Death of South Downs and Lewes campaigner Paul Millmore

Paul Millmore, South Downs National Park campaigner
Paul Millmore, South Downs National Park campaigner

PAUL Millmore, who successfully campaigned for the creation of the South Downs National Park and for Lewes to be included within it, has died at his home in the town.

Paul, 62, passed away peacefully in his sunny bedroom in Grange Road on Sunday, March 18, with his family at his side following a brief illness.

Born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1949, Paul was an identical twin.

He first came to Lewes in 1973 to work as an Assistant Planner with East Sussex County Council and then became the UK’s first Heritage Coast Officer.

This was the start of a long love affair with the South Downs in which Paul set up the Volunteer Ranger Service, wrote the National Trail Guide to the South Downs Way and played a key role in numerous conservation projects.

In 1995, Paul established himself as a freelance conservation consultant with a variety of clients from the National Trust to the Youth Hostel Association but continued with his 25-year campaign for the South Downs to be given National Park status.

This goal was finally achieved in 2009 following two years of planning inquiries during which Paul used an unusual approach to convince the planning inspector that Lewes had to be part of the park.

Robert Cheesman, Chairman of the Friends of Lewes Society and the South Downs Society, said: “Paul took a large lump of clay and what looked like a dagger to the inquiry.

“As we were presenting our case Paul said ‘this is what I mean by Lewes being embedded in the downs’ and thrust the dagger into the block of clay.

“Afterwards he told me the inspector was far more likely to remember our points by this bit of theatrics than from reading the papers alone – and he was right.”

Alongside his various conservation projects, Paul worked tenaciously to promote and protect Lewes.

He sat on the Executive Committee of The Friends of Lewes, was a volunteer flood warden and, near the end of his life, was made an Honorary Vice-President of the Southover Bonfire Society which used his large garden to host fundraising events.

A regular face at the Lewes auction rooms in his distinctive red braces and bow tie, Paul also enjoyed fishing, collecting coins and travelling throughout the world, especially the USA and Zimbabwe.

A loving family man, Paul is survived by his wife Bridget and their two children Tamsin and Josh.

His twin brother Martin said: “Anyone who wanted some inspiration only needed to pop in to see Paul or give him a call and he’d be delighted to help.

“This could be on any subject whatsoever and they would leave buzzing with ideas.

“When Paul and I reached 50, we promised we would go on regular boys’ trips to the wilderness he loved so much – whether it was Alaska, South Africa or the Adirondack Mountains.

“He would often ring me and say ‘where shall we go next?’.

“He was my best friend for 62 years and I’ll miss him every day.”

Paul’s funeral service will be held at All Saints Centre, Friar’s Walk, Lewes, at 11am on Saturday, March 31, with a procession leaving his Grange Road home at 10.30am.

All who knew him are welcome to join the procession and attend the service.