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My East Anglian Heaven and Hell: Guy Nicholls

Guy Nicholls, founder of Tru7 Group. Picture: Charlotte Bond

Guy Nicholls, founder of Tru7 Group. Picture: Charlotte Bond

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This week Gina Long meets Guy Nicholls, owner of Tru7 Group.

Guy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley Picture: Sarah Lucy BrownGuy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Guy Nicholls, owner of Tru7 Group, a family-owned group of companies, is fiercely loyal to his East Anglian roots. Philanthropic Guy generously has pledged £100,000 to the GeeWizz Charity Legacy fundraiser that will be announced late October, to help build a new specialist SEND’s playground at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy. His companies employ more than 200 people in Suffolk. Here he speaks with Gina Long

What is your connection to East Anglia?

My father Percy was originally from Yoxford, moving to Ipswich in the 1950s, where his family had numerous garages. He was very innovative back then. He, along with his brothers, was one of the first families to sell second-hand cars – everyone locally knew them. He then left the family business and started on his own.

What is your East Anglian Heaven?

I just love the people and the area; I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. We have beautiful coastal areas and rivers. We are also very lucky having lots of wonderful pubs and places to eat. There are just so many places across Suffolk and Norfolk to choose from.

What is your East Anglian Hell?

The road systems are dreadful. In my opinion, the A140 must be one of the worst roads in the UK. The Orwell Bridge seems to have constant closures because of high winds and accidents. Very frustrating!

What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

I need to mention a few. In Suffolk, The Unruly Pig and Milsoms and, of course, The Talbooth.

What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

At home with my wife and a G&T.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Coming back from anywhere, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see the ‘Welcome to Suffolk’ road sign.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

The Suffolk Show, I go to every year without fail, and the Heveningham Concourse d’Elegance has become a must. Both hugely missed this year, due to the unwelcome pandemic. We can only hope they will return in 2021, along with all other major events.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

That is not a difficult question, has to be trucks and diggers!

What is always in your fridge?

Gin and tonic. We buy as much local produce as possible. My wife Julie and I love the local farm shops. Our fridge has a vast amount of produce from Suffolk Food Hall in it!

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Work harder and smarter than your competition.

What’s your favourite film?

I like British gangster films, so 
it’s got to be Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and any Richard Curtis film is brilliant.

What was your first job?

Does it count if I say the work I 
did after school with my dad 
Percy from a very early age? Cleaning diggers was my first job there from memory.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family and our health.

Who do you admire most?

Lord Bamford, Owner of JCB. What they have achieved as a family is astonishing, and it’s still a family business.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Cars.

What do you like about yourself most?

I stick to my word.

What’s your worst character trait?

I cannot get out of bed in the morning…

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

The Italian lakes, but to be honest, I prefer to be at work.

Best day of your life?

The day my son Jake started working in the business. I must add, and having our three grandchildren, they have been a huge bonus to our lives.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

My wife’s brilliant home-cooked fry up – nothing beats it.

What’s your favourite tipple?

G&T

What’s your hidden talent?

Commercial deals.

When were you most embarrassed?

Trust me there have been many occasions…but none I’d let you print!

What’s your earliest memory?

Going to a van auction with my father, probably at the age of 
four.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

The Carpenters – Superstar.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I dislike holidays abroad, as I hate flying, regardless of the destination.

What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

Hearing the news my father would not survive.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.

I am a real homeboy and Suffolk is definitely home. We are so lucky living here, especially as I think Suffolk has the best climate in the UK too.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I am so proud to be able to support the capital project the GeeWizz Charity is fundraising for. Having met many of the marvellous children and their families at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich, having seen their current playground, the new playgrounds are going to be well and truly life-changing. We are not film stars; we are just normal Suffolk people; we want to give something back and help local people in our area. With our charitable giving, we also want it to be transparent and local. I hope others will follow our lead and consider getting involved in late October when it will be announced. From a business perspective, in this ever-changing landscape, the Covid-19 pandemic is beyond worrying. In the 40-plus years I have been in business, not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the world we find ourselves in today.

