Former EastEnders star Ross Kemp reflects on Suffolk holidays as he opens GO Outdoors store at Anglia Retail Park, Ipswich
Ross Kemp cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new GO Outdoors store in Ipswich this morning.
The former EastEnders actor, who played hard man Grant Mitchell in the BBC show, welcomed hundreds of queuing customers into the former B&Q store at Anglia Retail Park.
The chain spent £1million developing its 60th store nationwide, creating 50 jobs.
Mr Kemp, a GO Outdoors ambassador, spent several hours signing autographs and taking photos with customers inside the store before taking part in a question and answer session.
The Essex actor told this newspaper in a video interview about his childhood family trips to the “beautiful” Suffolk countryside.
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He said: “I used to go camping (at Capel St Mary) regularly with my family. I used to swim in the river and fish.
“I have lovely memories. It was a great place to go when I was young. We were in Essex and it wasn’t that far down the A12 to get to. My brother and I used to have an inflatable boat, like the things you can buy here, and we used to go up and down up the river, getting hissed at by swans. We would fish and run around in the woods. They were fantastic holidays.”
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Asked if people should take advantage of the Suffolk countryside, he said: “Yes, it’s beautiful. Obviously I’m biased because I’m an East Anglian, but this is a beautiful part of the world.
“The great thing about places like Suffolk, because it’s got a coastline, you are not going to go anywhere else. There are a lot of fantastic places, like the River Orwell, which is a beautiful part of the country which not many people know about, and long may it remain so.
“But it’s a great place to come to for holidays, whether it be Suffolk or Norfolk, and even parts of Essex I like as well, a lot.”
The 32,500 square feet store sells thousands of products, including an extensive range of tents and equipment available in a dedicated camping department and tent field.
One Ipswich family-of-five spoke of their joy at meeting the BAFTA-winning actor. Dean Keighley, 32, from the Nacton area, arrived at the store to queue up at 8.15am with wife Helena, 47, and children Ellie, 10, Kian, seven, and Blake, three.
“We are a big camping family,” he said. “We go three or four times a year and it’s great fun. It is cheaper, you are out in nature, and more and more people are doing it.
“It was great meeting Ross. Ipswich needed a store like this and I think it is going to do very well.”