Plight of the Suffolk Punch highlighted on the county’s big day
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
The iconic Suffolk Punch horse – including a recently born foal – proved a huge draw as people in the east celebrated the county’s special day.
Hundreds of people took advantage of free entry to Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge, which is home to five of the endangered breed.
Around 1,000 visitors - nearly 10 times the usual number for a school term-time day - were given a chance to meet the Suffolk Punch horses, including new foal ‘Harry’ who was born to one of the four brood mares, Lily, the day before the royal wedding in May.
The birth was especially important because there are warnings that the breed could become extinct in less than 10 years.
At 11am yesterday, staff had already had to open a second car park to accommodate the volume of extra guests – and by midday, they had opened a third.
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Easton ran a special programme of events showcasing other Suffolk breeds including Red Poll cattle, and Suffolk sheep.
Additional activities included pony and cart rides, egg collecting and a family train ride.
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Manager Jordon Bailey said the day had been a “huge success”.
He added: “One of the key reasons we decided to open for free was because of the Suffolk Punches we have at Easton. We had people of all ages from pre-school to older generations and it gave us an ideal opportunity to get more people through to learn about the Suffolk countryside and the different breeds, including most importantly, the Suffolk Punch.”
Lowestoft, the county’s – and Britain’s – most easterly point, was the first place to welcome Suffolk Day, with many opting to watch the solstice sunrise from Ness Point.
Staff at Associated British Ports (ABP) of Lowestoft celebrated Suffolk Day at the Bascule Bridge with a proud display of decorations. The idea was also to raise awareness of the importance of Suffolk’s coastline and the significant contribution the port makes to the county’s economy by supporting local jobs and the surrounding communities.
Meanwhile Schools across the area embraced Suffolk Day with special events. Melton Primary School, in Melton Road, Woodbridge, celebrated with a ‘Festival of Happiness’.
The school was a hive of activity with a raft of new things to try including toasting marshmallows over a campfire, face-painting, dressing up, ‘jelly walking’ in a big container of jelly, baking cupcakes, blowing giant bubbles, and a spy club where pupils could learn how to become the next ‘007’.
They also had a bike track set up and took part in food challenges such as ‘how many sweetcorn kernels can you eat in a minute using a toothpick’. West Suffolk college students brought microscopes and science equipment for some fun experiments and the school dinner staff made ‘smiley face’ biscuits.
Sandy Thornton, assistant headteacher, said the day was a collaboration between staff, parents and the 170 pupils, which typified the “spirit of Suffolk”.
She added: “We love Suffolk and think it’s such a great place.
“It’s a really happy place to live and work, and people are so friendly and much more relaxed than in other places I’ve been. It’s also a very kind place to be.
“That’s why we thought it would be great to tie our Festival of Happiness in with Suffolk Day.”
Pubs, restaurants and retailers across east Suffolk offered the county on a plate with some of the finest produce taking centre stage at celebratory events.
Suffolk brewer Adnams held an “aged and historic beer tasting” at its base in Southwold while Chelmondiston butchers Holingsworth celebrated by making speciality sausages using local ingredients.
These were served up at a sausage and mash lunch at the village’s Red Lion and also featured in a Suffolk Day barbecue and picnic at the Shotley Pier picnic area later in the day.
Church towers throughout the county were in fine voice on Suffolk Day as they rang peals in celebration of the annual event.
Dozens of bell ringers in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich showed their support.
Among the church towers fielding teams of enthusiastic campanologists were Great Barton, Thurston, Bardwell, Clare, Halesworth, Lakenheath, Woolpit, Elveden, Yoxford, Horringer, Barrow, Exning, Theberton, Rougham, Rattlesden, Falkenham, Kersey, Exning and Wissett.