Suffolk Day 2019: What our county means to the people who call it home

PUBLISHED: 13:12 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:16 11 June 2019

Felixstowe huts

Felixstowe huts

(c) copyright

Suffolk Day is now a firm date in the county calendar, a day for celebration, reflection and confidently stepping into the future | Words: Jayne Lindill

Suffolk Day, June 21, is the day we celebrate our wonderful county - all the great reasons we have to enjoy living, working, learning and doing business here.

As notable days go, it's a relatively new one - this is only the third year Suffolk Day has made it onto the county calendar. But it's catching on fast, even among modest Suffolk folk, not known for blowing their own trumpets.

As well as providing an excuse for a party, Suffolk Day carries a more serious message about promoting the county's considerable achievements, its talented people and exciting potential.

Suffolk Punch horses at Easton Farm Park. Pictire: EASTON FARM PARKSuffolk Punch horses at Easton Farm Park. Pictire: EASTON FARM PARK

From this year, June 21 will be the day that a number of Suffolk Medals are awarded, a thoughtful legacy from George Vestey, High Sheriff in 2018/19.

And because nowhere's perfect, Suffolk Day is also an opportunity to highlight some of the challenges the county faces, and to talk about ways we can tackle important issues and make life in Suffolk even better.

We asked a selected few people from various walks of Suffolk life to talk about their county.

Sutton Hoo will likely experience some fog on Boxing Day Picture: NATIONAL TRUST IMAGES/JUSTIN MINNSSutton Hoo will likely experience some fog on Boxing Day Picture: NATIONAL TRUST IMAGES/JUSTIN MINNS

The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston

As Her Majesty's personal representative in Suffolk, The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, is responsible for promoting and supporting the work of many county-wide organisations, as well as civic, military, commercial, voluntary and social activities.

Lady Euston, together with her team of a Vice Lord Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenants, ensures that a modern and accessible Lieutenancy serves the best interests and aspirations of people, places and organisations in all parts of our vibrant county.

"We all have our own particular reasons for loving Suffolk. It is uniquely wonderful. The county is a dynamic and diverse mix of individuals, communities, cultures, organisations and social networks, making it one of the best places in the United Kingdom to live, work and visit.

Leiston Long Shop Museum Picture: CONTRIBUTEDLeiston Long Shop Museum Picture: CONTRIBUTED

"Ever-increasing numbers of people are choosing Suffolk as home. Our wide rural landscapes, dramatic coastline, patchwork of ancient market towns and villages that support so many smaller communities, make this county as close to perfection that you will find anywhere.

"From global businesses that are based here, to the thousands of smaller enterprises with big ambitions for growth, from the international home of horse racing in Newmarket and our growing tourism sector.

"From our food, drink and agriculture, one of the biggest contributors to our economy and its largest employer, to the army of volunteers who give so freely of their time and expertise.

"The extensive network services that care for and protect us, including health and wellbeing, education, the Police and Emergency Services and our Armed Forces. We treasure and value each and every one, knowing that together, they are at the heart of what makes Suffolk so special.

Sudbury town centre including the Thomas Gainsborough statue. Picture: GREGG BROWNSudbury town centre including the Thomas Gainsborough statue. Picture: GREGG BROWN

"And yet this picture perfect image conceals a stark reality. Research by the Suffolk Community Foundation shows that Suffolk is also home to serious deprivation, in fact some of the worst in the country.

"The picture of 'hidden need' is as true for our isolated rural communities, with examples of poverty, loneliness and limited access to services, as much as it is in our urban areas where, for example, the scourge of drugs and knife crime is threatening community life and depriving young people of opportunities to make the very best of themselves. That 20,000 children in Suffolk are living in poverty is totally unacceptable.

"A vital part of our work in the Suffolk Lieutenancy is to shine a spotlight on issues that matter the most and to bring together individuals and organisations to help address challenges we face.

"We make sure that exceptional service is recognised, and that achievements are shared and celebrated. For example, the commissioning of a new Suffolk Medal, designed by the incomparable Maggi Hambling, will recognise annually those individuals who give the ultimate in distinguished service to Suffolk. Suffolk's highest honour to one of its own. The first medals are to be presented to coincide with Suffolk Day, June 21.

Vumba Deeanne enjoying the sunshine.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVumba Deeanne enjoying the sunshine. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"We are very fortunate to enjoy the support and encouragement of members of the Royal Family, who I have the pleasure to host during their regular visits to Suffolk. Their keen interest in many aspects of county life provides enormous encouragement to the many people and organisations they meet.

