'We have everything to be proud of' - Suffolk Day 2018 is here!
PUBLISHED: 05:00 21 June 2018
Today bells will ring and flags will fly for all that is wonderful about our county.
The countdown to the second ever Suffolk Day is finally over and celebrations can well and truly get underway.
And what better day to showcase the county than summer solstice – the longest day of the year.
The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, said: “Today we are celebrating Suffolk Day the length and breadth of this treasured county of ours.
“We all have our own special reasons for loving Suffolk and our own special places we love within it, and I for one cannot think of anywhere better to live and to work.
“We have everything to be proud of and to enjoy.
“I hope that all the countless activities planned today are an overwhelming success, and it is my privilege to send the best wishes of Her Majesty the Queen whose representative I am in the county to you all on this our Suffolk Day.”
Suffolk Day is the brainchild of BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show host, Mark Murphy.
Mr Murphy borrowed the idea from Yorkshire, and it has now also been launched over the border in Norfolk.
He said: “We don’t come together as a whole county very often so it’s a chance for us to wave the Suffolk flag and shout a little bit about what we have and what we do, which we don’t do often enough.”
When asked what was great about Suffolk, Mr Murphy said: “I was born here, I have lived here all my life so I might be being a bit biased but I think it has the best of everything: a fabulous coast line, we are the gateway to the Broads, we have The Brecks in west Suffolk, Constable Country in the south, we are an hour away from London on the train, but above all it’s the people who live here.”
He added: “It’s right we do it on summer solstice because we see the sun before anyone else and it’s the longest day to shout about what we have.”
Presenters from BBC Radio Suffolk will host their shows from all over the county today, including Sudbury, Felixstowe, Aldeburgh, Ipswich and Ickworth.
Oliver Paul, director at Suffolk Food Hall, has been instrumental in rallying together supporters for Suffolk Day and organising events.
He said: “The first year showed its potential, showed it had wings, but this year it’s really taken off and flown.
“There are different events across the length and breadth of the county.
“This is a real grass-roots initiative and it’s number one objective is the social wellbeing that comes off the back of it. It’s a feel good activity and quiet rightly because we have something genuine here that we can be proud of.”
Mr Paul said a celebration like this was needed now more than ever given the recent incidents of tragedy and violence in Ipswich.
He added: “It’s not to try and stick our heads in the sand and ignore those difficulties, it’s quite the opposite. It’s to thank the charities that help us deal with those problems.”
Mr Paul said Suffolk Day had already grown from the inaugural event, and he expected it to get bigger and better every year.
He added: “It can’t lose its raison d’être about communities getting together and doing things in their own area but it’s going further and wider.”
The weather is expected to be kind to us, with experts predicting a dry and comfortably warm day.
Chris Bell, forecaster at Weatherquest, said temperatures were set to hit highs of 19C (66.2F) or 20C (68F).
He added: “There will be a real mixture of sunny spells and cloud and it will feel a lot fresher than [yesterday] with a north westerly wind.
“Overall it will be a fairly pleasant day.”
Mr Bell said Suffolk should see 16 hours and 44 minutes of sunlight.
The bells from 25 towers will sound today for Suffolk.
Ropes will be pulled by the county’s two bishops as well as members of the Suffolk Guild of Ringers.
There will even be Suffolk Day bells chiming in Dorset, where some of the county’s ringers are holidaying.
Neal Dodge, of Suffolk Guild of Ringers, said: “It’s very appropriate to celebrate England’s finest county with the finest sound; church bells! So on Suffolk Day 25 towers will provide the soundtrack to what will be a grand day for our county.
“The sound of bells ringing is deeply rooted in our culture. Almost everyone in Suffolk lives within hearing range of bells. It’s a sound that we’ve all heard so many times and it’s a sound with a story.
“For centuries they’ve provided that grand soundtrack to our historic moments, calling out for our celebrations whether that be royal weddings or village fetes.
“The lives of people and the sound of bells have been intertwined for so long that the story of bells is the story of us, and the story of Suffolk.”
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks will be on a grand tour of the county today visiting some the best businesses, attractions and museums.
He said: “I’m really excited to be involved in Suffolk Day. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Suffolk to showcase everything that’s great about our county.”
Steven Allman, visitor experience manager at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “Ipswich as the county town is pleased and proud to be part of this year’s special celebrations.
“We have a lot going on and hope local people and visitors alike can all get in the Suffolk spirit.”