Videos:TV footy pundit learns new tricks in Suffolk

SPORTS presenter Ray Stubbs has paid tribute to students across Suffolk after becoming an East of England champion for life skills.

Dave Gooderham

RAY Stubbs is best known for discussing the big issues of football with former professionals.

The sports presenter is not usually seen learning how to use a sowing machine, play the guitar or try his hand at carpentry or car mechanics.

But the frontman of the BBC's football results service, Final Score, has literally got his hands dirty after agreeing to become an East of England champion for learning new life skills.

In a whistle-stop four-day tour of the eastern region, Stubbs took a quick music lesson at Suffolk New College, Ipswich, before turning his attentions to a sewing machine alongside fashion and textile students at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds.

Stubbs, who also presents snooker and darts, agreed to be the face of the Big Skill initiative for the East of England on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council.

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He said: “I think across different platforms you can see the importance of learning new skills. For me personally, it is very rewarding while for the people learning new skills, it can enhance their chances in the employment market or be rewarding for the community if they then pass that skill on.

“Whether it is learning to play the drums or working on a sowing machine, the basic principles are the same. If you have the opportunity to learn new skills, it can improve your community and improve people as individuals.”

Stubbs played professional football for Tranmere Rovers for five years before moving into the media. An occasional presenter of Match of the Day, he has covered an impressive ten international football tournaments.

But he revealed: “I didn't take advantage of the opportunities I had when I was young, when these skills are open to anyone of any age, gender or any situation.

“It can be daunting for someone of my generation as it is a big step going back to learn. But the first step is the hardest part.”

The Big Skill Awards, run by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Suffolk, are aimed at encouraging people to learn and develop new skills, and prizes will be given out at a ceremony in June.

Students at Suffolk New College taught Mr Stubbs the basics of playing the drums and the guitar to launch the skills drive.

Brendan Ware, a music performance student from Ashdale Road, Kesgrave, said: “Teaching Ray guitar was great, his fingers seemed to fit into the right positions easily and he picked it up quite quickly. With perseverance and motivation, anybody can learn a new skill.”

The awards, which are open to anyone aged 14 or above, will recognise people from Suffolk who have improved their own life or the lives of others through learning.

They will also complement the Suffolk Year of Skills 2009, launched by the Chamber of Commerce with the support of several local organisations including Archant Suffolk - publishers of the Evening Star and EADT.

Hazel Mackintosh, Partnership Director of LSC Suffolk, said: “The Big Skill is about encouraging people to keep learning, especially in this economic climate. You are never too old to learn.”