My Suffolk - Paul Winter

Paul Winter is the Chief Executive of Ipswich Building Society. He was brought up in Derby but moved to Suffolk in 1982 and took up his current role in 2007

You’ve lived in Suffolk for nearly 30 years – do you regard it as your home now?

I see Suffolk as home but return to the Midlands quite regularly – I’ve got no thought of moving back there when I retire though. Like many people having got to Suffolk, I’ve become captivated by its charms and don’t want to go away. We live in Old Newton and its just 25 minutes away from the office and it’s nice and close to Stowmarket railway station too as I usually have to go to London for work once a week. Also I have two grown up children who live in the area and two grandsons – one of which has just had his first birthday.

Where do you like to walk?

Actually I run – not too quickly. I have got an entry for the next London Marathon, which I’m doing for the Papworth Trust which does a lot of great work, but is not very well known in Suffolk. It helps disabled and disadvantaged people into the workplace. I like to run in the countryside but keep thinking I should join Stowmarket Striders. I have always run and did cross country when I was younger but gave it up due a knee injury. I started running again three years ago and have done a couple of half marathon since.

How is your marathon training going?

It’s starting to pick up. I’m following a sensible plan but its not easy at this time of the year – last Sunday when I was out there was horizontal rain! I try to run at home as much as possible around the lanes  - you can go for miles and hardly even see even a vehicle. There are some lovely views and I’m really able to relax. In the week I run at lunchtimes, luckily there’s a shower in the office. Ransomes Europark isn’t the most attractive part of Suffolk, but at least it allows me to train. My first aim is to finish the marathon and I would like to do a time of around 4hrs and 45mins – anything under that would be a huge bonus.

Where do you go to eat out?

Kesgrave Hall, the Bildeston Crown, and the Shepherd and Dog at Forward Green. There are so many good places to eat around Suffolk. If I think back to when I moved to Suffolk in ’87, Ipswich was a culinary desert and now the choice is fantastic.

Are you a beer drinker?

Yes, I enjoy a pint and tend to lean towards Adnams but I like trying out all the microbreweries, of which there are a multitude locally. Whenever I go somewhere new I make a point of trying the local beer.

Where would you go for a day out?

We would probably head for the coast, we like Walberswick and Southwold but really anywhere on the coast is worth a visit and you can usually find somewhere that’s not too crowded. One of the reasons I like Suffolk is that there are so many quiet and open spaces and so you can find a way of relaxing.

If you had visitors where would you go?

At this time of year Dunwich Heath – because there is some raw beauty about that area. We’d also go to places like Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds is a must. Actually I’d take them to Ipswich too – it’s very underated – there are lots of historic places to see in the town. Then I’d also take them to Felixstowe to show them Suffolk isn’t all about twee villages and a very quiet way of life. There is a dynamism to the county too with Britain’s largest container port. Of course we’d also stop off at a few nice country pubs on the way.

Do you have any hobbies?

Well I play golf badly, I’m a member at Stoke by Nayland. It helps you get away from the hurly burly of work. At the moment I only play once a month but when I retire I’d like to do more. I also like gardening and for the last year we’ve had an allotment in addition to our garden. We grow fruit and vegetables and at the moment we have sprouts, leeks and cabbages with some broccoli to go out in the spring. Home grown vegetables taste so different to shop bought ones. I only hope we get some rain soon. I must also be the only building society chief executive in the country to keep egg boxes in the office. I keep chickens and people at work joke that I talk more about chickens than I do work. We’ve got five hens and we’ve named them all and it’s just fascinating to watch them peck around in the garden.