A family has paid tribute to their father, a man who loved football and his family, and who spent more 60 years working in and running a newsagents shop in Chantry, Ipswich. 

John Beecroft would have been a familiar face to many people in Ipswich who visited Chantry News in Hawthorn Drive over the years. 

According to his son, Paul, the shop was one of John’s three passions in life. The other two were football, and his family. 

Born in Ipswich on June 20, 1949, John was the younger of two brothers. As a teenager, he took a job as a paper delivery boy at the local newsagents – a place he would remain for the rest of his working life.  

“He worked in the newsagents he would end up owning from about the age of 16,” explained John’s son, Paul Beecroft.  

John also had a great love of football, being a lifelong Ipswich Town fan.  

Ipswich Star: John Beecroft had a love of football, and coached youth teams for many years.John Beecroft had a love of football, and coached youth teams for many years. (Image: Family of John Beecroft)

Ipswich Star: John Beecroft outside Chantry News.John Beecroft outside Chantry News. (Image: Newsquest)

“He was very into coaching, and he used to coach various youth teams,” said Paul.  “Some were at amateur level, but he also did this for Norwich’s youth teams in the seventies.” 

John managed youth teams such as New Park Rangers, Chantry Grasshoppers and Woodbridge Town.

While also being involved with local league administration and the Suffolk FA, he would later go on to become Woodbridge Town Chairman between 2010 and 2018, something he greatly enjoyed.

In 1979, John was offered the chance to become a professional football manager for Port Vale. 

Although tempted, he turned down this opportunity, for he had just been offered the chance to buy into the business at Chantry News.  

“He would have been 30 at the time, and he decided on the safer bet, which was buying into the shop,” said Paul. “He carried on coaching, but it was more the local youth teams after that.” 

John would later become the shop’s sole owner.  

John was also beginning to think about starting a family around this time, Paul explained. This wish came true in 1992 when Paul was born. His daughter, Emma, arrived the following year in 1993. 

John was also delighted to become a stepfather to Tony, Jamie and Michelle.  

He would go on to be a loving grandad to Michelle’s two sons, Leo and Charlie.  

John moved to Woodbridge with his family in the year 2000, but he had returned to Ipswich in recent years. For a time, he and his family also ran another newsagents, Bramford Village News, until the shop was sold in the early 2010s.  

When Paul was at Portman Road with his father, countless people would greet John, for he was the kind of person that everyone seemed to know.  

Indeed, when Paul began playing football, he found that many of the other boys had fathers who remembered John from his coaching days, when he had coached their youth teams. 

Over the years, the then-Evening Star newspaper would often contact John, and ask to take his picture for various stories and campaigns. John was happy to oblige, and grew to know many of the people who worked in the newspaper’s advertising department.  

Ipswich Star: John Beecroft was photographed for many Evening Star's campaigns over the years.John Beecroft was photographed for many Evening Star's campaigns over the years. (Image: Newsquest)

He continued working in Chantry News, until his health meant that he had to retire.  

“Dad was kind and generous. He might have seemed serious to some, but he wasn’t really,” said Paul. “To those that knew him more closely, he was quick-witted and had a very dry sense of humour.  

“I feel his life can be summarised by three things – family, football and his shop.” 

John Beecroft died at the age of 73 after a battle with cancer on Friday, November 25. In his final days, he was cared for by staff at St Elizabeth Hospice. 

A funeral service for John Beecroft will be held at Seven Hills Crematorium on Wednesday, December 21 at 9am.