The Honourable Selina Tollemache Hopkins has a lifelong interest in charity work and is actively involved in the Hopkins International Polo Match, taking place at Trinity Park this month. She talks to Anne Gould about life in Suffolk

 

What do you love about Suffolk?

I was brought up in Suffolk and my family have been here for a long time. We’ve got a huge family support system including lots of cousins and I love it. I had an idyllic childhood and although I’ve lived and worked all over the world - in New York, LA and Italy I have always loved coming back to Suffolk. It’s got a very special feel to it – the big open skies you so rarely find in other counties and a diverse range of people who are very smart, passionate about life in and outside the county with fascinating interests. What I also like is that it feels very rural but you can get to London very quickly so it does not feel like the middle of nowhere.

Have you got a special place that you like to go and think?

The park and grounds of Helmingham Hall. Having grown up there I still have favourite trees that I used to climb as a child. I also like to walk with my husband James (Hopkins) in Dunwich Forest and by the River Blythe between Walberswick and Southwold.

Are there any particular charities you support?

One of my last jobs in London was as a charity director for a social media company which means I had a good chance to see how this sector works and as a result I still support quite a few of the ones that I was very close to and fond of. Here in Suffolk, James and I support various different charities as well as The Suffolk Foundation which does amazing work helping lots of the smaller charities throughout the county.

If you had to take one photograph to illustrate Suffolk what would it be?

There are so many snapshots but if I had to choose it would be the view from Little Japan, overlooking the River Alde, towards Iken Cliff.

Where do you like to eat out?

We love going to The Bell or The Anchor at Walberswick, Milsom’s at Kesgrave, Butley Orford Oysterage and Pinneys at Orford.

Are there any pubs you’d recommend?

The Low House at Laxfield, The British Larder and we always have a drink at The Nelson in Southwold. Adnam’s or Greene King? I am not a huge beer drinker myself but I wish I could still drink Tolly Cobbold – our old family brew. Adnam’s gin is excellent but it’s also great that both Adnam’s and Greene King are so successful and are both from Suffolk.

Has Suffolk got any surprises in store?

I think the Hopkins International Polo is going to be a surprising success and a major asset to Suffolk. It will be a great day out for the family and I believe it’s going to go from strength to strength. We really hope that as it continues to grow that it will be able to support charity work as well.

Have you got any hobbies?

Tennis, swimming, ski-ing, music, reading and of course horse riding. I was first put on a horse when I was six months old but I have recently rediscovered riding.

Your mother, Lady Xa Tollemache, is a renowned gardener and landscape designer, do you have green fingers?

I am interested in gardening and growing vegetables here at our farm, in Wenhaston, and I also have my mother’s “go go attitude”. I love going round the grounds and gardens at home in Helmingham and appreciate them, and will help out, but I’m not a great gardener like my mother.

Do you think we should shop local and support independent retailers?

I think this is incredibly important. We are incredibly lucky because we produce our own organic lamb and beef and in the summer grow all our own vegetables. But I love shopping locally and we are very lucky with our high street in Halesworth. Friday Street Farm Shop is great, but then we also have a lovely selection of farm shops throughout the county.

Why is Suffolk a great place to bring up children?

As children we were brought up to love the great outdoors and with my four step-sons and one-year-old daughter Lily I have also rediscovered all sorts of great places. Easton Farm Park, Jimmy’s Farm, Moo Play Farm near Beccles, Pirate Pete’s at Pakefield and of course swimming in the sea.

Do you support the arts in Suffolk?

Absolutely. We are so lucky to have a huge range of artists - I love Maggi Hambling’s work and Harry Becker’s work which I think encompasses what Suffolk is about and going to Snape for the music - we go there whenever we can.

What are your favourite Suffolk Events?

The Suffolk Show, the Hopkins International polo, the Aldeburgh Festival, Latitude and Suffolk Dog Day at Helmingham are all wonderful events that bring so many people together and of course also raises money for the Suffolk Foundation. These events bring together so many people are the four highlights of my year.