Former sporting glory brought to life

VIDEO FROM boxing to gymnastics and football to speedway - pastimes which have shaped Ipswich's history are today back in the present.

FROM boxing to gymnastics and football to speedway - pastimes which have shaped Ipswich's history are today back in the present.

Leading sporting figures of the town's past have descended on the Town Hall to celebrate an exhibition documenting the history of sport and games in the area.

The Not all Balls! exhibition and Ipswich at Play project features original outfits and equipment alongside a range of photographs to give people an idea of how the town's sporting history developed.

Many of the items on display were donated by members of the public and sporting figures who were invited to the town hall on Tuesday as thanks for their contributions.


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Among the notaries at the event at were former motocross and speedway stars Dave Bickers and Rex Garrad as well as 93-year-old former boxer Mick Elliot.

Mr Garrad, 63, who raced several times for Ipswich Witches in the early 70s, said he was impressed with the exhibition and feels it is important to keep the past in people's minds.

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He said: “I hope this exhibition helps people get into sport.

“Any sport is great to be involved and breeds good values such as teamwork and sportsmanship.”

Mr Elliot said today's generation has a lot to learn from the town's sporting past.

The former Ipswich Police's Lads Club boxer, said: “Sport was so much more important then as the only work was in foundries.

“The only thing to do was sport and it kept lads out of trouble.”

Another contributor to the exhibition is Janet Pearse, of Ipswich, who donated pictures of her father Robert Lenney who was a member of a gymnastics club.

She said: “It's is great to see this collection of memorabilia in one room.

“Looking at all the sports on offer back then it seems a pity it has not carried on.

“There doesn't seem to be as much for young people now as there was in my father's time.”

Ruth Gillan, community studies project officer, said she is hoping to run similar exhibitions in the future.

She said: “What we have tried to do is tap into the recent sporting history of the town which people don't appear to value as much.

“It is just a generation or two ago but it is so easy to lose it.

“These sorts of things are all parts of people's heritage and it is important to know how things were.

“Everyone coming to the exhibition has been surprised by the sheer variety of sport that was played back then but we have only scratched the surface and I think we will do another exhibition in the future.

“There was so much sport going on back then and it was such a way of life

“It is amazing to see the change in lifestyle between now and 50 years ago because each factory would have its own sports teams and people would regularly be involved in two, three or four sports.”

The exhibition is currently in the process of being packed away although it is expected to remain open to the public into next week.

n What are your favourite memories of sport and games in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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