Paddy Henry - the People’s Champion - dies

TRIBUTES are continuing this week to Mid Sussex councillor Paddy Henry whose has died at St Peter and St James Hospice, aged only 69.

Paddy was a leading member of Mid Sussex District Council from 1991 and was a Haywards Heath town councillor from four years later.

He was a regular attendee at Labour Party conferences in his heyday and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tony and Cherie Blair. Neil Kinnock, John Smith and the union leader Arthur Scargill.

In the mid-1980s an industrial tribunal gained national publicity when he was prevented from achieving a post as assistant director of nursing for community psychiatry by the then Mid Downs Health Authority.

According to close friend and health service colleague Joe Hughes, then health secretary Edwina Currie declined union calls for a public inquiry saying one could be no less damning of the authority’s senior officers than the tribunal had already been.

Paddy, who trained as a psychiatric nurse at the former St Francis Hospital in Haywards Heath, had previously been an active member of the trade union COSHE - later UNISON.

In 1978 he was responsible for forming the first community psychiatric nursing service in the country and he later achieved specialist nurse status for his community psychiatric nurses, which enhanced their clinical profile.

Later, Paddy developed an active career in local politics but declined invitations to stand in safe parliamentary seats for the Labour Party.

In 2008 his contribution to his local community was recognised with the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Many people have sent in tributes to Paddy, including fellow Mid Sussex councillor Brian Hall, who said: “It is impossible to over-estimate his capabilities. He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever come into contact with. He appeared to have a photographic memory and his mastery and recall of detail would put many QC’s to shame.”

Full report and tributes to Paddy are published in this week’s Mid Sussex Times out tomorrow, Thursday.