For the love of building bridges Written by Cordelle Sheldon,

Published on December 18, 2023

For the love of building bridges -

Dear Ipswich, I trust you are well.

From as far back as I can remember Ipswich was called home.

Although I was born and grew up in Wiltshire my Dad was born in Ipswich and my grandparents lived here so when we took a trip to Ipswich it was called ‘going home’. The journey from Wiltshire, stopping at a Little Chef for lunch on the way, was always filled with anticipation of the warm welcome we would receive on our arrival.

After his wartime service, my grandfather joined the railways as a chef. One of my favourite memories is going to meet him off the train at Ipswich station, the excitement of the train arriving and then running down the platform into his arms. It is why all these years later I still smile when I catch a train at Ipswich as I can picture him there beaming and delighted to see us.

I clearly remember the pride my grandparents had in Ipswich and Suffolk but also how they felt it was often a forgotten or overlooked county. Immense pride too in the football club that has been such a big part of the town and her people. And once again the success of ‘The Blues’ is bringing a buzz to Ipswich and uniting people from all across the town. They would be delighted!

I have many vivid memories of these trips ‘home’. On one such occasion, we walked across the Orwell Bridge when it was finished but not yet opened to traffic. There was a real sense of celebration and excitement and I remember thinking how huge the bridge was. My grandfather felt it would make such a difference to the town which of course it did. I drive under the bridge most days now and appreciate both its design and purpose all the more.

Sitting atop a Suffolk Punch was another treat orchestrated by my grandparents. It was only when I took my own daughter to see these amazing creatures at The Suffolk Punch Trust that I realised just how enormous they are.

As I grew older I would stay at my grandparents house without my parents. My older cousins would join me and they taught me how to play cricket in the back garden and we ran around and got muddy in the fields near Akenham which suited me just fine but my grandma wasn’t too impressed!

When choosing a University to go to I went to Essex, just down the road in Colchester, and so could hop on the train to visit my grandparents at weekends. I would eat and laugh well and return back to University with tins full of my grandma’s sausage rolls, rusks (NOT SCONES!) and a Victoria Sponge cake. Needless to say the contents soon evaporated upon my return to University where my hungry house mates were always keen to know when I would next visit my grandparents.

Initially after University we lived in Wivenhoe but we often visited Ipswich. Then when starting a family we decided to make Ipswich our home as I had a job with Willis working in both Ipswich and London. We liked the people, the easy access to London and the feel of the town. I can still clearly remember going into the Willis building in Ipswich for the first time; a building I had gone past on countless occasions and an icon in the architecture world. It’s an amazing building inside and out with its glass exterior, bright yellow walls, bright green carpet and roof garden; sadly I was too late to enjoy the delights of the swimming pool, but was still able to visit colleagues at their desk near ‘the deep end’.

After working in London for many years I decided to work locally to spend more time with my family and was delighted to join the University Campus Suffolk team where I worked on a number of projects. I am really proud that it achieved University status in its own right and became the University of Suffolk in 2016. The University is a great example of the positive collaboration that is possible to successfully deliver big projects across Ipswich and Suffolk. All it takes is the right people and a bucketload of can do positivity.

So whilst Ipswich does face challenges, for me it will always be very special and deserving of our love. There are people and places here that will always make me smile and I believe passionately that the town is and can be a great place to live. After all, there is no place like home.

Cordelle Sheldon

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