Bench unveiled in memory to popular Lowestoft football referee
- Credit: Archant
The family of a long-serving and dedicated football referee have praised the community at the unveiling of a bench in his memory.
A permanent memorial to 'highly-respected' official Stephen Hammersley has been installed at Normanston Park in Lowestoft – proudly overlooking the football pitch where he 'loved' to play and referee,
Mr Hammersley, 65, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on September 2 last year. He had made a good recovery from illness in 2013, but the problems came back last year and despite a brave fight he died last September.
In paying tribute last year, colleagues at the Lowestoft and District League and the Referees' Association described how Mr Hammersley was a 'well respected referee and colleague' who was 'sadly missed by everyone who knew him.'
An active senior referee, chairman of the Lowestoft and District Referees Association and a representative on the Suffolk county FA, tributes were paid to Mr Hammersley at football grounds across Waveney as a minutes applause was held on the weekend after his death.
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A walking football match and raffle was held in his memory at Kirkley and Pakefield FC's headquarters at Walmer Road in November, which helped to raise funds for a memorial bench.
And with a significant donation from the Lowestoft and District Referees Association, it led to the permanent memorial being designed – with the bench unveiled to the family last month.
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Richard May, of the Lowestoft and District League and referees association, said: 'Stephen was a highly respected referee and chairman of the Lowestoft and District Referees Association.
'A big thank you goes to Bryan Sturman and the K&P walking football team – it is fantastic what they have contributed. We donated £700 from the referees association, and a big thank you goes to the association for all their support, combined with nearly £500 from K&P. These efforts have been unveiled with this bench in memory of Stephen near to his favourite pitch.'
The popular local referee used to play in goal for Ashlea and Oulton Broad before officiating – and pitch one at Normanston Park was 'his favourite' ground.
Mr May added: 'He was very keen on playing table tennis as well, and there are two outdoor tables here, which is part of the reason why the bench has been unveiled near the pitch and the tables.'
Admitting to having the bench unveiled in Stephen's memory was a great 'honour,' his wife Jeannie Hammersley said: 'On behalf of all the family, this is a lovely honour. It is really nice, and the silver really sets it off.
'Stephen loved this pitch – pitch one at Normanston Park was always his favourite.'
? Pictured at the unveiling of the bench were wife Jeannie Hammersley, daughter Laura Hammersley, son Matthew Hammersley and partner Lucy Johnson with Richard May, Darrel Hibbert, Steve Cole, Mick and Lyn Leeds from the referees association.
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