Why we need to be proud of our county this Suffolk Day
PUBLISHED: 12:56 21 May 2019
June 21 is our day to shine and to show just why we're happy to be different. Terry Hunt is former editor of the East Anglian Daily Times. Suffolk born and bred, he lives in Ipswich
Let's have a huge party to celebrate everything that's great about our wonderful county. That's the invitation on offer for this year's Suffolk Day.
It's our chance to forget the world's worries, woes and annoyances for a few hours, and truly enjoy the best of Suffolk. We deserve it!
The event takes place on June 21, the longest day of the year. This year, because Suffolk Day falls on a Friday, it's being extended into the weekend. A wonderful three-day celebration.
It really was a great idea from Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk. To be fair, Yorkshire started it all, but Suffolk was hard on their heels. Now, our neighbours in Norfolk have followed suit, and the Government is encouraging all counties to get involved.
I wrote in this column last month about the modesty of Suffolk people, and how they are very often reluctant to shout about their achievements. It's a charming quality, but can also be a little frustrating. When it comes to celebrating Suffolk, that reticence doesn't seem to apply.
People are happy to organise special events and do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I guess that's because they feel they're not bragging about themselves, but are recognising the qualities of the county where they grew up, or which they discovered later in life.
It really is a brilliant opportunity to mark everything which is special, and unique, about Suffolk. Because, let's make no mistake, Suffolk is unique. It really annoys me when people lump 'Norfolk and Suffolk' together as if they are a single place. They're not. They are very different, and we should recognise and celebrate that.
Of course, there are similarities, and there are lots of examples when the two counties are best served by working together. Government departments, for example, seem to find it easier to deal with bigger areas, and that's important when it comes to funding.
But it's also essential that we retain our distinctive qualities. Try telling the locals in Devon and Cornwall that they're basically the same and see what kind of reaction you get! Exactly the same applies here in the east.
I know lots of organisations and businesses are planning special events for Suffolk Day, and the 'Big Weekender'. It's a terrific opportunity for them to put themselves into the spotlight. That's important too. In Suffolk we have many brilliant entrepreneurs running wonderful, often very small, businesses.
They don't have big marketing budgets, and are too busy simply doing what they do to get their message out there.
The same goes for local charities. Since I retired from the East Anglian Daily Times, I've been fortunate enough to work with three extraordinary charities, St Elizabeth Hospice, Headway Suffolk, and Inspire Suffolk. They work hard to change people's lives for the better.
I know there are many, many more charities also doing wonderful work. Suffolk Day gives them the chance to spread the word.
So let's have a right old knees-up on Suffolk Day. Let's celebrate everything our wonderful, unique county has to offer - and let's not be shy about doing it!
One terrific example of Suffolk shining is in food and drink. I was privileged to be a judge in this year's Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, organised by the EADT and Suffolk Magazine, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the awards night.
It was a great celebration of the breadth, depth and sheer brilliance of all our food and drink businesses. So much hard work, so much talent, so many fantastic businesses, so much delicious food and drink!
I helped to judge the Best Tea and Coffee Shop category, and special congratulations to Hullabaloo in Ipswich, the winners. Well done for daring to be different!