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Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor

Royal anecdotes, planning and an appeal about cuts to the aid budget are among this week's topics.


As a steward in the RAF, I met the Duke of Edinburgh – a lovely man.

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

While stationed at RAF Wittering, along with stewards from other bases, I was selected for royal duties and was in the guard of honour of 40 airmen when the Duke made a visit.

I usually worked in the officers’ mess but an RAF Police Landrover took me, plus coffee, tea and snacks, to one of the Canberra bomber squadrons to serve the Duke of Edinburgh and senior officers. At lunchtime, I served the top table, then, in the afternoon, I was picked up by the RAF Police Landrover again to take me to a different bomber squadron to serve tea, sandwiches and snacks.

Later, I was posted to RAF Gan, which was a small island in the Maldives. One day the catering officer said to me: “From your record, you have done royal duties in the past – well the Duke of Edinburgh will be landing here for his aircraft to be refuelled.”

I was also selected because I had brought with me two new pairs of shoes and a new uniform for special occasions.

The next day, after landing, the Duke and a couple of air marshals were standing outside of the officers’ mess and I was to serve them some drinks, after being told what they drank. I stood back from serving the Duke because two officers were standing in front of me, but he said, loudly: “Corporal, if you intend to serve me my drink, then serve it to me!”

Gordon Jones, Bury St Edmunds


I recently contacted the arc: As a resident of Bury St Edmunds, living close to the fantastic arc shopping centre. During normal times frequenting the variety of the arc’s cafe’s and restaurants, especially during the long summer days, sitting with either a tea outside The Apex or a cold Peroni outside Carluccio’s watching the world pass by.

This pandemic has hit every cafe, restaurant, shop and most of all the general public hard. We are all looking forward to businesses reopening and Bury’s cafe culture bouncing back, but has anyone ever thought of turning the arc’s Charter Square into ‘The Charter Piazza’?

Charter Square is surrounded by Costa, The Apex, Hotel Chocolate, Wagamama, Nandos, Byron Burger, Carluccio’s, all within table service distance, all needing to make money. Tables could have a call service for the food they would like, or it could be totally table service for The Apex only?

Charter Square could make a great piazza
Charter Square could make a great piazza

The outside Apex space is calling out for a small stage for local live music to add to the atmosphere. Shade Sails could easily be erected to provide shelter from the sun.

Obviously there will be ‘red-tape’ obstacles that would need to be manoeuvred around or over: Is the square a fire muster point? If so, move it outside the arc; alcohol is not to be consumed in public places? Apply to the council for a licence. ‘The Charter Piazza’ could create a fantastic outside, Covid-safe venue for families and friends to meet, enjoy food, drinks and remember how to socialise again!

Let’s help Bury bounce back in style this summer.

Neil Marchant, via www.buryfreepress.co.uk


I write in response to the Field of Dreams Farm report (Bury Free Press, April 9).

The location of the Field of Dreams Farm Limited, run by Mark Byford as a tenant, lies in the Planche Fields, the most historic part of ‘old’ Thurston, the low lying open fields which separate the village from Beyton.

Currently Mr Byford operates a general store buying in, selling and delivering a wide range of groceries, general goods and farm produce which appear to be the mainstay of his activities, serviced by an unauthorised, engineered drive and hard standing splitting the fields in two, together with a collection of structures including shipping containers and a mobile home.

A visit to the fields makes it clear, that what is sold vastly exceeds the produce grown on site, a ‘farm’ shop being based on the premise that what is produced is grown on site and what the public are entitled to expect. There are a few animals kept for public display on ‘Open’ days as advertised.

Mr Byford’s business is not within the area for development as set out in the Thurston Neighbourhood Plan 2018-36, a plan which ‘sought to involve the local community as widely as possible’ to manage development and which has my support.

Mr Byford’s planning appeal has been refused (Thurston Parish Council also recommended refusal) and against this background the tenant and landowner are now facing prosecution for development without planning permission which they have defied over a number of years and against which there is no further appeal. The Local Planning Authority rightly has and meets the responsibility in this case to protect our remaining open countryside given the hefty, approved development taking place in the village.

Gerry Woollard, Thurston


In a world where people are quick to criticise, I take particular pleasure in offering sincere congratulations to the Government and to the NHS, for the way in which the Covid vaccination programme has been rolled out. It has been a monumental task.

In my case, I was tremendously impressed with the efficiency at the Jubilee Centre in Mildenhall. Not only would I like to compliment the NHS staff at the vaccination centre there, but also the team of volunteers, whose valuable contribution must not be overlooked. My grateful thanks to everyone concerned.

Peter Cresswell, via email


Bury Quakers are concerned over the government’s decision to reduce aid to Yemen. The country has been devastated by war for six years. Around 20 million people (two-thirds of the population) are dependent upon humanitarian assistance. Two million children are acutely malnourished, cholera and dengue fever are endemic and the country’s healthcare system has collapsed, leaving it unable to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The situation in Yemen has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the Secretary-General of the United Nations has said that the cut in aid amounts to a ‘death sentence’.

The United Kingdom is supplying armaments and military training to the Saudi Arabian armed forces who lead the coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen and who are carrying out bombing raids in rebel areas without regard to the civilian population.

Whileour government has cut humanitarian aid to Yemen from £164 million to £84 million, the published value of UK arms licensed for export to the Saudi-led coalition since the bombing began in March 2016, is £6.3 billion: that being £6,300 million for clear comparison. These figures do not include the cost of continuing maintenance, training and technical support that BAE systems provides to the Saudi Royal Air Force.

We applaud the decision of President Biden to end US support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen and call for the United Kingdom to take similar action.

In accordance with our Testimony to peace, we urge people of good faith to write to our MP, Jo Churchill, to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and to the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, asking that they reconsider both the cut in aid and the arms sales which make possible the continuation of armed conflict in Yemen.

Bury Quakers, Quaker Meeting House, Bury St Edmunds

- Email your letters to letters@buryfreepress.co.uk

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