Veteran Ipswich diver Ray Marshall celebrates 90th birthday with scuba diving club he helped establish in the 1950s

Ray Marshall celebrates his 90th birthday at I-Dive Ipswich Diving club at Fore Street Pool.

Ray Marshall celebrates his 90th birthday at I-Dive Ipswich Diving club at Fore Street Pool. - Credit: Archant

A long-standing diver in Ipswich, who helped establish the town’s first dedicated diving club celebrated his 90th birthday on March 7 last week with his fellow club members.

Ray Marshall, from Old Norwich Road began diving in 1946 after being discharged from the army.

It wasn’t long before he helped found the Ipswich branch ofthe British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) in 1953, becoming branch number 32 out of more than 2,000 that exist today.

The club merged with the Sunstar Suq Aqua Club last year to form I-Dive, of which he is still a member.

On Thursday, the veteran diver, who still endulges in the past-time in his pool at home, joined his fellow divers at Fore Street Swimming Pool.

He said: “It was a bit overwhelming with their presentation, I didn’t know what to say. It’s something that I have done all my life and enjoyed.”

Mr Marshall, a retired manager for an insurance company, began diving before it was a popular activity and recalled occasions where his diving skills came in handy.

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He said: “Back when the police didn’t have their own diving unit 50 or 60 years ago I had to force my way into a car found in the river outside the old customs house to see if anyone was in it, but there wasn’t. I also had to find someone’s contact lenses in a swimming pool and luckily we found them.”

But Mr Marshall is most known for making headlines as the monster of the deep on Rushmere Heath when he was cleaning the pools out, and scared a passer-by when he emerged from the water in a hood and mask covered in grime.

Mr Marshall added: “The passer-by was so taken aback he contacted the newspaper convinced I was some kind of underwater creature.

“It’s been a lifelong experience and I have been very, very fortunate with so many things that have happened.”