Family Gatherings

1996 England


The First World Family Gathering
City of Norwich, England 1996

THE first world gathering of Norfolk & Norwich communities was engendered in 1996 to coincide with The Lord Mayor of Norwich's annual street parade.

His Worship The Lord Mayor, Councillor Rory Quinn seen here presenting the scroll of honour gave leave for us to have some 19 of these communities join the parade by invitation of the many floats that took part.

In addition, our 'family' visitors celebrated with us the 900th anniversary of our Cathedral with the generous co-operation of Dean Stephen Platten, attended a reception by Norwich County Council and we 'took over' our equally aged castle for a final farewell with an audience of 600 to include ancient Knights, Cromwellians, our own Moriss dancers, and The British Legion entertaining their Canadian comrades.

Left: Sheringham seamen leading in the 50lb turkey from Bernard Matthews at The Castle.

All this supported by both The Norwich Society (Mrs Sheila Kefford) and The Friends of Norwich Museums (Mrs Rosemary Salt), and again with particular honour by the presence of our Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk County, Sir Timothy Colman, to every one of the main events.

The Special service at our then 900 year old Cathedral was another of the most memorable highlights.

Right: The Rural Dean congratulating myself and my mentor Stanley Taylor in The Cathedral Cloisters.

Left: The Bishop of Norwich & Norfolk welcoming 'The Family', and astonished that this historical event had come about. The Dean of Norwich Cathedral to the right.

To me, one of the most heart warming aspects was the way in which our own citizens extended a welcome by offering accommodation, Sunday lunches and so many more generosities.
Again amongst the many wonders was the reception given by The Royal British Legion to the delegation from the Norwich Village, Ontario detachment of The Royal Canadian Legion. A trooping of The Colours and a band concert.

Right: Henry Revell receiving a presentation from Lance Body, Commander of the Ontario detachment. Henry organised that most evocative final to the grand gathering at Norwich Castle, a bugler to sound The Last Post.

Some of the delegations that attended that 1st Gathering...

Above: The extremely powerful and popular delegation from the City of Norwich, Connecticut, in Cathedral Close.
In the background a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson, a Norfolk man.

Left: Debbie and Colin Tait with the Norwich City Crier representing Norfolk Town, Connecticut.

Karlene and Jim Skillen of Norwich, Kingman County, Kansas came to that very first gathering of The Norwich and Norfolk Family in 1996 ....

In the Lord Mayor's parade they were transported in a wagon that could well have been of the same breed as that of her pioneer ancestors - and cheered by the 20,000 strong crowds that learned, probably for the first time, of Norwich, Kingman County, Kansas, U.S.A.

City of Norfolk, Nebraska's delegates to Norwich, Norfolk, England for the First International Family Gathering, standing outside the West Door of Norwich Cathedral.

Left: The City of Norwich, New York delegation. From left to right - Norwich UK historian, Marge & Jerry Chomyszak and Betty Distil (Betty had a Norwich pen friend from the second world war until recently).
Some 20 communities were represented (and then only some 30 had been found by that time!) and Marge played a full part!

Right: The New York team on board the Norwich Union Coach in the Lord Mayors procession.

Left: Persuading The Bishop of Norfolk & Norwich to sign a memento world map - gently.

The East Norwich, New York delegation with my wife, Huguette and myself!

Dorothy McGee said that she had been surprised at the shortness of the flight from New York and then we discovered she had come by Concorde!
Such was the importance of this visit that the Norwich Town Crier took responsibility.

His Worship The Lord Mayor of Norwich UK accepted the Oyster Bay flag.
This was also on display at the second World Gathering on Norfolk Island, South Pacific, 2000

The Norfolk, New York community was represented by The Hon Patricia Fanning, assisted by Malcolm Starks, Library Chairman, Vicky Brothers, Librarian and Leon Burnap, photographing historian. The delegation was attended by Carol Robinson, a Norwich City, UK cultural guide. They were taken to a memorial placed by Norwich citizens in memory of one of their own who as part of an aircraft crew based in Norfolk and a part of that large contingent of American airmen, had avoided crashing into a Norwich housing estate, but subsequently lost their lives in so doing.

Representatives of Norfolk NY at the first Family Gathering.

Hon Patricia Fanning giving a presentation in Norfolk County Hall, England. (That figure bending over on the left is a delighted organiser looking at the clock and its dedication that had been presented to him - and which now is in the permanent organisational office, a reminder of Norfolk Community, New York State).

Right: The Norwich, Vermont delegation brought their own banner.

Norfolk Island were the largest of the 19 delegations, but they came with a double intention. The first was the appreciation of the great potential in the formation of the World Family. The second was the celebration of the wedding of Alan & Judy Kerr's son to a Norwich girl !

Nan & Fred Smith from the Island during that momentous visit to Norwich, England with the Norwich Castle behind them.

Pearl & Nadine Dobbin representing both North & South Norfolk, Manitoba at that first international gathering in 1996 in Norwich City, Norfolk County, England. The guard of honour was provided by the Girl Guides of Norfolk County.
The handsome, well dressed, young man on the left is John Leader who farms both in South Norfolk, Manitoba & Suffolk, England.

Mayor Hector Verhoeve and his delegation from Norfolk Township, Ontario looked after by The Norwich City Town Crier and standing outside the old City Hall or Guild Hall to give it its proper title - dating from 1420.

Mayor Hector Verhoeve with the Chief Executive of Norwich Union (as was). The change of name at Norwich Union happened about the same time as that of the Township of Norfolk)

Amongst the many admired aspects of The Norfolk Township delegation was their vast distribution of Canadian flags! It was suggested that every third child of Norwich City, UK had one in that population of some 200,000 !!!
Norwich Township were also the honoured guests of The British Legion Division of Norwich City, in company with those representatives of The Canadian Legion from their neighbouring Norwich Village, Oxford County, Ontario.

Norwich Village Canadian Legion and The Norwich & District Museum combined to represent Norwich Village, Oxford County, Ontario at the first world gathering.
And here - those pioneers in Norwich England, July 1996 to meet 30,000 Norwich & Norfolk citizens during the annual Lord Mayor's Parade. Front row Jaqueline Body and daughter holding the notice and just behind wearing caps are Lance Body and elder daughter. Every one wearing the World Family T shirt. It was wonderful to have them with us and The British Legion gave them a right royal display and welcome as well!

Right: Royal British Legion's Henry Revell welcoming Lance Body of The Royal Canadian Legion

And finally...
The delegation from Norfolk, Taranaki Province, New Zealand, who were a great joy.