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Paddy Henry dies aged 69

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Obituary: Sussex and nursing have lost their greatest friend and champion in Paddy Henry, who died of cancer last Thursday at the St Peter and St James Hospice, Wivelsfield, at the age of 69.

Paddy trained initially at Southlands Hospital after coming to the UK from Ireland in 1959 and had a distinguished nursing career, specialising in mental health nursing, latterly at the St Francis Hospital, Haywards Heath.

Long before his election as district councillor in 1991, he had been implored to accept - and had turned down - nominations for an MBE and as candidate for a choice of safe Labour parliamentary seats.

He was for many years chairman of the local Confederation Of Health Service Employees (COHSE) branch, was a very active president of the St Francis Social and Sports Club in Haywards Heath and constantly maintained his UK nursing registration.

Well before a tribunal in 1984 found that the local trust had unfairly dismissed him, Paddy had significantly helped to introduce Sussex’s community psychiatric nursing services, which were soon emulated nationwide, and had proved himself at regional and national levels as a trade union officer with a remarkable attention to detail, effectiveness and with remarkable powers of persuasion.

Paddy had by then, with characteristic modesty, proved himself as successful in business as in nursing. Right up until his death, he often dug deep into his own pocket, always remaining anonymous when he did so. He gave both his money and time to charitable causes in order to help countless individuals with money, advice and advocacy, regardless of their beliefs or political affiliations.

Paddy was awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours in January 2008 - the second time in his life, separated by many years that he had been asked to accept a nomination.

Fearless in opposing injustice and waste, he was nevertheless kind to his many opponents. I was extremely fortunate to call him a close friend and, with all of Sussex, will profoundly miss the most selfless, generous, serious and amusing sportsman, family man and people’s champion I will ever meet.

The funeral is at St Paul’s Catholic Church, Hazelgrove Road, Haywards Heath, at noon on Thursday 16 December.

Melvyn Walmsley was a close personal friend of Paddy Henry.

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