For more information go to: www.tru7group.com

If you live in Suffolk or Norfolk and have an interesting story to tell please do email me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: ginalongmbe


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Which Suffolk campsites are reopening 2020?

Gypsy's Rest glamping caravans at Secret Meadows Picture: Secret Meadows

Gypsy’s Rest glamping caravans at Secret Meadows Picture: Secret Meadows

© chris rawlings 2014

With lockdown restrictions lifting just in time for summer, campsites across East Anglia are now reopening – with updated social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

Enjoy what the Suffolk countryside has to offer this summer with Secret Meadows Glamping in Hakeston, near Woodbridge Picture: Roz GordonEnjoy what the Suffolk countryside has to offer this summer with Secret Meadows Glamping in Hakeston, near Woodbridge Picture: Roz Gordon

With the overall pleasant weather that we’ve been experiencing so far this summer, it comes as no surprise that the sale of tents, barbecues, caravans and camping equipment has been on the rise across Suffolk recently.

People throughout the county have taken to their gardens to recreate their own staycations, soaking up the sun over the two glorious bank holidays and additional sunny weekends we’ve had during lockdown.

With Coronavirus restrictions slowly lifting over the coming weeks, campsites across Suffolk are looking to reopen, adjusting their practices accordingly, which will allow them to run safely in line with social distancing and hygiene measures.

From tent pitches that ensure you’re at one with nature, to glamping options with all the mod-cons, there’s an abundance of camping options to suit all families, needs and budgets.

Come stay in Pod Hollow for an experience like no other Picture: Phil Morley / West Stow PodsCome stay in Pod Hollow for an experience like no other Picture: Phil Morley / West Stow Pods

West Stow Pods, Bury St Edmunds

Located on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds is West Stow Pods, a family-run glamping site in the heart of Suffolk’s scenic countryside, offering fabulous nature trails, walks and cycle paths.

Providing a range of accommodation, owner Jan Lengyel said: “We are very much gearing up to re-opening on the weekend of 4 July, barring any announcements to the contrary from the Government. All of our accommodation is separate, so is ideal for social distancing and each has its own en-suite facilities, and is totally self-contained.”

Accommodation on offer includes four cosy MegaPods, two woodland lodges and the site’s star attraction, Pod Hollow, its very own Hobbit House which itself is completely separate from the rest of the site and enjoys its own private parking and access.

West Stow Pods' cosy and self-contained MegaPods Picture: Phil Morley / West Stow PodsWest Stow Pods’ cosy and self-contained MegaPods Picture: Phil Morley / West Stow Pods

Each unit at West Stow Pods is at least 80 feet away from each other, offering both privacy and the necessary social distancing measures.

Sleeping up to four people, the MegaPods are equipped with their own showering and toilet facilities – ideal for families or couples who wish to get away from it all. Additionally, they provide a private kitchenette with sink, fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle.

The campsite’s Woodland Lodges and Pod Hollow also feature private bathroom and kitchenette facilities, meaning those from different households have no need to come into close contact.

“Come and stay with us for a unique and tranquil glamping experience in one of Suffolk’s picturesque locations, which benefits from total self-isolation from your fellow glampers. We really do tick all the boxes during these unprecedented times,” Jan added. For further information, please visit www.weststowpods.co.uk

One of the Luxury Lodge Tents at Secret Meadows, Hakeston Picture: Craig GirlingOne of the Luxury Lodge Tents at Secret Meadows, Hakeston Picture: Craig Girling

Secret Meadows, Hakeston

Situated just outside of Woodbridge is Secret Meadows, a range of glamping accommodation that is based at White House Farm Nature Reserve. Camping options on offer include six luxury lodge tents, a two-storey luxury safari tent, a gypsy caravan, a shepherd’s hut and a converted horsebox truck.

