The Adur district has lost one of its great community champions, with the death of Adrian Barritt.
Many will remember him as the ever-smiling face and heart of Adur Voluntary Action, based at the Old School House, in Ham Road, Shoreham.
Adrian worked as chief officer for 16 years and during that time, AVA moved from Tarmount Lane in Shoreham to Chesham House in Lancing, before settling at The Old School House.
Part of his AVA work was with Lancing Village Action, which was based in North Road but moved to Lancing Library last year.
Adrian will be remembered as a positive force for Adur, tirelessly working to ensure the community was enriched through its voluntary connections.
Keri Hamblin, who worked with Adrian for many years, said: “Adrian always saw the good in people and will not only be a great loss to AVA but to many who had come to know him over the years. I myself will sorely miss him.”
The AVA trustees said Adrian had a passion for the community and cared deeply about people.
They issued a joint statement saying: “The people of Adur have benefited from this dedication for years. He worked to secure a better future for local community organisations, helping many groups to grow and improve, whether through raising funds or improving their day-to-day operations.
“Adrian was someone who worked away quietly, often unnoticed but someone who will leave a lasting memory with many as an example of a good life, well lived. He will be greatly missed.”
Cat Vizor, chief officer at youth charity Esteem, also based at The Old School House, said the charity had a lot to thank Adrian for, as he gave it a home when it had nowhere to go.
Cat added: “AVA supported us enormously with getting the National Lottery grant and we owe much of our success today to Adrian. He has also helped so many other groups to flourish and his dedication to community spirit will be hugely missed by us all.”
Adrian’s family said he was not only a pioneer of people in the community but for the environment as well. His daughter Flo bought a seal cuddly toy as a child but mistook it for an otter, so Adrian developed a fondness for otters. He passionately supported their cause and return from decline in the UK.
Young people and staff from Esteem chose to remember Adrian through notes written on otter shapes.
Adrian had a wealth of knowledge and did all he could to help community groups find funding.
Gloria Eveleigh, chairman of Lancing Parish Council, said: “Adrian was always ready and willing to support Lancing Parish Council, providing statistics, advising on grant funding, acting as a central agency for community budgets, devoted to community projects, a member of the Lancing Vision Group and a real mine of information and determination.
“He successfully held AVA together through thick and thin, and will be very much missed by all of us.”
Peter Hornsby, who runs Adur Community Clubs for Age UK West Sussex, said Adrian welcomed him into the district more than ten years ago, when they shared an office.
Peter said: “Adrian was AVA and very passionate about Adur. A great character and definitely a one off and will be remembered by all that came into contact with him.”
Sarah Leeding, who worked with Adrian for ten years, said Adrian was ‘a driving force that will be missed in our community’.
Andy Brook, from Keep Lancing Lovely and Men in Sheds, said: “Adrian mentored me as I began and continued my move away from the world of work and into community involvement via Lancing-based projects. Farewell and God bless my friend, I will miss you.”
Penny Joseph, from International Neighbours, a community event held in Shoreham, said: “Over the years Adrian has been a great support and friend to International Neighbours, will miss him greatly.”
Adrienne Lowe, from Co Op Community Space in Shoreham, said: “Adrian was a true co-operator. He knew the theory inside out and put it into practise in everything he did. He will be sorely missed.”
Yvonne McKeown, from Adur Special Needs Project, also based at The Old School House, remembers Adrian as ‘always big-hearted, always generous, always helpful’.
Lynne Emery and the other AVA volunteers said Adrian was ‘such a kind hearted, approachable gentleman who was always grateful for the team who worked around him, paid staff and volunteers’.
Adrian’s legacy in the community will live on. A memorial celebration will be held on Sunday, June 3, at 2pm at The Old School House for those who knew him.