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The biggest and most-read stories SuffolkNews covered in 2022 including Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Newmarket and Mildenhall





SuffolkNews has covered a host of surprising, interesting and major events this year.

This has included huge shopping news in Bury St Edmunds, a big crash caught on video outside RAF Mildenhall, unexpected celebrity appearances and lots more.

So without further ado, here are some of the most read and biggest stories we have covered in 2022.

There have been a variety of major stories covered by Suffolk News this year
There have been a variety of major stories covered by Suffolk News this year

January

Kicking off this list, The Moreton Hall pub in Bury St Edmunds finally opened following a £330,000 refurbishment internally and externally.

A new fireplace and decor was introduced to the building, all of the carpets were changed and new toilets were installed. Outside, a new 'cabana village' was also brought in and new plants were placed throughout the garden too.

Mayor Peter Thompson visited the newly renovated pub where a ribbon cutting ceremony took place with general manager Charlie Dorner. Picture: Mecha Morton
Mayor Peter Thompson visited the newly renovated pub where a ribbon cutting ceremony took place with general manager Charlie Dorner. Picture: Mecha Morton

General manager Charlie Dorner said: "It's been quite exciting, within four hours the pub was completely stripped. Although it has stressful at times, it's been really lovely to see it come together and now we can admire the new pub we have."

In another pub-related story, Wendy Mezni spoke of her devastation and anger, after the business she had called home for over 16 years was sold.

The Five Bells in Great Cornard near Sudbury, was set to shut its doors on September 20, after owners Hawthorn, The Community Pub Company, sold the business to residential developer 20 Gainsborough Ltd.

Abdou and Wendy Mezni, landlady at The Five Bells in Great Cornard, spoke of her anger at former owners Hawthorn Leisure, who sold the pub to developers. Picture: Mark Westley
Abdou and Wendy Mezni, landlady at The Five Bells in Great Cornard, spoke of her anger at former owners Hawthorn Leisure, who sold the pub to developers. Picture: Mark Westley

Ms Mezni described feeling 'still in shock' a month after being told the news just before Christmas, stating the sale had caught her completely off guard, after she had desperately wanted the pub to continue running.

February

Moving into the second month of 2022, on February 18, an area of Bury St Edmunds town centre was shut due to potential falling debris from a building’s roof.

Part of Bury St Edmunds town centre was shut. Picture: Bury St Edmunds Police
Part of Bury St Edmunds town centre was shut. Picture: Bury St Edmunds Police

The Traverse and some of the Cornhill had been sealed off due to 'roof tiles flying off Croasdales Chemist' according to police.

Residents were urged to avoid the area as Storm Eunice caused issues across the UK.

Bury St Edmunds police thanked members of the public who came to the assistance of an officer who could have 'been seriously injured'.

A number of people helped the officer who was struggling to detain a violent and aggressive male on Angel Hill.

Following the incident, the force showed their appreciation on Twitter in a statement.

March

CBD Brothers, based in Elmswell, became one of the first companies in the UK to be granted a licence to grow cannabis for medicinal use.

It was granted the licence by the department for health and social care in Guernsey and meant the company could legally ‘cultivate, process and extract’ cannabis for use in medicinal products containing the psychoactive ingredient THC.

Ben and Katie Birrell with Mark Tinsley and Megan Jefferson. Picture: Mark Westley
Ben and Katie Birrell with Mark Tinsley and Megan Jefferson. Picture: Mark Westley

CBD Brothers founder Ben Birrell, said: “It has been a long journey from preparing balms and lotions in my garage at home 11 years ago, to sitting down with government heads in Guernsey and Home Office officials to be granted the licence.”

Also in March, an inquest concluded that RAF gunner Corrie McKeague, who vanished on a night out in 2016, died after getting into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry.

The airman, was 23 when he disappeared in the early hours of September 24 in Bury St Edmunds and was last seen on CCTV at 3.25am entering a service area behind a Greggs shop. His body has never been found, despite extensive searches.

An inquest jury recorded in a narrative conclusion that Mr McKeague died at around 4.20am in Bury St Edmunds as a result of 'compression asphyxia in association with multiple injuries'.

CCTV footage of Corrie McKeaguec in the hours before he vanished. Picture: Suffolk Police
CCTV footage of Corrie McKeaguec in the hours before he vanished. Picture: Suffolk Police

April

A big surprise in April was when superstar Ed Sheeran turned up at an inner city Birmingham pub and started pulling pints and having a sing-along with customers.

The singer left people gobsmacked when he appeared without any security at The Roost in Small Heath.

Punters said Sheeran happily joined in a game of pool as he mingled with the crowds and enjoyed a pint with rapper pal Jaykae.