"During my own frequent visits across Suffolk, I am constantly in awe of the incredible work and dedication of people, particularly those that volunteer 'above and beyond' their busy day-to-day lives. May I take this opportunity to thank most sincerely all those who already contribute so much in so many different ways. I hope that through the celebration of Suffolk Day, we can encourage many more to join in and to get involved.

"As Lord Lieutenant, I am deeply fortunate to have the support of people of talent, enthusiasm and expertise, who are out and about serving the county every day. Together, we can share ideas that can often solve seemingly intractable problems and quietly but determinedly make sure that things get done.

"Together, let's work to get to grips with the big challenges and make the beautiful Suffolk we all love and enjoy, open, accessible and prosperous for all."

Anyone over 21 can apply to be a mature student. It could help you improve your career progression or start a new career entirely  Picture: University of SuffolkAnyone over 21 can apply to be a mature student. It could help you improve your career progression or start a new career entirely Picture: University of Suffolk

Simon Amstutz, of Suffolk's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)

"I was fortunate to hear Sir David Attenborough speak recently, and it got me thinking about 'national treasures'. In Suffolk, I suggest, we have at least two national treasures, The Suffolk Coast & Heaths and Dedham Vale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

"These nationally designated landscapes are outstanding. Economically they support a tourism industry worth over £250 million per annum, and support over 6,000 jobs. Environmentally they are recognised as two of England's finest landscapes with wonderful wildlife. Socially they are packed with fantastic communities doing wonderful projects for their local environment.

"For those lucky enough to live in them or visit them they are packed with opportunities to enjoy locally produced food and drink, full of walking and riding opportunities for all levels of fitness and ability and a cultural heaven full of contemporary and historic artistic influences, countless festivals and historical features. Much of what is enjoyed in the AONBs is not by accident.

"Farming and wildlife charities maintain the outstanding landscapes. Access routes need maintaining, and the natural beauty of the areas needs to be protected from inappropriate development that should not have a negative impact on these national treasures.

"I was too in awe to ask the national treasure that is Sir David anything during the question and answer session that followed his talk. I urge you not to be like me but to get out there and immerse yourself in Suffolk's national treasures, the Suffolk Coast & Heaths and Dedham Vale AONBs. I would nominate the AONBs as Suffolk icons."

simon amstutz sc&h aonb and Dedham Vale aonb managersimon amstutz sc&h aonb and Dedham Vale aonb manager

Professor Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor University of Suffolk

"Suffolk is a welcoming, passionate, and generally sunny place. Only an hour from London, it remains a hidden gem with its rural idylls, its coastal landscapes and its lovely historic towns.

"I have been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk for just about a year, and I have been struck by the enormous support and pride that exists in the county, something Suffolk Day exemplifies.

"We need to shout about our achievements more. Our 'hidden gem' needs to be showcased as a jewel in the crown. For too long we have been known as 'sleepy Suffolk' but the tide is turning.

"Suffolk houses the biggest digi-tech company with the largest number of patents in the UK lodged under Ipswich, the largest off shore wind farm in the world, a world famous race course, and manages 50 per cent of all UK freight through its ports. Putting Suffolk on the map as the 'go to' place, for tourism, education, industry, housing, is key in our future success.

"My family have had a home in Suffolk since 1964 so I have spent so much time in the county over many years and it holds a huge amount of memories for us. Cold swims in the North Sea followed by brisk runs along the beaches to get dry and warm, fish and chips, crabbing, castles and other historical places visited, stock car racing in Peasenhall (sadly long gone), helping our farming neighbour to milk cows - the list is endless and resonates with the diversity that was, and still is, Suffolk.

"As a child, I remember knowing we were in Suffolk when I could see the large skies with ripe corn fields- iconic Suffolk for me."

Professor Helen Langston, the University of Suffolk's new vice chancellor Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLKProfessor Helen Langston, the University of Suffolk's new vice chancellor Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK

Sandy Ruddock, owner of Scarlett & Mustard and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership board member

"Farming and agriculture sit at the heart of Suffolk's strengths, plus a thriving sustainable energy industry. We also cannot ignore the fact that we are closer to Europe than London. It is the first place in the UK where the sun rises every morning - we have more sunlight than any other county in the UK - and this is reflected in its big open spaces which bring a sense of light and warmth to the county.

"Few very built up areas mean we have fresh, clean air making it a wonderful place to live and work. We have recognised the need to invest in business, and there are many partners willing to invest in small businesses in terms of time, advice and financially. A beautiful coastline supports buoyant tourism and leisure activities for young and old. It has one of the best performing LEPs in the country and the people are resilient.

"The obvious challenges are twofold - a lack of motorways means transport is hampered, and being so rural we still have many areas without fast broadband. We are also not on the way to anywhere which means people do not pass through the county, but travel here to be here, so passing trade is limited. We have severe deprivation in some of our towns, and it is a challenge to find solutions to this.

