Tributes to popular Eastbourne Winter Wonderland organiser after sudden death

Henry Chapman, 33, was described as having a 'heart of gold'
Henry Chapman, 33, was described as having a 'heart of gold'

Tributes have been paid to a popular Eastbourne man with a ‘heart of gold’ who organised the Winter Wonderland event in town every year.

Henry Chapman was found dead in his home on January 4, aged just 33.

His sister Louise said, “It was a shock to all of us. He knew so many people. He was so popular. He was so caring and generous, he’s done so much for charity.

“He had a heart of gold, that’s how he was. He was also very funny, he would make anyone laugh. If you were down he would make you laugh and laugh.”

The Winter Wonderland got bigger and better each year. More than a thousand people flocked to the event last Christmas, which was in its sixth year and raised money for the Ronald McDonald House Charity.

Each year crowds gather in Horsa Close to watch thousands of glittering lights switched on and be entertained by acts like Honey G – all organised voluntarily by Henry and his family.

There would also be a fun fair, fireworks display, and an abundance of entertainment such as pantomimes and a Santa’s Grotto for everyone to enjoy.

Henry’s brother Richard wrote on the Winter Wonderland Facebook page, “I just want to say we are so sorry to say this to you but my brother died. I just don’t know what to say, we so heartbroken. You won’t be forgotten.”

Aside from the Winter Wonderland event, Henry’s passion was with LGBT rights and helping the traveller community, his sister said.

“He worked with the LGBT community, he did a lot for them,” Louise said, “He worked with travellers, to help get them places to stay. He’s done a lot of work for lots of different people.”

In a piece which was published in the Travellers Times, Henry wrote, “In this day and age, the GRT (Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller) LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex) community should not be fighting for acceptance but be free to live happy and fulfilled lives free from discrimination and prejudice.”

At the time of his death he was living in Bolton where he was studying, but would often return to Eastbourne to visit his family and friends.

A funeral was held for Henry on Thursday (January 24) at St Mary’s Church in Hailsham, and all who knew and loved him were invited to pay their respects.