My Suffolk - Bill Baker
Bill Baker is a Suffolk Farmer and is the new honorary director of the Suffolk Show. His three year tenure starts with this year and his first show, on May 28 and 29 is offering free entrance to children under 14 and a return of dogs to Trinity Park
Have you always lived in Suffolk?
Yes, I grew up in Elmswell and went to school at Culford. I went on to study agriculture at Writtle near Chelmsford and then went travelling for a year around the world. I came back to work for the family farm in 1986.
What makes the county special?
Much of Suffolk is unspoilt with beautiful countryside and a fantastic coastline. We are so lucky to still have so many ‘chocolate box’ villages with lovely old houses, traditional pubs and village greens. Suffolk people are also what makes Suffolk what it is, with such personality and generosity.
Do you enjoy walking? Where is your favourite walk?
I love walking, we have three dogs and are very lucky to have a great area on our doorstep to go for long, leisurely walks with them and the children. My wife, Kate, comes from East Suffolk so we spend quite a lot of time there especially at her family farm which has a beautiful ancient wood.
Do you like to eat out – if so, are there any favourite places?
I have to admit that it is hard to beat a special meal at home with a nice bottle of wine but when I do go out I feel a bit spoilt for choice with great places to eat in Suffolk. I seem to be on a bit of a “Crown” theme but I love the Crown at Woodbridge, the Crown at Ufford, Bildeston Crown and the Crown at Stoke-by-Nayland.
Are there any pubs you would recommend for a quiet pint?
Again, there are so many places in this county to choose from but I do enjoy going to the Six Bells at Felsham, Queen’s Head at Hawkedon, the White Horse at Whepstead and the Queen’s Head at Brandeston.
Adnams or Greene King?
I know that this sounds very diplomatic but I do actually enjoy a pint of Adnams when I am in East Suffolk and a pint of Greene King in West Suffolk and I love them both.
Where do you like to shop? Are there any independent stores you recommend?
I do enjoy shopping and love visiting some of our wonderful farm shops such as Friday Street Farm at Farnham, Hollow Trees at Semer and the Suffolk Food Hall at Wherstead. When it comes to clothes shopping I tend to visit Trotter & Deane in Bury St Edmunds, O & C Butcher in Aldeburgh, Coes in Ipswich and High Flyers in Battisford.
Do you support a particular charity?
The Suffolk Agricultural Association is a charity that I devote a large proportion of my time towards supporting. In 2009 my father died from motor neurone disease so the MNDA which works towards a cure, along with supporting those suffering from this cruel illness, is close to my heart. I am pleased that this charity will be one of three beneficiaries of the proceeds from the Suffolk Show Ball this year.
Do you have an interest in the arts?
I do enjoy all forms of art. My musical tastes are fairly broad, I attended Latitude at Henham a couple of years ago which had such a fantastic variety of music and arts in a beautiful setting. There are some wonderful artists in Suffolk too such as David John Leathers who paints the most amazing still life and I love the work of Sophie Martin as well.
If you had to take newcomers on a tour of Suffolk where would you go?
Anybody that has not been to Suffolk before has to visit places such as Lavenham, Long Melford and Kersey to see the amazing historical buildings and beautiful landscapes. I would also want to show them the coastal towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold with the wonderful art galleries and places to eat, you can’t beat a bracing walk along the coast.
Have you any hobbies?
In my youth, I loved to play rugby and have great memories of playing for Thurston Rugby Club. Nowadays, I am strictly just a spectator! I also love to shoot, ski and play golf.
Is there one picture that perfectly illustrates the county?
Definitely an aerial photo of the Suffolk Show!