to organise Dereham Day - said the occasion had gone above and beyond his expectations. 

Tim Cara, chairman of Friends of Dereham Memorial Hall

Tim Cara, chairman of Friends of Dereham Memorial Hall - Credit: Tim Cara

"It was a fantastic turnout - we are talking thousands of people," he added.

"The whole day, and the amount of people who came along, definitely surpassed what we expected.

"With a lot of the indoor performances in the hall, like the Galaxy Twirlers, Rockavox and Busybodies, all the seats were taken which was phenomenal. 

Would-be police officers Alijah Washtell and Arthur John Washtell meet PC Ed Arbuthnot on Dereham Day

Would-be police officers Alijah Washtell (left), five, and his cousin Arthur John Washtell, four, meet PC Ed Arbuthnot on Dereham Day - Credit: Denise Bradley

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"The feedback so far has all been positive, and it turned out to be a very important event for local groups. A number of organisations managed to pick up some more volunteers. 

"People were also saying they had seen faces they had not seen for years, which is what Dereham Day was all about."

Dereham Day was not the first event of its kind to be held in the town. 

The first ever Dereham Day was held on Saturday, May 14

The first ever Dereham Day was held on Saturday, May 14 - Credit: Denise Bradley

A similar extravaganza, called Dereham Fringe Festival, took place back in September 2017 and was subsequently hailed as a huge success.  

It is also hoped Dereham Day will go some way towards filling the void of Dereham Carnival, which was a huge success story in the 2010s before being indefinitely cancelled in 2019 for financial reasons. 

Hosting the inaugural edition has certainly given Mr Cara and fellow organisers plenty of food for thought, and he hopes the event will only get bigger and better.

Dereham mayor Stuart Green with Simon Lonsdale, the Scouts district commissioner for central Norfolk, at Dereham Day

Dereham mayor Stuart Green with Simon Lonsdale, the Scouts district commissioner for central Norfolk, at Dereham Day - Credit: Denise Bradley

"We've sent feedback forms to all those who took and we are asking them to be brutal," he said.

"It was quite a lot to take on with a small number of volunteers. I would happily do it again with a bigger team.

"In terms of how often we do it, we are keeping all options open."

Dereham Runners ready for the off at the Dereham Day

Dereham Runners ready for the off at the Dereham Day. From L to R: Mandie Thorpe, Jacquie Wood, Terry Brunton, Matthew Freezer, and Neil River - Credit: Denise Bradley

George Freeman (right), MP for Mid Norfolk, tries his hand at bellringing after launching Dereham Day

George Freeman (right), MP for Mid Norfolk, tries his hand at bellringing after launching Dereham Day - Credit: Denise Bradley