“We will be re-opening on Saturday 4 July, based on the current Government advice. We’re introducing quite a few changes for this season to allow for the social distancing and cleaning requirements,” said director and manager Charlotte Daniel.

Some of the changes include an updated check-in policy, so guests can self-check-in, and the removal of ‘high-touch’ items such as information packs which will now be emailed to guests instead. “We’ll be available for guests to contact via telephone at any time during their stay, and we’ll maintain social distancing if we need to visit the guest’s accommodation for assistance,” Charlotte added.

Inside one of the Luxury Lodge Tents Picture: Craig GirlingInside one of the Luxury Lodge Tents Picture: Craig Girling

Hand sanitiser and disinfectant will be available for guests to use during their stay, and there will be a ‘one household at a time’ policy for guests who wish to access the onsite shop.

“We have signed up to the Clean and Safe Charter, which has been introduced by the top holiday agent for glamping sites, and we’re following all the government recommendations for cleaning. All of our accommodation units have private facilities including private loos and showers, and private kitchens, so guests don’t need to share any facilities with other groups,” said Charlotte.

With White House Farm Nature Reserve spanning 115 acres of meadows and woodlands, a trip to Secret Meadows allows you to enjoy both the sights and sounds of rural Suffolk. Guests are welcome to explore the nature trails, all while maintaining social distancing measures.

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Pictured here is one of the luxury lodge tents, which sleep up to six people. Each tent is nestled in its own wooded area, and comes fully-equipped with a private kitchen that features a wood-burning stove, private toilet and shower, and four-poster bed. To see Secret Meadows’ full range of accommodation options and to find out more, visit www.secretmeadows.co.uk/glamping

Birds & Bees, Rendham

Birds & Bees, near Saxmundham, is a campsite providing spacious, eco-friendly camping in the heart of Suffolk’s Alde Valley.

The family-friendly campsite, which features 15 tent pitches, is scattered across three rolling meadows, where guests will have a half an acre pitch.

Sunset over at Birds & Bees in Rendham Picture: Colin Thornton / Birds & BeesSunset over at Birds & Bees in Rendham Picture: Colin Thornton / Birds & Bees

With a tentative reopening date of Thursday 9 July, Birds & Bees has listed a number of measures on its website, in order to ensure that visitors comply with its social distancing and hygiene rules.

Its website states that social distancing must be observed between households with 2 metres at all times, and children are always to be accompanied by an adult when away from their designated pitch. For guests who wish to camp with friends or family from another household, Birds & Bees asks that separate pitches are booked.

Additionally, it is recommended that guests try to use the facilities as a group from each pitch in order to ease the flow of the facilities. This includes the kitchen, outside fridges and recycle point. Hand sanitiser dispensers will be conveniently located across the site, and communal touch points will be disinfected throughout the day – such as door handles, taps, toilets, showers, bins, power points and firewood buckets.

James and Emma Strachan of Birds & Bees said: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of enquiries to stay with us this summer, and we remain optimistic that we’ll be able to welcome our camping lovelies from Thursday 9 July. Our aim is to accommodate the new normal while keeping it stress-free at Birds & Bees. Everyone has been very accepting and seem grateful for the efforts we’ve made so far. We really believe everyone will work together to help bring some welcome respite, and enjoy our little slice of Suffolk paradise.”

Inside one of the glamping tents at Lantern & Larks' Sweffling Hall campsite Picture: Lantern & LarksInside one of the glamping tents at Lantern & Larks’ Sweffling Hall campsite Picture: Lantern & Larks

Birds & Bees will also have no more than an 80% occupancy on site at one time. To see the campsite’s full Coronavirus provisions guide, and to find out more, visit www.birdsandbeescampsite.co.uk

Lantern & Larks, Sweffling Hall

Within easy reach of beauty spots such as Framlingham, Southwold and Aldeburgh is Sweffling Hall, a Lantern & Larks glamping campsite consisting of six tents.

The site’s tents can accommodate up to six guests in them – with three bedrooms sleeping two people each. They also include a large open-plan kitchen, dining room and lounge.

