TRIBUTES have been paid to a "lovely, kind man with a heart of gold" who devoted himself to making his Radcliffe neighbourhood a better place to live.

Community champion Shaun Hillam died suddenly on June 16 aged 54.

For over five years before his death Mr Hillam had volunteered for Chapelfield Tenant and Resident Association (TRA) and spent hours of his time transforming the estate as a gardener.

Friends of Mr Hillam are now fundraising to create a memorial garden in tribute to him and his passion for horticulture.

Leading the tributes, Wendy Hillam, his sister, said, “Shaun had a rollercoaster life and did have some struggles, which included him living in a hostel for 16 years.

"When he moved to Chapelfield Shaun instantly felt welcomed by his community and I feel they helped him turn his life around.

"He grew to see his neighbours as his extended family and we know that they felt the same.

"Myself and his nephew Kieran are so proud of how far he has come in the last decade, directly supporting others and helping influence decisions that have a positive impact on people living in council homes both on his estate and across the borough.”

Mr Hillam moved to Chapelfield ten years aged, after growing up in the Walshaw area of Bury.

A keen gardener, he first became involved in the Chapelfield TRA through its allotment.

He also regularly mowed the communal grassed areas on the estate, turned eyesores into “grow-your-own” patches and helped tackle fly-tipping problems.

During his time as a TRA committee member Mr Hillam served as its chairman for two years.

Through the committee he helped to organise clean-up days and social events to bring residents of all ages together, and create a "thriving community".

Mr Hillam was also an active member of Six Town Housing’s Customer Review Group, and provided feedback on its services to help the housing association better meet the needs of tenants.

Last year, when new kitchens and bathrooms were being fitted in Six Town Housing properties, Mr Hillam realised that some residents might be in need of respite from the improvement works.

To support residents he arranged for a trailer to be set up where neighbours could have a break and catch up over a brew.

As a result of his selfless efforts, in November 2019, Mr Hillam won the the Community Rock category at Six Town Housing’s Community Heroes Awards.

Debbie Standring, a Community Development Worker from Six Town Housing who works closely with the TRA, said, “Shaun dedicated so much of his time to improving the quality of life of local residents and was always there to help others.

"He was a lovely, kind man with a heart of gold and we will all miss him very much.”

Following Mr Hillam's death, several of his friends have launched a fundraising effort to create a memorial garden in Chapelfield village.

Thanks to residents' incredible generosity the fundraiser has already secured its target of £500.

Louise Shine who has led the fundraising efforts said she hopes the cash can be used to install a bench with a plaque and a small area with plants.

She described Mr Hillam as the "heart of the community", adding: "We wont ever forget you Shaun, and we hope we can make a garden that you would you be proud of."

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