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MILLENNIUM DIARY

Just to set the scene. I have lived in the village of Hethersett for 25 years - most of my married life.

Myself and Anne were married in July 1976 when I was almost 24 years of age. We lived firstly in Beccles in Suffolk, then Kirby Cane just outside Beccles (this being our first mortgage) and then in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.

In 1979 my work brought about a return to Norfolk. We looked at numerous properties in a variety of areas before settling for a chalet bungalow in Buckingham Drive, Hethersett.

There was no particular reason for choosing the village. It was, however, within easy reach of Norwich and the property was within our price range and the village seemed to have all the necessary amenities - in particular good schools as it was our intention of eventually starting a family.

We quickly found ourselves fitting into the village life. Now after 25 years I can scarcely contemplate living anywhere else.

We moved about a mile to another part of the village to a larger house. It is significant that when we wanted more space we had no intention of moving out of the village.

So we saw in 1980...1990 and ultimately 2000. That means we will have lived in the village in four different decades.

Our two children have never lived anywhere else. So whereas myself and Anne cannot claim to have been Hethersett born and bred, they certainly can.

I was born and brought up in Hellesdon, now a commuter area for Norwich. It is just nine miles from where we now live but might as well be 900! Anne comes from Yorkshire.

My only awareness of Hethersett as I grew up was from Anglia Television which regularly featured a garden from the village in one of its magazine programmes and secondly as a place I passed on my way to college in Harlow, Essex.

So there was no real reason for moving to the village apart from the fact that it seemed a pleasant place to be.

Over the quarter of a century we have seen the village grow - particular with a large development opposite the parish church. We have seen the A11 by-passed to ensure the quietness of the village. Through all the change, Hethersett has maintained its heart as a village with a closely knit community. The proximity of Norwich and the University of East Anglia (about three miles away) does mean that many use it as a commuting village. But that does not detract from the fact that Hethersett is a thriving village full of groups and organisations. Indeed you could argue that it enjoys the best of both worlds - close enough to Norwich, but still essentially rural in character.

I believe that it is inevitable that the village will continue to grow thanks to the new hospital at Colney and a new police headquarters two miles away close to Wymondham.

Over the years we have seen many friends and acquaintances come and go. Some have moved on because of their jobs or for personal reasons, others have grown old and died.

We have so many fond memories of people that it would be impossible to record all of them. That is not the reason for this diary. It is intended to be more of a celebration and description of our village life at the turn of the century.

I kept a diary of village life for a two year period to cover the last year of the old century and the first year of the new. By the nature of the diary many of the observations will be personal ones, many of the items featured will be matters that I am personally involved in. Overall I hope that it will stand as a record of the people, the organisations, the businesses and the buildings that exist at the turn of the century.

During the record I  looked back and set down my own memories when they were relevant to the text. In that way I  looked back to the end of the 1970s. I also used historical documentation to try and bring out the flavour of the Hethersett of the past.

I am very aware that the village has not changed a tremendous amout in the last 25 years (in relative terms of course). It is today very different, however, to the Hethersett of the turn of the last century. I  reflected this with the use of historical data and with the help of a number of local residents and historians.

One of my primary reasons for setting all this down was as a record for coming generations. Another was to fight against the intransigence of life - to leave some kind of footprint in the sands of time. This intransigence is brought home in my memory of so many people who are no longer around.

I think of the pillars of the community who shaped Hethersett over the past 100 years and also in the relatively short time that we have lived in the village. Many are now scarcely remembered. Some gave their names to roads or rooms in various halls in the village. Their names may live on, but who today wonders who these people were?

This was all brought home to me on a particular day when I helped to wash up at an event at the Methodist Church. Over the years Anne has been closely connected with the church as a steward, member and chair of numerous committees and chair of the Operation New Look organising committee which was responsible for raising funds to virtually rebuild the church.

Over the years I have had my own involvement - mainly in a supporting role - but I have had a reasonably high profile.

On this particular evening one lady looked at me and smiled.

Oh itís nice to see a new face,Ē she said

So much for 19 years (as it was at the time).

But it does prove my point. Our contribution to life is small and all too soon overlooked. Who remembers any of the characters who shaped the village 100 years ago? Who in 100 years time will remember any of us?

So what better way to add something to posterity by recording two years in the life of the village. We have an idea of what Hethersett was like at the beginning of the 20th century, but no real detailed descriptions. With modern technology we have the means to ensure that doesnít happen at the turn of the next Millennium.

For the course of this diary I have made the individual dates reasonably flexible to give a general idea of the seasons. Occasionally the timings are specific but I gave myself some licence for generalisation with dates running into one another and at times overlapping. Overall I hope it builds up a record of the feel and vitality of the village over that period of time.

Start reading the diary by following the links

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four