TRIBUTE has been paid to a ‘big friendly giant’ who fell to his death from a car park ramp.
Peter Marshall, who lived in Kingsmead Way, Seaford, died after plunging from the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne on March 15.
June Marshall said the 53-year-old was one of the family and that ‘everybody loved him’.
The 81-year-old, who is no relation to Mr Marshall, first met him more than 30 years ago when she was a volunteer at the Brighton psychiatric unit where he was a patient.
Mrs Marshall, who has always fostered children, had a child in the unit at the time and had been helping out.
Mr Marshall then went into lodgings and Mrs Marshall, who had lost her husband two years previously, invited him to stay with her at her Brighton home for Christmas with the family.
After that he stayed with her on a permanent basis before moving with her to live in Seaford at Princess Drive 15 years ago before moving to Kingsmead Way.
She said, “He hasn’t been a lodger, he’s been one of the family. We worked well together, he did the garden, cleaned the windows and supported me immensely as I got older.
“I would do the ironing and cleaning.
“Everyone knew him, he was a well-known character in Seaford. Everybody loved him.”
Her close friend Tracy Cooper added, “He was full of life, had a big huge laugh and would do anything for anybody.”
June, who also brought up her grandson Tom after her daughter died 11 years ago, said he was like a dad to the 19-year-old.
Mr Marshall, whose relatives live in Australia, loved gardening and went to college to learn horticulture. He had several jobs over the years including working at the Great Western Hotel and was a caretaker for nine years at the Royal Spa Nursery School in Brighton.
He also enjoyed being a gardener and went on to help neighbours by doing their shopping, tending to their gardens and taking their dogs for walks. His hobbies included wildlife and listening to music.
Mrs Marshall, who has received dozens of cards and letters from well-wishers, said he had enjoyed spending time with his relatives at Christmas but had been affected by the deaths of several people close to them in recent weeks.
He went into the DGH psychiatric unit on a voluntary basis on February 17 and had seemed more positive.
She said, “He was perfectly normal, he started eating and drinking. We were due to see him on Friday and there was nothing untoward in his conversation.
“His family came over at Christmas and he was so excited. It’s such a waste of a young life. He had so much to live for.”
A funeral will be held at St Luke’s Church in Queens Park Brighton on April 3 at midday.
People are welcome to donate flowers or give a donation to the family of Hayley Okines. The 14-year-old, who lives in Bexhill has the rare genetic condition Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome which sees the ageing process develop at a much more rapid rate than in the average human being.