BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin retires: “I’ve had a fantastic time."

BBC Radio Suffolk's Lesley Dolphin loves the east coast.

BBC Radio Suffolk's Lesley Dolphin loves the east coast. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

After more than 40 years of broadcasting on the radio, Lesley Dolphin has hung up her microphone. She spoke to Rachel Banham.

Her listeners have become her friends and, as she retires from her BBC Radio Suffolk afternoon show, Lesley Dolphin is keen to assure them that she is not going anywhere. 
She will simply be on the other side of the radio from now on, she says, enjoying the county in the same way that her audience does.
Lesley has been heartened by the response from listeners since she announced her retirement at the end of May.
“It’s just so lovely. They’ve all said they’re really sorry I’m going, but they’re wishing me well,” she says.
“I shall really miss it because in the afternoons I feel like I’m having tea with everybody. 
“I’ve loved celebrating everything that is good about Suffolk.”
Explaining why she has decided to retire, Lesley says that, like many people during lockdown, she re-evaluated her life a little. She now wants to spend more time with her mum and dad and enjoying the county.
She says: “I just want to be able to spend a bit of time with my parents, getting out and doing nice things and so on. 
“I have loved what I have done at work, but I’ve got to that age now where I just want to spend a bit of time for me really. 
“I talk every day about the lovely things that people do in Suffolk and I just don’t get a chance to do them.” 

Lesley's roots in radio go back years. She went to the University of Bradford in the 1970s and worked part-time for BBC Radio Leeds.
On returning home to Norfolk, she worked for a few months with BBC Look East as a floor manager. She then got a staff job with BBC Radio Norfolk, which opened in September 1980.
She took a break to become a mum. Then, BBC Radio Suffolk began in 1990 and not long afterwards Lesley was asked to do a Saturday show.

She says: “I didn’t have a plan to do what I do, but I’ve been so lucky.
“I’ve had a fantastic time at both Norfolk and Suffolk, when I was at Radio Norfolk and in Suffolk."

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin pictured in 2019.

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin pictured in 2019. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

Lesley has been presenting BBC Radio Suffolk's afternoon show since 2008 and still has a passion for radio.
“I just love the intimacy of it, the immediacy of it - the fact that we really are local, as well, in local radio,” she says.
“You go to the local Co-op and you bump into people who have listened to you in the afternoon. I just love that. You’re really part of the community.
“I like to think people feel they know us, because you’re a friend that they talk to and hear from, day in, day out.”
Lesley has lived in Suffolk longer than anywhere else, but she grew up in Norfolk.
“I lived between Wymondham and Long Stratton,” she says.
“We used to go to Thetford Forest when I was little. Dad would take us and we’d see red squirrels.
“We’d go to the Broads… and we’d go to the coast as well.
“I love Wells-next-the-Sea. We used to go there when the boys were little.”
She also lived for a while in Long Melford, which she says was a great place to bring up her children, and was a regular visitor to Sudbury.
“Sudbury Water Meadows are some of my favourite places in the whole of the county,” she says.
“I like RSPB Minsmere and we were really lucky when Springwatch came to Minsmere to do programmes there. It’s like an oasis.”
She is a fan of “the whole of the coast” and adds: “I love Santon Downham over in the west as well.
“I think what Suffolk has to offer in terms of variety is just phenomenal.”

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin pictured after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the EACH Treehouse Appeal in 2011.

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin is pictured back in Suffolk after her epic climb of Mount Kilimanjaro for the EACH Treehouse Appeal in 2011. - Credit: Andy Abbott/Archant

Lesley now aims to take a six-month break, but she will be at Lavenham Literary Festival on November 20.
She remains a Friend of Felixstowe Library and a Lay Canon at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Her final BBC Radio Suffolk afternoon show, on July 28, was a tea party at Wherstead Park - a thank you for those who have been involved with her show. 
“I’m sorry to be leaving it, but a big thank you to everybody who has ever supported me whether they’re people who listen or they’re contributors. I have such a loyal band of people who have helped out on the show over the years," she says.

“The audience do really become friends. 

"I’m not going anywhere. I will still be here. I’ll just be the other side of the radio listening to things and enjoying the county that we all live in.”
Lesley's final afternoon show was broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk on July 28. Listen to it again at:
Lavenham Literary Festival is from November 18 to 20. Weblink: