My Suffolk

Rev. Canon Sally Fogden MBE was a member of the first group of women to be ordained in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 1994. She is founder and chair of the Suffolk branch of the Farming Community Network, the driving force behind the Addington Fund. She is also founder of the Rural Coffee Caravan and was one of the first recipients of the Suffolk Medal.

How did you come to live in Suffolk?

Suffolk became our home in 1974. My husband Tim’s job brought us over here from Herefordshire, so it was all change for our two children, Chris and Mary and me. However we moved from one small village to another and found the lovely people of Suffolk warm and welcoming and surprisingly soon we were very much part of the local community. We have come to love Suffolk not only for all it has to offer and the gentle beauty of the countryside but for the people who live here and make this county special.

What was your reaction to receiving the Suffolk Medal?

It was a huge honour and an amazing surprise to be chosen as one of the first three people to receive this medal. “It can’t be true” was my first thought but my husband checked the letter and it was! I feel that it was given for being a representative of the charities with which I work and so I see it as their medal as well as mine. I was very honoured to receive it on a lovely summer morning from our Lord Lt, Clare, Countess of Euston and to be surrounded by so many friends and family.

Do you have any hobbies?

Riding is top of the list, despite verging on 80 I still have a little horse and a friend for her and hacking out on the lovely Euston Estate or round the lanes is so good as well as the daily care of these lovely generous animals. My husband and I both enjoy walking and most country things as well as gardening and visiting such places as Exmoor, the Lake District or the Cotswolds as well as all the special places where you can walk in Suffolk.

Tell us about your ministry and work with the church?

I came into ministry before women were allowed to be priests. I felt that this was something I was being called to do and others agreed. So initially I became a Lay Reader, a ministry that offers so much to parishes. Later I trained to become a Deaconess (I don’t think we have them now) and worked as a non-stipendiary minister fitting it in with family and a part time job, as so many do in so many of our parishes and without whom the church would be a poorer place. With the children grown up the then Bishop, John Waine, suggested that full time ministry might be a good thing and so I was appointed, with the full support of the parishes I am glad to say, as Deaconess in what was later to become the Blackbourne Team Ministry working with Canon Philip Oliver. What a privilege it is to work in rural parishes and to be accepted as part of so many village communities. Later, after much debate women were able first to be ordained deacon and later still in 1994 a group of us were ordained priest in an amazing ceremony in our Cathedral. The work in the parishes went on, but as a priest I was able to do so much more for those I served.

Which charities do you support?

I have been doing Riding For the Disabled since my time as Physiotherapist at Riverwalk School but in rural ministry I became involved in The Farming Community Network which we had set up in Suffolk just before Swine Fever hit, to be closely followed by Foot and Mouth disease. We were busy supporting those hit by these scores and it was from there that The Addington Fund arose (named for the man whose idea it was but who was too sick to take on the work involved). So a group of us set it up and worked it until it became a national charity when Foot and Mouth disease struck the country. The Rural Coffee Caravan was an idea that I had to try to do something to combat rural isolation, and typical of Suffolk, a group of people got right behind it. Fifteen years later, we have three vehicles out with a team led by our CEO Ann Osborn and we work across the county. From this we have also set up Golden Age Fairs, Meet Up Mondays and now More Than A Shop. We know we only scratch the surface but we meet a need and are delighted to do so, we meet such wonderful people.

Do you like to eat out?

Eating out, well we are rather home birds but the Fox at Honington is always friendly and such good value.

If you had to choose one picture of Suffolk what would it be?

That’s a tricky one but I think the Stubbs picture of mares and foals under an oak at Euston has to say it all.

Where would I take newcomers?

I would just take them out with one of our Rural Caravans and they would see it all and then to Felixstowe to see the Docks for contrast.