Our Patrons

We're delighted to welcome four new high-profile and well-known Suffolk residents as patrons who have pledged their support for Suffolk Libraries.

Lesley Dolphin, former BBC Radio Suffolk Presenter

Lesley retired in 2022 after an amazing 40 years in broadcasting, 30 of them with BBC Radio Suffolk. Of her many achievements over the years one standout was the 2011 fundraising climb up Mount Kilimanjaro which was part of the hugely successful project to build the Treehouse in Ipswich for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

Lesley remains very busy and involved in Suffolk life. She is a member of the Felixstowe Library Friends Group and has kindly compered the Suffolk Libraries People’s Champions Volunteer Awards for the past few years.

“I’m so chuffed to be asked to be a patron for Suffolk Libraries - with over 40 centres across the county the charity is embedded in local communities and does so much more than lend books!  Not that I underestimate the value of books - I well remember visiting my local library when I was growing up. It was so exciting to pick four new books every week!”

Emma Freud, Executive Producer of Comic Relief

Emma Freud is Executive Producer of Comic Relief, was a co-creator of Make Poverty History and the Live 8 concerts, and was awarded an OBE for services to the charitable sector. She's also a seasoned interviewer, a reporter for BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Columnist of the Year’ award for her series of articles in the Telegraph on living in New York.

For the last 25 years, she's worked with Richard Curtis as either script editor or co-producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, Love Actually and Yesterday.

"I thought I knew what libraries in the UK were all about - I was entirely wrong. The 45 'Suffolk Libraries' are really special - run by a charitable trust, independently from the council, they exist as a centre of support, warmth, education and connection for our communities."

"They’re not just here to lend inspiring books (though they do that too) - they are busy, vibrant, crucial centres of activity... tackling loneliness for parents and young children, or tackling isolation for the elderly, running classes to help adults become more employable, hosting Citizens Advice sessions for ALL citizens, as well as craft clubs, film clubs, theatre events, gardening lessons, conversation sessions for non-English speakers, and a stack of events to nurse the creativity of an entire country."

"As Executive Producer of Comic Relief, I’ve spent the last 30 years campaigning on behalf of projects that make a difference to the lives of people across the UK. I am now truly honoured to support this incredible network of 'Super-Libraries' with their vision to make life better for all the residents of Suffolk."

Michaela Doherty, Managing Director of Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park

Michaela and her husband Jimmy first set eyes on Pannington Hall Farm in 2002. Both in their early 20’s they dreamt of a full restoration, returning the totally derelict farm back to a fully working, thriving livestock farm with a focus on traditional farming methods.

In 2003, The Essex Pig Company was born. Creating a small onsite butchery and farm shop, Michaela and Jimmy began turning their forest-fledged, free-range pork into premium, rare-breed sausages and bacon.

From humble beginnings it has now developed beyond their wildest dreams into a Wildlife Park, restaurant, wedding venue, flower and vegetable garden and a beautiful farm shop.

“As a mother to four girls I’m passionate about nurturing children’s literacy. I am equally keen to support the local community through safe and meaningful meeting places. I’m proud to support Suffolk Libraries in providing these spaces in a warm, accessible and friendly environment - at the same time supporting a charity that works tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of others."

Gina Long MBE, philanthropist, entrepreneur, freelance journalist and global charity campaigner

Gina was awarded an MBE for services to the charity sector in December 2015. Among her many charitable achievements, she has raised nearly £7 million. Gina founded one of the first global online auctions, the Ultimate Charity Auction which has raised more than £2.1 million since its inception in 2011.

Gina recently worked alongside John and Imogen Sheeran on the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction raising £506,000. Gina mentors and supports other charities such as Sarcoma UK. She lives on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds with her husband Andrew, who is a farmer, and their ‘blended family’ of seven children.

“I have a strong belief that our libraries should be loved, nurtured and supported in the long-term, without the invaluable services that they offer being jeopardised. Libraries are the fundamental foundation of our community which helps literacy, wellbeing, the reduction of social isolation along with adding multiple other benefits people can enjoy.”

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