Ed Sheeran started pulling pints at the pub. Picture: SWNS
Ed Sheeran started pulling pints at the pub. Picture: SWNS

Following that a few days later on April 14 was another big celebrity appearance as Kit Harington was spotted picking up BBQ supplies in Sainsbury’s in Bury St Edmunds.

Wearing joggers and a sweatshirt, the Game of Thrones star was seen by fan, Matthew Wallis, 46, who said Kit’s wife and fellow Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie was also there.

Matthew, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, said: “They both walked in looking very casual - Kit in jogging bottoms and Rose in slip-on shoes. It was definitely a surprise to see them.”

The Game of Thrones star was spotted in the Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SWNS
The Game of Thrones star was spotted in the Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SWNS

May

In May, Mildenhall Cricket Club's Jonah Handy celebrating turning 21 years of age, after he took a wicket that has been watched more than one million times across social media platforms.

Hadleigh batsman Kudzai Maunze faced up to Mildenhall II bowler Handy for the start of the 12th over of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One encounter at Wamil Way.

Handy’s bowl then produced an unbelievable amount of swing to remove the bails and stun Maunze. The video went viral after it was first posted on Twitter by @cricketdistrict and the viewing figures shot up from there.

Tesco became the latest major supermarket to issue a 'do not eat' warning for a number of its cooked chicken products in May.

The supermarket joined Aldi, Sainsbury's, M&S, Waitrose and Pret in recalling food items because of fears they could contain salmonella.

The issue that affected shops and supermarkets, saw them recall more than 40 food items in total, and was believed to be connected to a supplier.

Tesco recalled a number of cooked chicken products
Tesco recalled a number of cooked chicken products

June

A new Bury St Edmunds bar and restaurant was the first of its kind in the country in June.

Damson & Wilde, located at 59 Abbeygate Street, replaced the former Café Rouge, which closed in July 2020 after its parent company went into administration.

At the time, the group owned and ran 43 independent premium pubs in the south of England and South Wales and it chose Bury St Edmunds to launch its first Damson & Wilde branded bar and restaurant.

The Damson & Wild staff. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Damson & Wild staff. Picture: Mecha Morton

Moving into the realm of sport, Ipswich Town assistant kitman Lee Owen - a former AFC Sudbury FA Vase finalist – reflected on his journey to the Portman Road dressing room.

A former postman and car salesman, Mr Owen underwent a fascinating career to become one of the busiest members of staff at Ipswich’s Playford Road training ground.

This all followed after he had a successful non-league career with AFC Sudbury – reaching three successful FA Vase finals from 2003.

Lee Owen has previously worked as a postman and car salesman. Picture: Mecha Morton
Lee Owen has previously worked as a postman and car salesman. Picture: Mecha Morton

July

An Exning benefactor who, during his lifetime, poured millions of pounds into a host of local and national charities, left more than £100 million in his will.

Simon Gibson was 94 when he died in May last year at Landwade Hall on his 1,776 acre Exning estate near Newmarket.

His published will revealed that, as well as leaving £1.6 million to seven named charities, he had also made generous personal bequests to members of his estate’s staff, both working and retired, his carer, and his legal representatives.

Simon Gibson in 1999 at Exning Primary School opening part of a playground which he supported financially
Simon Gibson in 1999 at Exning Primary School opening part of a playground which he supported financially

Two Suffolk schools opted to close for two days in July due to the heatwave that was incoming which had been given a red warning by the Met Office.

Westgate Community Primary School in Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall College Academy both made the decision to not open their doors on July 18 and 19.

At the time, temperatures were due to reach up to 40 degrees in the county.

A red weather warning was in place
A red weather warning was in place

August

After falling in love with it at first sight and spending nearly 40 years at the bar, the landlords of one of the region’s prettiest pubs called time.

Retirement beckoned for Brian, 75, and Joyce Desborough, 73, who took on the Rede Plough, near Bury St Edmunds, in 1982.

Ms Desborough said: “We could not have done this without the amazing staff we have had over 40 years, without them we couldn’t run the business. We have stayed in touch with many of them and now see their grown-up children in the pub.”

Joyce and Brian Desborough, of the Rede Plough, retired after 40 years at the pub. Picture: Mark Westley
Joyce and Brian Desborough, of the Rede Plough, retired after 40 years at the pub. Picture: Mark Westley

On August 16, Dobbies Garden Centre in Bury St Edmunds was shut after a suspected explosive device was discovered nearby.

A bomb disposal team attended the scene after police were alerted at about 8am to the suspected unexploded ordnance by a member of the public.

Police and the army later confirmed the discovery was an artillery shell believed to have been used for wartime training which was unearthed during a survey for a new housing development.

