Tell us about your caring community heroes to help celebrate Suffolk Day

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 June 2020

Paula Lushington, community champion of Morrison’s supermarket in Ipswich Picture: JULIA WELHAM

Paula Lushington, community champion of Morrison’s supermarket in Ipswich Picture: JULIA WELHAM


Let us know about your community heroes, so we can spotlight their wonderful achievements as part of this year’s Suffolk Day celebrations.

Paula Lushington, community champion of Morrisons in Ipswich Picture: NANSEN ROAD CHURCHPaula Lushington, community champion of Morrisons in Ipswich Picture: NANSEN ROAD CHURCH

Today we are paying tribute to some of those who have gone above and beyond - and we want to hear about many more.

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.

A key strand of Suffolk Day 2020 centres on the county’s greatest asset – its people.

Email us to let us know about all your heroes, especially those who have stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please send us details about the person, what they’ve done, and a photo, and we will publish as many of these as we can.

Favourite characters have been bringing joy to children in Ipswich Picture: SOPHIE ANNETTFavourite characters have been bringing joy to children in Ipswich Picture: SOPHIE ANNETT

MORE - As Suffolk Day returns, how can you get involved?

Julia Welham has contacted us to pay tribute to her colleague, Paula Lushington of Morrison’s supermarket in Ipswich, who has been the store’s community champion during the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “Paula has been doing so much to support the local community by supporting Morrison’s Feed the Nation campaign, and distributing food to local food banks and charities so that people of Ipswich are able to have food when they are struggling.

“She has also been running Morrison’s doorstep deliveries, by picking people’s food shopping and delivering it to their door.

“She is always chatty and smiley, and no matter what is going on in her life, she always has time for others. So from me, thanks, Paula, you’re amazing, keep up the good work,”

Romina Arefin, innovation engineer at UK Power Networks, who is coordinating the company’s befriending service and taking part in the programme. Picture: UK POWER NETWORKSRomina Arefin, innovation engineer at UK Power Networks, who is coordinating the company’s befriending service and taking part in the programme. Picture: UK POWER NETWORKS

Julia added: “I truly feel she is one in a million. We are supporting Ipswich/Claydon Bus Shelter, Nansen Road Church, Families in Need (FIND) and several others where we can. It’s truly heartwarming to be able to help the community.”

Power workers step up to help ease isolation

Loneliness Awareness Week runs from June 15-19, and UK Power Networks has partnered with charities to launch a confidential telephone befriending service aimed at tackling social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company let us know about its dedicated volunteers. Befrienders will phone older people and those with hearing and sight loss regularly during work time through the company’s Donate a Day scheme, which gives over 6,000 employees two paid days annually to volunteer. Romina Arefin, innovation engineer, is co-ordinating the programme.

Litter Free Felixstowe taking to the beach on Suffolk Day last year Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETTLitter Free Felixstowe taking to the beach on Suffolk Day last year Picture: DEBBIE BARTLETT

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Volunteer befriender Jennifer Leitao, from Bury St Edmunds, is one of those who has taken part in Donate by Dialling, a scheme organised together with West Norfolk Befriending and Deafblind UK.

Jennifer said: “Following training and interviews, I was matched by a small charity, West Norfolk Befriending, with someone who wanted a friendly ear and to chat, something we may take for granted, but which others sadly lack.

“I was born in Africa and moved across three continents before the age of nine, which gave me a lot of life experience. I have gained compassion, understanding and tolerance and have developed those qualities as I’ve got older.

“I have volunteered in different ways throughout my life. To volunteer is to give back. It’s really personal and quite subjective. We are all passing through this life and I believe that when we give something, we get something back ten-fold. It’s like a miracle happening, like an angel coming, just when you needed it.

“I had two interviews before being matched with a person who has similar interests to me. We have family in the same areas. She has a dependent and is a carer for that person and I have an elderly mother and am a carer for her. We both enjoy gardening and the allotment.

“I hope that my calls give her friendship, somewhere to park some of her anxieties and frustrations and know she has a friend at the other end of the phone to listen. She will know that I will call her regularly.”

Anyone interested in becoming a befriender should visit the charity’s website.

Pikachu helps to spread good cheer

Meanwhile, in the Chantry area of Ipswich, popular characters Pikachu and Rabbit have been entertaining local youngsters.

A group of children from Birkfield Drive, aged from three to 15, have been dressing up and standing on the grass with the colourful animated characters.

Families come out and sit in their cars to see them.

Organiser Sophie Annett said: “We put on the Chantry Community Group Facebook page what time we are coming out to let the parents know and they come out in their cars.

“We stand on the grass and the parents and children come past and give us a wave or a beep, including people on the way home from work or going to work.

“We had someone who lives in the flats who came with chocolate to share with the kids and a note to say thank you, as we had cheered her up during lockdown.”

To let us know about the caring people who have gone that extra mile, send us an email.

MORE - Get Suffolk Day flags and bunting at our Suffolk Store

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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