2023 Suffolk Medal recipients:
Rebecca Crerar and Dr Jonathan Adnams OBE

The Suffolk Medal is the highest honour that Suffolk can bestow on one of its own and two outstanding Suffolk people are now only the 12th and 13th recipients of this prestigious honour.

The Investitures take place today (June 21st 2023) on The Cornhill in Ipswich as part of wider celebrations for Suffolk Day which include the 4 Army Air Corp exercising their ‘Freedom of The Town’ with a parade and flypast and The Suffolk Day Proclamation written and presented by the young people from Chantry Academy.

The Suffolk Medal, administered by Suffolk Community Foundation, will be presented to Rebecca Crerar, CEO of Suffolk Refugee Support and Dr Jonathan Adnams OBE by The Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Suffolk.

The Suffolk Medal was launched in March 2019, with nominations 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.

This year’s winners have made their contribution on a local, national and international scale in a variety of ways including outstanding contributions to philanthropy, business, the voluntary sector and community cohesion.

Chair of The Suffolk Medal Panel, Clare Countess of Euston, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk says:

“On our very own Suffolk Day, I am delighted that we are gathered in the truly historic surrounding of our County Town of Ipswich to present this year’s Suffolk Medals. We have two very special and truly exceptional Suffolk people to celebrate this year, unique in the incredible contributions they have made. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for all they have already contributed to our County and hope this special honour will further elevate their ability to do even more.”

Medal recipient Rebecca Crerar, CEO of Suffolk Refugee Support says:

“I feel so honoured to receive this award and hope it reflects the fact that I absolutely love this county and will continue to work for as long as I can to make it a cohesive and positive place which celebrates its diversity.”

Medal recipient Dr Jonathan Adnams OBE says: ‘‘As a Suffolk boy born and bred, I am proud and delighted to accept this honour of the Suffolk Medal today.’’

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.


Images supplied:
Jonathan Adnams – credit Anthony Cullen
Rebecca Crerar – credit Suffolk Community Foundation

Dr Jonathan Adnams OBE – Citation

Jonathan Adnams

Jonathan is a true Suffolk man, born in Southwold in the late 1950’s within sight and sound of the sea, he has influenced the world of Brewing, Business, and Community Action from his Southwold home on the East Suffolk Coast. It was indeed the sea that shaped the young Jonathan.

From a very early age he harboured the desire to become a deep-sea trawler skipper. After a minor skirmish and negotiation about ‘O’ levels with his father, who was a profound and supportive influence on his life, he was able to fulfil his early ambition and enjoy a year at sea fishing. The other side of that bargain was that Jonathan would spend time learning to become a chartered surveyor at Southampton, Estate Management College. Jonathan didn’t know it at the time, but this learning would serve him well later in life and his career.

As with many successful business people academia was never going to become a passion for him and the call of the sea was strong and by the early 1970’s he was delivering RNLI lifeboats around the coast of the UK. By the age of 17 he was also a member of the Southwold Lifeboat Crew. He went on to become Senior Helmsman/Coxswain over what was to become a 40-year association with the RNLI where he was involved in more than 200 service calls and the lifeboat being recorded in rescuing 168 souls. So began the early signs of an enduring quality that is all about putting others’ safety and security before that of his own.

A determined father finally convinced Jonathan that he should join the family business as an apprentice brewery engineer. In true Adnams fashion, there were no privileges, and this young man was destined to learn the family business far away from the boardroom, from the vantage point of the shop floor. Any advancement would be on merit. After a few years of hard work advancement came first as Distribution Director soon to be followed by his becoming the Director responsible for Adnams Pubs.

This connected him and the business with communities and the notion of the central role pubs play in their localities. Under Jonathan’s leadership, the Adnams Pub estate expanded, and the foundations were laid for the successful portfolio of community-centred pubs that Adnams owns today. He latterly became Managing Director and in 2006 became Chairman.

The 1990s saw the formation of the Adnams Community Trust and since its inception, Jonathan has been a trustee and is its longest-standing Chair. Small gifts and donations, to often unfashionable good causes that might otherwise go unrecognised, is a defining principle of the now-named Adnams Community Trust. During his tenure, Jonathan has presided over the distribution of approximately £1.75m in funding throughout Suffolk.

It is perhaps in Brewing, Distilling and Sustainability that Jonathan is known beyond Suffolk. During his tenures as MD and then Chairman the Company has innovated in its processes, plant and equipment, lowered its environmental impacts and is lauded as one of the most sustainable businesses of its type in the world.

