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Thanks for all you do - Celebrating our amazing community heroes for Suffolk Day

PUBLISHED: 16:23 18 June 2020

Ipswich Hospital emergency department Sister Rachel Carpenter, left, with colleague Julia Day Picture: JULIA DAY

Ipswich Hospital emergency department Sister Rachel Carpenter, left, with colleague Julia Day Picture: JULIA DAY

Julia Day

As a key part of the Suffolk Day celebrations, we’re highlighting the county’s greatest asset - its amazing people.

Nicola Rowland of Park Manor residential home Picture: ULTIMATE CARE UKNicola Rowland of Park Manor residential home Picture: ULTIMATE CARE UK

We asked you to tell us about your community heroes, particularly those who have stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today we are spotlighting some of those who go the extra mile to help others. Suffolk Day 2020 is going ahead on Sunday, June 21, but the ‘big weekender’ gets under way on Friday, June 19, to celebrate all that is great about our county.

Julia Day, a nurse working in Ipswich Hospital’s A&E, nominated a colleague. She wrote: “Ipswich Hospital emergency department Sister Rachel Carpenter is a nurse practitioner working way over her contracted hours to cover the shifts in A&E.

She’s gone above and beyond, working out of her role during the pandemic, whilst also being a supportive colleague.

Some of Coddenham's volunteers, from left, Rod Stanley- Bell, Maria Dixon, Sue Allison and Bliss Marshall Picture: ANDREW MACPHERSONSome of Coddenham's volunteers, from left, Rod Stanley- Bell, Maria Dixon, Sue Allison and Bliss Marshall Picture: ANDREW MACPHERSON

“She is there for anyone and has a heart of gold. She’s a single mum of three lovely boys and never has any time for herself, because she’s always either working or offering help to her friends.

“She’s one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met and you always know when she’s around as you can hear her laugh before you can see her!”

Laura Biggs, health and wellbeing co-ordinator at Park Manor residential home in Tuddenham Road, Ipswich, contacted us to pay tribute to manager Nicola Rowland.

She said: “All the staff want to thank her - she has worked so hard to keep the home free from the virus.

Liz Harsant is enjoying her new life in the town centre Picture: PAUL GEATERLiz Harsant is enjoying her new life in the town centre Picture: PAUL GEATER

“We have not had any cases, she spent most nights reading up all she could do to keep her resident staff. We always had PPE - her hard work paid off.”

Claire Hargrave of community internet radio station Radio Stradbroke told us how the team of volunteers have stepped up to keep villagers informed during the pandemic.

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She wrote: “In more normal times broadcasting once a week on Sunday, the team have taken on the task of keeping Stradbroke informed and entertained daily during lockdown.

Radio Stradbroke DJ Kim Bannon at home Picture:RadioStradbroke.co.ukRadio Stradbroke DJ Kim Bannon at home Picture:RadioStradbroke.co.uk

“The Radio Stradbroke Home Service has been running since March - named for the new normal. The DJs - all Stradbroke residents - have all set up their own home studios and have been broadcasting a four hour show (10am - 2pm) on a daily rota system, seven days a week.

“The station has benefitted from the return from university of two alumni of the station - DJs Kara Moon and Owen Hargrave and has even acquired a new Stradbroke DJ during this time. Brett Baber. All the DJs and the Radio Stradbroke tech support have continued to work their shows around also working their day jobs/uni work from home.

“The shows are a mixture of themed content and request shows - but the constant element throughout has been the daily news updates to Stradbroke and surrounding villages regarding how to use the local NHS services, how to respond if you think you have CV19, what shops are open, what shops are closed, and, very importantly, the availability status of the local takeaways.

“On VE Day DJ and station manager Marty Norris broadcast from his front garden for the socially distanced street party and it was so popular that he is now getting requests to do it again and again.”

Radio Stradbroke DJ Owen Hargrave at home Picture:RadioStradbroke.co.ukRadio Stradbroke DJ Owen Hargrave at home Picture:RadioStradbroke.co.uk

Andrew MacPherson, chair of the Coddenham Centre, got in touch to let us know about the work of volunteers operating from the Coddenham Community Shop, who have been recognised in a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, the Countess of Euston.

Villagers have been busy distributing food and gift packages, all sourced from the Community Shop, and set up a Covid-19 response group to give support to anyone in the village needing help.

Lady Euston, writing as the Queen’s personal representative in Suffolk, said: “I have been told what a fantastic job you all do in Coddenham. Without you, life could be unbearable for so many more friends and neighbours. You are the ray of light that shows that we will get through this challenge together.”

Marie Jessup wrote: “My lovely neighbours in Gainsborough Road deserve a thank you, they may not wish to be named but throughout lockdown they have lifted morale in the road by singing weekly each Thursday.