"I have been amazed by the welcoming and warm disposition of the people of Suffolk, both on a social level and within my industry (food). There is a close knit business community, who take the view that collaboration is the way forward, rather than competition. People are very keen to work together to share ideas and practices. It is a place where entrepreneurship is celebrated in all fields, meaning that innovation is at the forefront of life here.

"I love Suffolk because it is the most beautiful county to walk my dogs and ride my bike, both huge parts of my life here.

"My Suffolk icons? Clare Euston is the person I would nominate, Newmarket the place (for the horse racing), and a hare as the county's animal, of course!"

Sandy RuddockSandy Ruddock

Tim Robinson, chief operating officer of Tech East

"We all know what an amazing place Suffolk is to live in - beautiful coast and country, pretty towns and villages, a great cultural and food scene. But Suffolk is also a fantastic place to learn, work, to start and grow a business. The tech scene is thriving, not just at the well known Adastral Park, home to BT's global R&D hub but also in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Framlingham and Stowmarket.

"I see mainly opportunities for Suffolk rather than challenges. Having grown up in Felixstowe and moving back to Suffolk in 2008 to raise my kids, it irritates me when, occasionally, Suffolk-based people are negative about the county.

"However, I worry that there are increasingly two Suffolks. We have parts of Ipswich, Lowestoft and Felixstowe which are among the most deprived wards in the UK, whereas towns like Aldeburgh, Southwold and Framlingham are hugely affluent. Young people, families and the elderly all deserve the same opportunities, and the local tech industry can play an important role in supporting communities and providing well paid jobs for our young people.

"Suffolk has most things I love these days (except for mountains!). It's a great place to work but, outside that, I enjoy chilling out over a flat white at the Fire Station in Woodbridge, wild swimming or kayaking at Iken or Covehithe, lunch at Darsham Nurseries, shopping for food in our local butchers, greengrocers, bakers and delis, catching a movie at the Aldeburgh Cinema, but most of all a pint of Vic in the Station [pub] in Framlingham.

"My county icon would be my dad, Tony Robinson (1944-2017), an unsung Suffolk hero. He moved to Felixstowe in 1974 and never left, doing a huge service to the county: as Deputy Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council; as founding chair of Home-Start Suffolk Coastal, as a governor of Colneis Junior School and latterly chair of East Suffolk NHS Primary Care Trust.

"A modest man who really loved Suffolk and as a Benjamin Britten fan, he and my mum, Sue, were great supporters of Aldeburgh Music and Snape Maltings."

Tim Robinson, chief operating officer at TechEast. Picture: GREGG BROWNTim Robinson, chief operating officer at TechEast. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Jo Reeder is head of fundraising and marketing for Age UK Suffolk

"As a born and bred Suffolk girl who has chosen to stay and live and work in the county, I love the fact we have a 'bit of everything', from the seaside to beautiful landscapes, towns with shops and quaint country villages. Although we're a rural county, none of it is so far apart that we can't experience and enjoy it all.

"For me, Suffolk's home - I can't imaging living anywhere different. The fact that one day I could choose to go to the beach, and the next shopping in one of our great local towns, is such a bonus.

"Our sense of community is strong. As a charity, we see that Suffolk people really do care, they want to help, give their time to causes that matter to them. Our rurality is a challenge. While it's a blessing in some ways, it can cause problems, particularly for our older population.

"With a well publicised ageing society - much higher than the national average - this is going to increase the challenges we face in the next 20 years and beyond. Our road networks are not always the best.

"As Suffolk grows in population, this is something that needs to be addressed to ensure that connectivity for everyone is the best it can be."

Jo Reeder of Age Uk Suffolk
Picture: ROSS DEANJo Reeder of Age Uk Suffolk Picture: ROSS DEAN

The Suffolk you know

Total resident population:

(2017 estimate): 756,978

Male: 374,303 (49.5%)

Female: 382,675 (50.6%)

0 - 15: 136,428 (18%)

16 - 64: 447,384 (59.1%)

65+: 173,166 (22.9%)

UK nationals: 655,000 (89%)

Non-UK nationals: 81,000 (11%)

Projection: 831,400 by 2041

Where we live:

Rural: 288,721 (39.7%)

Rural and hub towns: 435,571 (59.8%)

Urban: 292,592 (40.2%)


Number of businesses (2018): 29,470

Unemployment rate (Dec 2018): 3.7%


Total from Mar 18-Feb 19: 54,107 (71 per 1,000 persons)

Violent & sexual: 21,472 (28 per 1,000 persons)

Anti-social: 8,459 (11 per 1,000 persons

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