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Annual town meeting gives residents a chance to challenge council and celebrate one another

PUBLISHED: 21:22 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 21:22 01 May 2018

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet Orrell

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet Orrell

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Residents of a Norfolk market town were honoured for their contributions to the community at the town’s annual meeting.

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the honorary freeman of the town to Sgt Duncan Slater. Photo: Harriet OrrellThe Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the honorary freeman of the town to Sgt Duncan Slater. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Each year Diss acknowledges those citizens who have gone above and beyond to help others at a ceremony in front of their friends and neighbours.

The meeting also served as an opportunity for the council to share their achievements from the past year and answer any questions from residents.

Councillor Trevor Wenman, who shall be the mayor of Diss for 15 more days, said: “There have been so many things we have achieved as a council over the last twelve months.

“The Diss Carnival, which is coming up again soon, the first organ festival which is returning, and the Diss Cyclathon - though I hope not to fall off this year.”

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the senior honoured citizen award to Jack Bell (left) and Jamie Scales (right). Photo: Harriet OrrellThe Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the senior honoured citizen award to Jack Bell (left) and Jamie Scales (right). Photo: Harriet Orrell

The main event of the evening was the awarding of the honorary freeman of the town to Sgt Duncan Slater, an inspirational veteran and double amputee.

He said: “Myself and my family have been made to feel very welcome since we moved here so thank you for the honour, it means a huge amount.”

The town council received more nominations for their honoured citizen awards than ever before and could not decide between the two junior nominees, choosing to award them both.

Ruben Botwright and Keiran Murphy, both students at Diss High School, were nominated for their efforts outside the classroom volunteering in the community.

Reporter Sabrina Johnson at the Enjoy Diss More stand at the Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet OrrellReporter Sabrina Johnson at the Enjoy Diss More stand at the Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet Orrell

For the senior award two colleagues from Betfred on Mere Street were honoured for their extra efforts which led to them saving the life of a customer.

Jack Bell, 26, and Jamie Scales, 36, noticed a regular customer had not come in for four days so they found out where he lived and called emergency services as he was unconscious.

Mr Bell said: “The police told us he was on his dying breath but we didn’t believe them at the time but the customer was in hospital for five weeks.

“Now we try to visit him at the care home every month.”

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet OrrellThe Diss Annual Town Meeting. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Residents were also given the opportunity to speak to different groups from Diss including the local police, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and our very own Enjoy Diss More.

The meeting, at the United Reformed Church on Mere Street, received one of its best ever turnouts in recent years and representatives from a number of different organisations presented to the audience.

County councillor Keith Kiddie, who stepped down from his role as a town councillor this week, said: “Diss is a perfect little town in a wonderful county, a market town which is beautifully formed.

“But Norfolk is a huge area and it is a very big business running the county.”

The Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the junior honoured citizen award to Ruben Botwright. Photo: Harriet OrrellThe Diss Annual Town Meeting. Mayor Trevor Wenman presenting the junior honoured citizen award to Ruben Botwright. Photo: Harriet Orrell

He went on to discuss how Norfolk County Council has helped the town and how Mr Kiddie himself used his member’s allowance to help fund work on the roads of Diss.

Graham Minshull and Tony Palmer spoke to the room on behalf of South Norfolk District Council and Shelia Moss King from the Heritage Triangle project discussed the achievements of the £3.4 million undertaking since it finally finished.

Chairman of Scole Parish Council Graham Moore spoke on behalf of the Neighbourhood Plan which received around a 90 per cent approval rate from the responses to the consultation which took place earlier this year.

Following the presentations the council and residents looked ahead to the coming 12 months for Diss which sees a summer full of events, opportunities and the chance for residents to have a say over how a £116,000 grant gets spent by Diss Town Council and Roydon Parish.

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