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Suffolk People: Talking to Annette Ellis, Manager, Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre

Annette Ellis, TIC Manager, Stowmarket Tourist Information CentreAnnette Ellis is a busy lady. She manages the tourist information centre (TIC) in Stowmarket which includes a gift shop with a wide selection of goodies: local crafts, books, maps, local produce and of course, souvenirs.  The TIC sees over 100,000 visitors per year  and she and her team also act as ‘front of house’ for the Museum of East Anglian Life, a 75 acre site with woodland and riverside nature trails and an open air museum with a cornucopia of treasures.

The TIC has just turned 25 and we caught up with Annette, just as the birthday candles were being packed away.

The TIC has just had its 25th birthday, how has the service changed in that time and how has the local tourism industry changed?

The TIC has grown from a small centre selling postcards and a few local gifts and souvenirs, offering lots of free information, to a much larger centre, fulfilling a wider role which includes taking bookings for travel and day trips.  We probably do less in the way of accommodation bookings, as more people book on-line, but demand for printed information on places to visit and places to stay remains high – the personal service and welcome we offer visitors remains at the centre of our role.

What new developments have you got planned?

We’re continually looking at any new or additional services which we can offer visitors and new items and ranges to stock in the shop – particularly anything sourced locally.

What is the question you are asked the most and how often are you asked it?

“Where is the nearest toilet please”?  Several times a day normally!

What sort of customers do you get through the door?

A real mixture, but overall as you might expect; most local, slightly less from elsewhere in the UK, but quite a number from overseas too.

Suffolk local produce Suffolk Honey Soap, handmade in Suffolk

In your experience, what are the main reasons people visit Suffolk?

To visit family and friends or investigate their family tree/trace their roots and also to ‘get away from it all’ and enjoy our beautiful coast, countryside, towns and villages.

What sort of products do you sell and what is the most popular?

Quite a diverse selection – from postcards, greetings cards and beautiful watercolour prints, through to pocket money toys (for children of all ages!), local preserves, maps and books, to locally-made earrings, glass jewellery and locally-milled flour!  Postcards, tea-towels, stamps and local honey have been consistent best sellers over the years.

Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre, Stowmarket, Suffolk Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre, Stowmarket, Suffolk

Have you got a ‘funniest/most memorable moment’ relating to your business?

There are many funny moments,  for example a child recently must have lost a tooth because we found one on the counter  at the end of the day – we get some interesting lost property!  I was once asked where could you get a pair of drumsticks engraved locally too…

What three things do you like most about living/working in Suffolk?

I love the people I work with; the place I work – the museum site is an oasis on the edge of the town centre and I am constantly learning new things in my role; the visitors I meet every single day. I love the coast, rivers, history and the diversity and pace of life too (sorry, I think that’s more than three!)

Where is your favourite place to eat in Suffolk?

The Butt & Oyster at Pin Mill is unique, but I think we are blessed with very many special places to eat out.  I love the Suffolk Food Hall and being a bit of a ‘fresh air freak’ I love being almost anywhere outdoors with a view – whatever the weather really.  It doesn’t get better than eating while afloat either ~ especially aboard the Thames Barge Victor with friends!

Favourite place to go for a walk?

Hard to single anywhere out, but I have a few special favourites on the Shotley Peninsula – home for me.

What is your favourite Suffolk event of the year?

The Suffolk Show – it’s a wonderful showcase for lots of what’s best in the county and I always particularly enjoy seeing the very rare and beautiful Suffolk Punches and their foals being judged.

What’s your favourite Suffolk tipple?

This one’s easier:  Aspall Cider!

Most fun fact about yourself?

When I was younger I considered either going into the Ministry or possibly a convent – but I think that not being able to talk from dawn ’til dusk would just have been too much of a challenge for me – maybe I could have managed for 24 hours!

Thought for the day/philosophy on life?

Do unto others as you be done by and just treat every single day as a gift to make the very most of ….

Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre, Stowmarket, Suffolk Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre, Stowmarket, Suffolk Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre, Stowmarket, Suffolk

Tourist Information Centre, Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket IP14 1DL

T 01449 676800  E tic@midsuffolk.gov.uk

For opening hours, please see the South & Heart of Suffolk website.

If you have already visited the tourist informaton centre and would like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so below, we would love to hear from you.

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This is a community website and we welcome contributions from anyone who would like to write about Suffolk or leave comments about places they have visited. All you need to do is register (just your name and email address) and then you can start writing!

 

 

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Written by Mark



One Response to Suffolk People: Talking to Annette Ellis, Manager, Stowmarket Tourist Information Centre

  1. […] miss our interview with Annette Ellis, manager of the Stowmarket TIC.  Find out what she loves about […]

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