TRIBUTES have been paid to the ‘great leader’ of a crime-fighting community group in Littlehampton after he lost his battle against cancer.
Mike Cullern who had been the chairman of the Littlehampton Town Ward and District Neighbourhood Watch Association for several years, died on March 13.
Late last year he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In spite of the devastating prognosis, it did not stop him for continuing his work in the community.
Committed Mike still led the group and even helped to launch its latest campaign to cut littering in the town – just days before his death.
Now the acting-chairman of the neighbourhood watch, Carol Emberson, has paid fond tributes to Mike.
She said: “He was a great man and will be sadly missed.
“He was a great leader and a great friend to us all, too.”
Mike was born in Tarring Road, Worthing, in 1944 and moved to Littlehampton in the 1960s where he cultivated his passion for community.
In the late 1960s he started Littlehampton United, a football club for boys who might not have had the chance to play in a proper team. Mike’s loving wife, Kate – who he married in 1973 at St Catherine’s Church, in Littlehampton – said: “They met in his mother’s front room in Clun Road. She also had the delightful task of washing the kit!”
Mike had many jobs during his life, working firstly at Metcraft and then William Osborne’s before branching out into health and safety before retiring.
During his time in the neighbourhood watch, he took pride in setting up the hugely successful junior neighbourhood watch scheme at schools in the area.
Inspector Marc Clothier said Mike was a passionate chairman of the neighbourhood watch.
“Mike will be remembered for his commitment and enthusiasm to serving the local community and our thoughts are currently with his family and friends,” Insp Clothier said.
Mike also received numerous awards, culminating in a BBC Sussex and Surrey Community Heroes Awards nomination in December.
Weeks before his death, the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex presented Mike with a certificate of achievement.
Carol added he would ‘be a hard act to follow’ but stressed the watch would continue his work.
“Mike was keen to get the message out that neighbourhood watch is not all ‘gin-swilling, curtain-twitching, busy bodies’,” she said. “The neighbourhood watch is looking out for your neighbour who ever that may be.
“Mike went out of his way to help his neighbours some who will never know who he was. We, at Littlehampton neighbourhood watch, are proud to have known and worked with him.”