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Minister for Sport and Tourism Nigel Huddleston Visits Bury St Edmunds

Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport and Tourism visited Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday, 28 September as part of a Suffolk-wide tour organised by Visit East of England.

The Minister was taken on a guided tour of the Abbey Gardens and ruins of the Benedictine Abbey of St Edmund, where he was told about the importance of the Abbey and St Edmund to the town and learnt about the Abbey 1000 celebrations planned for 2022.

During his visit, Nigel Huddleston met Sue Warren, Brand Manager at Bury St Edmunds and Beyond; Adrian Tindall, Chair of Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides and Libby Ranzetta, Chair of the Abbey 1000 Group, who are organising next year’s celebrations. 

He also met the Abbey Gardens Manager, Martina Georgieva and heard how she and her team work at keeping the gardens in bloom and looking so beautiful for visitors. The 14-acre Gardens were listed as the fifth most visited free attraction in England welcoming some 1,021,048 visitors last year by VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey 2020. 

Commenting on his visit, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "It was fantastic to visit Bury St Edmunds and see first-hand many of the brilliant attractions on offer for tourists and visitors to the area. It has been a good summer for our domestic tourism and hospitality sector and I will continue to do all I can to champion and support this important industry."


Sue Warren, Brand and Marketing Manager at the town’s tourism brand Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said: “The Minister’s visit provided a unique opportunity to tell him about the bumper summer visitor season we have enjoyed here in Bury St Edmunds and also the ongoing challenges still faced by our tourism businesses. It also gave us the chance to tell the Minister about why the Abbey of St Edmund and Saint Edmund was and is so important to our town, and all about the 1000-year celebrations of the Abbey that will take place next year and of course show off the Abbey Gardens as our top visitor attraction.”

Bury St Edmunds and Beyond works closely with partners in the town including Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), West Suffolk Council and Bury St Edmunds Town Council to ensure that visitors have the best possible experience.

Adrian Tindall, Chair of Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides, said: “It was a great pleasure to show the Minister around the Abbey and tell him about the history of this very special and important part of Bury St Edmunds and about the work that the tour guides do in the town to welcome our visitors. We have a fantastic group of highly trained guides who are incredibly passionate about Bury St Edmunds.”

Libby Ranzetta, Chair of the Abbey 1000 Group, which is organising the Abbey 1000 celebrations taking place next year, said: “It was great to be able to speak to the Minister about our plans for next year’s millennium celebrations, which had to be rescheduled from 2020 because of the pandemic. We have a wide variety of events and activities planned, involving organisations and people from the area; we'll be saying more about that as we approach St Edmund’s Day in November. It will be a real celebration of Saint Edmund, our town and the foundation of the Abbey in 1020 by King Cnut. We want to make the most of this unique opportunity to reflect on the Abbey's turbulent, fascinating thousand year history, which, coupled with the work that the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is doing to conserve and reinterpret the Abbey ruins, will kick off a lasting legacy project that will in turn bring more visitors to Bury St Edmunds.”


A West Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “We would like to thank the Minister for coming to see all the great work partners are doing across West Suffolk to encourage and support the growth of tourism as well as the part our Destination Management Organisations (DMO) play in this. Tourism not only brings hundreds of millions of pounds into West Suffolk, estimated at £550million in 2019, but also helps create jobs. It supports our localities keep their uniqueness that attracts people every year and brings investment with new events and facilities that also benefit our communities. West Suffolk Council plays its part, from setting up and funding DMOs, investing in attractions such as the Abbey Gardens, one of the top free attractions in the country, as well as the Apex. We invest in Screen Suffolk which helps put the area on the national and international map as well as funding services that keep our towns and villages clean and attractive. We work closely with partners on a range of initiatives that support our growing tourism industry not only benefits the economy but health and the environment with our parks and open spaces. Bury St Edmunds and indeed the whole of West Suffolk is a beacon for tourism and we are glad to play our part in maintaining that.”

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds was amongst cultural venues run by West Suffolk Council that were impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, and which received a share of £257million from the Government. Administered by Arts Council England last October, the funding was the first round from the Government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

Nigel Huddleston’s visit to Bury St Edmunds was part of his two-day tour of the region, organised by Visit East of England,which also included Ely Cathedral, the National Horseracing Museum at Newmarket, Southwold Pier, Adnams Brewery, Sutton Hoo and the Suffolk Food Hall, as well as an overnight stay in Ipswich.