The story behind tribute to Ipswich fan inscribed on Kevin Beattie statue
- Credit: Archant
The statue of Kevin Beattie not only immortalises Ipswich Town's greatest ever player - but it also contains a dedication to a much-loved Ipswich Town fan who died while it was being worked on.
Sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn's statue was unveiled in front of fans in Portman Road in December, following a huge crowdfunding campaign.
But many fans may not have noticed the inscription on the sock on Beattie's right leg.
It reads: "This statue is dedicated to Kevin Beattie - a great player - died 2018. And to Paul Gegg - a great friend - died 2019 x"
Paul, who died at the age of 52 on June 18, 2019 after suffering a heart attack, was one of Sean's best friends.
The acclaimed sculptor, who has a studio near Needham Market, said: "I first met him when I was 17, when I started my first job working at a print company called Buro-Stat in Ipswich. This used to be in Cavendish Street but has now gone.
"We quickly struck up a friendship which lasted right up to the day he died.
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"He was one of my very best friends and we shared a lot of fun and memories together over the years. Regular nights out in Ipswich, holidays, he was my badminton partner/ squash partner and sat next to me at many Ipswich Town games.
"He used to work on Saturdays as a store manager for Tesco and B&Q so he was unable to attend many games up to a point.
"In 2018 he qualified as a driving instructor and my daughter, Niamh, was one of the first he taught - she passed first time, much to his delight.
"This meant he could finally purchase a season ticket at Ipswich Town and he did so in the May before he died. He would have sat next to me in the Sir Bobby Robson Upper, but unfortunately he never made it. He died six weeks before the season started."
On the subject of the statue, Sean added: "Paul knew I had been commissioned to sculpt The Beat's statue and was extremely proud of my achievement. Unfortunately, he only ever saw my design drawings. He never saw the maquette. He would of have most definitely have been at the unveiling -- he was missed."
Paul's wife Linda, with whom he has two children Matt, 26, and Sally, 23, said he would have loved the dedication.
She added: "Paul would've been amazed at that. He would've loved it. It is a perfect dedication for him. He was very strong about friendship - about true friendship."
Linda and Paul, from Ipswich, first met as teenagers but began dating again 10 years later in their 20s. They were married in May 1997.
She said: "He was really thoughtful, really romantic, very sociable. He was always the one at the party who would go around the room and get to know everybody."
Sean had told Linda there would be a dedication to Paul on the statue, but she thought it would just be his initials etched somewhere in the bronze.
She attended the unveiling on December 18, but couldn't get close enough to the statue to see what Sean had done.
When Linda returned the following day, she saw that Sean had also immortalised Paul's name with his message of friendship.
She said: "I cried when I saw it."
Paul had worked as a store manager at Tesco in Stowmarket, Martlesham and Bury St Edmunds, and then at B&Q in Clacton, before becoming a driving instructor.
But Sean said the special friendship struck up with Paul at Buro-Stat, along with two other colleagues John Miller and Eddie Green, had always endured.
The Kevin Beattie statue was unveiled on December 18 following a campaign led by the East Anglian Daily Times/Ipswich Star, alongside BBC Radio Suffolk and TWTD fans website.