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Hundreds gather for final farewell to 'true gentleman' Paul Popham

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

  • Family mourners follow the coffin of Paul Popham

  • Paul Popham

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HUNDREDS of mourners in Swansea have said an emotional farewell to “a true gentleman in every sense of the word”.

Paul Popham was diagnosed with kidney cancer in October 2008 and given just nine months to live but with the love and support of his family and friends he refused to give in.

The father of four and grandfather of five from Llangyfelach fought the condition and NHS red tape — after he was initially refused life-prolonging treatment — to prove the doctors wrong and enjoy another four years with his beloved family and St Joseph’s Football Club, which he had been involved with since being a boy.

Married to Cheryl, the 65-year-old former Alcoa worker, who also battled kidney disease for over half his life, passed away last week.

In a touching address, at the packed service in Morriston Crematorium yesterday, his daughter Joanne said: “Dad was our hero. We miss him with every second of every day but he will always be in our hearts. He led a full life and never once complained.

“Dad was all about love. He loved everyone and always saw the best in everyone. It was never a trade off for anything else, it was just given freely.

“We had a constant joke in our family over who he loved the most, it went like this, there was football and there was God, the rest of us ranked depending upon who had eaten his chocolate that day. He would often tease us who was his favourite child and would whisper to us - you’re my favourite. All of us knew that he had no favourite and he loved us all for who we were.”

Of his years spent battling illness, first kidney disease and then cancer, she added: “He loved life so much that nothing, absolutely nothing, stood in his way.

Sympathy

“Even after his first kidney transplant, despite being told not to play football, he would put on his kit if the team was short and say, ‘Don’t tell Cheryl’.”

Mr Popham’s other daughter Claire (he also has sons Matthew and Christopher) wrote a poem, entitled The Best Man That Ever Lived, for her dad which was also read out.

The family has been inundated by messages and cards of sympathy since Mr Popham’s death — many through his love of football.

A spokeswoman for the family wanted to thank all for their support saying: “It makes it easier for us that we have memories, he loved everyone and the people that he met will always remember him.”

Les Evans, a life member of Swansea Senior League, said: “I have always known Paul to be a true gentleman and an inspiration to other aspiring young players. What he did for St Joseph’s football club over so many years cannot be quantified, he would always be on hand to advise and help in his own inimitable way.

“People often talk about how characters in football are now few and far between, in past years Swansea has had their fair share of these characters and I can say without contradiction Paul was up there with the best. His passing will leave a massive void for many people especially his family to whom my sincere sympathies along with every member of the Swansea Senior League are extended.

“I wonder whether we will ever see the like of Paul again, A true gentleman in every sense of the word .”

A former co-worker of Mr Popham’s said: “He was a lovely guy, he would do anything for anyone. He was as good as gold, the absolute best.”

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  • abertawejack  |  November 09 2012, 2:04PM

    "Our Paul Popham" was indeed inspirational in everything he did, I had the honour amongst many to have worked with him through "Alcoa", where he was our staunch union representative. "Our Paul" was also a great sportsman and most of all, a gentleman who saw in each and everyone nothing but good. May I extend my deepest Sympathies to "Our Cheryl" and to "Our Paul's" loving family, from all his "Alcoa" compatriots. His catch phrase in them days of old was: "At the end of the day" which bares no significance here as "Our Paul" will be remembered long and true. "Nos Dda" Boyo. Thank You for your grand poetic memories"

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  • Cleeton1  |  November 08 2012, 7:26PM

    I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Wally but knew of him through some footballing acquaintances and followed the story of the battle his family put up to get the medication to prolong the life of this obviously adored family member. It's only a few weeks ago I saw him whilst shopping in Tesco with my wife and was explaining the story to her. It saddens me deeply to read that he has passed away. The Popham family have my thoughts and respect for the courage they showed to fight all the way to get this man a few more years when the system gave up on him and he was deemed 'to expensive'. RIP Wally.

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  • confused67  |  November 08 2012, 12:16PM

    I knew Paul from our school days in St Josephs Boys School, he was always jovial and a a true friendly school mate. I used to bump into him occasionally and he was always the same happy friendly guy. RIP Paul. PL

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  • geoboy01  |  November 08 2012, 9:00AM

    I like thousands of others new paul through the football community a great guy that will surely be missed!

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  • Anon300  |  November 08 2012, 8:55AM

    I'v know Wally and his family for many years and he was definately one of lifes little gems. What a true gentleman and such a loss to everyone that knew him. RIP good feller

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