Heaven and Hell: Karen Luke

Karen Luke, co-owner of the Heart of Suffolk Distillery

Karen Luke, co-owner of the Heart of Suffolk Distillery - Credit: Contributed

Karen Luke, co-owner of the Heart of Suffolk Distillery, previously spent 16 years working for the local authority, based in school finance. Never one to stand still and always looking for that bigger challenge, Karen seized the opportunity redundancy presented her and threw herself into successfully steering the distillery through its infancy with her husband Martyn. The challenges of the last year have certainly tested her resilience and she has been overwhelmed with the support for local business and their continued success. 

What is your connection to East Anglia?
My family were all born and bred in Suffolk.  I was born and have lived within 10 miles of Stowmarket all my life so have a pretty good connection.

What is your East Anglian Heaven?
Almost too much to mention. I love the countryside, the big skies, the coastline, the fields, the pace of life and the amazing local food and drink scene.  Mostly, I love the friendliness and warmth of the people.

What is your East Anglian Hell?
I can’t say I particularly hate anything about living in East Anglia.

What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
I have two.  Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds and The Auberge, Yaxley.  Both serve stunning, freshly produced food and have incredible customer service.

What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
It has got to be either walking across the fields, particularly stubble fields close to sunset or walking along the coastlines in East Anglia.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
Ipswich Town Football Ground has to be a favourite, simply for sentimental reasons.  I have many memories of being at the ground, stretching back to my childhood.  My Dad used to be heavily involved in football, I was taken along to the ground as far back as I can remember. From the age of seven, I had a season ticket with my Mum and my love of football begun. Both Mum and Dad have passed away, so whenever I see the stadium it brings back very special memories.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
It has got to be all of the shows and food festivals.  We are spoilt with the sheer number we have to choose from each year.

What’s your specialist Mastermind subject?
This is tricky, I am not sure I have a specialist subject but I guess I could go for food!  This is one of my favourite subjects but I am not sure how many questions I would get right.

What is always in your fridge?
Fresh fruit and vegetables.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Every negative has a positive. I am a great believer that something good always comes out of something bad.

What’s your favourite film?
I do not watch many films, however, I do like to watch and have a sing-along to Mamma Mia.

What was your first job?
When I was still at school, I used to go potato-picking in the school holidays, but my first permanent job was in Barclays Bank, Stowmarket.

What is your most treasured possession?
Jewellery that belonged to my Mum.

Who do you admire most?
It has got to be my Dad. He was a highly respected local businessman but the most quietly spoken and humble man.  He worked incredibly hard, nothing was ever too much trouble, he always had the best advice and a solution to any problem.  

What is your biggest indulgence?
Homemade cakes, I cannot resist them.

What do you like about yourself most?
I am a very level headed person, often the voice of reason and I do stay remarkably calm in a crisis.

What’s your worst character trait?
I am not very impulsive and cannot cope with surprises.  I think I must be a control freak.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Chang Mai, Thailand.

Best day of your life?
I cannot narrow it down to one, I am sorry but I have got to have four….my marriage to my husband, Martyn 26 years ago and the birth of my three children Leon, Kirstie and Ryan (I’m an incredibly proud Mum and Nana).  All incredibly emotional days, it is difficult to put it into words.

What’s your favourite breakfast?
Smashed avocado on ‘Wooster’s’ toasted sourdough bread with a poached egg.  It sets me up for the day.

What’s your favourite tipple?
At the moment, it is a chilled glass of Charmet Rose from Flint Vineyard.

What’s your hidden talent?
I can play the piano.  I achieved Grade 6 many years ago.

When were you most embarrassed?
Haha. I read the last three parts of my postcode out on the telephone, which are 4UH. The man on the other end read it back to me using his version of the phonetic alphabet and said is that 4 Umbrella, Hotel?  I replied no, it’s for Murano Lodge. So embarrassing.

What’s your earliest memory?
Being lucky enough to have a big garden to play in as a child with the most interesting trees to climb.  Along with collecting the eggs from the chickens we kept at the bottom of the garden.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
‘Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers.  This always sends goosebumps down my spine and evokes special memories of my childhood; the start of my love and passion for football. That aside, I would definitely like everybody to wear bright colours and be happy.  Its got to be a celebration of my life!

Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I completed the London Triathlon in 2017 albeit the Sprint distance.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
Being told my Mum had cancer and only had a matter of weeks to live.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
I absolutely love this part of the country; I feel incredibly lucky to live here. Walking in the beautiful countryside in Suffolk and Norfolk is always a joy.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?
I would like to tell them how lucky they are to live in East Anglia, particularly with the opportunity to access some amazing small businesses in the food and drink sector.  We are so grateful for the support we as a small business has been given. Could I also gently ask your readers to please support all local businesses for the foreseeable future? 2020 has been a terribly difficult year for a lot of producers, who have shown incredible resilience and diversity to navigate through the year. For more information, please visit heartofsuffolkdistillery.co.uk

If you are living in Suffolk or Norfolk and have an interesting story, email gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1

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