Tourism award for rare breeds farm

A TOP tourism accolade had been given to the Suffolk rare breeds farm at the centre of Britain's first bluetongue outbreak. Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm near Needham Market is preparing to re-open tomorrow minus two of its beloved animals, Debbie the Highland cow and Lorraine the Old Gloucester, after they became the UK bluetongue outbreak's first victims.

By Sarah Chambers>

A TOP tourism accolade had been given to the Suffolk rare breeds farm at the centre of Britain's first bluetongue outbreak.

Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm near Needham Market is preparing to re-open tomorrow minus two of its beloved animals, Debbie the Highland cow and Lorraine the Old Gloucester, after they became the UK bluetongue outbreak's first victims.

And it will be a double celebration for the farm after it lifted the People's Award for the best visitor experience for the second year running at the second Tourism in Suffolk Awards, organised Archant Suffolk, publisher of titles including the Evening Star.


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The centre endured three weeks of drama and heartache after Debbie was struck down with a mystery illness which its owners, the Storer family, first feared might be foot-and-mouth. Her condition was confirmed positive on Sunday, September 23, and the site closed to the public. Lorraine's diagnosis came shortly afterwards, and both animals were culled.

Hundreds of letters of sympathy have poured in to the farm from all over the world, including New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany and Holland.

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Richard Storer said: “The emotions have been up and down because it all started a week before the closure.

“It was a shock to the whole farming community because everyone thought the Channel would protect us.”

Luckily, after the first two cases, two successive tests have given the other animals at the site, which is home to a collection of about 150 goats, sheep, alpacas, cattle and poultry, the all-clear.

One of tomorrow's star attractions will be a Suffolk Punch, brought on site especially to celebrate the re-opening.

Mr Storer said: “It's been strange and I think, one gets the impression - one can't say it's fact - but you get the impression the animals miss the people.”

Julian Evans, advertising manager at Archant Suffolk, described this year's awards as “fantastic”.

“We had a tremendous response again this year with even more entries than we had in 2006. It was a fantastic night. Everybody enjoyed themselves and people are looking forward to next year.”

Chris Bushby, chairman of Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said: “Once again the Suffolk Tourism Awards have been a great success celebrating the best of the county.

“The constant drive towards improvements in quality is imperative for our sector and in Suffolk we have some true champions, worthy of national recognition let alone our county awards.”

Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager at the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said: “The Suffolk Development Agency's tourism partnership is pleased to be main sponsor of this event and we aim to continue to increase the value of tourism to Suffolk's economy.

“Tourism already adds over £1billion to Suffolk's economy and is a vital part of the county's ongoing success. Our work includes many initiatives and this autumn we are working with East of England Tourism and Enjoy England to improve the profile of Suffolk in campaigns aimed at the London market.”

n. What do you think of the awards? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The winners of the Tourism in Suffolk Awards, whose main sponsor is the Suffolk Development Agency's Tourism Partnership, are:

Best Small Attraction: Winner - Somerleyton Hall and Gardens, Somerleyton, near Lowestoft; Runners-up - Greene King Visitor Centre, Bury St Edmunds, and Ipswich Tourist Guides, Ipswich.

Best Large Attraction (sponsored by Ensors): Winner - Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge; Runners-up - Africa Alive!, Kessingland, and Easton Farm Park, Easton, near Wickham Market.

Best Hotel (sponsored by JLS Catering): Winner - The Swan Hotel, Southwold; Runners-up - Bedford Lodge Hotel, Newmarket, and The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds.

Best Caravan & Holiday Park (sponsored by Clydesdale Bank): Winner - Center Parcs, Elveden; Runners-up - Cliff House Holiday Park, Dunwich, and Heathland Beach Caravan Park, Kessingland.

Best B&B/Guesthouse (sponsored by Ryan Insurance): Winner - Colston Hall B&B, Badingham, near Framlingham; Runners-up - Bankside B&B, Uggeshall, near Halesworth, and Moat House Farm B&B, Carlton, near Saxmundham.

Best Self-Catering: Winner - Gladwins Farm, Nayland. Runners-up - Blaize Cottages, Lavenham, and Wattisham Hall, Holiday Cottages, Wattisham, near Needham Market.

Best Tourist Information Centre (sponsored by Leisure Target): Winner - Mid Suffolk TIC, Stowmarket; Runners-up - Sudbury TIC and Ipswich TIC.

Sustainable Tourism (sponsored by Suffolk County Council Environment & Transport): Winner - Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket; Runners-up -

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, and Thornham Field Centre and Walks, Thornham, near Eye.

Festival & Events (sponsored by Leo Print): Winner - IBC & Otley Hall Gosnold Discovery and Events, Ipswich and Otley; Runners-up - The Newmarket Festival and the Bury St Edmunds Festival.

Education & Training (sponsored by Cipher): Winner - Bury St Edmunds Association of Registered Tour Guides; Runner-up - Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket.

Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Tourism (sponsored by Ross Coates): Winner - Tim Rowan-Robinson.

People's Award for the best visitor experience (sponsored by Visit Ipswich): Winner - Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, Baylham, near Ipswich; Runners-up - Bankside B&B, Uggeshall, near Halesworth, and Easton Farm Park, Easton, near Wickham Market.

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