My Week

Malcolm Alcock retired at the end of 2005, following 35 years in the fire and rescue service. The former Suffolk's chief fire officer now works as an independent consultant and lives in Bramford with his wife Lynne.

Malcolm Alcock retired at the end of 2005, following 35 years in the fire and rescue service. The former Suffolk's chief fire officer now works as an independent consultant and lives in Bramford with his wife Lynne.

He is also The Evening Star's ombudsman.


We arrived back from Spain just over 24 hours ago, and as I drive to the golf club I begin to wonder how difficult it would be to get a flight back there! It's cold, wet and windy.

I play golf and we eventually call it a day after 13 holes and retire to the clubhouse. However they say your worst day on the golf course is better than your best day at work!

At lunchtime I go to the opening of the new students' union in Rope Walk, as a member of Suffolk College Corporation. The building has been transformed from what I remember as The County Council canteen and social club.

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In the afternoon I deal with the backlog of mail and email, which has accumulated while I was away.

In the evening we decide to go to the cinema to see “Walk the Line” the story of singer Johnny Cash. A good film although I am left with the impression that they crammed a 90 minute story into a two-and-a-half hour film.


The weather is miserable again, I make a mental note to double the length of our winter holiday next year, as I go out for my early morning jog.

The morning is spent catching up with some of my clients and preparing my work schedule for the next few weeks. I then grapple with my accounts and make a determined effort to bring them up to date, the end of the financial year looms.

I succumb to a carefully-worded invitation from Lynne to visit a builder's merchant, to choose fixtures and fittings for some alterations we are planning for the house. I find it marginally more enjoyable than doing my accounts.


Great news on my run this morning, it is light by 7am, I will soon be able to cycle rather than run in the mornings. I hate running and much prefer to cycle, but not in the dark.

I have a morning of meetings, mainly at the The Evening Star office. My first port of call is with the editor Nigel Pickover.

My first year as ombudsman has passed, and we must decide the future of the column. Fortunately Nigel is happy for it to go ahead for at least one more year, and we discuss some developments to improve the column.

I then meet deputy editor Mike Pennock to go through the complaints recently received by the paper. I have to check the actions of the reporters against The Editors Code”, which guides journalists' reporting.

I go to view the new Mazda MX5 in the evening. I have the last model and as a petrolhead I can't resist the offer of a test drive. I wonder whether our house alterations could wait so that I can update my car.


Another early morning run in the sun, but by the time I have had my breakfast it is cold and wet again.

I notice that crocuses are joining the snowdrops, perhaps a sign that better weather is around the corner.

I am a member of The Independent Board of Visitors for the military detention centre in Colchester and carry out an unannounced visit this morning. The Board monitors the treatment of detainees. The centre promotes a very enlightened regime and there are rarely serious complaints from the detainees. I deal with a couple of minor issues before returning to Ipswich.

I start writing my ombudsman column for the Evening Star. I have two fairly serious issues to deal with, where unfortunately the reporting fell short of the standards expected of a local paper. I write my column with no editorial control and I like to think that I provide a balanced, constructive piece, which deals with the issues raised.


When I review the column I make some minor amendments before sending it off to the editor.

I have a meeting with a prospective client to discuss what could be a very interesting project. Of course I have many meetings like this, and only a few turn into substantive projects, although this one sounds quite hopeful.

Golf for the afternoon is called off due to the weather, which promptly improves! So I go to the driving range to take out my frustrations on some unfortunate range balls.

In the evening I attend a silent auction in aid of Suffolk Victim Support.


The weekend at last! Following my usual jog/walk around the village we head to Frinton for a little shopping. We abandon a walk along the seafront to Walton and back, due to a biting North Easterly and settle for a coffee in a café instead.

Following lunch I settle to watch the rugby internationals. I resist the temptation of throwing something at the TV as Scotland beat England.

Better news on the football front - Town win and best of all Port Vale beat Brentford away! Vale are my home town team and always number one in my view.

Although you have to have the hide of a rhino and the faith of St Peter to support them. Still I have a glass of wine to celebrate and dream of the play offs for both Vale and Town.


We set off for the forest for a long walk for about four miles. Walking is one of our passions; coming from Staffordshire with its proximity to the Peak National Park there was always good walking nearby.

Not many peaks in Suffolk, although as I get older I appreciate its gentle but pretty contours.

The afternoon is spent penning this piece and cleaning the car, ready for it to get dirty again. I am at last beginning to acclimatise to an English winter again, so spring can't be too far away…. can it?

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