Suffolk community heroes honoured with invite to royal wedding

Lieutenancy assistant Sue Bennitt is among the Suffolk women chosen to attend. Picture: SARAH LUCY B

Lieutenancy assistant Sue Bennitt is among the Suffolk women chosen to attend. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Five exceptional people from Suffolk are headed to Windsor Castle today after receiving a very special invitation to the royal wedding.

Christine Christensen has been secretary to the Ipswich mayor for 17 years. Picture: CHRISTINE CHRIS

Christine Christensen has been secretary to the Ipswich mayor for 17 years. Picture: CHRISTINE CHRISTENSEN - Credit: Archant

The five women, who will have a place reserved in the grounds of the castle, have been chosen for the unique contribution they make, day in day out, behind the scenes and largely unacknowledged to the smooth running of the county. They were nominated for the honour by the HM Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare Countess of Euston.

The first of the attendees, Christine Christensen, has been secretary to the Ipswich mayor for 17 years, and in this time has raised over £280,000 for 44 local charities. She is praised for her compassion and dedication to serving the diverse community in Ipswich.

Ms Christensen said she was very flattered to be invited, and is most excited about catching a glimpse of Meghan’s dress.

“I am incredibly humbled by the nomination,” she said. “I am actually shaking – I am thrilled.”

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“I love the work that I do looking after the mayors in Ipswich, so to be chosen to be thanked for the work I do is just amazing. There are a lot of worthy people in Ipswich and Suffolk, and I am just delighted that I am among them.

“I am most excited about seeing that dress. There has been such a lot of talk about it – I think for me that will be the highlight. It is going to be a beautiful day.”

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She added that she was incredibly proud that five people from the county had been chosen to attend – and speculated about Prince Harry’s input in the decision.

“I think Suffolk should be really proud to be supporting the wedding,” she said.

“Harry has actually served in our county, and he knows the area quite well. I suspect maybe having Suffolk representatives is something he had a hand in – I would like to think that.”

The second attendee, Louise Lennard, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to the community over the course of three decades. Mrs Lennard has worked for Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) since 1985, and performed the role of civic secretary since 2009. She is described by Lasy Euston as a “sterling source of support for the SCDC Chairman and a stalwart of village activity for many years”. She has also committed herself to improving community life outside of work, taking on the roles of clerk to her parish council, secretary of the parish ladies group, and volunteer for the Radar Trust. She even finds time to edit the local village newsletter.

The third attendee, Ruth Pusterla, has managed every civic event in Bury St Edmunds and west Suffolk for the past eight years – including all visits from members of the royal family. She has also raised over £90,000 for charities during her time in civic office. Lady Euston said of her commitment to Bury St Edmunds: “She has never sought the limelight for herself but has always worked and has also given total commitment to the role. She is dedicated to benefiting the community she serves and raising the profile of the town. Quite simply she is irreplaceable.”

The fourth attendee, Pauline Taylor, has worked in local government since 1974, but began her civic role with Babergh District Council in 2009. She has organised numerous charity events over the last nine years raising thousands of pounds for local charities, which include East Anglia’s Childrens’ Hospice, St Nicholas Hospice, Moto Neurone Disease Suffolk, The Chilton Club, Age UK, and Suffolk Family Carers.

Lady Euston said of lieutenancy assistant Sue Bennitt, the fifth and final attendee: “Sue Bennitt holds the fabric of the whole of community life in Suffolk in her capable hands. Always working tirelessly behind the scenes she is the one who quietly ensures that the right people are recognised for the work they do.” Prior to her role in local government, Miss Bennitt worked for the Suffolk Agricultural Association for 16 years – delivering the County Show. She is praised for the many hours she dedicates to her role, and her overall contribution to the county.

Lady Euston added: “I am sure everyone in Suffolk will join me in wishing them all a glorious and unforgettable day as they take part in a very special moment in this nation’s history.”

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