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Ex-teachers pay tribute to ‘outstanding all-round sportsman’ Paul Burns

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Former Archway sports teachers John Evans and Rick Rutter have paid heartfelt tributes to Paul Burns, an ex-pupil who died suddenly earlier this month at the age of 55.

‘Burnsy’ excelled in sport at school and was revered by his teachers and pupils and was a true all-rounder. On leaving school, he chose to work in the culinary industry and sport always remained close to his heart when working as a chef for Exeter Chiefs.

Paul’s former teacher John Evans told Stroud Times: “It is with great sadness that I heard about the passing of former Archway pupil Paul Burns. ‘Burnsy’ as he was universally known was a larger than life character who was an
outstanding all-round sportsman. Rugby, basketball and athletics were his main areas of expertise.

53af4060 0ef1 45f6 b1ce 5de15fbbffaa | Ex-teachers pay tribute to 'outstanding all-round sportsman' Paul Burns
Paul Burns, back row, third from left, playing for Archway School Basketball team

“In fact, he was one of the main reasons that we started the Stroud Basketball Club. He did get into a few scrapes at school, but he had a heart of gold and was an integral part of many successful Archway teams. My thoughts are with his family.” RIP Burnsy – ‘Evo’.

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Paul Burns, middle row, centre, in his days at Archway School

Rick Rutter fondly remembered his former pupil, he said: “Paul started at Archway School in September 1979. He made an immediate impact on the sports field, establishing himself as very talented in a wide range of sports. He dominated on the rugby field, the athletics track and later on the basketball court.

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Rick Rutter and Paul Burns at a school reunion

“Paul was a good cricketer and also kept goal for the school football team. I clearly remember Paul joining the Golf Elective. We were hitting 7 iron shots from in front of the school and Paul’s first shot flew straight as an arrow and went through the gate, reaching the road. He was extremely popular and well liked by students and staff. He was always cheerful, appearing confident, and with a good sense of humour.

“Many years later, I met Paul at a couple of reunions catching up on his sporting and culinary successes. We reminisced over a Guinness or a glass of wine. Paul was wonderful company, although I knew that life had been difficult for him at times. It was a real shock to hear of his passing. A big man, with a large heart. Paul will be missed by all who knew him.”

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Paul Burns

Former pupils also expressed their shock at the loss of their old school friend, Paul Winchester said: “I looked up to him at school; he was a complete sportsman; had a lovely catch-up with him at the school reunion. Thoughts go out to his family and friends, he will be greatly missed.”

Cleo Gunnell said: “He said to me regularly over the past few years that his days at Archway were the best and happiest days of his life – and I think in his case this was absolutely true. Remembering the good times.”

Gregg Hayes, who now lives in Australia, said: “Rip big man, we all share great memories of you. Tonight is the first time my wife has seen me shed tears. So sad, rest in peace friend.” 

Paul’s funeral will take place on June 17th, 2.30pm at Exeter Crematorium.

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