The untimely death of a much loved father-of-two has driven a community to rally round and show support in his memory.
Paul Fletcher’s death has shocked residents in Penwortham and the family have spoken about how overwhelmed they are by everyone’s compassion since he died, aged 46, on September 2.
As hundreds attended his funeral at St Leonard’s C of E Church in Penwortham last week, those close to him have set up fund-raisers for Lancashire Mind, totalling more than £10,000 in his memory.
Paul's brother, John Lloyd Fletcher, said: “Paul was a very caring and gentle person and looked after everyone at Hill Road Cemetery, where he worked as a lengthsman, as well as being a great father to Thomas and Jaxon and father figure to Ryan and Logan. He was a true angel.
“There was an incredible turn out for Paul’s funeral from Crookings Lane and Liverpool Road, through to Hill Road Cemetery and on Leyland Road.
“The church was full to the point where people had to stand outside. There were also many stood across the road from the church paying their respects too. We as a family were just so overwhelmed with all of this.
“We wish to thank Rev Mansfield for his beautiful service, support and kindness and Paul’s very good friend Neal Buckley and his staff for their compassion and dignified funeral arrangements.
“The family also wish to express sincere thanks to all relatives and friends for the love and support they have received after the loss of their darling Paul.
“Thank you to the hundreds of people who came to say goodbye to him and for all the beautiful tributes and cards.”
To keep Paul’s memory alive, some family and friends have had the words In God’s Hands, inked on their bodies, to represent a tattoo he had himself.
John Lloyd added: “It was quite apt Paul had this tattoo as he is now In Gods Hands. Over a dozen people have had the same tattoo, done by his friend Sean Francis Godbert. He will now always be my right hand man.”
John Lloyd is now hoping to raise awareness of mental health services and has set up a JustGiving page, which has raised around £10,000 for Lancashire Mind.
Staff at Pristine Car Wash, in Leyland Road, Penwortham, and Preston Hub are also organising a raffle with 100 prizes and have set up a JustGiving page.
Julie McLaughlin-Stott has also sold handmade yellow ribbons, raising more than £500 for Mind.
John Lloyd added: “Louise at Pristine Car Wash is doing an incredible job with selling the raffle tickets. There are some fantastic prizes kindly donated by local people and businesses.”
Louise Pratt, manager of Pristine Car Wash, said: “Paul was an amazing person and we didn’t know he was suffering.
“We can’t help Paul, but we can try to help others, so we want to raise awareness about mental health.
“We are taken aback by the generosity of people.
“Paul was such a popular man and so many people loved him.
“So many people have been coming in to buy tickets and are telling me a story about Paul, which is lovely.
“One person told me he was in the same situation and he said that seeing the devastation Paul has left has made him realise he needed to seek help.
“We are helping people to talk, as well as raising money for Lancashire Mind.”
To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/prestonmentalhealth or www.justgiving.com/paulfletcher1972.
Tickets are still available until the live draw which is to be screened at midday on Tuesday, October 1 on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PristineValetingCentre/
People can buy raffle tickets at £1 from Pristine Car Wash; Riverside Breakfast Bar; Preston Hub; Tiny Rockers, in Buckshaw Village PC Carpets, Lostock Hall and The Dog House Fulwood.
Collection boxes will be located at Penwortham businesses Pristine Car Wash; Salvatores; The Fleece Inn; Gardeners hardware shop; Tylers Barbers; The Prestige Barbershop; Riverside Breakfast Bar, as well as Preston Hub; PC Carpets; The Dog House Fulwood; Starbucks at Capitol Centre and Manjaros Restaurant.