Waldegraves, located on Mersea Island, looks to reopen this July Picture: WaldegravesWaldegraves, located on Mersea Island, looks to reopen this July Picture: Waldegraves

With the campsite planning to reopen and welcome guests as of Friday 10 July, Emma Clark of Lantern & Larks said: “All of our tents have their own private showers and toilets, as well as their own kitchen – so no communal areas, and plenty of space to social distance from other guests. We are also following an enhanced cleaning policy which includes housekeepers wearing all the appropriate PPE, as well as disinfecting all surfaces.” For further information, visit www.lanternandlarks.co.uk

Waldegraves Holiday Park, Mersea

Located on Mersea Island is Waldegraves Holiday Park, an independent family holiday park owned by David Lord. The resort celebrated its 70th anniversary back in 2018, and like all other businesses up and down the country, was rocked by the enforced closure due to Coronavirus.

Park manager Krystal Crawford said: “David has never experienced anything like this. While it’s lovely to see our park blossoming along with all the wildlife, we miss seeing all our holiday homeowners and holiday makers. Our restaurant, bar and clubhouse with live entertainment are usually busy this time of year, and our outdoor swimming pool is a popular choice – especially when we have this lovely weather. We hold numerous charity events throughout the year, which have unfortunately been cancelled due to the current pandemic we all face.”

Enjoy a fun-filled family break at Waldegraves Holiday Park Picture: WaldegravesEnjoy a fun-filled family break at Waldegraves Holiday Park Picture: Waldegraves

Hoping to reopen at the beginning of July, the park is currently working on a range of measures to implement in order to make sure Waldegraves is as safe as possible for both customers and staff.

“Our trade association, British Holiday & Home Parks Association, is drawing up some detailed guidance for measures which parks should put in place – we’ll be paying close attention to these, ensuring everything is in place prior to opening our holiday park,” added Krystal. “We want to protect both visitors and our own staff from any risks.”

With pitches generously spaced out across the Waldegraves site, visitors can socially distance with ease. “Caravan holiday homes, both privately owned and rented, are entirely self-contained with their own bathrooms and kitchens,” said Krystal.

In order to ease the flow of visitors, the park is considering a staggered return, with those camping in caravans given priority over tent campers. “It’s likely that there will be a phased return to parks, so it might be that those guests requiring use of communal areas, like showers and laundries, might not be in the first phase. We feel holiday homeowners should be priority along with our static holiday home lets and our seasonal tourers, but we do hope to be welcoming touring caravans, motorhomes and tents before the end of summer.”

To stay up to date with Waldegraves Holiday Park, and for further information, please visit www.waldegraves.co.uk or ring 01206 382898.


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Suffolk box manufacturer invests in new kit as orders rise with online shopping boom

Box maker Teakcroft has invested in a new forklift truck despite the coronavirus lockdown Picture: JAMES CUSHING

Box maker Teakcroft has invested in a new forklift truck despite the coronavirus lockdown Picture: JAMES CUSHING

James Cushing/Teakcroft

A family-run cardboard box maker has taken on delivery of a new forklift truck during the coronavirus lockdown to help it keep up with “remarkably solid” demand.

Box maker Teakcroft has invested in a new forklift truck despite the coronavirus lockdown Picture: JAMES CUSHINGBox maker Teakcroft has invested in a new forklift truck despite the coronavirus lockdown Picture: JAMES CUSHING

Saxmundham-based Teakcroft Ltd – whose customers include the NHS and healthcare providers as well as existing traders switching to internet supply – says it is continuing to invest in new equipment despite the tough times.

The forklift will help it move board and boxes around its dedicated manufacturing base as it strives to meet demand for corrugated cardboard boxes during the lockdown.

MORE – Ingredients firm’s huge new headquarters takes shape in Suffolk town

Managing director Paul Oldman said while certain trading conditions had been tough recently, it was the right time for the company to invest. The company is owned by Paul and Stephanie Oldman, who took over from Stephanie’s father, Keith Morley, who is now retired. It employs 12 staff and has a tunover of £1.85m, with 150 customers.

