Curtis

My East Anglian Heaven and Hell: Guy Nicholls

Guy Nicholls, founder of Tru7 Group. Picture: Charlotte Bond

Guy Nicholls, founder of Tru7 Group. Picture: Charlotte Bond

Archant

This week Gina Long meets Guy Nicholls, owner of Tru7 Group.

Guy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley Picture: Sarah Lucy BrownGuy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Guy Nicholls, owner of Tru7 Group, a family-owned group of companies, is fiercely loyal to his East Anglian roots. Philanthropic Guy generously has pledged £100,000 to the GeeWizz Charity Legacy fundraiser that will be announced late October, to help build a new specialist SEND’s playground at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy. His companies employ more than 200 people in Suffolk. Here he speaks with Gina Long

What is your connection to East Anglia?

My father Percy was originally from Yoxford, moving to Ipswich in the 1950s, where his family had numerous garages. He was very innovative back then. He, along with his brothers, was one of the first families to sell second-hand cars – everyone locally knew them. He then left the family business and started on his own.

What is your East Anglian Heaven?

I just love the people and the area; I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. We have beautiful coastal areas and rivers. We are also very lucky having lots of wonderful pubs and places to eat. There are just so many places across Suffolk and Norfolk to choose from.

What is your East Anglian Hell?

The road systems are dreadful. In my opinion, the A140 must be one of the worst roads in the UK. The Orwell Bridge seems to have constant closures because of high winds and accidents. Very frustrating!

What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

I need to mention a few. In Suffolk, The Unruly Pig and Milsoms and, of course, The Talbooth.

What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

At home with my wife and a G&T.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Coming back from anywhere, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see the ‘Welcome to Suffolk’ road sign.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

The Suffolk Show, I go to every year without fail, and the Heveningham Concourse d’Elegance has become a must. Both hugely missed this year, due to the unwelcome pandemic. We can only hope they will return in 2021, along with all other major events.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

That is not a difficult question, has to be trucks and diggers!

What is always in your fridge?

Gin and tonic. We buy as much local produce as possible. My wife Julie and I love the local farm shops. Our fridge has a vast amount of produce from Suffolk Food Hall in it!

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Work harder and smarter than your competition.

What’s your favourite film?

I like British gangster films, so 
it’s got to be Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and any Richard Curtis film is brilliant.

What was your first job?

Does it count if I say the work I 
did after school with my dad 
Percy from a very early age? Cleaning diggers was my first job there from memory.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family and our health.

Who do you admire most?

Lord Bamford, Owner of JCB. What they have achieved as a family is astonishing, and it’s still a family business.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Cars.

What do you like about yourself most?

I stick to my word.

What’s your worst character trait?

I cannot get out of bed in the morning…

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

The Italian lakes, but to be honest, I prefer to be at work.

Best day of your life?

The day my son Jake started working in the business. I must add, and having our three grandchildren, they have been a huge bonus to our lives.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

My wife’s brilliant home-cooked fry up – nothing beats it.

What’s your favourite tipple?

G&T

What’s your hidden talent?

Commercial deals.

When were you most embarrassed?

Trust me there have been many occasions…but none I’d let you print!

What’s your earliest memory?

Going to a van auction with my father, probably at the age of 
four.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

The Carpenters – Superstar.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I dislike holidays abroad, as I hate flying, regardless of the destination.

What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

Hearing the news my father would not survive.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.

I am a real homeboy and Suffolk is definitely home. We are so lucky living here, especially as I think Suffolk has the best climate in the UK too.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I am so proud to be able to support the capital project the GeeWizz Charity is fundraising for. Having met many of the marvellous children and their families at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich, having seen their current playground, the new playgrounds are going to be well and truly life-changing. We are not film stars; we are just normal Suffolk people; we want to give something back and help local people in our area. With our charitable giving, we also want it to be transparent and local. I hope others will follow our lead and consider getting involved in late October when it will be announced. From a business perspective, in this ever-changing landscape, the Covid-19 pandemic is beyond worrying. In the 40-plus years I have been in business, not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the world we find ourselves in today.

For more information go to: www.tru7group.com

If you live in Suffolk or Norfolk and have an interesting story to tell please do email me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: ginalongmbe


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Wednesday police briefs

Apr 29 • Feature Story, Local News • No Comments on Wednesday police briefs

Stolen, and some recovered
Yesterday morning, police received information that a stolen vehicle was parked in a lot on Tweedsmuir Avenue West.
Officers attended the area …

Ed Sheeran's 13 best moments of 2019

Ed Sheeran's second night at Chantry Park in Ipswich, performing to a crowd of more than 40,000 people Picture: ZAKARY WALTERS

Ed Sheeran’s second night at Chantry Park in Ipswich, performing to a crowd of more than 40,000 people Picture: ZAKARY WALTERS

Archant

World tours, pizza ovens, Stormzy, ketchup… Ed Sheeran has had a memorable 2019 – here’s his best bits.

