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Community spirit can cure so many problems in society

PUBLISHED: 08:53 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:44 05 December 2018

Denver Clinton ready to switch on the Dereham Christmas lights. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Denver Clinton ready to switch on the Dereham Christmas lights. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

If I was a gambling man, I’d put a few quid on the fact that a big percentage of those reading this column have been to a Christmas lights switch-on event over the past few days,

The crowd joins in with the Baby Shark song at the Dereham Christmas lights switch on event. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe crowd joins in with the Baby Shark song at the Dereham Christmas lights switch on event. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In cities, towns and villages around our region, they are among the biggest gatherings of people during the year.

I was at Dereham’s big get together on Sunday and estimates are that a 5000-crowd packed into the Market Place as little Denver Clinton pressed the switch to illuminate the town.

I really enjoy lights switch-on day and there are some folk that I only see on that occasion and don’t bump into at any other time in the calendar.

As I stood in the middle of my home town as the countdown got under way and 25pc of the population was united in one place, I was really struck by a sense of community.

Imogen Smith, three, in awe at the Dereham Christmas lights and tree, with her dad Gary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYImogen Smith, three, in awe at the Dereham Christmas lights and tree, with her dad Gary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Watching the expressions on faces as four-year-old Denver, who is battling cancer, took centre stage was really moving.

The support for him and his family from locals in Dereham has been amazing.

This has got me thinking about the power of community and what it can achieve.

Sunday’s event brought people together to share a good time, support local charities and celebrate the beginning of the festive season in the town.

If only that cohesive force could continue for 365 days.

Sadly so many people nowadays don’t know their neighbours.

They feel outsiders in their neighbourhoods and it’s been getting worse. That downward cycle must be reversed – if we know those around us, we keep an eye out for each other,

Families get support, the elderly are helped out – especially at this time of the year – and the wrong ‘uns can be spotted,

Police will always talk about the importance for them of having eyes and ears who can give vital information to solve crimes and break up gangs.

Loneliness, lack of hope and mental health are massive issues facing our society today.

Of course there are not easy answers to these complex problems.

However, generating a close knit community can play a vital role in changing the climate from negative to positive.

So come on, let’s pull together and really make a difference to those around us.

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