Heaven and Hell with Tim Holder of Suffolk Community Foundation ahead of Suffolk Dog Day

Tim Holder

Tim Holder - Credit: Archant

Suffolk born and bred, Tim Holder lives with his partner Royal Ballet Star Gary Avis and their three dogs in a 17th Century barn in rural Suffolk. As a part of the team at Suffolk Community Foundation, he works to raise awareness about need in our region, tells the stories of local charities and volunteers and raises money to support them. He combines his passion for people and pooches at the Foundations wonderful community event Suffolk Dog Day which, with the help of 150 amazing Volunteers, returns to Helmingham Hall on July 28. Here he talks to Gina Long MBE.

Tim Holder

Tim Holder - Credit: Archant

What is your bond with East Anglia?

It's total! Born and bred, for work and play. I love our part of the world so much. I'm a Suffolk boy first and foremost, but from Brancaster beach in the North, Dedham Vale in the south over to Haverhill and Newmarket, then from Frinton up to Lowestoft, this is my home and I'd challenge anyone to find a finer place to live.

Your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

The Suffolk Dog Day Superstar competition Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The Suffolk Dog Day Superstar competition Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION - Credit: Suffolk Community Foundation

Two things make this place heaven for me - the people and the place. In my job at Suffolk Community Foundation, I meet really terrific, strong and inspiring people who devote their lives to helping others. We're so fortunate to live in communities that care about each other and try to catch people who are falling through the net. Put this with the place, the variety of our landscape, dramatic coastlines, angry seas, huge skies, enormous views, all those pretty villages in the west. Our home is heaven for most and tries hard to be for all.

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What is your East Anglian Hell?

Most of us have the best time living here, yet we still have far too many people living in poverty, drug problems, violence, loneliness, children that wake up hungry and go to bed hungry. The hell is that we should be able to make this heaven for everyone.

Favourite East Anglian Restaurant?

We live in such a great part of the world for food and drink, don't we? For a great Indian, I'd say Memsaab in Lavenham, for noodles then The Zen Noodle Bar in Bury St Edmunds. Best Sunday Roast at The Queen's Head in Eye. French, has to be Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds - that's 'relaxed posh'. Up and coming? The Bell in Botesdale. Sssh, don't tell anyone!

Favourite East Anglian evening?

Easy to say, but not often enough achieved. A comfortable seat outside our Shepherd's Hut at the end of the garden. With Gary, our three Schnauzers Ella, Louis and Hoagy and two very large Betty's Gin and Tonics. Throw in dramatic Suffolk sunset! Perfect.

Favourite East Anglian landmark?

Oh that's hard! I'll say the view down to the River Orwell from the churchyard of St Mary's Church in Wherstead. It's just behind Suffolk Community Foundation's offices in Wherstead and up the hill from a lovely Suffolk Food Hall lunchtime snack!

Best thing in East Anglia each year?

Oh come now, no contest, surely? It's Suffolk Dog Day. It's tomorrow, folks. It's the furriest and finest day out. Around 8,000 people and their pooches, all walks of life enjoying their common passion for dogs! Even better, it's organised by a band of loyal Suffolk Community Foundation volunteers and every penny raised is ploughed back into Suffolk Charities. £500,000 so far, 250 local charities supported and over 145,000 people helped. It doesn't get any better. See you tomorrow!

Your specialist Mastermind subject?


What is always in your fridge?


Your simple philosophy of life?

You've only got one shot at it, so work hard and make sure the best is yet to come.

What's your favourite film?

I love a chick flick! Steel Magnolias! Any trashy action adventure when the world is about to end but doesn't. A really good British comedy. Saving Grace - hilarious. Can't wait to see Yesterday.

Your most treasured possession?

Honestly, happy memories are the most important things to treasure. But if you want an actual 'thing', I've recently been working my way through a rather late midlife crisis with my new best friend, a beat-up old Mercedes 350SL called Mary. She's magnificent.

Who do you admire most?

So many people from musicians and artists to the real heroes who give their everything for others. Surround yourself with as many of these people as you can. That's my mission. Passion is infectious.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Chocolate, especially Freddos. I call them 'dirty chocolate'!

What you like about yourself most...

I'll take this question if you amend it to, 'Is there anything at all that you like about yourself?' Possibly one thing. I think I do make people laugh. Often at me, but sometimes with me too, which is better.

What is your worst character trait?

So many. It's a whole other article!

Your favourite holiday destination?

In East Anglia, probably the north Norfolk coast. Brancaster beach is a really special place for me. Abroad? I've had a lot of fun in Corfu. Least said, soonest mended.

Best day of your life?

Hands down, meeting Gary Avis.

What's your favourite breakfast?

A little light muesli with almond milk. Er, no! It's a bacon sandwich with an egg on high days and holidays. Food of the gods.

What's your favourite tipple?

A really peaty late-night whisky.

What's your hidden talent?

Oh crumbs, too few to hide. I say, get them out and show them off. I'm quite good at creating events and 'happenings'. I've created concerts and festivals with some fabulous people, showing off their talents. Is that a talent?

When were you most embarrassed?

Even starting to think about this is making my toes curl. For the good of my health, let's move on.

What don't we know about you?

'He's a bit of a sharer, so there won't be much' is what I think those who know me would say. For those who don't know me, pull up a chair. Oh dear.

Worst thing anyone has said to you?

There was something said that bugged me for ages. So much so that I pushed it back to the person who actually said it and they didn't remember a thing about it. There is a lesson in there, I think.

What do you want us to know about?

As it's tomorrow, July 28th, gates open at 10.00am at Helmingham Hall, let's start with Suffolk Dog Day, a day for Suffolk by Suffolk. It's brilliant, you'll love it and even if you live in Norfolk we'll still let you in! Please come.