Tributes paid to village character known by many as ‘Mr Burwell Cricket Club’

PUBLISHED: 11:38 22 October 2020

Tributes have been paid to Gilbert Mingay (left), known to many as ‘Mr Burwell Cricket Club’. Picture: SUPPLIED/SARA PHIPPS/FAMILY

Tributes have been paid to Gilbert Mingay (left), known to many as ‘Mr Burwell Cricket Club’. Picture: SUPPLIED/SARA PHIPPS/FAMILY

Archant

A one of a kind and a village stalwart are just some of the tributes paid to a man, known to many as “Mr Burwell Cricket Club”.

Tributes have been paid to Gilbert Mingay (pictured), known to many as ‘Mr Burwell Cricket Club’. Picture: SUPPLIED/SARA PHIPPSTributes have been paid to Gilbert Mingay (pictured), known to many as ‘Mr Burwell Cricket Club’. Picture: SUPPLIED/SARA PHIPPS

Gilbert Mingay is perhaps most remembered for his service to Burwell Cricket Club since 1961, both playing and cutting the pitch for many years.

Gilbert worked for cardboard factory Tillotson’s, and had it not been for a request to the company’s managing director, the village side would have been in danger of folding.

“He was a cricket fanatic and he started the factory team. He went to the managing director, Ben Howells, and almost demanded that we start a company cricket team,” Keith Airey, who worked and played cricket with Gilbert, said.

“Gilbert was a real village cricketer; he was not everyone’s cup of tea, but he would do anything for you.”

From left: George Phelps, umpire; Michael Parr; Gilbert Mingay and Les Jennings, umpire. Picture: FAMILYFrom left: George Phelps, umpire; Michael Parr; Gilbert Mingay and Les Jennings, umpire. Picture: FAMILY

Gilbert, who died aged 88, was born in Swaffham Bulbeck but after marrying wife Pat and two years of national service, moved to Burwell before working as a palletising foreman at Tillotson’s.

Once his playing career finished, he would attend club matches as a scorer, keep detailed records and cut the outfield with the help of Gerald Fuller, who worked at Tillotson’s alongside Gilbert.

“He did everything; he looked after the ground, organised and picked the team,” Gerald said.

“When you arrived at the club, the grass looked like any professional club in the country; It was amazing. He did it for the love of the game. You don’t get people doing what Gilbert did in this day and age.”

Keith Airey (left) with Gilbert Mingay at a presentation evening. Picture: FAMILYKeith Airey (left) with Gilbert Mingay at a presentation evening. Picture: FAMILY

Since Gilbert’s death, heartfelt messages have been flooding in, something that came as a surprise to Pat, who Gilbert was married to for 62 years.

“It makes me feel a lot better knowing people thought well of him,” she said.

“They have all said kind things on email; no one has a bad word for him. People sometimes said he should be helping the wife in the garden, but he went to the cricket field instead.

“I put up with it; that was his life.”

Poems about Mingay Park were written for Gilbert by Pam Bird. Picture: FAMILYPoems about Mingay Park were written for Gilbert by Pam Bird. Picture: FAMILY

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The club’s home ground was also renamed Mingay Park in 1984 in recognition of Gilbert’s loyal service, who also met former US President Dwight Eisenhower at Bottisham Barracks.

Gilbert was known as a character to those who knew him well, and one who has left a lasting impression on a village he called home.

“He was a one-man band, which will not be repeated. Burwell is now like a commuter village, and those characters have gone. Gilbert was one of an age,” Keith said.

Poems about Mingay Park were written for Gilbert by Pam Bird. Picture: FAMILYPoems about Mingay Park were written for Gilbert by Pam Bird. Picture: FAMILY

“For the last 15 years, things have moved on and youngsters nowadays don’t know who he was. The success Burwell Cricket Club has had is essentially down to him,” Gerald added.

Gilbert’s funeral will take place at Burwell Cemetery on Wednesday, October 28 at 11.30am.

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