FENLANDER: High Sheriff and Bishop of Ely tell people to ‘believe in Wisbech and be proud of it’

THE High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire has issued a rousing call to “believe in Wisbech and be proud of it”.

Richard Barnwell was speaking after accompanying the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Rev Stephen Conway, on a whistle-stop tour of some of the town’s main attractions.

Mr Barnwell, whose term of office finishes at the end of this month, lives in Wisbech. He said: “What I’ve been trying to do during my year as High Sheriff is to get people from all over the county to visit Wisbech.

“There has been a long-standing invitation to the bishop to come and see some of the treasures we’ve got. I was delighted to welcome him here and I think he was very impressed.

“Recently the town has had some rather bad publicity, which has been very unfair. I accept we’ve got some problems but we’ve also got an awful lot to offer. In my year of office I’ve tried to do my best to promote it.

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“I believe in Wisbech and I believe in the north of the Fens. Sometimes we get too down on ourselves. Peterborough has its issues, too, and so does Cambridge. We need to steady our nerve and try to go forward.”

Mr Barnwell’s optimism was echoed by Bishop Conway, whose tour last week took in the town hall, the castle and Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House.

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The bishop also visited the Boathouse Business Centre, where he was briefed by Fenland councillor Mac Cotterell on the regeneration of the riverside.

The bishop said: “Some of that regeneration has been delayed by the recession but it offers great promise for the future when there is an economic upturn.

“The Bishops of Ely have a centuries-long association with Wisbech as a place which my forebears considered as home. I desire such a connection with the town and share the hopes of many for its flourishing and regeneration.”

He said he was also “well aware of the economic and social stresses that Wisbech experiences”. He was due to return to the town this week to spend time in the North Ward with the Rev Neil Gardner, vicar of St Augustine’s Church, and to meet people at the Oasis centre and other places.

He also plans to come back again in May for an event at the Rosmini Centre to celebrate the co-operation between people of all faiths in the area.

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