Touching performance for beloved music teacher and former Crawley school student the day before she died

Tributes have been paid to a ‘much beloved’ and talented West Sussex mum who taught music to both the old and young members of her community.

Sally Paice
Sally Paice

Musician, singer, songwriter and former Hazelwick School student Sally Paice, 57, died from cancer at St Wilfrid's Hospice in Chichester after years of teaching people how to play the ukelele and the guitar.

Sally, who lived in Selsey, leaves behind her dad Fred Burgess, 88, husband John Paice, 67, her two daughters Sammie Harvey, 32, and Katrina Dyer, 39, step-son Nigel Paice, 45, and five grandchildren whose ages range from four months up to 20 years old.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Sammie, 32, spoke to the Observer about her ‘very kind and caring’ mum.

Sally Paice

She said: “She did a lot of music in the community. She took classes for under five-year-olds and played for the elderly in care homes. She also taught children in Bognor schools and privately in St Peter’s Church Hall, whilst raising some money as well.

“Mum had a long battle with cancer. She was first diagnosed 11 years ago but it came back in the spine in 2017.

“She continued teaching throughout the chemotherapy and most people were unaware. She wanted to continue as normal.”

Sammie said her mum was born in the then Crawley New Town, and spent the first year of her secondary school life at Hazelwick in 1973.

A 30-strong ukulele band, named Sallys Strummers, gathered to honour their former teacher Sally Paice the day before she died. Picture courtesy of St Wilfrid's Hospice

She said: "My grandad [Fred] was a builder at the time, but he loved music and he played the guitar. He is self taught. That's where my mum got it from.

"My mum moved to Selsey with her parents in 1973 and was there ever since. My whole family, including my grandad still live there."

Sally was admitted to St Wilfrid's Hospice on February 1, where she died on March 21, but not before a 30-strong ukulele band, named Sally’s Strummers, gathered to honour their former teacher.

“St Wilfrid's were incredible,” Sammie said.

Picture courtesy of St Wilfrid's Hospice

“About 30 people she taught played the ukulele for her the day before she passed. She held on for that and she enjoyed it. It was really lovely and emotional.”

Director of nursing at St Wilfrid's Hospice, Suzy O’Callaghan said it was a ‘lovely testimonial to a lovely woman’.

She added: “Sally’s kind and affectionate nature touched everyone who met her here. We were all moved by the musical tribute of so many of her ex-music students paid her.”

Faith Slater, one of the many nurses who cared for Sally, said it was a 'real privilege' to look after her.

She added: "She was a real joy to be around at all times. An unbelievably kind soul who gave so much of herself to her family and friends, you felt the love shining out every time you with her.”

Sammie said she was ‘extremely proud’ of her mum, who played the guitar from a young age.

She said: “We have had so many comments from people who played with her and who were taught by her. She used to sing in pubs and clubs. She also wrote some of her own songs.

“She had a lot of patience. She was very kind and caring. She never put her own needs above anyone else. She was very strong and never complained about her situation. She would never worry about herself and was always thinking of others.

“It’s been amazing how many messages and cards people have given. People will miss her dearly.”

Facebook community page The Selsey Grapevine said Sally was ‘well known and well loved in Selsey’.

Its post added: “She played a huge part in bringing music to us all. Always found with a guitar or a ukulele in her hands, Sally loved passing on her talent through her music classes and her music for the Under 5’s group, as well as playing for our elderly in the care homes.

"Our love goes out to her family at this terrible time, rest in peace little songbird, you are free to fly.”

Selsey Folk and Music Club said Sally was a 'constant musical presence' in Selsey with her guitar and 'her many ukuleles'.

Its post on Facebook added: "When I first wanted to learn the uke, Sally was who I turned to. Taken before her time but remembered by all as a champion for live music especially with learners young and old."

Coustics Guitar & Ukulele Clubs also paid tribute on social media. It said: "Although the club has developed without her for several years, 'Coustics' was very much Sally’s concept.

"Indeed many of the songs, and members from those original sessions at The Winterton Arms in Crockerhill still form an integral part of the club. Those nights, and the people we have met through them, have formed an important part of many of our musical journeys.

"She was an inspiration and tutor to so many aspiring local musicians, and will be sorely missed."