80th holiday pilgrimage
AS 89-year-old Roy Chamberlain approached Noddy the donkey on Great Yarmouth beach, he could be forgiven for thinking the animal was a fake.For in pictures he has from the early 1920s, a youthful Mr Chamberlain was more used to posing with cut out donkeys and a stuffed model of an equine on the beach as he enjoyed a traditional British holiday.
AS 89-year-old Roy Chamberlain approached Noddy the donkey on Great Yarmouth beach, he could be forgiven for thinking the animal was a fake.
For in pictures he has from the early 1920s, a youthful Mr Chamberlain was more used to posing with cut out donkeys and a stuffed model of an equine on the beach as he enjoyed a traditional British holiday.
Mr Chamberlain's encounter with the real life Noddy by the Britannia Pier happened last Friday as he was on what is believed to be his 80th annual holiday to the resort.
He has been making the annual pilgrimage from Cambridgeshire to Norfolk every year - barring the second world war - since his father and mother took him to Yarmouth in the early 1920s.
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Mr Chamberlain, who is from Foxton, was in a nostalgic mood as he got up close with the donkeys at Parkers Donkey World on Yarmouth's central beach.
The former television factory worker said that the one main difference today from when he was young was the size of Yarmouth's beach.
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He said: “Today there is a lot more beach that there used to be. Back then the tide would go right under the pier.
“Yarmouth has changed a lot - especially the number of amusements. There were more beach games when I was a boy.
Mr Chamberlain said one of his abiding memories was of competing with other children on the beach about their sandcastle making skills.
He said children would gloat to each other: “I have got a bigger sand castle than you have.”
Mr Chamberlain also had fond memories of appearing on stage with Jimmy Savile and watching shows featuring Morecombe and Wise, Charlie Chester and Bernie Winters.
The long tradition of annual trips to Yarmouth has passed on the next generation as Mr Chamberlain's daughter Pat Homent also makes regular trips to the resort.
Mrs Homent, 53, also from Foxton, said: “Dad loves it and so do I. There is something for everyone from the beach for children to shops for older people.”
And it looks like father and daughter will renew their acquaintance with Noddy the donkey in 2010 as they said they would definitely return to Yarmouth next year.
Andy Parker from Parkers Donkey World said he could not believe it when he saw the photographs of a young Mr Chamberlain sitting with fake donkeys - especially as the company was about to launch its own donkey cart ride.
He said that since the company was set up four years ago there was no need for youngsters to ever sit on a replica again to enjoy one of the Great British holiday traditions.
Mr Parker said: “Every summer we are rammed with children.”