Albion's chairman and chief executive have paid tribute to Gary Townsend
Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom and chief executive Paul Barber were united in their shock and grief as they paid tribute to Albion in the Community chief executive Gary Townsend following his shock passing while holidaying in Spain.
43-year-old Townsend collapsed and tragically died while on a run with his partner Hannah during their holiday on Monday.
, “Rarely in life is news so utterly paralysing as to render us all speechless. There has been a lot of sadness at the club over the past twelve months with the passing of both Matt [Grimstone] and Jacob [Schilt], and Gary’s sudden passing has massively rocked our club once more.seagulls.co.ukBloom told
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Hannah, Gary’s partner, and with the rest of Gary’s family. I hope they are brought some comfort by the memory of Gary as a truly outstanding person, whose passing will be deeply mourned by so many people whose lives he touched inside the Sussex community and other communities in the footballing world.
“Over the last three years, Gary made a huge contribution to Albion in the Community, most recently as its chief executive since March of this year. Gary proved himself an excellent leader – thoughtful, dynamic and extremely popular with our staff.
“What I will always think of most with Gary is his awe-inspiring fundraising efforts with Jadey to support disabled people’s participation in sport in Sussex. No challenge was too great. Gary will be hugely missed by all who knew him.”
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Paul Barber added, “It’s been a very tough 12 months for staff at our club. We have now lost two colleagues, as well as another young man who was very close to our club, all in less than a year; Gary, Matt and Jacob were all in the prime of their lives with so much to live for.
“Anyone that was at the Amex on Tuesday, when all of our staff got together as a group to remember Gary and his contribution to AITC and to our club, would have seen a significant outpouring of grief that served as a big a tribute to Gary.
“Gary was as popular as he was influential and his infectious laugh will be sorely missed around the office. I have seen first-hand how Gary’s death has affected our staff so I can only imagine the overwhelming sense of loss that Hannah and Gary's family are feeling at this moment. We will help them in any way we can.
“Knowing Gary’s dedication to his fitness and his fun-loving personality, perhaps it was fitting that Gary would leave us on a run, relaxing on holiday with his partner. However, that doesn’t in any way make up for the great sadness we are all feeling.”
Since Gary’s passing the club has been inundated with messages from Albion in the Community’s numerous partners and supporters, from Albion fans, and from football clubs and authorities across the country, and Tony Bloom offered his thanks to all those that have contacted the club.
“There have been so many messages, some just to say they are thinking of everyone and others who knew Gary singing his praises and expressing their own dismay at the situation.
“I would like to thank everyone that has contacted us with their kind words over the last few days. Once again it shows just how big the community aspect of this club is, something Gary helped nurture during his time with Albion in the Community.”