A much-loved man who was at the heart of our community has died at the age of 71.
Paul Myles ‘touched the lives of so many’ through his work with numerous voluntary and community organisations in Burgess Hill.
He lost his battle with cancer and died on Monday (August 27), his family confirmed.
Jackie Cooper, chairman for Burgess Hill Youth, told the Middy: “Paul touched the lives of so many people in Burgess Hill through his work with numerous voluntary and community organisations including Christmas parcels, the community house, young carers, but most importantly his thirty years connection with Burgess Hill Youth, formally Burgess Hill Boys Club.
“Over the years Paul held every post going in running the club, the odd job man, caretaker and gardener, secretary, chairman and youth worker, often carrying out many of the roles at the same time.
“Paul had the ability to draw you in by sharing his enthusiasm for young people and his work to give them a safe, secure place to grow, develop and mature.
“In the last few months I have been moved by the support that has been offered to the club when I’ve needed help.
“No request for help was refused often with the response ‘when I went to the club Paul did lots of things for me. He was like a Dad to me’.”
Jackie said Paul made such an impression on the town and ‘gave so much’ which was ‘wonderful to see’.
She added: “He has got very big boots to fill. He did everything. He was very good in encouraging young people to volunteer. All the volunteers at the club have been encouraged and nurtured by Paul over the years, it is really lovely.”
Paul ran the community house in Denham Road for many years providing support and advice for many families.
He supported the young carers initiative from the outset with the first event in 2009 and enjoyed the celebrations of the 50th event last year.
“Paul will leave a legacy in the provision of support he has provided,” said Jackie.
“These events and the support for the families would not have happened without Paul agreeing to lead these on behalf of Burgess Hill Youth.
“In addition to his work in Burgess Hill he was Chairman of Sussex Clubs for Young People steering it through many troubled times but leaving it in a strong position to serve young people in Sussex in the future.
“Paul will be greatly missed by many people both old and young and he leaves a huge gap in the community and our hearts.”
Burgess Hill Town Council worked with Paul for many years on a wide-range of initiatives, most importantly the young carers programme.
Pru Moore, leader of the town council, said: “For the past ten years we have jointly run young carers activities with Burgess Hill Youth, currently we have 80 young people on the books and we run 15 activities a year.
“Paul had a wealth of experience as a youth worker and his special contribution was creating an environment in which children felt safe and had fun. He will be sadly missed by many people.”
Burgess Hill Cricket Club has also paid tribute to Paul. A spokesman said: “We are very sad to hear the news that after a courageous battle with cancer, Paul Myles passed away.
“For those who don’t know him, Paul has spent decades helping run what was Burgess Hill Boys Club, now Burgess Hill Youth.
“They have provided activities and help to so many young people in the town.
“A number of our club have passed through the doors over the years and Paul was a shining example to volunteering, doing it with passion and an unwavering commitment. You will be missed by many, RIP Paul.”
Former Middy news editor Phil Dennett, from Burgess Hill, who interviewed Paul several times for the paper, said: “Paul was one of those people who was not content just to enjoy the benefits of living in Burgess Hill.
“He always wanted to contribute to the community, especially helping young people, but he was a modest man and preferred to work out of the limelight.
“The excellent work he did will be remembered by many people and he will be genuinely missed.”
READ MORE: Young carers’ free fun day in Burgess Hill