Huge landmark for Beattie statue campaign as total hits £80k and work gets under way
- Credit: Archant
Work is set to start on the statue of Kevin Beattie after our fundraising campaign took a giant step towards meeting its target.
A gala night in memory of Ipswich Town's greatest ever player was held on Friday at Gresham's Ipswich, raising more than £20,000.
It took the running total to around £80,000 - and while still short of the £110,000 target, we are now able to commission sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn to immediately begin work in his Suffolk studio.
It's a huge landmark for the campaign, which is a joint initiative between the EADT, Ipswich Star, BBC Radio Suffolk and TWTD website, launched in December on what would've been the Beat's 65th birthday.
The gala night at Greshams, hosted by BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy, was an emotional celebration of the footballing legend's life.
It included a fundraising auction, and a hugely generous £3,000 donation from the East of England Co-op, presented by joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor.
Ex-Town stars Terry Butcher, Mick Mills, Frans Thijssen, George Burley, Russell Osman, Simon Milton, Brian Talbot, Roger Osborne, Mick Lambert and John Peddelty were all at the event and shared their memories.
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There were also video messages from Arnold Muhren, Paul Mariner, Alan Brazil and Fabian Wilnis.
Beat's daughter, Emma, was also in attendance.
Town legend George Burley told the packed event: "He wasn't just a player, he was an inspiration. And that made the team play well - because he was so enthusiastic."
Terry Butcher, who is on the campaign team, also recalled his early days at the club and the impression Beattie made.
"I was star struck because he was my hero. You tried to model yourself on him, but you couldn't do it - it was mission impossible, he did everything so much better than you."
Dutch legend Frans Thijssen, who flew over for the gala, said despite not getting to play many games with Beattie, he made a huge impression.
"It's a pity I didn't play more games with Kevin. In training he was amazing. I've never seen a player get up so high.
"It was a great honour to play with these big players. At that moment we had three players in the England team, three in the Scotland team, two in the Dutch national team. Eight players in a national team - for me it was a great time."
In his video message, Arnold Muhren added: "When I came to the club it was always a joy for me to be with him. He was always telling jokes and laughing, he was a very generous person and Kevin Beattie was one of the best centre halves I've ever played with.
"He was extremely fast - he was running backwards faster than me forwards! He was a tremendous tackler, very very good in the air."
But for injury, Muhren said he could have easily had 100 caps for his country.
On the statue campaign, he said: "I think it's a great initiative to do this for Kevin and I hope you have a lot of success with it. Give my best regards to the Ipswich Town family and of course my ex-team mates."
Russell Osman, who was Beat's kit boy as an apprentice, said: "Whenever you were in his company, he made you feel safe. Whether you were making your debut alongside him, whether you were playing a normal league game, whether you were in a bar having a drink. He looked after you on the pitch.
"I was fortunate in that sometimes there was Terry one side of me, there was either Kevin or Allan Hunter the other side. It was a privilege for me to learn my trade alongside Kevin."
Cup final goal hero Roger Osborne told how Beattie was great company, and a natural at the game.
"He didn't have to try. I had to play at my maximum or I wouldn't have got into the team. Beat just turned up on the Saturday and played a game of football. He was just a young boy playing football."
Meanwhile, Brian Talbot agreed Beattie had been an outstanding talent.
"The thing you remember the most is his natural talent. He didn't have to work at his game. As a man he was generous to a fault, friendly to a fault.
"He had time for everybody at the club. In the mornings, he used to go and see the young kids, remembering he was once of them. I think he inspired so many people at that football club to be as good as him. It was a pleasure to play with him, and grow up with him."
There was a further event at The Dove in Ipswich on Saturday afternoon, as Frans Thijssen, Terry Butcher and Russell Osman shared anecdotes with fans and took questions.
That also raised just over £1,000 for the campaign.
Sean Hedges-Quinn will be creating the statue at his Suffolk studio, having previously done the statues of both Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey.
To donate to the appeal, visit to the gofundme page.