HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a parish priest who “touched the lives of many” before losing his battle with cancer.

Father Paul Joyce “gave himself to so many” - including care homes, nearby schools, and those in need - with his “wish to serve and be there for others”, his church said.

Father Paul - who leaves behind two children and his wife Sue - moved from Birmingham to Eastwood with his family in 2005, and was inducted at St David’s Church in July 7 that year.

During his 15 years at the church, Father Paul achieved many goals, one of which was to open a community cafe which would see the church opening its hall for two hours every Thursday morning to provide a place where anybody could sit, relax and chat whilst enjoying a free drink and snack.

He died on Monday, aged just 50.

His church paid tribute to a “great teacher” and a “wonderful family man”.

Andy Norton, church warden at St David said: “Father Paul was very patient and caring, giving himself to so many without thought for himself; many a time I tried to get him to rest more, without success.

“He believed that he was the priest for all the people in the parish, whether they came to church or not, and he touched the lives of many, including the local school, care homes and anybody in need, especially the bereaved.

“It says it all that following his diagnoses in the summer of 2019, he did not take sick leave at all and his last service was in December 6 before his illness finally overcame him.

“That he ministered to other cancer patients whilst having his own treatment, still taking funerals and leading the parish, says much about the man.

“I will remember him as a compassionate man, a great teacher, a wonderful family man and good friend who was wise beyond his years.”

Father Paul regularly went into Edwards Hall school, in Leigh, and he’d welcome the school to St David’s.

He also visited Brooklands and Havengore House care homes once a month with other members of the Parish to sing Hymns and talk to residents.