Sheila speaks of split loyalties

JOHN Peel's widow Sheila Ravenscroft today revealed a dilemma of loyalty, as she celebrated his life two years after he died on holiday in Peru.The popular broadcaster, who lived at Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, was the longest serving presenter on Radio 1, and often broadcast from both his home and the BBC Radio Suffolk studios in Ipswich.

JOHN Peel's widow Sheila Ravenscroft today revealed a dilemma of loyalty, as she celebrated his life two years after he died on holiday in Peru.

The popular broadcaster, who lived at Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, was the longest serving presenter on Radio 1, and often broadcast from both his home and the BBC Radio Suffolk studios in Ipswich.

As music lovers descended on a number of Ipswich venues for John Peel Day on Thursday night, Sheila and her family chose to be in Liverpool - John's home town.

She said: “There is a football tournament that has been organised and I'm presenting the John Peel trophy to the winners.”


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The six-a-side football tournament, which includes a family team managed by John and Sheila's daughter Alexandra, has grown in size from last year's event.

Sheila said: “John was obsessed with Liverpool FC. He loved it.”

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On Thursday night the family were due to go to a gig in the city.

Shelia said: “I've been very torn whether to stay here in Suffolk or go to Liverpool this year. There's a lot of gigs in Suffolk and a large part of me would have liked to have stayed here.”

John was famous for championing unsigned bands throughout his broadcasting career.

Sheila said: “Music in pubs and clubs are exactly what John loved. He would far rather have listened to a band he had never heard of than go to a large stadium and watch a big show.

“It was much more his scene to go and listen to an up and coming band.”

Proud of his legacy and the way the nation responded to John's death in 2004, Sheila said she is still touched by the way her husband is remembered.

Sheila, who is a member of Stowmarket Chorale, said: “It is very touching. I wasn't sure the idea of John Peel day would have taken off quite like it has done.

“There are gigs across the country now and even in America.”

What are your memories of John Peel? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINKS:

www.jameskindred.co.uk/johnpeel

www.johnpeelday.com

www.stowmarketchorale.org.uk

Born: John Robert Parker Ravenscroft in Heswall, near Liverpool, in 1939. The son of the owner of a cotton mill, he was brought up mostly by a nanny.

He attended Shrewsbury public school, which he hated.

After National Service between 1957 and 1959 he went to America. With Beatlemania in full swing, John Peel and his Liverpudlian connections proved irresistible and he soon became a DJ for WRR radio in Dallas.

Returning to England in 1967, he joined the pirate station, Radio London, before transferring to the BBC's new national pop channel, Radio 1. He was to remain there for the rest of his life, the only survivor of Radio 1's first line-up.

Right from the outset, Peel changed the rules. He played every track without interruption, to the delight of those wishing to tape his show, while providing a witty and knowledgeable running commentary.

In the early days Peel championed acts like Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Captain Beefheart, as he did throughout his career, by giving them studio-time to record legendary "Peel sessions".

His Radio 1 show ran three nights a week and in 1998 he became the presenter of Radio 4's Home Truths, which won four Sony Radio awards in 1999.He also presented a programme on the BBC World Service.

He received an OBE in 1998 and earned a place in the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.

A lifelong fan of the Archers and a dedicated follower of Liverpool football club, he lived in Suffolk with his wife Sheila.

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