End of an era as Lions shut up their last boot sale at Portman Road

Mark Keable at the last ever Lions Car Boot sale at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Geater

Mark Keable at the last ever Lions Car Boot sale at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Geater - Credit: Archant

For 27 years they’ve been as much a part of Sunday morning life in Ipswich as church services and a roast dinner – but the Lions’ Club car boot sale on Portman Road has shut up shop.

Fewer people are going to the Lions Club car boot sales in Portman Road. Picture: Paul Geater

Fewer people are going to the Lions Club car boot sales in Portman Road. Picture: Paul Geater - Credit: Archant

This week’s sale was the last to take place on the car park opposite the Ipswich Town’s Cobbold Stand – and the dwindling number of stalls and visitors showed why the club felt it was time to stop.

Mark Keable, president of the Lions Club of Ipswich, said they were unable to compete with other events during the spring and summer months.

He said: “People go to other places around the area and we just don’t make enough money. A few weeks ago this would have been ram-packed. Now there are loads of spaces.

“Over the spring and summer we don’t make enough money to cover the costs so we don’t have anything to give to charity – it’s just not worthwhile I’m afraid.”

Joe Williamson is a regular gatekeeper at the Lions Club car boot sales. Picture: Paul Geater

Joe Williamson is a regular gatekeeper at the Lions Club car boot sales. Picture: Paul Geater - Credit: Archant

The club had estimated its sales had raised about £250,000 for charity – but Mr Keable thought this was an under-estimate. He said: “We’ve looked at this again and now we think it’s nearer the half-million mark. But all good things come to an end.”

The club raises money in other ways like quizzes and one-off events. It is planning to organise a “mutt strut” around Alton Water as part of the Suffolk Festival of Walking later in the year.

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Some regulars at the car boot sales are hoping to find another charity to take it over. Stallholders Roy May and Lewis Huntingford have organised a petition calling for the sales to continue.

Mr May said: “There’s always a lot of people here and they are determined that the sales should continue. We’ve got 30 signatures on our petition at the moment and another 50 people have signed up on Facebook.”

Roy May and Lewis Huntingford are trying to save the car boot sales at Portman Road. Picture: Paul G

Roy May and Lewis Huntingford are trying to save the car boot sales at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Geater - Credit: Archant

Mr Keable doubted whether any organisation could make the sale make money regularly – and said it took a considerable amount of organisation.

There were often problems with clearing up rubbish after the end of the sales.

He said: “A lot of people think we have use of the car park for free. That is not the case. The borough council is very supportive and help us out – but we have to hire the car park and meet the costs of that. It is not something that just happens.”

From now on Mr Keable and his team of helpers can have a lie-in on Sunday mornings!

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