Active member of Lewes community died in town he loved

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Fred Bayliss, the last chairman of the Lewes Library Friends and governor at Pells CE Primary School, has died aged 89.

Mr Bayliss was born in Whitwick, in Leicestershire, but moved to Lewes in 1999. He quickly grew to love the town and contributed to the community at every opportunity.

Alongside his wife Mary, he joined the U3A, the Nicholas Yonge Society, The Monday Lit and the Liberal Democrats, stuffing envelopes at election time and delivering them.

Mr Bayliss loved the lively programme of lectures, concerts and exhibitions in the town and would often help organise volunteer guides for major art exhibitions at the Town Hall. He had a special affection for libraries and was an avid borrower of books. In Lewes, he would read the books pages of the Saturday papers over a pint of Guinness in the Elephant and Castle and decide which books to order the following week.

While a well-known face around Lewes, his influence can be seen further afield than Sussex. In retirement, he helped found the Campaign for Work, knowing how unemployment could ruin lives. He helped lay the foundations for a national minimum wage writing as early as 1991 - a Fabian pamphlet called Making a Minimum Wage Work.

Mr Bayliss’s daughter, Sarah Hawksworth, said: “In 2008, my father became a full-time carer for my mother, who developed dementia with Alzheimer’s. In 2011, she moved across the road from him, to live at North Corner residential care home and he visited her most days.

“They had been a devoted couple, a highly effective and happy partnership and were married for 64 years. Mary died in June 2013.

“My father then sold his house in Rufus Close and moved to Greyfriars Court in December 2013. He was so pleased to be there - in the middle of town life but by the river and The Railway Land, which he loved. A nightingale sang outside his window last summer and he was waiting for its return this spring.”

However, Mr Bayliss had serious illnesses. Aged 68, he had a quadruple heart bypass but as he was fit from gardening and walking, he never had any pain. He developed a serious cancer, which was diagnosed by Dr Heath at St Andrew’s surgery. He remained independent and at home almost to the last.

His daughter added: “He died aged 89 of bronchial pneumonia - ‘the old man’s friend’. He chose to stay in the town he loved and slipped away peacefully in his sleep.”

A memorial gathering is on Friday, July 31 at 2.30pm at The All Saints Centre, Friars Walk. Friends are welcome to join.

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