Former pub landlord's 'bucket list' wish comes true at Portman Road

paul cook with man in wheelchair

ITFC manager Paul Cook welcomed John Lawrence to Ipswich Town at the weekend - Credit: CEO Mark Ashton

A 78-year-old with a life-limiting illness was able to put a big tick on his bucket list at the weekend after returning to Portman Road - and meeting ITFC manager Paul Cook.

John Lawrence, a former Ipswich publican, was diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and knowing his time left may be short he told care home staff he wanted to return to his beloved Portman Road to see The Blues in action.

man at portman road

John Lawrence, former Ipswich landlord, with ITFC CEO Mark Ashton - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare Group

He was a regular at the stadium in the glory days of the 1970s and 80s and watched his team during their European campaign and told staff at Allonsfield House care home, where he lives, that a areturn trip was top of his bucket list.

ITFC pitch

John Lawrence watching Ipswich Town play Oxford - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare Group

Roxanne Cutajar, clinical lead nurse at the Kingsley Healthcare home in Campsea Ashe, near Woodbridge, contacted Ipswich Town’s disability liaison officer, Lee Smith, and was thrilled by his generous response.

Not only was Mr Lawrence, 78, invited as a guest to the Oxford United match, but he was given the chance to meet manager Paul Cook and CEO Mark Ashton.

He was accompanied into the ground by senior support worker Ben Miller, who said: “He absolutely loved it despite the lack of goals. He really enjoyed himself all day.

“The CEO kindly invited him back to future matches and John said he would like to have lunch at the club and a tour of the ground as his next wish. We will be arranging that in the coming weeks.”

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Mr Lawrence grew up in Felix Road, Nacton, and his lifelong interest in football began when he played for Murray Rangers as a teenager before joining the Army.

He later ran a pub in Foxhall Road, Ipswich for several years with his first wife.

Mr Lawrence, who has two grandsons, was an Ipswich season ticket holder and watched the team play abroad in Belgium, Italy and Holland; he remembers watching the team win the UEFA Cup against AZ Alkmaar.

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