Heaven & Hell: Franstine Jones

Franstine Jones

Franstine Jones - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Franstine was the first female president of the National Black Police Association and currently heads up BInspyred - an organisation she founded that provides equality training, coaching and mentoring to those from black, Asian, and other ethnic minority backgrounds. In this year’s New Year’s Honours list Franstine was awarded a British Empire Medal for her work as a volunteer and trustee at the National Black Police Association and for her services to  the local community. Here she talks to Gina Long

How has Covid impacted your life?

Covid made me realise that life is too short, and that I was not where I needed to be. Last year was the worst and the best time in my life. I have re-evaluated and have moved on to the next chapter. I truly believe that God puts you where you need to be in life for a reason.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I was born in Ipswich and have lived in Suffolk all my life. My work takes me throughout the region, along with travelling further afield.

What is your East Anglian heaven?

I love shopping in independent shops, thankfully there are so many lovely shops in East Anglia. I’m always able to find unusual clothes and furniture.

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What is your East Anglian Hell?

Roadworks!

What are your favourite East Anglian restaurants?

Norfolk and Suffolk have so many great restaurants that it's hard to select one or two. I must confess, I love Nandos because,  every couple of months I meet with my girlfriends to catch up there. These are friends I’ve had since primary and secondary school. We have such a laugh about the old days, we also support each other when we are going through challenging times.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The Ipswich Waterfront.

What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Music in the Park, Global Rhythms, The Suffolk Show and The Norfolk Show are all must-visits.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

Netball.

What is always in your fridge?

Cheese.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Whatever life throws at you, learn from it!

Franstine Jones at Number 10

Franstine Jones at Number 10 - Credit: Contributed

What’s your favourite film?

The Sound of Music.

What was your first job?

A chambermaid working at the Post House Hotel in Ipswich which is now the Holiday Inn.

What is your most treasured possession?

Good health. And the cards that my children made me, when they were young. I have kept them all, when I look at them it makes me smile.

Who do you admire most?

My mum and dad. They came over from Antigua and made a home here and worked so hard to make sure that we had everything we needed. They had a good work ethic and good values which they have instilled in me.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Spa days.

What do you like about yourself most?

How resilient I am.

What’s your worst character trait?

I’m very spontaneous. I do and say some things without thinking first. Found myself in some embarrassing moments.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere that’s hot! I love the sun.

Best day of your life?

Winning my BEM award.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Smoked salmon and avocado on sourdough toast.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Red wine.

Your earliest memory?

Walking home from primary school, this elderly lady always use stop and talk to us and give a biscuit.

What would you like played at your funeral?

Something upbeat like Where is the love by Blackeye Peas. Every time I hear it I want to jump up and dance. I also like the messages throughout the song.

Tell us something people don’t know about you

I’m an open book!

What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

Why are you so black?

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

Why would I want to live somewhere else? I have everything I need around me. Countryside, lots of beaches, and good rail links to anywhere in the country.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I would like to do more work with young people, particularly black African, Caribbean and dual heritage young people. They are our future, there are not enough role models in East Anglia for them to follow. That is why I have developed BInspyred Leadership program for 12 to 16-year-olds. It’s called Rise up Wise up. I also volunteer for Suffolk Black Community Forum and am founder member of Be Me Like We and Aspire Black Suffolk, which I hope will help people in East Anglia and beyond. I have calls from interested parties overseas.

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I am always looking for interesting people from Suffolk and Norfolk to feature in my Q&A. Please contact me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com