Remembering Paul Bailey
The Eden Alternative has lost a vital part of our global family – Paul Bailey, Eden Educator and Mentor in the UK. Paul and his wife, June, founded the Eden Alternative UK & Ireland in 2005. Together, they made a beautiful team – truly committed to changing the world. Paul was a grounded, thoughtful, and principled man who brought smiles to the faces of many with his humor. In addition to impacting the lives of Elders in the UK and Ireland, Paul played a significant role in the introduction of The Eden Alternative to South Africa. Here, Rayne Stroebel, Eden Alternative Regional Coordinator in South Africa, pays tribute to our dear friend, Paul.
It was in the foyer of a little boutique hotel in Oxford that I first met Paul and June. I was over in the UK for a conference, when I had first heard about The Eden Alternative. I had sent them an email, and the next thing, we had an appointment to meet. In what was to become one of our common loves, Paul arrived in a bright shirt with even brighter socks. I liked him immediately! My friend Sara and I were taken through the Ten Principles of The Eden Alternative at the speed of light – the deal was done. A week later, I was back on a plane to the UK to do my first Certified Eden Associate Training.
It was in the next few days that I really got to know Paul and June, not only as trainers, but as dear friends. Paul had a wicked sense of humor that could make me laugh from my belly. He was sharp as a razor, with a gentle introverted demeanor. His wit is as sharp as his intellect. Soon after my initial training, Paul and June came for an extended trip to South Africa to help me set up The Eden Alternative, and we traveled together for more than 3000 kilometers. (There is nothing like getting to know someone really well on a road trip together.)
I soon learned that there was a lot more to Paul than bright shirts and socks. In a business meeting, Paul would quickly cut to the chase, after making sure that he has listened very carefully. There was no room for sloppy thinking – Paul will gently point out that your thinking was less than sharp! On one of our visits to an extremely poor, rural care home in KwaZulu Natal, Paul and June disappeared and were suddenly not behind me anymore. I went looking everywhere, only to find the two of them behind a wall in a bathroom – both in floods of tears.
Paul was easily moved by many things. On many occasions, I only needed to look at him to know that he was deeply touched by something. It quickly showed in his eyes, and he was never shy to show his emotions.
As a trainer, Paul was an excellent storyteller – he loved sharing the wonderful stories of Eden and how it opened hearts and minds. He often referred to himself as not having a clue what he was doing, yet I think Paul touched more hearts and minds than he would ever have believed possible.
A gentle soul has departed this earth. A man that we can salute for his generosity of spirit, his energy and willingness to always help others, but mostly for his gentle love of June and their shared world. It made me so happy to see that he enjoyed every day of his life, even though his health was a challenge. Mostly through Facebook, I saw his exquisite needlepoint work, the fluffy dog that became part of the family, and seeing him learn to play the piano and become very good at it.
There is a huge gap where once walked a gentle man.