My Suffolk - Ian Duncan

The Venerable Ian Morgan is the Archdeacon of Suffolk. He describes his life in Suffolk and how he spends Christmas.

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How long have you lived in Suffolk?

I moved here when Radio Suffolk first opened 25 years ago - although I had been ordained at the age of 26 I also had a career as a producer in network broadcasting and a presenter on local radio. At that time I was working for the BBC in Sussex and Ivan Howlett, who launched Radio Suffolk, asked me up here and for 18 months I presented the Drive Time programme. Then the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, John Dennis, offered me a parish at All Hallows in Ipswich. So I have stayed in Suffolk and its very much home now. I currently live in Ashfield cum Thorpe, between Framlingham and Debenham. Being Arch Deacon of Suffolk means I am very lucky and cover the whole of east Suffolk including the coast, making sure that everything in the church runs smoothly. I am effectively a regional manager but on top of that I get to stand in as rector at churches in the area on Sundays whenever necessary.

How many services will you be giving at Christmas?

Actually at the moment I have nowhere to go, as I don’t have my own parish. I’m hoping that I will be asked to do a service at a village church - in previous years I have been in Brundish and Ubbeston. Suffolk churches are wonderful at Christmas, packed with congregations singing carols - it’s glorious. If no invitation is forthcoming I will go to church either in Ashfield or Framlingham.

Who will be cooking Christmas dinner?

In our house I always cook Christmas dinner - it’s always been my way of winding down after a very busy day. I lock myself in the kitchen and we eat at about 7 or 8pm. It’s the absolute highlight of the year and the meal is planned within an inch of its life weeks beforehand, as normally, there are anywhere between ten and 12 of us sitting down to eat.

Do you have any other Christmas traditions?

For many years when we were in Ipswich we had a Boxing Day walk on Felixstowe seafront, regardless of the weather, as we have a beach hut there. Felixstowe is beautifully unpretentious and we love it. The walk to Felixstowe Ferry is glorious but it’s also great to sit in your beach hut and watch people and the ships go by. There was a time when it looked a bit faded but recent work on the seafront including restoration of the seafront gardens has made a difference.

What do you like about the county?

I am a bit of a foodie and it’s wonderful to live in a county that has outstanding produce from land and sea. The quality of our food is really, really high and being a bit of a cook it’s wonderful to be able to use these foods in the kitchen. You feel as if you are cooking with something that has been loved all the way to the table. Also Suffolk is a county that’s really confident in its history and where it has come from, it’s not trying to have to prove its history. You just have to look around - we have 400 churches that have been around for more than 1,000 years in many places. It’s wonderful that these villages and communities are still flourishing today with the church at their centre.

Do you have any hobbies?

Before I was ordained I was a professional musician and I still play quite a bit and compose too. Until fairly recently I used to conduct a small choir and I love playing the organ for services if I ever get the chance. My wife Tracey and I also enjoy walking our two dogs - we have a black Labrador called Bella and a Jackapoo called Honey.

If you had some newcomers to visit where would you take them to church?

To the parish church in Aldeburgh because even before I moved to Suffolk I loved the music of Benjamin Britten. Aldeburgh is one of those places where you get a great sense of community and there’s something quite special about the place.

Is there one picture that sums up the county?

Yes it’s the view of Ipswich that you get when you leave the A12 at Wherstead. I spent many years in Ipswich and I think it’s one of the most underrated towns in England. It really has a sense of inclusion and helping people. Ipswich Night Shelter for instance has its link to Calais, and people in the town seem to really help migrants to integrate. If I was allowed one other picture it’s across the river from Iken churchyard. It’s a wonderful spot - I hope too many people don’t discover it.