Tribute to caring city campaigner

Sue Paylor
Sue Paylor
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A passionate activist and humanitarian from Lancaster has died suddenly.

Sue Paylor, whose most notable campaigns related to the Morecambe Bay Cockling Disaster and Nightingale Hall Farm, was a founder member of the community organisation that became the Gregson Community Association – the charity that owns and operates the Gregson Community Arts Centre on Moor Lane.

Sue, 56, served on the board of trustees for many years and for a period was the secretary of the organisation. Throughout that time Sue worked with others to lay the foundations of what the Gregson is today.

Sue’s friend Billy Pye said: “Sue was tireless on behalf of the Gregson Centre and everything it stands for but was also a community activist beyond what the Gregson Centre required.

“Politically she dreamed of a Red/Green alliance which she thought was the only solution to fixing the world for all the people in it. Her humanity and her willingness to try to make the world better for others was legendary in her own lifetime.

“Following the tragic deaths of at least 22 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe in February 2004, Sue took it upon herself to begin what became an extraordinary campaign.

“She organised what remains as the single most successful fund-raising event in the history of the Gregson which brought together some of those directly involved in the tragedy and people who Sue thought could help.

This event began a campaign for the repatriation of the bodies of the young men and women who perished and a campaign for a broader understanding of what brought people half way around the world as illegal immigrants to die on the sands of the bay. The campaign inspired the 2006 film ‘Ghosts’ which depicts the human story of illegal immigration which is often hidden behind tabloid headlines.

“Sue saw what was needed and did it and the legacy of what she did in the face of that tragedy continues still. A whole community has lost a warrior and a mother figure.

“I feel lucky and privileged to have known her personally and I doubt that I will ever meet anyone quite like her again.”

Sue’s funeral will be held at Lancaster Crematorium at 4.15pm on September 19. A celebration of Sue’s life will be held afterwards at the Gregson Centre from 6pm.