Roz Eminson is Suffolk’s High Sheriff, a role that has its roots in Saxon times and has existed for over 1,000 years. Appointed by the Queen, it is a voluntary, non-political and unpaid role that lasts for one year
How long have you lived in Suffolk?
We have had a house in Suffolk since 1986 although we were still living in London then. I was born and bred in Suffolk and grew up in Hintlesham. Clive and I were keen to return to Suffolk to bring up our family and it became our home permanently when we moved with our baby son, James, in 1989/90 – so we have been here 30 years or so.
What do you love about Suffolk?
I love everything about Suffolk; the people, their humour and ability to chat, the Suffolk accent, the glorious open countryside, woodland, rivers, the coastline and I love the fact that we don’t have many sandy beaches but pebbly ones – far more interesting. We are blessed with a plethora of attractive, historic towns and villages. If I have to name two; Lavenham – one of the wool towns and Woodbridge – a beautiful Georgian living working town at the head of the River Deben.
Do you have any hobbies?
Top of the list would have to be sailing, followed closely by walking our dog anywhere in Suffolk and our other favourite spot is North Yorkshire, somewhere we try and visit annually. Undertaking the odd challenge is also appealing, for instance the Coast to Coast Walk which is the first long walk I did with four friends about eight years ago. I also enjoy playing and watching tennis, skiing and cycling and I have sung in a choir since I was at school.
What have been the highlights of your year in office as High Sheriff?
It is very difficult to isolate one or two highlights but I will try. I have met many wonderful people during my year in office but I will never forget when I received a letter from a member of the public asking me for help to recognise the outstanding work of the Lowestoft Police. It was a very difficult and distressing case involving her daughter. I awarded five police officers with a Judges Commendation. Another highlight was definitely being the Returning Officer for Suffolk in the General Election, particularly as an election was not on the cards this year. That meant that I was able to announce the result in one of the constituencies and I chose my local one, Suffolk Coastal. Going to the Old Bailey for a Reception at the invitation of the City of London Sheriffs was an opportunity not to be missed and that only happened by virtue of holding this office. We were treated to a guided tour of the cells, the Judges Dining Room and one of the Courts. One could feel the history, and it was an unforgettable experience.
Tell us about your charity volunteering and FIND.
I met Maureen Reynell, founder of FIND, back in 2012 when I was looking for some regular charity work. FIND is a charity which provides free food parcels and support for people in need. I was committed after one conversation with her – she is very compelling – and started volunteering the following week. I wanted to be metaphorically ‘getting my hands dirty’ doing something that was making a difference. Whilst sorting, stacking, packing and delivering food items may seem a little unexciting, we provide essential emergency support to people in and around Ipswich who really struggle with their lives. FIND has had a big year this year, not only with increased demand to contend with but a three month building project and moving premises culminating in an Official Opening Ceremony in February. The unforeseen benefit of volunteering is the people you meet, work with and become friends with. There is a great sense of team spirit and camaraderie at FIND which has a very positive effect on everyone. So the benefit is a two-way street.
With Easter approaching where would you spend a Suffolk day out?
If it's a nice day then a walk anywhere on the Suffolk coast or along an estuary followed by a pub lunch. If the weather is filthy, a trip to Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, or Gainsborough House in Sudbury or Ickworth House would be high on my list.
Do you have a favourite Suffolk product?
I have got a lot of Suffolk art at home but my favourite is a Tessa Newcombe picture I bought at auction on a whim that hangs in my Hall – fishing boats, seagulls, huts and water. Shall I also mention Aspalls Cyder, an original Suffolk product!
If you were to choose one picture to sum up Suffolk what would it be?
The view across the River Orwell from me towards Pin Mill, sunset any time of the year, half tide and dramatic reflections in the river mud. Glorious and never the same twice.