“The only way we see progression of our company is through investment. Having spent a considerable amount of money during 2019 on new production equipment we needed to upgrade our shunting fleet so this was the perfect time to invest in a new forklift for our operators,” he said.

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“This will assist in both the unloading of sheetboard from our suppliers and loading our own liveried transport for direct delivery to our valued clients, while easily moving product to our various production machines in the factory.”

Teakcroft, which has been going for more than 30 years, designs and delivers bespoke packaging for all markets.

Business development manager James Cushing said: “Our customer base is made up of both merchants and wholesalers and end users across a variety of different customers across a range of manufacturing and supply routes.

“Demand during the current crisis is remarkably solid. Internet shopping is booming, leading to an upsurge in orders from breweries and horticultural businesses among others.

“In the past two to three years there has been several raw material price increases leading to a loss of custom and box users switching supplier.

“However, the past six months has seen a softening of board prices so being a small bespoke manufacturer we have been in a position to move our prices better than a larger less flexible producer.”

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Forklift truck on fire at Bures building site in Colne Road as Suffolk firefighters use hoses and masks

Firefighters from Sudbury are at the scene (file picture) Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Firefighters from Sudbury are at the scene (file picture) Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Firefighters had to use hoses and breathing apparatus to tackle a forklift truck was is on fire at a building site in Suffolk.

The forklift is on a building site in Colne Road. Picture: GOOGLE MAPSThe forklift is on a building site in Colne Road. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Suffolk firefighters were called to the incident in Colne Road, Bures, at 8.36am today.

They used a breathing apparatus and hoses to put out the diesel forklift truck which was on fire.

Two engines attended the scene from Sudbury and the fire was put out by 9.37am.

Major review of lorries in small Suffolk villages to be discussed

A truck gets stuck in Woolpit in 2016. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

A truck gets stuck in Woolpit in 2016. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Highways chiefs in Suffolk are on the verge of starting a major review of the county’s lorry routes, amid growing concerns over truck movements in small villages.

Suffolk Highways said the issue of lorries in roads they shouldn't be had escalated. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Highways said the issue of lorries in roads they shouldn’t be had escalated. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A board of senior highways officers and cabinet member Mary Evans will meet next month where the issue is set to be discussed, after requests for the issue to be more tightly managed.

While no formal timeline has been set out for the review, the board’s November meeting will discuss the problem and what steps need to take place.

It is understood that could include a working group, detailed research or other methods, and could discuss measures such as tougher sanctions on trucks using inappropriate routes and fresh conversations with haulage firms to educate drivers on the importance of using specified routes.

Conservative cabinet member Mary Evans said: “Suffolk County Council is responsible for the Suffolk Lorry Route plan.

Mary Evans confirmed the issue was on the agenda with her highways board next month. Picture: GREGG BROWNMary Evans confirmed the issue was on the agenda with her highways board next month. Picture: GREGG BROWN

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“While we do not have confirmed timescales for carrying out a review of lorry routes at this time, as it is a significant piece of work, we understand how much of an issue disruption caused by HGVs has become in some areas of Suffolk.

“I can confirm that the Lorry Management Plan will be on the agenda at the next Highways Improvements and Innovation Board in November, where officers will discuss how this could be taken forward.”

According to highways insiders, the issue has become more prevalent with increased numbers of HGVs on the roads and the inability to ensure truck drivers follow diversion signs when there are roadworks, as many attempt to use local knowledge or their own routes.

Among the issues lorries in small villages cause are noise complaints, snared roads and even damage to buildings in some cases.

In June, it emerged that Suffolk’s bid for funding to bypass four villages in East Suffolk had been rejected by the Department for Transport.

The route, which planned to bypass the A12 around the villages of Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, aimed to help those communities which suffered from heavy traffic on the A12, and aid the villages as greater traffic was anticipated from the Sizewell C project.