Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford City Gent Lenny Berry quits mascot job after weight loss

Lenny Berry on Bradford City pitch in May 2013
Image caption Lenny Berry brought "fun and enjoyment to many", the club said

A Bradford City mascot has lost his job after nearly two decades because he is no longer "portly" enough for the role.

Lenny Berry, 59, has been wearing a bowler hat to play the rotund City Gent for 20 years but has quit after losing seven stone due to diabetes.

The club said Mr Berry's physical appearance had become an issue because it was so different from the character's original concept.

It said it offered him a "Sumo-style suit" but he did not accept.

The City Gent character wears a bowler hat and carries an umbrella and brief case.

He was first introduced by the club in the 1960s and also lends his name to its fanzine.

In a statement, club director Roger Owen said Mr Berry decided to leave with immediate effect following talks.

'Pondering for weeks'

Mr Owen said: "We agreed that action needed to be taken.

"I met Lenny late Friday and he gave me his decision, which he had been pondering for some three weeks.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Lenny for his efforts over what has been a long time, in all weathers and through the various fortunes of the club.

"He has brought fun and enjoyment to many, particularly our fans at the younger end of the age scale, and he finishes with our best wishes for the future."

Bradford City, which has another mascot, Billy Bantam, said it would not be replacing Mr Berry.

Bantams fans have been paying tribute to Mr Berry.

'Belly wobble'

Tom Fletcher and Dominic Newton-Collinge, who present the Bantams Banter podcast, said on their Facebook page: "You'll go down as a legend in club history.

"Visits to Valley Parade when I was a kid wouldn't have been the same without seeing that pre-match belly wobble or being in the middle of a crowd of kids while you chucked fruit salads [sweets] at us."

The BBC has been unable to contact Mr Berry but he said on Twitter that he would make a statement "when I get my mind sorted".

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