Suffolk

BBC Radio Suffolk: Ten big stories from 1990-2015

BBC Radio Suffolk went on air for the first time on 12 April 1990. Since then the station has reported on thousands of stories, but here are 10 of the most memorable from its first 25 years:

'Fast Eddie' goes on the run, 1993

Eddie Maher was working as a cable engineer in Missouri in 2012 when his past, and the police, finally caught up with him.

Nineteen years earlier, Securicor worker Maher dropped his colleague off at a bank in Felixstowe and then drove away in a van containing £1.2m.

The details of how he got to the US remain a mystery, but Maher spent almost two decades on the run, using false identities and changing his appearance to evade capture.

He spent big but eventually spiralled into debt and was declared bankrupt in 2010. It was his former daughter-in-law, Jessica King, who alerted police to Maher's true identity and he was sent back to the UK to face the music.

Maher, who had been nicknamed 'Fast Eddie' by parts of the press, was jailed for five years in 2013 but was released in January.

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Jason Mitchell killings, 1994

The Bramford killings by Jason Mitchell sent shock waves through not just the village community but much further afield.

Just before Christmas, Mitchell killed Arthur and Shirley Williams, who were pillars of the local church. A few days later police went to the house that Mitchell's father lived in and found Mitchell sitting in the dark, having killed his dad and dismembered his body before putting it in the loft.

It subsequently emerged that Mitchell was a schizophrenic with a long history of mental disturbance. He had been released into the community after a psychiatrist had described him as "a pleasant young man, with no real malice in him".

Mitchell pleaded guilty to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility in relation to all three killings. He was detained for life.

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Sizewell B goes online, 1995

After Britain's longest public inquiry and 14 years of building, Sizewell B started generating electricity in 1995.

The pressurised-water reactor, clad in its now familiar white dome, dominated the news agenda throughout the first decade of BBC Radio Suffolk being on air, as campaigners fought for airtime with government ministers to tell their side of the story.

BBC Radio Suffolk editor Peter Cook said an update on the story was never far away.

"The public inquiry, the government's failure to privatise the nuclear industry at that time, and the thousands of workers who descended on Suffolk to build it all made for story after story," he said.

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Ipswich win at Wembley, 2000

During BBC Radio Suffolk's first 25 years, Ipswich Town have been promoted, and subsequently relegated, twice.

The first time, in 1992, John Lyall's side stormed their way to the old Second Division title before holding their own in the newly formed Premiership for a couple of seasons.

But after an embarrassing 9-0 defeat to Manchester United and finishing bottom in 1995, Town went on to lose in the Division One play-offs three years in a row before they beat Barnsley at Wembley.

Looking back, it seems most of the BBC Radio Suffolk staff were at the match, but not lifelong fan and presenter Stephen Foster.

He had been sent to a live music event in Bury St Edmunds, a fate shared by fellow Town season ticket holder and DJ John Peel.

"I recall us sitting together on the wall outside Woolworths moaning about our wretched luck, missing out on Town's biggest game for nearly two decades," he said.

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Mildenhall air show ends, 2001

There was massive disappointment around Suffolk, and in the wider aviation community, when the Mildenhall Air Fete ground to a halt.

The air show began in 1976 and in 2001, its final year, attracted about 500,000 visitors over two days. Operational requirements and a need to improve the runway were given as official reasons for continued cancellations of the air show, but security fears following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 also influenced the decision.

Over the past 25 years, US Military involvement in Suffolk has changed - with the closure of Bentwaters in 1993 and the announcement in January that RAF Mildenhall is to close.

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Latitude Festival launches, 2006

For all of Suffolk's strong points, attracting world-class contemporary bands is not one of them. Aldeburgh Music serves a certain audience well, and venues including the Regent in Ipswich and the Apex in Bury St Edmunds can reel off an impressive alumni, but the emergence of the Latitude Festival was a game changer.

For the past nine years, Henham Park near Southwold has hosted hundreds of the world's best musicians and comedians, as Latitude has established itself as one of the key players in the UK festival scene.

BBC Introducing in Suffolk works with the curator of the Lake Stage, Huw Stephens, and each year gives three acts the chance to perform on the same bill as the likes of Grace Jones, Thom Yorke and Arcade Fire.

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Suffolk murders, 2006

The deaths of five women who had been working as prostitutes in Ipswich dominated conversation in Suffolk, and in several media outlets around the world, in December 2006.

The bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls were found over a 10-day period, prompting a sense of fear which had been unknown to the residents of Ipswich.

Local man Steve Wright was found guilty of the murders in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison.

BBC Radio Suffolk's Kate Arkell said reporting on the story in her hometown was "emotionally exhausting".

"For me it felt like I lived the story during my working hours and then returned home unable to switch off," she said.

"It was frustrating seeing how the town was portrayed by people who just didn't know it. As local journalists these were communities we had longstanding relationships with, and would continue to have that long after the trial was completed."

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Bird flu arrives in Suffolk, 2007

John Gummer will always be remembered for feeding his daughter a burger in front of television cameras in 1990, a month after BBC Radio Suffolk launched, to show his Suffolk constituents and the rest of the country that we need not worry about mad cow disease.

But 17 years later it was another animal causing panic, as the H5N1 strain of bird flu was discovered at a turkey farm at Holton, near Halesworth.

An exclusion zone was set up around Holton and restrictions were placed on the movement of birds across much of the county. Almost 160,000 birds were slaughtered and more than 100 people were vaccinated in connection with the outbreak.

BBC Radio Suffolk news editor Steve Martin was the first reporter at the isolated site, on a cold dark night in February.

"By the next morning reporters from the national media had arrived and the story was on the front pages of many of the newspapers," he said.

"Suffolk is a largely agricultural county, and outbreaks of diseases in livestock have a massive impact."

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'The world's fattest man', 2009

In 2009 The Sun revelled in announcing that the "world's fattest bloke lives in Ipswich".

Paul Mason, who at his heaviest weighed 70 stone (450kg) and consumed £75 of takeaways and chocolate a day, has spoken to BBC Radio Suffolk on several occasions over the years and each time has prompted conflicting opinions from listeners.

Many have sympathised with what Mr Mason says is an eating illness, while others have been quick to question why he should be entitled to any public support.

Mr Mason released naked photos of himself in an appeal to fund surgery to excess skin, and was proposed to during filming for a TV programme while on a pre-operation trip to the United States.

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Ed Sheeran's meteoric rise

Ed Sheeran's rise from dedicated pub singer to genuine global superstar is nothing short of sensational.

Sheeran, who was born in Yorkshire but grew up in Framlingham, had been played on BBC Radio Suffolk several years before his debut album, +, topped charts around the world.

During that period he played any gig he was offered, busked, slept on couches, self released his albums and was rejected enough times by the music industry which he now props up to make him consider giving it all up.

But a collaboration EP with the upcoming stars of the UK grime scene was the turning point, and from then on he could do no wrong - getting the major label deal he had dreamt of, winning Brit Awards, having two number one albums, playing at the Olympics and selling out three nights at Wembley Stadium.

Although BBC Radio Suffolk's role in his story has increasingly become one of a proud parent, Sheeran has continued to have strong links with the county - helping numerous charities, taking Taylor Swift to his local pub and returning to The Steamboat in Ipswich for an intimate gig.

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