Long-serving Town director dies

FORMER long-serving Ipswich Town director Ken Brightwell has died. He was 84.The one-time leading Ipswich estate agent was a Blues board member from 1964 to 1995.

FORMER long-serving Ipswich Town director Ken Brightwell has died. He was 84.

The one-time leading Ipswich estate agent was a Blues board member from 1964 to 1995.

He then became a vice-president.

Mr Brightwell, who died in a Hadleigh nursing home after a long illness, was invited on to the board after being a leading light in the supporters' club.

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Town chairman David Sheepshanks yesterday paid tribute. He said: “This is terribly sad news. He was an utterly devoted supporter of Ipswich Town from childhood to his dying day.

“It was my pleasure to serve on the board with him from when I joined in 1987 to 1995 when he became a vice-president. Ken was such a knowledgeable man about football and business. He was a magnificent servant to out club and will be greatly missed.”

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Mr Harold Smith served as a director with Mr Brightwell over the same period from 1964 before also becoming a vice-president.

He said: “Ken came on to the board from the supporters club. I always admired him. He was never a 'yes' man. He always had his own ideas and was a splendid servant to our club.”

Mr Brightwell, who was once a renowned rally driver, began watching Town from the age of six, and leaves a wife, Kath, and a son, Paul.

Miss Pat Godbold, the former long-serving manager's secretary at Portman Road, worked closely with Mr Brightwell for many years.

She said: “I've told Sir Bobby Robson of this loss and George Burley. They were both are very saddened to hear the news.”

She added: “Ken was a wonderful man and a fine director. I will always remember in particular the way he could also make people laugh.”

Tony Garnett, the former EADT Sports Editor and chief sports writer, said: “I can well remember the Ipswich Town shareholders' meeting in the Autumn of 1964 in the Town Hall.

“The club had just been relegated from Division One, were struggling in Division Two, and manager Jackie Milburn had resigned. They were difficult times.

“Ipswich Town supporters proposed Ken Brightwell for a place on the Board but, in all honesty, there seemed no realistic chance of getting the 'Tulip Rally driver' elected. Ipswich Town chairmen, before and since, have hand-picked their fellow directors. Mr Brightwell turned out to be the exception.

“The meeting was noisy and becoming acrimonious with the booming voice of Sturley Nunn, one-time Mayor of Ipswich, heard above the others. The supporters held a trump card. They had discovered that Willie Kerr, who was seeking ratification as a director, held no shares and was therefore ineligible. It was a blunder.

“When this was pointed out, amidst a crescendo of noise, Town chairman John Cobbold called for a brief adjournment. After a brief discussion he changed the whole tone of the meeting with the words: 'We are pleased to invite Mr Brightwell to join the Board.' It was a master stroke.

“The popular candidate of the fans had won the day. Order was restored, Bill McGarry was soon to arrive as manager, and the club once again started to flourish.

“I recall playing golf with Ken Brightwell against two directors of Newcastle United at Gosforth Park early one Saturday morning before a match at St James' Park. He passed me off as a Town director because our opponents might have felt uncomfortable with a media man in their presence.

“In the changing room afterwards one of the Newcastle men called us together and whispered: 'Keep your voices down, I see that a journalist has just come in and we don't want him to overhear what we are saying.'

“KB, as he was known, loved his golf and was a founder member of the Pheasant Golf Society with, among others, fellow Town director Murray Sangster. He was one of the characters at Portman Road over a span of almost 40 years and it was always a pleasure to be in his company,” added Tony.

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