My Suffolk -
Karen Finch is the managing director of the award winning Hearing Care Centre in Ipswich. Recently, Karen was awarded the Beatrice Wilkinson memorial award for her contribution to business. We talk to her about why she loves Suffolk
Tell us about your background?
Well I’m a Suffolk girl and was born in Ipswich and went to Northgate Grammar School when it was a girl’s school. I remember there was a dividing line between the boys school and the girls school and you would never dare cross that line.
Well for 22 years we lived near Needham Market but three months ago we moved to Witnesham, it’s very local and it’s cut my journey time into work by ten minutes. I haven’t had time to really get to know the village yet but I’ve got a list of courses and clubs that start in September and hope to join something. The local WI have been in contact and suggested I might like to go along and join. I love Suffolk and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.
Where do you like to eat out?
We eat out a lot especially if we are not entertaining family and friends and we like two places in particular. I love going down to the Waterfront in Ipswich and my favourite restaurant there is The Mariners. The other special place is at Yoxford - Satis House.
Have you got any hobbies?
I love cooking. When I left school I trained at hotel catering and management at Suffolk College so it doesn’t phase me having large numbers of people to cook for. This weekend coming I’ve got 65 people, family and friends, coming round, which will be interesting. What I really love doing is fancy desserts and things like that. Luckily we have a fairly large kitchen and as we have family staying from Australia there will be lots of people to help out.
Do you shop anywhere in particular?
I shop for food wherever is most convenient at that time but try to buy locally where possible. I try to support as many local retailers as possible. As far as clothes shopping is concerned I’m not that big a fan because I’m only 5ft tall. I do this sort of shopping mainly when I’m on holiday and can browse.
Where do you go to relax?
We go to Southwold to chill out, it’s only 50 minutes away. Sometimes we’ll go for a day and sometimes we’ll take a self-catering cottage and go for a week. I have family connections with Southwold and my husband Melvyn was born there so it seems like the natural place for us to go together. I love walking on the beach there - to Covehithe or over the bridge to Walberswick and then we have fish and chips at the harbour. We are thinking of buying a house there but the prices are so expensive we’d have to rent it out.
Is there anywhere else you like to go?
I love to go to Aldeburgh too. We went there a couple of Saturdays back and the weather was gorgeous. Of course Aldeburgh’s got the best fish and chips in the world - it doesn’t matter about the queues. But I love to walk anywhere - I have a group of friends that we go walking with on a regular basis and we take it turns to choose where we go. Last time I took them to Thorpeness and we went on the old railway track.
How about charity work?
I’m a Rotarian and am a member of Ipswich East and we support lots of charities - Stroke Awareness Day, Mencap, Genesis. My staff and I also support Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and so far we have raised £18,000 through charity walks, magic nights, wine tastings etc. The dogs cost £5,000 it means we’ve provided three local people with a guide who can literally change their life. The other good thing is that the charity takes strays off the streets and trains them.
Where do you go on holiday?
We either go to Southwold and stay at The Swan for a couple of nights and then go self catering or occasionally go to see family in Australia. I’m not a lover of flying however.
Are there any other local organisations which you support?
We love going to the Wolsey Theatre - we go about ten times a year to all the big shows. As a girl I was a regular supporter at Ipswich Town. My stepfather was in charge of the programmes and I used to help him. I well remember Bobby Robson coming down before every match to check that everything was all right.