The Suffolk Medal is the highest honour that Suffolk can bestow on one of its own. As part of HM Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and The Festival of Suffolk, five people have been awarded with this prestigious honour: Boshor Ali, James Buckle, Maggi Hambling CBE, Dame Clare Marx DBE and Nigel Oakley.
The Investitures took place on June 21st, Suffolk Day, at Framlingham Castle.
The Suffolk Medal was launched in March 2019, with nominations to be made by the general public in Suffolk and decided upon by a panel of the County’s leaders. Its purpose is to recognise, reward and champion the exceptional contributions of Suffolk people that have made a fundamental, measurable and lasting difference to the lives of people in our county. The panel currently includes: The Lord Lieutenant (chair), Suffolk’s High Sheriff and Police and Crime Commissioner, CEO’s from our County Council and Chamber of Commerce, The CEO’s of Suffolk Community Foundation and Community Action Suffolk, a Lieutenancy representative and founder of the medal former High Sheriff George Vestey.
Boshor’s tremendous tenacity and singlemindedness, coupled with his deep faith have led to a life-long passion to support the needs of those experiencing inequality as a result of poverty and exclusion. Boshor has always had a clear vision that the Bangladeshi community is an integral part of the whole community throughout Suffolk, a stance he has taken during his service as secretary of the Shahjala Mosque and Islamic Centre and as a one of the founding members and subsequent Chair of BSC Multicultural Services. Over some 25 years, his commitment to volunteering and inspired leadership of the BSC Multicultural Services team of staff, trustees and volunteers has delivered significant growth and breadth of the services it offers, BUT always with a mind to be responsive to wider and differing needs. As a result, together with the team, Boshor has taken huge strides forward in building community cohesion and addressing the needs of many thousands of people in Suffolk regardless of their faith or ethnic origin.
Maggi Hambling CBE is a contemporary artist of local, national and international acclaim, who’s Suffolk roots are of abiding importance. Over the past five decades her work has been celebrated across the globe, her list of achievements too abundant to mention in full, but highlights include being the first artist in residence and The National Gallery returning, solo exhibitions at many of the finest galleries and museums in the world, the rare and significant honour for a living artists of having a retrospective at the British Museum, two major retrospectives in China and most recently a show in New York – our very own Scallop, introduced to the shoreline in Aldeburgh in 2003 and now an iconic and much loved part of Suffolk life, the list goes on. Maggi continues to proactively support the vital work of Stonewall, The Terrence Higgins Trust whilst at the same time demonstrating a quiet but unfailingly strong ongoing support for numerous Suffolk charities and local projects, including giving generously of her time as Patron of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury. Maggi’s work continues with unflinching and unremitting energy to explore the challenging subjects of life/death, war, conflict, global warming. The emotional breadth and depth of her work speaks to people from every walk of life.
Nigel was first introduced to a Suffolk Horse when, one morning, local landowner Sir Cuthbert Quilter’s string of horses were driven through his home village of Alderton. This first encounter with the horse, affectionately known as ‘The Suffolk Punch’ due to its short, stocky and powerful build, turned into a life-long passion to fight for the very survival of this true icon of Suffolk and Category One – critically endangered breed. In 1983, success in the engineering business allowed Nigel and his family to purchase 7 acres of land at Withersfield. With only 240 Suffolk Punches remaining registered at this point, the breed was at its’ lowest post and Nigel made his first stand for The Suffolk Punch by introducing both a mare and filly to the smallholding. This was to become the foundation of his stud. A move to Rede Hall Farm Park and it’s 60 acres allowed the stud to grow. A wider breeding programme ensued with Nigel eventually increasing his own stock to 16 whilst producing a further 59 foals in partnership with other breeders across the Country. Over the past 40 years, Nigel has become and fabulous ambassador for the breed, appearing several times on BBC Countryfile and encouraging everyone from local school children to Her Majesty The Queen to step and help. At the time of presenting this medal. Nigel still owns three of the now 500 Suffolk Punches registered. Although age prohibits some of his former activities, Nigel continues with promotional work, charitable displays and, perhaps most effectively of all, never ceases to share his passion to persuade anyone who will listen to join the fight to secure the future of The Suffolk Punch.
James has a very natural ability to draw people together from all walks of life to initiate change for good. As a businessman he underpins all the great things he achieves with commercial acumen and commitment to business in the County. His passions run deep – the environment, the people of Suffolk – most especially young people, and the vital work of championing philanthropy to support those most in need. James is a hugely determined character but always kind and an endlessly source of inspiration for all those who work in partnership with him. As Chairman of Suffolk Community Foundation, he has ensured significant financial growth delivering support for many thousands of projects being delivered by Suffolk charities and community groups. His deep-seated sense of stewardship of the land has seen him plant more than 250,000 trees and over 35 km’s of hedgerows, but he has also created local employment, saved failing pubs to become thriving community assets and created many opportunities for people of all ages to engage with the environment. His commitment to improving the prospects of young people in Suffolk now includes the development of Suffolk Youth Partnership, on this occasion drawing organisations to work effectively together in understanding the issues of young people and providing the support they need and the bright futures they deserve.
Clare Marx is a Suffolk pioneer; a true leader and exemplar for the medical sector and for professional women. She has had a stellar career in the medical profession and has achieved several very distinguished firsts in her career – for instance, the first woman to become: – President of The British Orthopaedic Association; President of The Royal College of Surgeons; and Chairman of the General Medical Council. Clare has a deep love for Suffolk and its communities, having served for nearly three decades as a trauma and orthopaedic (T&O) surgeon and medical leader at Ipswich Hospital; a person who inspires and mentors young people to join the medical profession; and someone who cares deeply about the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of everyone in Suffolk. She combines a deep understanding of strategic, organisational and governance issues with a passion for raising the standard of medical leadership for the benefit of all patients across Suffolk and the United Kingdom
The Suffolk Medal, designed by renown Suffolk artist, Maggi Hambling, was launched in March 2019. Nominations come from the general public in Suffolk and are decided upon by a panel of the county’s leaders. Its purpose is to recognise, reward and champion the exceptional contributions of Suffolk people that have made a fundamental, measurable and lasting difference to the lives of people in our county. A clear demonstration of outstanding volunteering, either as a single feat, an accumulation of personal impact over a period of time or, indeed, a lifetime of selfless service are key elements for consideration. The Suffolk Medal was the idea of George Vestey from Haverhill who was the High Sheriff of Suffolk in 2018-19, and they are administered by Suffolk Community Foundation and funded by private individual contributions to the fund they manage on behalf of The High Sheriff of Suffolk.
The judging panel meets at least once a year and nominations for future medals can be made directly online by any Suffolk resident. Find out more below.