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Family to leave Suffolk after Brexit ‘nightmare’

PUBLISHED: 18:40 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:23 11 October 2017

Monika Koch has been living in Suffolk with her family for more than a decade but feels less comfortable in the country following the Brexit vote: MONIKA KOCH

Monika Koch has been living in Suffolk with her family for more than a decade but feels less comfortable in the country following the Brexit vote: MONIKA KOCH

Archant

A family who fell in love with Suffolk are leaving the county “heartbroken” because they feel threatened after the Brexit vote.

Monika Koch moved to Snape from Germany with her husband and two children after a holiday in 2004 “changed their lives forever” – but she says the EU referendum vote last year began a “nightmare” from which there was no turning back.

Mrs Koch, 51,who runs a successful tourism business from Snape, giving guided tours of Suffolk’s beautiful landscapes, says last year’s vote “started a downwards spiral” that was affecting many people – not just EU citizens.

After hearing of the outcome of the vote, Mrs Koch said she suffered an “enormous shock”, which began 15 months of feeling “traumatised by the political developments in the UK”.

Her husband, Marc Ernesti, who worked as head of marketing at Aldeburgh Music and later the Royal Academy of Music, started writing job applications that day, and has left for a new role at the State University of New York.

Mrs Koch will also be leaving the UK this month, when she plans to move to a village in North Bavaria with her youngest daughter, who was just eight years old when she came to Suffolk. She said both daughters regarded the UK as home and have struggled to get used to the idea of leaving.

While the family have not faced any “direct hostility” following the vote, Mrs Koch said she had fallen out with many friends who voted leave. “I still struggle with their naivety about the whole Brexit process” she added.

Mrs Koch’s business, Wild Adventures Under Suffolk’s Skies, which offers guided walks, photography workshops and camp nights, has also suffered following the vote, with a 50% fall in bookings.

She is considering whether to continue with the business, under a new name, from Germany, but fears it will take years to build the same networks and local knowledge she had built up in Snape.

“Suffolk really was my home,” she said. “I loved living here and wanted to stay forever, until the morning of June 24, 2016, wen I felt like my home and the safe ground under my feet was pulled away, completely unexpectedly.”

Mrs Koch claims other EU citizens in Suffolk are facing similar uncertainties, and knows of at least one other German family to have left already.

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