A bomb disposal team was at the scene following the discovery close to Dobbies Garden Centre in Rougham Road, Bury St Edmunds. Pictures: Mecha Morton
A bomb disposal team was at the scene following the discovery close to Dobbies Garden Centre in Rougham Road, Bury St Edmunds. Pictures: Mecha Morton

September

A video was shared on social media in September showing a head-on crash between a tractor and a car outside RAF Mildenhall.

The clip from outside the airbase, saw a tractor veer across the road, mount the car and collapse onto its side. At the time, the video had been viewed 405,000 times.

Emergency services were called to the collision and ambulance crews treated two patients at the scene before transporting one to West Suffolk Hospital for further assessment and care.

Reporter Camille Berriman was able to explore the inside of the abandoned Cornhill Walk Shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds.

The centre opened in 1986 with 11 retail units, but closed at the end of December 2016.

Ms Berriman noted that the derelict building was not even a shadow of its former self but barely recognisable.

An abandoned trolley inside Cornhill Walk
An abandoned trolley inside Cornhill Walk

October

For the second time in 2022, Ed Sheeran surprised fans and staff at the Wilford Bridge in Melton near Woodbridge.

The singer popped in for lunch at the pub, with a film crew he was reportedly working with, and took pictures with people and tucked into one of the pub's chicken poke bowls.

Rachel Fox, area manager for Deben Inns, who run the pub, said: “The staff loved it – he is the biggest celebrity in the county. Ed was really humble and very happy to have his photo taken and he knew how much it meant to the staff."

Staff said Ed Sheeran was a 'genuinely nice guy'. Picture: Mandy Ralph
Staff said Ed Sheeran was a 'genuinely nice guy'. Picture: Mandy Ralph

On October 10, the public was informed that a man arrested on suspicion of murder after a double stabbing in Bury St Edmunds remained under investigation.

Police continued probing into the fatal stabbing of Karl Skoulding at Harland Court, on Station Hill, on April 26 after officers were called at 3pm and found a man and a woman in a flat who had both suffered stab wounds.

Mr Skoulding, 43, was declared dead shortly after officers arrived and the woman in her 40s was taken to hospital in a critical condition but was later released.

Forensics at the scene of a murder investigation at Harland Court in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday, April 27. Picture: SWNS
Forensics at the scene of a murder investigation at Harland Court in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday, April 27. Picture: SWNS

November

In November, it was finally announced that Primark would move into the ground and first floors of the former Debenhams at the arc shopping centre.

The fast fashion retailer is expected to open before the end of next year and will create around 90 jobs.

It followed months of speculation and demand from shoppers across west Suffolk with thousands joining the Primark for Bury St Edmunds Facebook group.

There had been a lot of support for Primark to be introduced in the town
There had been a lot of support for Primark to be introduced in the town

A hugely unexpected moment of 2022 was the reveal that West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock was to enter the I'm A Celebrity... jungle.

The former health secretary's decision was met with a lot of criticism from many people including his constituents and also saw The Last Leg host Adam Hills hold an impromptu surgery in Mildenhall.

Mr Hancock did manage to go far in the jungle and reached the final three but was beaten to the crown by former England footballer Jill Scott.

MP Matt Hancock unexpectedly joined nine other campmates in the jungle
MP Matt Hancock unexpectedly joined nine other campmates in the jungle

December

Rounding off the year, residents of a Bury St Edmunds neighbourhood set up a Community Speedwatch group in an effort to make an accident-prone road safer.

Several Nowton Road residents started the group in October to monitor motorists’ speeds on the road and now they are calling for Suffolk County Council to put in place speed reduction strategies such as a permanent speed camera at the junction where Mayfield Road meets Nowton Road.

Group coordinator Ian Wallis said: “We’ve only just started, but the view of the current people who’ve set this up is that we’re going to keep going until we get a speed camera. We’re not going to take no for an answer and we’ll keep releasing data.

Cllr Sarah Stamp, alongside Speedwatch coordinator Ian Wallis, Paul Schofield and Cllr Richard Rout in Nowton Road. Picture: Mecha Morton
Cllr Sarah Stamp, alongside Speedwatch coordinator Ian Wallis, Paul Schofield and Cllr Richard Rout in Nowton Road. Picture: Mecha Morton

In slightly more recent news than the rest of the stories, a woman from Wetherden spoke out after she and her son were forced to wait 35 hours in A&E to get a hospital bed.

On the morning of December 18, Ann Cooke attended West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds with her 39-year-old son, Charles. As no free beds were available on this occasion, they were forced to wait in A&E until the following day, when Mr Cooke was finally admitted.

Mrs Cooke said: “It was absolute chaos in there. People were literally sitting on the floor.It really comes home to you when you see ambulances forced to wait outside hospital, A&E overrun.”

Charles Cooke, 39, had to wait 35 hours for admission to A&E
Charles Cooke, 39, had to wait 35 hours for admission to A&E