Radio Stradbroke DJ Richard Pierce broadcasting from home Picture: RadioStradbroke.co.ukRadio Stradbroke DJ Richard Pierce broadcasting from home Picture: RadioStradbroke.co.uk

“They have also baked caked and treats every single week for the community nurse team that I work for in Ipswich.”

And Mary Daley said her community hero was Ipswich borough councillor Liz Harsant. “She does so much for her community and during this Covid period she calls five people every day, checking they are OK.”

Send us an email to tell us about your community heroes.


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A Suffolk safari organiser is back on the trail after lockdown. Philip Charles returned from six years working as a bear guide and researcher in British Columbia in Canada to set up Spirit of Suffolk in his home county. But the newly-formed business took a temporary hit when the coronavirus crisis struck. As well as safaris, Phil also runs photography workshops, and produces prints and home-made short books. He is a lecturer at Suffolk New College, teaching wildlife and conservation-based modules on the Suffolk Rural campus in Otley. Through his business, he aims to build a conservation-based economy connecting visitors with Suffolk’s stunning countryside both digitally and physically through safaris and lectures. “I spend most of my time on safari in farmland habitat on the Shotley and Deben peninsulas,” he says. “This guiding season for Spirit of Suffolk started early March and I had several safari bookings as well as two photography workshops planned throughout March and April.” Philip was just one safari into the season – with one urban fox tour under his belt – with the business really taking off when lockdown measures were introduced on March 23, which meant he had to ditch his planned events. Lockdown hit him hard on a personal level too, he admits. “I always thought I would be able to head out to the countryside still, alone, and with caution. But as lockdown measures were introduced I realised this was not to be the case. “On a personal level this was deeply troubling as time spent in nature forms who I am as a person in both actions and spirit. “From a business perspective initially it felt shattering as I could not operate any of the core elements of the business, and to have started the season so spectacularly well with an amazing first safari and superb urban fox tour I really felt bad for the guests that had trips booked and were now not able to take them. “As a wildlife photographer but living in central Ipswich I also felt limited in what I could do photography-wise.” But he picked himself up and started working on his website and social media strategies. It was a “joy” to provide a vital connection with nature to people stuck at home, he said. “Early on in the lockdown I started a project called ‘On the Doorstep’ in which I would spend a little time each day stood on my doorstep and photograph the comings and goings of people.” The project now forms part of a cultural snapshot of Ipswich in 2020 collated by Suffolk Archives. He also used the downtime to create short books. The two titles – Suffolk Wildlife - A Photo Journey, and Spirit Bear - A True Story of Isolation and Survival – have been “very popular”, selling both in the UK and abroad. They even received an accolade from veteran environmentalist and wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough who described them as “delightful”. He has two more planned – the first of which is Bears and Hares, which is set to be followed by a collection of photo stories from the doorstep project. As lockdown eased in early August he was able to resume his safaris, initially on a two-week trial basis. The pilot proved very successful and as a result he was able to begin booking events again. “Although we are nearing the quieter season I continue to take people out who are keen on enjoying the beauty of Suffolk and its wonderful wildlife and I am personally excited for the beauty and joys of autumn,” he says. “People often purchase the safaris as a gift for someone else and this continues to be popular, as a birthday present or Christmas present that can be redeemed at any point in the future.” From October, he is also planning to resume his one-day photography workshops. “I have always loved showing people the wonders of nature, whether that be a grizzly, a barn owl, killer whales or an urban fox. I think the lockdown period offered a different appreciation for the things around us and I am ever so excited to be with people again and to be showing them all the wonderful wildlife of my favourite spots in Suffolk.” He has had to adapt the tours to ensure safety, but the changes are subtle and don’t detract from the main goal - which is seeing nature, he says. “I now encourage the guest to bring along their own drink and snacks and to also bring their own pair of binoculars. We do wear face coverings while in the vehicle and with the windows open to ensure ventilation. Such changes have been well received by the safari guests and we continue to have some great wildlife viewing.” He’ll be “forever grateful” to his customers and guests for their support and understanding during the pandemic. “Recovery all depends on the current status of local restrictions and the virus itself. I am hoping that a vaccine can be in place as soon as possible. As a fledgling business I have felt a hit, although the sales of short books has helped.” But he remains “positive and optimistic”, he says. “The only way is up,” he says. His hope is that Spirit of Suffolk will become a well-known brand. “I have long term goals of buying woodland for conservation and wildlife viewing and also establishing a small lodge where I can accommodate guests for taking multi-day safaris and tours. “For now I am happy to take things slowly and cautiously, testing the waters in certain areas as I continue to grow the brand and products that I provide. “It is exciting. I am so deeply passionate about what I do that I know it will continue to be a success.” Suffolk’s wildlife in spotlight as safaris get back on track