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Tributes to local treasure

Charlie Campbell passed away on May 28
Charlie Campbell passed away on May 28

A man who dedicated his life to running a play gym for children in Canterbury has died after heart surgery.

Charlie Campbell was born in Belfast in 1929 and died on Saturday afternoon at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

A keen woodcarver, amateur historian and accomplished ballroom dancer, he was married to Joan for 50 years. The couple had three children and four grandchildren.

Popular Mr Campbell served as a physical training instructor in the Royal Air Force for 29 years, and after leaving he moved with his family to Canterbury.

He began working for Canterbury City Council initially at the then new Pier Pavilion in Herne Bay before taking over as supervisor at the old Military Road Sports Centre in July 1978.
It was there that he started a play gym for children and instigated a thriving badminton club.
When the Kingsmead Sports Centre was completed in the mid 1990s, Mr Campbell carried on the good work at the new location, not retiring until 2009.

In 2000 he was nominated for the Lord Mayor’s award scheme in recognition of his contribution to the community.

His son Steve Campbell said: "Charlie was an inspiration to all who met him and enjoyed life to the full.

"He had a magical way with children and people of all ages.
When he retired lots of people wrote lovely comments, such as ‘an extra Grandad for so many kids’, ‘a local treasure’.

Operations manager at Active Life, Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Neil Mason said: "There are still plenty of staff around who remember Charlie with a huge degree of fondness and even more mums and children who attended the play gym that still operates today under the supervision of his longstanding colleague and friend Lyn Higgins.

"Charlie was an absolute gentleman who always had time for literally everyone – from the tinniest tot to the – well let’s say some of the more mature people who attended his badminton sessions.

"A genuinely nice and caring man and all of us at Active Life and in particular Kingsmead who knew him would like to offer his family every sympathy."

Mr Campbell’s funeral service will be held at Barham Crematorium at 4pm Friday, June 10. All those who knew him are welcome to attend, and any donations in his memory may be made to Delmelza House.

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