FOOTBALL legend Bobby Charlton took a tour of Taunton as he launched a new sporting campaign in 1989.

This week, 30 years ago, the former England and Manchester United star was in town to give the four-month Somerset Exercise Initiative his full approval.

At a launch at the Castle Hotel, Sir Bobby said: “There’s nothing in the world like being fit - it gives you a real high.”

The World Cup winner visited the YMCA in Lisieux Way, Wellington Sports Centre, Somerset Cricket Club, Dance Alive aerobics dance team, and Tony Pryce Sports.

The exercise initiative was set up after a research study revealed Somerset was one of the few counties in Britain where the incidence of heart disease appeared to be on the increase.

Peter Barson, of the South West branch of the Sports Council, said: “Physical Education in schools is under siege - we will be lucky if five per cent of the school timetable is dedicated to it.

“We all ought to be concerned about this, and should be expressing our views to headteachers and governing bodies.”

The campaign worked with schools, clubs, the YMCA, and the Sports Council.

Charlton, who is now 81, was an instrumental part of England's World Cup winning team of 1966, and he collected the Ballon D'or in the same year.

He once held the record for most England appearances and most appearances for Manchester United - although both milestones have since been eclipsed.

After a period in managing, Sir Bobby joined Manchester United's board of directors, a role he held when he visited Taunton and still retains to this day.

1989 was not Charlton's first appearance in the Somerset County Gazette.

He also appeared in the newspaper in 1985 after meeting with local football star Hung Dang.

Somerset County Gazette:

Sir Bobby Charlton and Hung Dang in 1985