Suffolk and proud

Minsmere cliffs and beach. Picture: SUE RUSACK

Minsmere cliffs and beach. Picture: SUE RUSACK - Credit: Archant

Reasons to be proud on Suffolk Day

Maggi Hambling's famous scallop sculpture at Aldeburgh. Picture: ALLISON BALAAM

Maggi Hambling's famous scallop sculpture at Aldeburgh. Picture: ALLISON BALAAM - Credit:

Here are some of the reasons to love Suffolk... (and I can but scrape the surface):

First mention must go to St Edmund the Martyr, who would have been patron saint of England had he not been usurped by St George... who isn’t even local to Great Britain.

• Suffolk is a creative county. Artists include John Constable (East Bergholt) whose work is an evocation of the Suffolk Countryside; Thomas Gainsborough (Sudbury), Sir Alfred Munnings (Mendham) and Sudbury-born Maggi Hambling whos fashioned the famous scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach.

• Lowestoft-born composer Sir Benjamin Britten, whose operas and orchestral works were often inspired by the dramatic Suffolk coast, in particular at Aldeburgh where he made his home.

Royal Ballet dancer Gary Avis is a Suffolk man. Picture: GARY AVIS

Royal Ballet dancer Gary Avis is a Suffolk man. Picture: GARY AVIS - Credit: Archant

• The theatre directors, Ipswich born Sir Trevor Nunn and the late Sir Peter Hall (Bury St Edmunds), two giants of the British stage.

• Classical choreographers and dancers - Sir Frederick Ashton (north Suffolk) who created many works still performed by the Royal Ballet including La Fille Mal Gardée and Tales of Beatrix Potter; Ipswich born Gary Avis, ballet master and principal character artist at te Royal Ballet; Liam Scarlett (Ipswich) whose new version of the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake is being performed at Covent Garden.

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• Musical theatre stars including Ruthie Henshall, Kerry Ellis and Gavin Lee.

• Actor Sir John Mills, lived in Felixstowe, and Suffolk can also boast EastEnders June Brown (Dot Cotton), Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler), and Dad’s Army’s Private Frank Pike aka Ian Lavender (Derek Harkinson). Actor and music hall historian Roy Hudd now lives in Suffolk.

Suffolk's Ed Sheeran, in Framlingham. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Suffolk's Ed Sheeran, in Framlingham. Picture: SIMON PARKER

• Music artist Ed Sheeran (raised in Framlingham) – currently one of the most famous people on the planet – and singer Laura Wright (Framsden). Radio DJ and taste-maker John Peel, lived just outside Stowmarket.

• The Co-op Juniors, billed as the largest amateur theatre group in Britain, a respected troupe of young performers, was founded during the Second World War and still going strong today.

• Delia Smith – or just Delia (lives near Stowmarket) is the doyenne of home cooking. No kitchen should be without her Complete Cookery Course (even if it’s just for fail-safe meringue).

• Comedy writer David Croft (co-writer of Dad’s Army and many more) lived near Bury St Edmunds. Sir Henry Rider Haggard, writer of King Solomon’s Mines, was a pupil at Ipswich School. Adventure and thriller writer Hammond Innes CBE lived in Kersey in his later years. Crime writer Ruth Rendell was Baroness Rendell of Babergh. Screenwriter and director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill and lots more) and broadcaster Emma Freud have a home on the Suffolk Coast.

• Women of note include Aldeburgh-born Suffragist Millicent Fawcett and her sister, the first woman in Britain to openly qualify as a doctor and first woman mayor of Aldeburgh, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. The 1964 Nobel-prize winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, was a pupil at Sir John Leman grammar school, Beccles.

• The places we love including Newmarket, the home of horse-racing; Southwold – the beach, the pier, the beer; Bury St Edmunds, the cathedral, the beer; Ipswich, the waterfront, one of the country’s oldest towns; Lowestoft, holiday resort and fishing port.

• The county’s outstanding professional theatres and amateur theatrical groups.

• Performance festivals - Latitude at Henham; Snape Proms; Maverick at Easton Farm Park; High Tide at Aldeburgh; FolkEast art Glemham; Southwold Arts Festival; Aldeburgh Documentary Festival; Pulse and Spill festivals in Ipswich.

• The unforgettable: Ipswich Town’s FA Cup win in 1978 UEFA Cup triumph in 1981; Two England football managers being former Ipswich managers – Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson. Wallis Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor) obtaining her divorce in Ipswich in 1936; The Sutton Hoo burial ship being discovered in 1939; Bawdsey becoming the first operational radar station (from 1936) , vital to the war effort; the top secret facility on Orford Ness, the Suffolk Show

• The Suffolk dialect, the Suffolk art of understatement, the way Suffolk people, so often starved of funding and infrastructure, create their own entertainment and enjoy county life.

Suffolk Day is Thursday, June 21

What is Suffolk?

Big skies, long walks, country lanes, hedgerows, big fields, lawnmowers, wild birds, pastures, meadows, grey sea, scudding clouds, fresh air, Felixstowe docks, rare breeds, Mildenhall Great Dish, sugar beet campaign at Bury St Edmunds, fishing boats, breweries, country pubs, the dome of Sizewell B, cottage gardens, thatch, Branston Pickle, frozen peas, heathlands, David Copperfield, UFOs over Rendlesham, Suffolk rusks, WIs, Lavenham, American air force bases, choirs, river strands, BBC Radio Suffolk, mainline to London Liverpool Street, gardens and nurseries, sailing, Ladies’ Day at Newmarket, cow parsley, local museums, DanceEast, castles, the lost town of Dunwich, church bells, “on the huh”, watercolour landscapes, Matthew Hopkins - witchfinder general, Thorpeness and House in the Clouds, Mendlesham transmitter, A140, Suffolk pink, libraries, East Anglian Daily Times, first sunrise, wild samphire, “Come on, you Blues!”, open spaces, Lovejoy, Clays of Bungay, wool towns, fields of wheat, sea breezes, Peter Grimes, the principality of Sealand, galleries, Akenfield.

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