Tributes to speedway legend and popular photographer Ron Bagley
PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 February 2018
Touching tributes have been paid to a well known photographer and former speedway star.
Ron Bagley died on February 6, aged 80, after a courageous battle against chronic kidney disease.
Much loved and sadly missed by his family and friends, his wife Anita Bagley paid tribute to her husband’s positivity and “zest” for life.
Mrs Bagley said: “Ron was the most positive person you could ever meet and his zest for life was second to none.
“He found out in the last few days that his blood group was B Positive. I think in his whole 80 years this had been his motto for life, which we will carry on in his honour.”
Highly regarded by speedway supporters, Mr Bagley was the former Ipswich Witches rider, captain and manager, who played a major part in the success of Ipswich Speedway.
Born in Ipswich on February 14, 1937, in his teenage years Mr Bagley rode cycle speedway for the Ipswich Vampires and in 1955 became British champion.
He turned to speedway, starting his career at Foxhall in 1958. In the mid 1960s when there was no speedway at Ipswich he rode for Sheffield where he had his best season as a rider.
Mr Bagley was invited back to Ipswich by promoter John Berry to lead the re-opening of the club as captain in 1969. He then took over the role as team manager in 1971 and stayed in that role until the end of 1977.
This proved to be a trophy-laden period for the Witches, with Mr Bagley involved in the glory years alongside Mr Berry as the Suffolk side were one of the most feared in the country,
In his time at Foxhall he either captained or managed the Witches to six major trophies, including the British League title in 1975 and 1976.
Later, Mr Bagley went on to be team manager of Mildenhall Fen Tigers when they won the National League title in 1979.
He also had a spell as promoter at Workington, and it was during this time that he would go onto meet his future wife Anita.
Mrs Bagley said: “We met while Ron was at Workington in 1981, just as his successful speedway career was coming to a close. I had a shop in Cumbria and he walked in one day and it was instant.”
The couple planned to move to Sheffield, but after visiting family in Ipswich a day trip to Norwich led them to initially buying a house in Norwich before they moved to Carlton Colville in 1983.
Mrs Bagley said: “We were in Norwich for a few months and went to Carlton Colville to view some newly-built houses. Once we saw this house, that was it.”
It still remains the Bagley’s family home today.
After getting married at Lowestoft Registry Office in 1983, Mr and Mrs Bagley forged a successful freelance photography and PR business.
Mrs Bagley said: “Ron started photography when Ipswich Witches went to Scandinavia. He realised he had an eye for it and really enjoyed it, so when he finished the speedway photography took over. Not many people have two careers, so you could say he has been lucky.”
This new found love for photography and his ability to capture the shot meant that Mr Bagley photographed Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Bradley Walsh among many, with his photos appearing in The Journal, Eastern Daily Press and numerous Archant titles over the years.
Mrs Bagley said: “For Ron it didn’t come close to the pride he took in photographing his own family. He excelled himself when one particular summer the whole family were in every tourist attraction brochure in the local area. He was full of one liners and could give you a newspaper headline at the drop of a hat, not to mention his morning poems.
“There is no doubt that his unyielding determination and artistic flair influenced the successful careers of his children who will be forever grateful for his advice, support and encouragement.”
The photography business “was a real team effort” that saw a dark room created at the family home, with Mrs Bagley working on “all the creative stuff behind the scenes”.
Focusing solely on weddings in recent years, “right up to the end,” Mrs Bagley added: “He still would have been doing wedding photography last week if he had the chance. Ron was very fond of photography and it was something he loved as much as speedway. Sometimes we would drive to Norwich late in the evening just to get the photos to head office – he just loved the thrill of the deadline.”
Mr Bagley leaves his beloved wife Anita, children and grandchildren.
With Ron Bagley playing a major part in the success of Ipswich Speedway, Mrs Bagley said: “He was British cycle speedway champion once over and very proud of it.
“In fact, no Bagley summer was complete until he had made sure that he could still sit on a bicycle backwards and pedal around the garden.”
Ron “truly enjoyed life” and spent many special times in Italy and the South of France with Anita and the family, while he was an active gym member - going to the gym three times a week aged 80.
Mrs Bagley said: “Ron loved his sports cars, F1, and he always had time for a coffee and pastry which meant that Saturday morning Norwich trips became a weekly fixture.
“Yet there was nowhere he was happier or more relaxed than in their own back garden, soaking up the sun and he never missed an opportunity to get the barbecue on.”
Mr Bagley’s daughter Claudia recalled how her dad “would always say to us just go for it.”
Described as “an absolute family man, who would do anything for us” his determination meant he “never gave in.”
Mrs Bagley said: “Ron’s father had kidney problems as he died when he was just 38, and these were hereditary.
“But Ron, only started attending dialysis sessions at the renal unit at James Paget University Hospital 18 months ago.
“He told the sister after the first dialysis session that it was not for him, and how he wanted to give it a miss the next day, that was Ron - he was so humerous. He had an amazing battle with chronic kidney disease for such a long time.”
Mr Bagley’s funeral is at Waveney Memorial Park Crematorium on March 1 at noon. Flowers to East of England Co op Funeral Services 45-47 Westwood Avenue Lowestoft NR33 9RW.