Tribute to Paul Millmore

Paul at the start of the South Downs Way

As many people know, Paul Millmore passed away peacefully on Sunday morning.  A tragic loss for his family, but also for the many people whose lives he touched throughout his career. For anyone who knew him, he was a veritable force of nature with his bushy beard, red braces and indefatigable Yorkshire spirit.  He was passionate, imaginative and determined in furthering conservation and didn’t suffer fools gladly.

He was one of the first people to reignite the calls for a South Downs National Park in the 1980s and was a stalwart member of the South Downs Campaign throughout its 20 year existence.  He lived to see the successful creation of the National Park and it was his drive and energy that was largely responsible for the inclusion of Lewes.  No one who was at the inquiry can forget the look on the inspector’s face as Paul thrust a large knife into a block of clay to demonstrate how well Lewes was embedded within the South Downs’ landscape.

His one regret was the failure to get the marine area included in the National Park, but even then he convinced the inspector of the value of doing so, but unfortunately not the Government.  Even so this setback was far outweighed by the success of the National Park and the many other areas he helped to change for the better.  From the tributes that have poured in to date, it is clear that his spirit will live on and his legacy will be felt for many generations to come.

In the meantime the South Downs Network has lost a valued member of its executive and a true friend and supporter.  Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

9 thoughts on “Tribute to Paul Millmore

  1. South Downs Network folks:

    We are today mourning the news of Paul Millmore’s death. Here in his second Motherland of the Adirondack Park of northern New York State, we were forever changed by Paul and his indefatigable spirit, insight and friendship. His loss is great and our thoughts too are on his family now. He loved the Adirondacks and our times together in and for its wilderness and lived in landscapes. We carry on with his spirit and share your grief from across the Atlantic. We will be holding our own memorial to be sure here in the Adirondack Mountains for Paul.


    Dan Plumley, Dave Gibson, Ken Rimany and Peter Brinkley, Partners
    Adirondack Wild

  2. Paul’s untimely death leaves an incredible hole in Sussex and indeed in the whole conservation movement. Paul was quite simply one of the best. He was a great inspiration to me personally and was one of a few people in Sussex who I though of as my “green conscience”. If I ever became a little weak in my views I could always rely on Paul to let me know! I knew him most in relation to the South Downs and through his interest in the marine environment. His no-nonsense approach provided a leading drive to get the National Park, being one of the people who was pushing for the Park long before the South Downs Campaign even formed. His impact on marine conservation was also fundamental. He was really the only person effectively pushing for a marine element in the Park and, even though we did not achieve that, he gave a great deal of impetus to the implementation of the Marine Act in Sussex. The world is now a much poorer place without him. I will sorely miss his enthusiasm, impetus and lateral thinking (and his red braces!). Perhaps the best way we can recognise Paul is by continuing to fight for the sort of things he believed in, whether the National Park or effective conservation in the marine environment. It’s a cliché I know, but we should really celebrate his life as well as mourn his death.

    Tony Whitbread, on behalf of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and as Chair of the South Downs Network

  3. Like so many people, I was shocked to hear of Paul’s untimely death.
    When I joined the SDC at my very first meeting, I was very impressed with Paul’s huge enthusiasm and his great knowledge of countryside matters. In terms of campaiging for protection of the South Downs, he was a giant.
    In the early days Paul served on the Sussex Downs Conservation Board and fought our case when there was a great deal of opposition. Later on, he was an effective member of the Joint Committee.
    He also made a strong case for a marine element to the SDNP and hope this is something we can pursue in his memory .
    He never waned in his enthusiasm and he brightened our many SDC meeting with his quick wit and of course with his novel choice of bow tie, braces and waistcoat!
    It was typical of Paul that he planned his own funeral and insisted that it should be a celebration,
    Paul will be sadly missed by so many people. The best tribute we can pay to him is to continue the battle to protect the countryside.
    Owen Plunkett

  4. Paul was one of the most passionate and colourful campaigners I have known. He livened up many South Downs Campaign executives with his interjections and wit, and was an instrumental player in the successful campaign for Lewes to be included within the National Park boundary. He reached for the skies with his calls for a marine extension of the park, which is definitely unfinished business. He will be sorely missed but his legacy will live on for generations.

  5. Who wants’ a hairy postage stamp? Like everyone else I was very sad to hear of Paul’s passing away but it has also brought back some great memories too. I used to work on the South Downs Rangers when Paul was managing it with Phil. I remember when we and many, many volunteers were restoring the Long man of Wilmington figure, the huge chalk figure on the Downs which is a designated ancient monument. Up to that point it had been preserved by having a rectangle of fencing erected all around it to keep grazing sheep and people off it. The result of this is that people had worn away the thin topsoil around the fence line exposing the white chalk beneath whilst straining to see the almost invisible figure which was smothered by the long grass. So, we had taken down the fence and were clambering around and over the figure trying to expose it again and restore it when a man with a reddened face came marching up towards us clearly extremely angry.
    He absolutely tore in to Paul saying that we were desecrating an ancient monument and it had been carefully preserved for good reason. Paul remained completely unperturbed by the man’s outburst and replied calmly; “Preserved? Really? I don’t think the originators of the long man had intended creating a hairy, oversized, postage stamp! What we are doing is bringing it back to life, as a chalk figure for all to see from a great distance and grazed by sheep.” Whilst the man struggled to find words to counter this Paul added, with a deliberately provocative smile; “…and that is the difference between Conservation and Preservation”.
    It is that last line which I remember particularly well and one that I still think that many well intentioned people I have met and worked with over the subsequent years involved in landscape conservation, as well as building conservation, would do well to bear in mind when working out how to best tackle a new conservation project.

  6. I’d like to mention just three examples of Paul’s achievements on a half mile section of the South Downs Way.

    1) When working for East Sussex CC he progressively raised the longstanding project for a bridleway bridge across the dangerous A26 trunk road to the top of the list, and it was constructed several years ago.

    2) He helped YHA in their negotiations to acquire and convert the derelict Itford Farm to a new youth hostel, which is due to open within the next 12 months.

    3) He successfully campaigned for the decaying 19th century swing bridge over the River Ouse to be listed grade 2, thus forcing the Environment Agency to restore this historic structure instead of replacing it with a concrete bridge.

    What an achiever! How I shall miss his friendship and enthusiasm.

    John Templeton,
    South Downs Campaign

  7. To avoid repetition just one thought: I heard Paul speaking many many times at meetings, but never ever say anything that was not worth hearing.

  8. I have only just had my attention drawn to this forum – hence my late comments. I only had sporadic contact with Paul during the time I was involved in and subsequently Project Officer for the South Downs ESA, but those contacts remain fresh in my mind even now after my having retired and moved away some 15 years ago. Both he and Phil were of enormous help to we MAFF staff locally when we were rushing around trying to make sense of the ESA designation – help for which we were very grateful. Although he and I didn`t always see eye to eye, I more often than not, bowed to his overwhelming personality. He will be missed and I doubt there is anyone who will come close to replacing his love and enthusiasm for the Downs.

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