Tributes have been paid to a former chairman of Crawley Arts Council who championed the town’s blue plaque scheme and helped found the Hawth Theatre.
Peter Young died, aged 85, at East Surrey Hospital on January 29.
His daughter Judy Stokes said: “I don’t know anybody who had a bad word to say about him.
“He had an incredible brain, an incredible retention of names, places and events - just a massively intelligent man but was always so interested in what everybody was doing.
“He cared about social injustices, he never judged people, he was a very generous man.”
Mr Young married his late wife Bridget four months after they met at a cinema while he studied history at Cambridge. They moved to Crawley with their son Simon, who lives in Southgate, and Judy, in Maidenbower, in 1957.
Mr Young was chairman of Society of Sussex Authors and wrote a series of books and company histories. Judy said he took on the blue plaque scheme to highlight Crawley’s history before the new town was built.
Richard Symonds, from Ifield, said in a tribute: “Crawley has lost someone special in the passing of Peter Young.
“Peter was an inspiration for many, including myself, and we owe him an enormous debt.”
Mr Young’s funeral will be held at 11.15am on February 22 at the Surrey & Sussex Crematorium. A reception will be held at the theatre.
His family has received several tributes to him.
Stephanie Thornton said: “I met Peter some 20 years ago, through various writer’s societies. He was very kind to me when I first began writing, full of useful advice and encouragement - and inspiration! I greatly admire his books.
“But most of all, I appreciated what a gentle, charming, amusing companion he was - whether at a meeting, a party or engaging his tortoise in his back garden. He had such energy, such fun! He was someone special. It’s impossible to imagine him gone.”
Stephanie Zarach said: “He was such a great friend and colleague. I met him in the 1980s at the offices of Debrett’s Business History which were then in Richmond. We worked together on many a book and shared a lot of discussions about life. He had such a dry wit.”
Gillian Pitt said: “Thank you for sending me this sad news. I remember Peter with great affection. He made a very real contribution to life in Crawley from the early days of the New Town and his work with our Arts Council was particularly important. The blue plaques commemorating notable residents are a visible record of this.
“I will be grateful to have information on the arrangements for the funeral which I will pass on to members of the U3a and of Crawley Museum Society.”
Beryl Armstrong said: “So sorry to hear of Peter’s death. He was a lovely man and I have had the pleasure of knowing him for 50 years through writing.”
Barbara Charlish said: “Peter was a good friend for many years to my late husband, Geoffrey Charlish and in latter years they always wrote ‘ the Christmas letter’ to each other with all the family news, so I know of you although we never met.
“I only met Peter once or twice anyway, over lunch somewhere in the City. Even so I would describe him as a rare gentleman. I was very touched that he should think to call me with his condolences when Geoff died, nearly four years ago; such a kind and lovely thing to do.”
Pina Scalera said: “I first met your father in 1983 when we worked in a PR agency in London. He quickly took me under his wing and encouraged me to go to Sussex University as a mature student. He continued to keep in touch steadfastly even when I moved to Italy and I still have his holiday postcards and Christmas ‘round-robins’.”
Siva Singham said: “We are indeed immersely saddened to receive the tragic news of Peter’s demise, the more so as we were looking forward to meeting up again. I really enjoyed our conversations about literary matters. Alas, it was not to be.
“The few years that separated us never proved a barrier to our communion of thoughts and ideas ranging from terrapins to the English countryside, and unfortunately, Vascular Dementia. Peter bequethed much of his interests to Judy, his daughter who proved a worthy recipient and who passed on much of their shared ideas in her role as librarian.
“We are privileged to have known Peter so closely.”
Lenore Denny said: “I was so sorry to hear of Peter’s passing. He was an active and loyal member of the Society of Sussex Authors for many years before succeeding me as Chairman. He presided over our meetings with quiet grace and charm and has been much missed over the past few months.”
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