Mourners bid farewell to squash player
AN emotional farewell was today due to be paid to a popular Suffolk sportsman who was found dead in France a year after going missing.Christopher Lipscombe, a former county champion at tennis and squash, was last seen at his home in a small mountainous village near the town of Carcassonne, in the south of France, on December 10 last year.
AN emotional farewell was today due to be paid to a popular Suffolk sportsman who was found dead in France a year after going missing.
Christopher Lipscombe, a former county champion at tennis and squash, was last seen at his home in a small mountainous village near the town of Carcassonne, in the south of France, on December 10 last year.
His family last month received the devastating news that a body found in undergrowth around four kilometres from his house had been identified as his.
Family and friends were due to gather at Ipswich Crematorium today to say their final good byes.
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Mr Lipscombe's family said he was a “kind and unassuming” man.
A statement released by his family said: “Chris was a loving and kind man who loved his life and, at nearly 60, continued to take part in competitive sport right up until the time he died.
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“He had retired to France, a country he loved and had wanted to move to, over three years ago.
“He spoke French and played squash at the local sports club.
“Family members and friends were always welcome at his house with many going to holiday with him at the lovely place he had made for himself in the south of France.
“He was a very kind and unassuming man who was always willing to help out friends and family.”
Mr Lipscombe, who was living alone in France since retiring three years ago, has two grown-up children including Stuart, with his ex-wife.
Born in Felixstowe he spent much of his life in Ipswich and worked for a period as a policeman in Lowestoft.
He is former a county squash and tennis champion, a top golfer and was ranked the number one table tennis player in Suffolk at under-18 level.
Through his sporting connections Mr Lipscombe made a lot of friends and was a well-known figure.
Mr Lipscombe was living in the village of Pradelles Cabardes, which has a population of just 160 people and sits at the foot of the Pic du Nore, the highest mountain in the region's Black Mountain range.
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Tony Lennard, of North Carolina in the USA, said: “I was very sad to hear the news from my father in England that the body of 'Lippo' was found in France.
“Lippo gave of his time very generously when I was an aspiring squash player.
“For several years we would play every Sunday and he became my mentor in the early days.
“In later years he was always very encouraging of my squash pursuits and was always available to share a glass of red.”
Tony Bayley, of Rowarth Avenue, Kesgrave, said: “Very sad to see that Chris had passed away.
“I have fond memories of old school days at St Josephs.
“May he rest in peace.”
Meanwhile Geoff Harper, who knew Mr Lipscombe when he worked in Suffolk, said: “I would like to express my sadness at the news of the death of Chris Lipscombe.
“I had known him for many years and knew he intended to retire early to France learning the language on tapes he bought.
“His relaxed, friendly nature was supported by a great dry sense of humour and he was respected by all who met him in our field of work.
“We shall miss him.”
Pradelles Cabardes has a population of just 160 people and sits at the foot of the Pic du Nore, the highest mountain in the Black Mountain range standing at 4,000ft
The village stands at an altitude of 2,700ft above sea level. There is a small reservoir, called lac de Pradelles just a few hundred yards from Mr Lipscombe's home.
Mr Lipscombe was rated as Suffolk's most promising tennis player in the 1960s. He played at Junior Wimbledon and was Suffolk Junior Champion in
1963 and 1964.
He also won the East Hardcourt Championships at under-18 level.
By the end of the 1960s he had won both the Suffolk indoor and outdoor titles as well as the doubles title.
Besides tennis, Mr Lipscombe was also a top squash player, despite coming to the game late at the age of 27.
Within three years he was in the county team and was
Suffolk squash champion in 1981.
He won both the Ipswich Sports Club and Martlesham singles titles and was ranked the number two player in the county for several years.
Mr Lipscombe was also a top golfer and was a member at Woodbridge.
While posted as a policeman at Lowestoft he played football for Corton Town in the Yarmouth League.
He was also ranked number one in the county at under 18-level in table tennis.
December 10, 2006: Last time Mr Lipscombe was seen alive. He phoned his mother in Suffolk that morning for a catch-up chat and later said goodbye to a friend who had stayed at his home following a meal the previous night.
December 11: Mr Lipscombe failed to show up to give a friend a lift to Carcassone Airport on December 11. Fears for his whereabouts were raised.
Police immediately arranged search parties to scour the mountainous area around his home. Tracker dogs and a helicopter were called in and Mr Lipscombe's house was sealed off for forensic examinations.
January 15, 2007: Mr Lipscombe's family speak to The Evening Star of their fears following his disappearance, describing the situation as “out of character”.
March 21, 2007: A friend of Mr Lipscombe reveals that he had spoken of plans to get back together with a former wife just days before his disappearance.
November 3, 2007: A body is found in undergrowth a few kilometres from Mr Lipscombe's home.
December 14, 2007: Stuart Lipscombe and his aunt Judy Hamshere speak to the Star regarding the anniversary of Mr Lipscombe's disappearance.
December 17, 2007: Mr Lipscombe's family are informed by French police that a body found has been found and identified as Christopher.
February 1, 2008: Mr Lipscombe's funeral is held at Ipswich Crematorium.