Farewell to a real hero

IPSWICH hero Ted Bowdler was making his final journey today – as he was buried in his treasured Ipswich Town football shirt.Ted hit the front page of the Evening Star on March 16, 1994, after he risked his life in icy waters to rescue a Polish sailor who fell from a boat.

IPSWICH hero Ted Bowdler was making his final journey today - as he was buried in his treasured Ipswich Town football shirt.

Ted hit the front page of the Evening Star on March 16, 1994, after he risked his life in icy waters to rescue a Polish sailor who fell from a boat.

On his shift as a cargo-handler, at the Bell Terminal at Ipswich docks, Ted saw Stefan Wojciechowski slip and fall off the Corinna.

Ted threw the man a life belt, but it did not reach, so without a thought for his own safety he jumped in and swam 50 feet to hand it to the man struggling in the water.

The pair were hauled out by two other cargo-handlers that were lowered on the arm of a crane.

For his bravery Ted was awarded a certificate from the Royal Humane Society by the mayor of Ipswich at the Town Hall.

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Ted died at St Elizabeth Hospice on July 27 after losing his battle against cancer at the age of 53.

He leaves two sons, Darryn, 24 and Ashley, 22, and wife Carol, 51.

The couple met at Chantry High School and were married 29 years ago at St Mary at Stoke Church in Ipswich.

Carol said: "He was the biggest part of my life, my best friend and my soulmate. We did everything together.

"Without him I feel so numb, so empty and lost. He was taken from us far too early and we had great plans for his retirement."

"Its going to be hard because we were both born the same day so when my birthday comes round all the memories will come flooding back."

The front room of his house at Cattawade, near Manningtree, is bursting with cards and flowers in tribute to a man that will be sadly missed by so many.

Crowds were gathering at St Michael's Church at Brantham to celebrate a life that touched so many people.

The big centre-forward played for a whole host of Saturday and Sunday football league sides, winning many trophies with the Felixstowe docks team, Dock Commission, before moving into management in his forties.

He quit the local football scene due to shift commitments at the Felixstowe docks to support his family, which he always put first.

But purchasing a season ticket at Portman Road and attending both home and away matches satisfied his football appetite.

The family was devastated when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just three days before Christmas.

Carol said: "It was a bombshell that came out of the blue. Even though we tried to make it the best Christmas knowing it might be his last, it was still a non-event. You can't get your head around it that quick."

Carol took him to hospital on December 14 when he complained of back aches and stomach pains.

Ted bravely fended off the disease for more than six months, urging the family not to make a fuss.

Even through his chemotherapy he kept his hair and was busy in the garden.

Ashley said: "On the quiet he was preparing for his death so we didn't have to worry too much.

"He was my hero and when I was young I always wanted to be like him.

"We were named Big Ted and Little Ted after singing karaoke together and people say I remind them of him when I play football.

"Dad was full of knowledge, help and advice and I miss the fact the he is not around to help us any more."

Darryn added: "People would do anything for him as he had done so much for them, but he never asked. He never had a cross word to say about anyone."

Just when he thought he was fighting it off he was told the cancer had spread to his liver on Good Friday.

He tried another course or chemotherapy but this also failed to work.

At the beginning of May Ted started being sick frequently and his weight rapidly decreased as he could not eat. He hated hospitals so was treated at home by his family until a few weeks before he died. Carol wanted to keep him with her for as long as possible.

Ashley said: "He never really complained about the pain until it got really bad. He would never take any painkillers and he only went into the hospice to give us some rest and recuperation as we were all so tired from looking after him."

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