Death at 93 of Sussex football stalwart

Bill Parris in the new stand at Peacehaven FC when it opened in 2011
Bill Parris in the new stand at Peacehaven FC when it opened in 2011

Tributes have been paid to Sussex football stalwart William ‘Bill’ Parris who died on Sunday (January 6) at the age of 93.

His many years of service were not confined to sport and he will be fondly remembered for his community involvement in Peacehaven.

Mr Parris served as a radio operator with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, largely based on the island of Malta, and until the end of his life could send messages in Morse code.

A talented footballer, at the end of the war he played for local teams including Brighton and Hove Albion, Newhaven and Peacehaven.

His association with the latter was to extend over more than half-a-century. He served the club in various capacities, first a player, then committee member, treasurer and, in recent years, as a lifetime president.

Mr Parris managed the club in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an era which saw Peacehaven achieve senior status, promoted from ‘parks football’ in the Brighton League to the Sussex County League.

In 1993 he was appointed a lifetime president of the Sussex Football Association in recognition of his hard work and dedication to grass roots football in the county.

Elsewhere, he was involved in local politics and was one of the first mayors of Peacehaven, being instrumental in setting up the twinning association and its links with Epinay-sous-Senart in France, and Isernhagen in Germany.

In 2014 Mr Parris, of Phyllis Avenue, Peacehaven, was invited to The Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace. He was unable to attend due to ill-health – so the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, together with local dignitaries, held a party for him in his own garden on the same day.

Mr Parris was also a keen singer with a fine tenor voice which won him prizes at local music festivals. He reached the final of the ‘Peacehaven’s Got Talent’ contest, held at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. His favourite song was ‘My Way’.

He appeared in musicals and organised shows for the community with an amateur dramatics company.

Mr Parris was married to his wife Phyllis for nearly 66 years. They had three children, Michael, Dawn and Keith, who sadly died three years ago, five grandchildren and a great-grandson, aged eight months.

His daughter Dawn said: “He was a family man through and through and a very proud grandad.”

Peacehaven and Telscombe FC chair Sue Norwood said: “I was so sad to hear of Bill’s passing. On behalf of the club I would like to offer our sincere sympathy to the family at this difficult time.

“He was a great figure at our club, an ambassador and truly loved his football.”