The Best Job in the world
Clare Euston - the Countess of Euston is a lifelong passionate supporter of Suffolk, the Suffolk Agricultural Association and charity work. She talks to Anne Gould about 2014 and plans to help the rural community
There’s no doubt about Lady Clare Euston’s allegiance; she loves Suffolk, she loves helping the people who live here and she loves the Suffolk Show. Even better, this year she’s the president of the Suffolk Agricultural Association and is absolutely thrilled that children are being allowed in free to this year’s event on May 28 and 29 and that dogs have been allowed back into Trinity Park. “Last year I took my three-year-old granddaughter, Constance, and she had a ball from the moment she arrived from dancing to gymnastics and encountering life-size polar bears. The show is a such great place with everything from the grand ring to the flower show and the food. It’s also a great place for children and we are the first county show to let children in free and I am absolutely delighted about it.”
Although Lady Clare grew up in the Scottish borders she feels a lifelong connection to the county as her grandfather had a farm in Suffolk and the family used to holiday here during the summer when she was a child. “He used to take us for days out to Lowestoft and he always made sure there was a little horse for us to ride.” On marrying her husband, James Oliver Charles FitzRoy, the late Earl of Euston, she moved to Suffolk and the Euston estate and it very quickly felt like home. She’s passionate about farming, breeding Suffolk Punches - she believes the most intelligent of breeds- wildlife preservation and conservation and even today is an active partner in managing the estate however she says the honour of being show president is something really special.
She’s only the fifth woman to have ever taken in the role - others have included, Henrietta Lady Greenwell in 1982, Miss Mary MacRae DL in 1987, The Countess of Cranbrook OBE in 2004 and Lady Tollemache in 2008. “I’ve certainly got some big boots to step into,” she said. “Somebody described being the show president as being the best job in Suffolk - but it’s better than that. Mark Murphy used to say that Suffolk is the world’s greatest county, so being president has to be the world’s best job.” What’s more this year at the show she also has a plan that neatly links the Suffolk Agricultural Association with her other great passion - the Suffolk Community Foundation, of which she is a founder trustee.
Lady Clare has been a great champion of local charities for many years and as a former High Sheriff has an incredible insight to parts of the county that many of us, even some of us that have lived here most if not all of their lives, have never encountered. “In fact I often ended up going to these places twice. I’m not very good at finding my way so I had to go and do a rekkie the day before. It’s a beautiful county and on the face of it a very wealthy one too but that’s not the whole picture” she explained. The county and in particular the rural areas have pockets of real deprivation and many people are isolated so Lady Clare wants to use the show to launch the Suffolk Rural Life Fund. It’s an ambitious project to raise £1,000,000.
“I want to help people who live in villages and rural areas who may not be able to access services that are available in towns.” The sorts of issues that she wants to tackle include domestic violence and drug addiction. She also wants to help people who are isolated because of illness such as cancer or conditions like Alzheimers meaning they can’t get out. “People may not have enough money to buy food but they can’t get to the nearest food bank because there are no buses and they have no transport.” However she has an ingenious idea that could solve this problem but she doesn’t want to say much about that at the moment - it’s very much a case of the right conversations taking place and watching this space.
We hear of these issues in parts of Lowestoft, Haverhill and Ipswich, said Lady Clare, but the problems also exists in places that on the surface that are very wealthy - like Newmarket for instance. On the face of it we live in a very beautiful and abundant county but there are some corners where life expectancy is ten years below the national average. “We are not talking here about Liverpool or the suburbs of Glasgow, we are talking about rural Suffolk.” However she said some of the best ideas and charities have originated in Suffolk - the churches bike ride, the Ormiston Trust and of course the Suffolk Community Foundation and so in the spirit of this she’s very much looking forward to being at Trinity Park on May 28 and 29 and making her Suffolk Rural Life Fund a reality. “Suffolk is a county full of philanthropists but people need to be give ideas of what to give to. I think if some of these people realised the situation that existed they would want to help.”