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‘Larger than life’ Ipswich businessman Bob Shelley dies

PUBLISHED: 07:37 27 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 27 August 2018

Ipswich radio celebrity and business man Bob Shelley has died Picture: SU ANDERSON

Ipswich radio celebrity and business man Bob Shelley has died Picture: SU ANDERSON

Tributes are being paid to ‘larger than life’ Ipswich businessman and radio celebrity Bob Shelley who has died at the age of 78.

Bob Shelley (right) with Stephen Foster and poet Jane MowerBob Shelley (right) with Stephen Foster and poet Jane Mower

Mr Shelley spent years on the airwaves at BBC Radio Suffolk and co-presented the Happy Hour show with Stephen Foster.

He spent decades raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity, and was known for his big heart and infectious sense of humour.

From a hard upbringing, where as a young man he found himself living on the streets, he later built a business empire - owning various cafe’s, taxi firms, a security company and properties around Ipswich.

A talented amateur boxer as a young man, he later supported further generations of boxers to life their dream, providing vital mentorship and financial backing while running the Arcade Boxing Club.

Bob Shelley in Taxi Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob Shelley in Taxi Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

He later became a radio celebrity, commentating on boxing as well as making appearances on BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sports Round Table and co-hosting the Happy Hour show with Stephen Foster.

But it was his charity work that he is best known for - comparing charity boxing matches, fundraising dinners and testimonials, raising tens of thousands for good causes and rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in sports and celebrity.

In 2010, he helped publish a book of poems from author Jane Mower in aid of the EACH Treehouse appeal.

A family man, Mr Shelley was very close to his mother Josephine, or Jessie as she was known, who he absolutely adored.

Bob with his dad Robert Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob with his dad Robert Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

His daughter Petra described her father as ‘the man of Ipswich.’

“He was very kind and very generous,” she said.

“If he could help you he would, and if he couldn’t he would find someone that could.

“Everyone went to Dad for answers and for help and he always would. He was my best friend and my hero.

Bob with Sergei Baltacha Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob with Sergei Baltacha Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

“He was a bundle of laughs, he always saw the good in people.”

His partner Lesley said: “He was larger than life - he will leave a large hole in people’s lives.

“He was a character, a very funny man.

“He was very poorly early on Saturday and the nurse was there to inspect his drip.

Bob with his parents and brother Jeff Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob with his parents and brother Jeff Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

“He said to her, ‘we’ll have to stop meeting like this’.

“Even when he was really ill, Bob could come up with a joke. “

Mr Shelley had two children Mark and Petra, and four grandchildren Francesca, Charlotte, George and Archie.

Friends of Mr Shelley have described him as ‘one in a million’.

Bob with snooker played Alex Higgins Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob with snooker played Alex Higgins Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

Nick Pandolfi, who first met Mr Shelley in the 1990s at BBC Radio Suffolk, said he was hugely popular with listeners.

He said: “He was one of those people who mixed with all sorts.

“He had this ability to entertain and converse with landed gentry one minute, and then with a football fan in the Churchman’s stand the next,

“It was all down to his charm and willingless to make people smile. He knew what it was like to have nothing but always kept enthusiastic. He must have raised tens of thousands for charity,

Bob school boxing aged 15 at Westbourne School Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob school boxing aged 15 at Westbourne School Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

“He never wanted to talk about his life story though, he was always more interested in you.

“The radio listeners absolutely loved him.

“He was a peak - you could always see when Bob came on.

“He just made them feel better with his lousy jokes.”

Bob at Nippin cafe Picture: SHELLEY FAMILYBob at Nippin cafe Picture: SHELLEY FAMILY

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Mr Foster described him as ‘a real Ipswich legend.”

He said: “He was a very kind man and our years together on BBC Radio Suffolk doing The Happy Hour are up there with my favourite broadcast moments.

“To say we used to sail close to the wind is an understatement.

“In fact, in Bob’s own words, his shirt used to shoot up his back like a roller blind.

Bob Shelley with his watch he lost in Martlesham M&S car park. Picture: GREGG BROWNBob Shelley with his watch he lost in Martlesham M&S car park. Picture: GREGG BROWN

He couldn’t sing but he used to take his shoes off and hum.

“He was great company and a real Ipswich legend.

Her added: “A bright light has gone out in my hometown. Thanks for your wonderful company and kindness Bob.”

Friend Dave Allard, former sports writer for the Evening Star, said: “Bob Shelley was one in a million and there can be few people in Suffolk who have raised as much cash for charity.

Evening Star - News; Pics by Alex Fairfull 25-07-10; Bob Shelley is paying tribute to his old friend and ex professional snooker player Alex Higgins who died recently.; bob is at his home here in Ipswich looking at his scrap book.; Myphotos24 ref - af 010 bob shelley 2; ES 26.7.10Evening Star - News; Pics by Alex Fairfull 25-07-10; Bob Shelley is paying tribute to his old friend and ex professional snooker player Alex Higgins who died recently.; bob is at his home here in Ipswich looking at his scrap book.; Myphotos24 ref - af 010 bob shelley 2; ES 26.7.10

“Bob was a champion amateur boxer and it was through boxing tournaments that he raised the great deal of the charity money.

“He and also a great compare of charity events and for many years auctioned off items at the Copdock Hotel in aid of good causes. Bob had a hard up upbringing, being the son of an army Sgt who moved around the country and Europe. My greatest memories of Bob come with his comedy. He always saw the bright side even to the end.

“I will remember him as a great entrepreneur, a terrific comedian and a great man in general.”

BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast presenter Luke Deal said on Facebook: “How we laughed on a Sunday morning!

THE Baltacha family at their Ipswich home. From left to right). Mum Olga, Elena, Dad Sergei and son Sergei junior. Holding them all together is neighbour Bob Shelley.

ES 24.6.11
 


THE Baltacha family at their Ipswich home. From left to right). Mum Olga, Elena, Dad Sergei and son Sergei junior. Holding them all together is neighbour Bob Shelley. ES 24.6.11

“Bob was a great character, larger than life and was a true gentleman. RIP Bob.

“ Our thoughts go out to your friends and family. Thanks for the laughs and the great stories. You will be sorely missed.”

Morning show producer Sally Burch said: “Devastated doesn’t begin to come close.

“He was the gentlest of giants and had a heart to match.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the dreadful news this morning.

“Poop scooping in Sudbury for Children in Need is up there in the most surreal things we did together.

“My heartfelt love to Lesley and Bob’s family. Lovely lovely man xxx”

Today we can finally reveal the names of the people selected to be on our first ever Inspiring Women of Suffolk list.

This is a list that Suffolk should be proud of - 100 women who are positive role models for future generations, women who have achieved success in a diverse range of fields from business, the arts, sport and education to the third sector.

The list was put together by a panel of judges this summer after we asked readers for their nominations.

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