My Suffolk -
David Sheepshanks CBE
David Sheepshanks, Chairman of the UK Community Foundations and former chairman of Ipswich Town Football Club tell us about ‘his Suffolk’
What do you love about Suffolk?
Nearly everything! I am a Suffolk man, raised here all of my life and just love this part of the world. It’s extraordinary, remote in parts and yet accessible. You can turn left (for me) with easy access to London and the bright lights or turn right to the most beautiful, unspoilt and tranquil countryside, villages and rural pursuits. Add to that the everyday quality of life...the big skies, more sunshine and less rainfall (except this year!) than almost anywhere in England, and oh....last but not least the people and our special sense of humour. I’ll never forget standing in Piazza Duomo in Milan with many thousands of Ipswich Town fans some ten years ago and an old boy came up to greet me and I remarked on the beauty of the Cathedral and his response was along the lines of “‘at moite be bootiful Dyevid but wot trouble me iz ‘ow they guin ta change em loit bulbs up top that ther spoire!”
Have you got a favourite place in Suffolk to escape to when you need to think? Where do you walk?
Rendlesham Forest is my sanctuary. As a boy I rode my horse there nearly every morning with my father and in later life bicycled, jogged and now walk our dogs through the most beautiful woodland. I have seen it evolve both pre and post the hurricane in 1987 and it remains a very special place to go for private time and reflection. Quiet, misty, almost eerie at times.... I love it.
If you were showing people around Suffolk who had never been here before where would you take them?
In the olden days it used to be East Suffolk and West Suffolk and while my colours are nailed very firmly to the ‘One Suffolk’ mast, I know and love the coastal strip the best so I usually venture towards Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Orford, as having extra special charm and being close to where I live. I love Woodbridge, my home town, and there are so many other beautiful places to go: Bures, Long Melford, Lavenham, Southwold....we are spoilt for choice.
If you had to illustrate the county with a single picture/photograph what shot would you take?
It would have to be a river scene: either the Deben at Ramsholt or Iken Church or Snape Maltings with the water and marshes behind them. Another stunning picture is Blythburgh Church with the wetlands in the background.
Where do you like to eat out?
We don’t eat out so often in Suffolk but when we do we like to stay local. Our favourites are the Crown in Woodbridge, Milsom’s Kesgrave Hall, the Riverside in Woodbridge (especially for a pre-cinema dinner) and smoked salmon and oysters at Pinney’s in Orford is always fun.
Are there any pubs that you’d recommend?
They are both Crowns for me! We have only recently rediscovered The Crown at Ufford which produces wonderful food, but so too does the Bildeston Crown although it is quite a trek for us in the East! No offence to others because we are blessed with great pubs all over Suffolk.
Adnam’s or Greene King?
Both – sorry to sit on the fence but we are fortunate to be blessed with two outstanding brewers in one County (and a rather special cider manufacturer in Aspalls to boot!).
You’ve had a long association with ITFC, how many games do you get to now?
Not so many these days...probably eight to ten over a season, which is very different from an average of about 50 games a year when I was involved, from pre-season friendlies to home and away once or twice every week! Having said that, I still love the Club. I have shared supporters’ frustrations over recent years because the level of entertainment has been pretty dire at times, however, I am a huge fan of Mick McCarthy and really believe that with the right backing he can lead Ipswich Town back to happier times.