More than 150,000 people saw Ed Sheeran perform in Chantry Park in 2019 Picture: ZAKARY WALTERSMore than 150,000 people saw Ed Sheeran perform in Chantry Park in 2019 Picture: ZAKARY WALTERS

1. Ed’s Chantry Park homecoming gigs

In case you missed it, 150,000 people visited Chantry Park over the August Bank Holiday for four days for Ed Sheeran’s most anticipated UK shows.

Some fans had tickets for two, three or all four shows, queueing for hours and travelling from across Europe and even Australia to soak up the atmosphere at these special concerts. Friend and collaborator Stormzy appeared on the Saturday night as a special guest for a performance of their track ‘Take Me Back to London’.

The shows marked the end of a two-year world tour and were followed by the announcement that Ed would be taking a well-earned break from music.

The Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion is full of some of the most iconic moments of his career Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion is full of some of the most iconic moments of his career Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

2. Ed’s Made in Suffolk exhibition

Opening at the same time as his landmark concerts, Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion was filled with family memories, never-before-seen photos and relics of Ed’s rise to fame for the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition.

Alongside pictures of his earliest performances, including one to an audience of one from the side of a flatbed truck, there are framed records and costumes used in videos when he has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest stars.

Curated by his father and open until May 3, the exhibition is free to enter but bookings must be made in advance.

The East Anglian Daily Times changed its name for one day only in celebration of Ed's homecoming concerts Picture: ARCHANTThe East Anglian Daily Times changed its name for one day only in celebration of Ed’s homecoming concerts Picture: ARCHANT

3. The Ed Sheeran Daily Times

After 45,681 issues and for the first time in the 145-year history of the East Anglian Daily Times, the newspaper changed its masthead in honour of Ed’s four Ipswich gigs.

The newspaper contained a 20-page commemorative souvenir pullout and was ordered by fans from around the world, quickly selling out and soon popping up for sale on online auction sites. Second-hand copies will now cost much more than the original 95p cover price.

Also on the front page was GCSE results day coverage and a stellar interview with Ipswich Town FC’s Kayden Jackson, who had just days prior scored an injury-time winner against AFC Wimbledon.

A group photo at the Castle on the Hill Elmer at the Cornhill - an Elmer covered in tributes to Ed Sheeran Picture: SARAH PEARSONSA group photo at the Castle on the Hill Elmer at the Cornhill – an Elmer covered in tributes to Ed Sheeran Picture: SARAH PEARSONS

4. Ed’s very own Elmer

Anyone who visited Ipswich this summer found dozens of colourful elephants on the street as part of the art trail, Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk.

Among the patchwork animals was one artwork called ‘Castle on the Hill’, a tribute to Ed’s career displayed on the Ipswich Cornhill. It was later sold for £10,000 and signed by Sheeran, with the money going towards St Elizabeth’s Hospice.

Following the Pigs Gone Wild art trail in 2016, Ed himself bought his porky likeness, Ed Sheer-ham, for £6,200.

Ed Sheeran also appears in Richard Curtis' Yesterday Picture: PA WIRE/PA IMAGESEd Sheeran also appears in Richard Curtis’ Yesterday Picture: PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

5. Ed’s Yesterday cameo

Somehow finding time in his tour schedule to work with legendary British director Richard Curtis, Ed appeared in blockbuster movie Yesterday, which was filmed in Suffolk this year.

Featuring the music of The Beatles, the main character Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel, suddenly finds fame and meets Ed on a private jet. They later record a new single called ‘Hey Jude’.

This star turn came after his cameo in the Game of Thrones TV series in 2018.

Ed Sheerans Suffolk estate, near Framlingham, will now include a prayer retreat in the shape of a boat Picture: DONALD INSALL ASSOCIATES/PA IMAGESEd Sheerans Suffolk estate, near Framlingham, will now include a prayer retreat in the shape of a boat Picture: DONALD INSALL ASSOCIATES/PA IMAGES

6. Ed’s planning permission saga

Ed has been busy developing his estate close to his home village of Framlingham. In March, Suffolk Coastal District Council concluded that his wildlife pond – with steps, handrail and jetty – was not in fact a swimming pool, despite complaints from neighbours it was being used as one.

In April, he was ordered to remove a caravan (which had been converted into a sauna) and a pub sign after they were erected without permission. This was overturned on appeal in June.

Then in August Ed was given approval for an outdoor kitchen, complete with a brick-clad pizza oven big enough to cook three pizzas at once. And lastly in November, he was granted permission to construct a prayer hall in the shape of a boat.

