Hospital radio legend Terry turns 80, after 40 years of ITFC commentary
- Credit: Hospital Radio Ipswich
Long-serving Hospital Radio Ipswich volunteer Terry Betts is celebrating his 80th birthday on Christmas Eve - as he marks an amazing 40 years of commentating on Ipswich Town matches.
When Terry, of Stowmarket, started out, he didn't realise he would still be on the airwaves 40 years on. But he said: "I have carried on because I still enjoy it.
"After my amateur football came to an end in my early 30s, it has been such a pleasure to be able to bring live football commentaries to fans unable to attend matches themselves."
Over recent months, Terry hasn't been able to go to Town's matches and has been having to stay at home because of coronavirus restrictions. But he is looking forward to getting back to Portman Road again as soon as it is possible.
He had been planning to celebrate his birthday and Christmas by meeting up with extended family in north Norfolk, with relatives travelling from London, Leeds and Liverpool.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, this sadly isn't possible, so he is having a small celebration now and hoping he may be able to arrange a larger get-together next year once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Although he has been a dedicated Blues supporter for decades, Terry hails from over the border in Norfolk and originally started out doing commentary for hospital patients from Norwich City games in the early 1970s. So he has been in the commentary box for an impressive 48 years altogether.
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"I moved to Suffolk in 1980 because of my work as a civil servant, and immediately became part of the hospital commentary team," he said. The commentary was originally organised by the Ipswich Town Supporters Club, but was later brought under the Hospital Radio team.
Some friends from Norfolk were initially surprised at him deciding to commentate on Ipswich, but he said: "I was very respectful of what Ipswich had to offer, and I felt so at home.
"I am a football lover, and this was my new home. I have no regrets whatever, because of the quality of the set-up at Ipswich. When I came to Ipswich, I really thought I'd died and gone to football heaven!"
Terry said he had worked with many wonderful people over the years. His many fond memories include the reunion dinner in 2001 for Ipswich Town's UEFA Cup team from 1981, where he and his wife Margaret celebrated with the players and got a close-up look at the famous trophy.
Terry and Margaret, who have been married for 56 years, have two daughters, Maria Betts-Davies and Christina Betts, and two grandsons, Sam and Max Betts-Davies. Sam has followed in his grandad's footsteps by joining the Hospital Radio Ipswich commentary team on several occasions when they were short of a commentator.
Although Margaret is not really a football fan, she and Terry regularly went along to cheer on their grandsons when they were playing football. She also used to travel with Terry and a group of other supporters for Ipswich Town weekenders, where they attended away matches and looked around the local area.
Hospital Radio Ipswich's football coverage has grown and changed over the years and Terry said they now do a varied two-and-a-half hour football programme, involving patients and including their requests, rather than just a commentary.
Tim Ward, programme manager at Hospital Radio Ipswich, said: "I have had the pleasure of commentating alongside Terry since the 1980s. It has been a joy to help Terry transform our commentary service from a crackly, remote telephone line operation in the Portman Stand into a slick modern programme based in the media centre with our mainstream media colleagues.
"Terry has led the way for decades and, through more ITFC managers than we might like to recall, he taught me the basics of radio commentary and was instrumental in bringing the then supporters club and HRI together.
"To this day he is the commentator to admire and enjoy and always does the first 15 minutes. He even acts as a windbreak to keep us away from the bitter north wind. Terry is a true gentleman, ever active and a real family man. Another 40 years please, Terry!”