The secrets of the man behind the Suffolk Show

Philip Ainsworth

Philip Ainsworth - Credit: Archant

Phillip Ainsworth is Chief Executive of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, based at Trinity Park, Ipswich. He joined the Association in January 2016 having spent the previous 18 years or so in the NHS. Whilst the Association is best known for delivering the Annual Suffolk Show, (the largest event of its kind in Suffolk) it also provides a number of educational activities for school children helping them to learn about food, drink, farming and the wider countryside. Trinity Park also welcomes many other visitors through the year to other events, many of which are organised for fundraising purposes by other charities. Phillip talks to Gina Long, MBE

Suffolk Show

Suffolk Show - Credit: Archant

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I arrived here (Colchester Garrison) in 1991 on a posting from Berlin whilst serving in the Army. Based in Essex I found a wonderful place to rent in Suffolk. Meeting and marrying a local meant that I very happily dropped anchor to stay here, leaving the regular Army in 1993. I then spent around 18 years in the NHS and a medical society working mostly in East Anglia.

What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

There is a relaxing beauty to the county made by the countryside but also the people who I find to be very friendly and welcoming.

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What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what you hate most about living here?

Having to travel over the Orwell Bridge on a daily basis. It's always rather irritating when it closes for bad weather.

What's your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

The Great House in Lavenham.

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

At home in the garden enjoying a glass of wine and a BBQ.

What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The Royal Hospital School looking down to the river. All my children went to the School and up close it's a very imposing and impressive main building.

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

Perhaps a slightly biased view but it has to be the Suffolk Show. I have come to pretty much all of the Shows since 1991 as a visitor, through my wife as an exhibitor, as a steward and now as part of the team delivering the event. It's a wonderful coming together for the community in which we live.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

Target shooting.

What is always in your fridge?

Salads, mostly grown by my wife.

What's your simple philosophy of life?

Have a go at anything and everything.

What's your favourite film?

The Day of the Jackal.

What was your first job?

The Army.

What is your most treasured possession?

My grandfather's ceremonial sword which he carried in WW1 at the Somme.

Who do you admire most?

Known as 'Head Office', it has to be my wife. She allows me to think I am in charge when in fact…….In truth, she keeps the whole family together by ensuring we all do as we are told.

What is your biggest indulgence?

I have always been partial to any kind of chocolate bar. It all started in the Army where it was somewhat of a tradition to have a mid-morning snack for no particular reason.

What do you like about yourself most?

Hoping that I allow others' opinions to be aired. Often you can get a great answer to a tricky problem by just listening to others.

What's your worst character trait?

I become frustrated when simple things seemingly take an age to get sorted out.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere where I can ski.

Best day of your life?

Getting married, then the arrival of three children.

What's your favourite breakfast? Eggs benedict, but I generally limit myself to one a year.

What's your favourite tipple?

A decent red wine.

What's your earliest memory?

Riding on a horse called Magpie aged four in Zambia, Africa where I was born and brought up.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Anything by Pink Floyd. Whilst I think 'wish you were here' is one of their best, it would probably be a little inappropriate!

Tell us something people don't know about you?

I am still in the Army Reserves and when I retire in eighteen months' time will have served for around 37 years both as a regular and reservist.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

I was born abroad and have spent a good deal of my life travelling the world but think of Suffolk as home.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

Come to the Suffolk Show next week. It's a really special event for all that offers a huge variety of things for people of all ages to do. It's on 29 and 30 May and we will be delighted if you decide to come.

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