This was evidenced in 2006 by CNN’s global news network transmitting the Adnams story to the world for a whole day when the business’s new eco-distribution centre was opened in July of that year. A new brewhouse with world-leading sustainability and low water use credentials was opened in 2007 and these things ultimately saw Jonathan recognised nationally with an OBE in 2009. The work continued and the Copper House Distillery opened in 2010. Adnams has been the recipient of three Queens Awards for Enterprise, and Sustainable Development, the last being awarded fittingly in 2022, the year of Adnam’s 150th anniversary. Not only focussed on plant and processes, the business, under Jonathan’s leadership also received global awards for its products with Adnams Copper House Gin being named ‘world’s best’ in 2013 by the International Wine and Spirits Association, followed by Adnams Vodka receiving the same award in 2014.

At heart Jonathan is a local man, he rides his bike to work daily, he spends time in local pubs and his quiet unassuming style belies the fact that he has made and continues to make a wonderful impact. He is committed to improving the world for people, the good of the planet and the prosperity of communities, particularly, in his beloved home County of Suffolk.

Rebecca Crerar – Citation

Rebecca Carera

Rebecca is a passionate advocate of refugee rights and has made an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in the county for nearly 25 years. As a passionate contributor to the development of refugee services within Suffolk, Rebecca has been CEO of Suffolk Refugee Support since 2005.

Moving to Suffolk with her family as a baby, she enjoyed a wonderful upbringing by the sea in Felixstowe and the surrounding beautiful countryside. She was educated at Deben High School and went on to graduate from Nottingham University with a BA (Hons) in Psychology.

During her childhood, Rebecca developed an interest in international cultures, partly as a result of her father’s extensive travels as a chemical engineer. Her university studies further cultivated her empathy for those forced to migrate across the world.

After leaving university, Rebecca returned to Suffolk and started working for the Refugee Council in 2000. Her initial role involved supporting the dispersal of asylum seekers across the country and highlighted to her the need to understand their specific needs and wants rather than simply following “policy”. This sometimes put her at odds with the authorities as she fought for better outcomes for her clients. An opportunity arose in 2005 to take a role with Suffolk Refugee Support (a local independent charity) and she soon became the charity’s manager and subsequently CEO.

At that time, Suffolk was a relative newcomer to the diverse populations of refugees settling in the UK from countries such as Kosovo, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan. Rebecca could see the issues that were emerging at that time. There were some cultural challenges on both sides as new arrivals familiarised themselves with their new life. Suffolk also was discovering what help was needed to support people to thrive and become integrated, contributing members of the community.

Rebecca remembers a situation which highlights the challenges. A client had been separated for a long period from his wife and two children and he was being heavily criticised by local officials for not having a home ready for them when they finally arrived in Suffolk. The man had lost everything in his home country and had narrowly escaped execution at the hands of his persecutors. His wife and young children had fled for their lives and had been separated from him in another neighbouring country. The officer who criticised the man had no experience or understanding and therefore no empathy for his situation, having never encountered a refugee before. Rebecca has made it her mission to encourage understanding and ensure that misunderstandings like this are fewer and quickly overcome.

As a key figure raising the profile and needs of refugees in Suffolk, Rebecca has been consistently successful in raising substantial funding locally and nationally. This has allowed Suffolk Refugee Support to greatly increase its resource and provide sustainable and deeper support to many more people.

Rebecca is keen to showcase the talent and skills that refugees bring to Suffolk and gets an enormous sense of pride when she meets her ex-clients who are now working and contributing to the local economy.
In 2019, Rebecca was given the High Sheriff’s Inspiring Leader award and later in the same year, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Suffolk.

Rebecca lives just outside Felixstowe in Trimley St Mary with her partner Richard. She enjoys playing the violin and is a founder member of Suffolk Community Strings, a friendly orchestra encouraging amateur adults to return to playing an instrument. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys the Suffolk countryside, especially Rendlesham Forest and the coastline. In the summer she loves to have a dip in the North Sea, camping, music festivals and growing her own vegetables.


Interviews by our very own Tim Holder with this year’s Suffolk Medal recipients – Rebecca Crerar and Dr Jonathan Adnams OBE

Previous Medal recipients:

2022: Nigel Oakley, Dame Clare Marx CBE, Boshor Ali, James Buckle and Maggi Hambling CBE

2021: Linda Hoggarth MBE, Jeremy Mauger

2020: Grenville Clarke MBE

2019: Canon Sally Fogden MBE, Terry Hunt, Richard Martineau

The Suffolk Medal, was designed by renowned Suffolk artist and now Suffolk Medal recipient – Maggi Hambling CBE and 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.

Future nominations:
The judging panel meets at least once a year and nominations for future medals can be made directly online by any Suffolk resident via www.thesuffolkmedal.org.uk