Ed Sheeran appeared halfway through Snow Patrol's performance of their hit single 'Chasing Cars' Picture: STEPHEN FOSTEREd Sheeran appeared halfway through Snow Patrol’s performance of their hit single ‘Chasing Cars’ Picture: STEPHEN FOSTER

7. Ed’s surprise appearance with Snow Patrol

Since performing in Suffolk in August, Ed has spent more time in the county recuperating after his Divide world tour.

A guest at Snow Patrol’s November show at the Ipswich Regent, the band invited him on to sing with lead singer Gary Lightbody for their mega-hit Chasing Cars.

Ed Sheeran and the X Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Tattoo Edition. Picture: HEINZ UKEd Sheeran and the X Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Tattoo Edition. Picture: HEINZ UK

8. Ed’s Tomato Edchup

Shoppers were able to get their hands on Tomato Edchup in 2019 – a rebranded Heinz ketchup featuring a tomato wearing glasses and a leafy fringe – in supermarkets across the UK.

However, 150 super limited edition signed bottles of ketchup, with a unique bottle design inspired by Ed’s tattoos, were sold to raise money for East Anglian Children’s Hospice (EACH). Sheeran has been an ambassador for EACH since 2014.

Three were auctioned off by Christie’s and another 100 were given away in a charity raffle, with the remaining 50 donated to museums across the world.

Sheeran showed off his Divide Ipswich Town shirt at a game in 2019 Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMSheeran showed off his Divide Ipswich Town shirt at a game in 2019 Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

9. Ed signs for Ipswich and Framlingham Town

Unveiling his own Ipswich Town kit in the days before his Chantry Park gigs, Tractor Boy Ed had queues out the door of his pop-up shop in Ipswich’s Buttermarket with fans trying to get a limited edition shirt with the ‘Divide’ tour logo in place of the Magical Vegas sponsor.

But Ed had a secret second shirt, a replica of Framlingham Town FC, which he revealed on the last night of his four Ipswich shows – demand for the shirt was so high the club’s website crashed due to the number of visitors and customers are still being asked to wait three weeks for delivery due to high demand, even today.

Ed Sheeran has donated hundreds of items of clothing to charity shops in 2019 Picture GREGG BROWNEd Sheeran has donated hundreds of items of clothing to charity shops in 2019 Picture GREGG BROWN

10. Ed’s charity shop donations

A big supporter of St Elizabeth’s Hopsice, EACH and other charities in the region, Ed often donates clothes and old belongings to their shops to sell or auction.

This year alone has seen him donate clothes to a new EACH shop in Woodbridge, tour merchandise to a Sue Ryder shop in Ipswich, and 300 items of clothing to a St Elizabeth’s Hospice shop in Framlingham.

Ed Sheeran posted this image on Instagram announcing his engagement to Cherry Seaborn. The coupled married in secret at the end of 2018 Picture: TEDDYSPHOTOS/INSTAGRAMEd Sheeran posted this image on Instagram announcing his engagement to Cherry Seaborn. The coupled married in secret at the end of 2018 Picture: TEDDYSPHOTOS/INSTAGRAM

11-ish… Ed’s marriage reveal

Technically married in the last few days of 2018, the news of Sheeran’s marriage to childhood sweetheart and girlfriend of four years, Cherry Seaborn, only broke in February 2019.

The pair were married in the company of a priest and their oldest school friends in their Suffolk estate – electing to have a more intimate ceremony rather than a star-studded bash.

The pair threw a star-studded bash in a big top circus tent in a secret Suffolk location in September instead.

Stormzy surprised crowds for one night only at Ed Sheeran's Chantry Park homecoming gigs Picture: KELLY MARIEStormzy surprised crowds for one night only at Ed Sheeran’s Chantry Park homecoming gigs Picture: KELLY MARIE

12. Ed’s Suffolk Music Foundation

With a surprise announcement on Instagram on December 23, the superstar revealed he was founding the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation.

In the video he posted, he said: “The reason I’m doing it in Suffolk is it’s the area that I grew up, I still live here, I learnt to play music here and I feel like I’ve had a lot of support from the area and I want to give some support back.”

There is a three-week wait for an Ed Sheeran Framlingham Town shirt, months after the superstar wore one on stage in Ipswich Picture: TOTAL FOOTBALLThere is a three-week wait for an Ed Sheeran Framlingham Town shirt, months after the superstar wore one on stage in Ipswich Picture: TOTAL FOOTBALL

Ed said the aim of the grants are to help with buying an instrument, music studies, vocal lessons, rehearsals, gigs and more. In order to get involved with the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation, youngsters are asked to register their interest here before applying online.

13. Ed’s taking a break

After one of his busiest years to date, Ed also shared on his Instagram account a note to tell his 32.2million followers he will be stepping back from music until further notice and will not be posting on social media in the meantime.

In the note he said: “To my family and friends, see ya when I see ya – and to my fans, thank you for always being amazing, I promise to be back with some new music when the time is right and I’ve lived a little more to actually have something to write about.”