Tributes pour in for Paul, an 'absolute gentleman' and a true Gashead

February 03 2017

HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to much-loved Hanham character Paul Hill-Dear who has died of cancer at the age of 55.

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HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to much-loved Hanham character Paul Hill-Dear who has died of cancer at the age of 55.

Paul, known affectionately as Sarge, has been described by friends as a "lovely man" and an "absolute gentleman".

To his four children - Cara, 27, Callum, 24, Finley, 15 and Darcie, 13, - he was a brilliant father who would devote hours reading with them and taking them on great fun-filled adventures.

Paul was known for his love of football and was a true Gashead. As an equally competent  striker and centre half, he played for numerous teams including the Hanham-based Sunday team BRSC Aidan where he made many life-long friends and drinking companions.

His footballing career included stints at managing Hanham FC as well as SunLife/Axa FC.

Paul was so well thought of in footballing circles that at the recent  Rovers home game against Swindon Town, fans paid their respects with a minute's applause in the 55th minute of the game.

Although football was Paul's main passion, he loved watching and partaking in most sports including cricket and cycling. He was also a keen birdwatcher. In more recent years Paul loved taking Finley and Darcie kayaking.

Born on July 1, 1961, the only-child of Mary and George Dear, Paul was a bright child who attended St George School before starting his career in insurance at SunLife at the age of 18. 

His intelligence and people skills shone through and Paul progressed up the career ladder, becoming a training manager and eventually a project manager.

Known for his sharp brain, Paul was regarded as the fount of knowledge when it came to history, sport, geography and politics.

Reading tomes on historical figures such as Hitler and Mao Tse-tung was par for the course, such was Paul's thirst to know as much as he could about the characters who shaped the history of the modern world.

He was also well travelled, taking his wife Kath to China, a country which held a huge fascination for him.

Not content with lying on a beach soaking up the rays, Paul saw holidays as opportunities to see more of the world and his itinerary always included taking in sights and sampling the local cuisine.

The UK was also close to Paul's heart and he loved taking his children to his favourite place, Dartmouth, where he would spend hours rock pooling and jumping waves with them.

Paul had battled cancer in the last few years, facing his illness with the stoicism he was known for. In fact, he underplayed his illness so much, many of his friends and acquaintances have been shocked by his untimely passing.

Kath Hill-Dear said: "Paul was courageous and dignified, yet a realist. He faced his illness and wasn’t scared. He’d tell me ‘crying won’t help’ and ‘don’t make a fuss, you know how I don’t like a drama’. 

"Paul was a loving, caring dad. He was a proud father and supported his children in all that they did. 

"He'll be by our side and watching over us always and forever in our hearts. We loved and laughed with him and are proud to have had him in our lives."

Daughter Cara Oxley, a nurse, said: "I will miss our heart-to-hearts we shared during my recent visits to him in hospital and will miss being able to discuss my plans ahead with him.

"He told me that if there's anything I want to do then I must get out there and do it. Dad made me feel like he really trusted me and my knowledge as a nurse, which is a feeling I keep with me.

"My dad was strong, in control and dignified throughout the time he spent being poorly and maintained this until the end."

Mark Rogers became great friends with Paul after playing alongside him at BRSC Aidan in the 1990s. When Paul became first team manager at Axa Football Club, Mark was his assistant for several years. He said: "Paul was such a lovely bloke and was an absolute gentleman. He had a great sense of humour and fun, and would love a wind up.

"Everyone has only got good words to say about him. His death has had a massive impact on everyone and he will be sorely missed."

Hundreds attended Paul's funeral, which was on February 3 at Haycombe Cemetery and Crematorium in Bath.