Heaven and Hell: Suffolk Libraries chief executive Bruce Leeke

Chief executive of Suffolk Libraries Bruce Leeke

Chief executive of Suffolk Libraries Bruce Leeke - Credit: Submitted

Bruce is the chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, the charity that runs libraries across Suffolk and beyond. He spent the early part of his career running large international events but moved to the charity sector as he wanted to do something that made a difference in people’s lives. He talks to Gina Long

What’s the impact of Covid-19 and how are you adapting?
It’s been tough for colleagues at our charity who have worked through the ups and downs of the pandemic.

With libraries being classified as a critical service by the national government the team has worked tirelessly to support the needs of Suffolk communities.

This included over 11,000 calls to elderly and vulnerable people, delivering food parcels to those most in need, thousands of live-streamed sessions online to keep people happy and connected whilst stuck at home and delivering digital devices and 4G dongles direct to people’s homes.

Suffolk Libraries response to Covid-19 epitomises the resilience, impact and reach of the service. Colleagues supported thousands of people through the dark days of lockdown and have continued to change and adapt as the situation has evolved.

What is your connection to East Anglia?
I’m a lifelong Ipswich Town fan, despite growing up in Kent. My wife and I used to come to games when we lived in London and would stay for the weekend. I also lived in Ipswich for a couple of years when I was in my late teens and that’s how I knew how special Suffolk is before we decided to move here.

What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?
I love the pace of life in comparison to somewhere like London. People always seem to have more time for each other which is a massive positive! I also love the local produce. East Anglia has some world-class food and it’s great to be able to get it right at the source!

What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what you hate most about living here?
Seeing more people discover East Anglia’s (relatively) hidden secrets. But I appreciate that makes me a bit of a hypocrite.

Bruce Leeke with author Pamela Holmes on Suffolk Libraries Day

Bruce Leeke with author Pamela Holmes on Suffolk Libraries Day - Credit: Submitted

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
The Orwell Bridge, as my wife and I, had our wedding reception at the Cookhouse at Suffolk Foodhall about two days after they finished building it!

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
Suffolk Libraries Day, our annual fundraiser and celebration of all things library across Suffolk!

What is your favourite restaurant?
Couldn’t pick one! Locanda Locatelli in London or Sun Do in Sevenoaks.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?
80’s music.

What is always in your fridge?
Parmesan cheese. You can do a lot with Parmesan!

Bruce doing his bit for charity inside the library

Bruce doing his bit for charity inside the library - Credit: Submitted

What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Be positive and treat others the way you wish to be treated yourself.

What’s your favourite film?
Jerry Maguire or The Lost Boys.

What was your first job?
A paper round delivering free papers.

What is your most treasured possession?
Pictures of my family.

Who do you admire most?
Lindsay Boswell, my first great boss, who is now chief executive of the food charity FareShare.

What is your biggest indulgence?
Too many to list them all, but probably playing too much golf.

What do you like about yourself most?
Self-awareness and particularly the ability to laugh at my many failings!

Bruce Leeke with author Pamela Holmes and library staff on Suffolk Libraries Day

Bruce Leeke with author Pamela Holmes and library staff on Suffolk Libraries Day - Credit: Submitted

What’s your worst character trait?
I’ve been known to moan occasionally!

Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Bequia, a tiny island in the Grenadines.

Best day of your life?
The birth of my boys (on different days admittedly).

What’s your favourite breakfast?
Pancakes with maple syrup.

What’s your favourite tipple?
Good dark rum.

What’s your hidden talent?
Cooking. I’m a dab hand in the kitchen.

What’s your earliest memory?
Being bitten on the bottom by a monkey and the tetanus injection I had shortly afterwards.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I shared the maternity care of both of our children with my wife.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
That I let them down.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?
The sunshine hours, friendly people, great food, and beautiful coastline.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?
If they haven’t already done so I’d like readers to discover the power of their local library. 

All of our libraries provide so many different activities and services that support, entertain, and connect people.

If you haven’t checked out what’s going on at your local library recently go to www.suffolklibraries.co.uk and you’ll find a treasure trove of great stuff. We are also a charity with deep roots in the community and we’re always looking for more supporters.

To find out more visit www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/support-us


 


You may also want to watch:


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter