My Suffolk - Paul Milsom

Paul Milsom, is the Managing Director of Milsom Hotels, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Anne Gould spoke to him about his life in Suffolk

What are your connections to Suffolk?

Well I live in Stratford St Andrew, as physically close to the Suffolk border as you can get and I’m lucky to have one of the most amazing views of the county too. I overlook the River Stour and Constable Country, from my office. I was born in the house I live in now but was brought up in Flatford Road in East Bergholt, so I’m a Suffolk boy at heart.

Have you got a favourite place in the county?

My two boys attend Orwell Park and I’ve spent a lot of time watching them play sport there. It’s such a wonderful environment for a school. Watching my eldest son open the bowling for the school, with the views of the River Orwell behind, has to be the best place to watch cricket in Suffolk. But I’ve also followed my son playing on sports fields round the county and there are some other great places too – at Framlingham you overlook the castle. Otherwise, this winter I’ve been shooting on the Deben and that’s a wonderful part of the world. My brother is a very big sailor and he has got his boat at Woolverstone and sailing down the River Orwell is a very special pleasure. You get out into the estuary and see Harwich and Felixstowe – it’s some of the best sailing in the country but you have to keep your wits about you because of shallow water. The rivers and the big skies make Suffolk what it is.

Where do you like to walk?

My favourite walk is here in Constable country, along the riverbank to Dedham and then to Flatford is terrific and it changes with the seasons. I tend not to walk with my children though as they want something more active like rugby, football, tennis and swimming.

Apart from your own restaurants where do you eat out?

It’s really important that I eat at my own restaurants but also to go further afield as well. The Crown at Woodbridge is good and so is the Bildeston Crown and the Crown at Nayland. The good thing about this part of the world is that there is a range of different restaurants, which means more people are prepared to drive to this area to dine.

If you were showing newcomers to Suffolk where would you go?

To Southwold and that bit of the coast and have a pint of Adnams in the Crown and of course to Walberswick. Suffolk also has some excellent golf courses so if my visitor was a golfer we could go to Purdis in Ipswich or Woodbridge. Felixstowe Ferry is excellent or we might go to Aldeburgh as well. I’d also take them to Bury St Edmunds – I’ve got to know that area a bit better recently – the shopping is particularly good there. This year we got involved with a charity auction for Sir Bobby Robson at The Apex and that’s a fantastic new venue.

Greene King or Adnams?

Greene King – if I go to a pub and they serve both I’d always choose their IPA.

Have you got any hobbies?

I am a massive supporter of Ipswich Town. I’ve had a season ticket since I was a little boy – although it’s quite difficult being an Ipswich supporter at the moment. From March to October I like to play golf and take part in a corporate events and of course shooting in the winter. As a family we love surfing but unfortunately  there aren’t any waves in Suffolk and we also like to ski.

Which charities do you support?

Back at the Sir Bobby Robson ball at the Apex there was an auction with Ipswich Town to play a match on the main pitch at  Portman Road. I put in a bid and was lucky enough to win it with Mick Mills to manage my team. I persuaded my friend – John Wheeler, who used to sit with us at Portman Road when we were kids, to bid online for the other team and so we’ve now got a match on May 27 at the end of the season. It’s really exciting, we’ve each got eight former Ipswich players on our teams – I’ve got Matt Holland, Mark Venus, Russell Osmond, James Scowcroft, Jason Dozzell and John McGreer already confirmed with two more in the pipeline. The rest of the team is going to be made up with rolling subs and hopefully I’m going to be one of the players. I’m having to go running to try to get fit for the event and we’ve had trials among our staff for the other subs. More than 24 people turned up one evening to be considered and luckily we’re the home team so will be playing in blue and white. Ipswich Town is helping us with that. On the day itself we hope to be able to sell tickets with all proceeds donated to the Sir Bobby Robson donation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer too. At half time we are also organising some entertainment and there might be some kind of farmers market there too. We’ll probably finish with a penalty shootout. It’s going to be a really special day. If anyone wants to buy tickets in advance please check www.milsomhotels.com