A COMMUNITY champion whose heroic efforts lit up the heart of a Saddleworth village has died suddenly leaving family and friends devastated.

Paul Lowcock had run Paul’s Quality Meats on Uppermill’s High Street for more than 20 years and he was heavily committed to local fundraising projects, linked particularly to Saddleworth Round Table.

Paying tribute, Richard Foster, the Round Table chair, said: “We’re all absolutely devastated at the loss of Paul.

“He was a like brother to many Tablers over more than 15 years he’s been involved with us.

"He played a pivotal role in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years from which the businesses and the community of Saddleworth and Uppermill have benefited - without once seeking personal gratitude.

“He’s been actively involved in hosting great events including: the Beer Walk, Santa Dash and Winter Wonderland, Band in a Barn and, more recently, helping the American Auto Club North West raise £600 for Oldham Mountain Rescue.”

And Mr Foster reflected: “A memorable moment from Paul’s time in table was at one of the many beer walks he was involved in. Gathered on Churchill playing fields prior to the start Paul decided to round up his team by setting off an orange flair.

“Things didn't go quite to plan when most of the walkers thought this was the signal for the start and set off 20 minutes early.

"It’s testament to Paul the number of chairmen, myself included, who have drawn upon him for great advice and counsel over the years.

“You know you would always get an honest response from Paul even if it wasn't one you wanted. Paul reached the pinnacle of his time in Saddleworth Round Table in 2011/12 when he became Honorary President.

"Pauls shop meant he was the face everyone knew from Round Table, he had a passion for Saddleworth and Uppermill and continued to play a main role with the Uppermill lights committee making sure Uppermill twinkled bright every December."

Oldham and Saddleworth Parish Councillor Pam Byrne said: “Paul Lowcock really did light up the village.

“Some 15 years ago as part of the Uppermill Business community we decided to Light Up Uppermill and create Winter Wonderland.

“We worked with the support of the local businesses to light trees and buildings in the village. The most spectacular recent ones being the trees at the Conservative Club and his brilliant idea this last year to light up the Museum.

“His dream was to light up the trees in the Square. But we never had enough money for that. How wonderful it would be,” she declared.

Paul’s funeral will be held at St Chads Church, Uppermill, at 11.30am on Wednesday, February 20 with the funeral procession departing his home at 11am.

A committal, attended by family and friends, will take place at Hollinwood Crematorium, 1pm.

Then all are invited to celebrate Paul’s life at the White Heart sInn, Lydgate, from 2pm onwards. Family flowers only and any donations to Saddleworth Round Table for their chosen charities.

Saddleworth Roundtablers will attend in tuxedos in Paul’s honour. Smart dress code for the rest in attendance please.

He passed away suddenly on February 2 after being taken ill on January 4.