Former Alban Arena manager killed in Fisherman’s Friends accident

Paul McMullen (right) with St Albans tourism manager and friend Charles Baker

Paul McMullen (right) with St Albans tourism manager and friend Charles Baker - Credit: Archant

THE tragic death of a band’s tour manager in a freak accident on Saturday has been greeted with shock and disbelief by his many friends in St Albans.

And by a sad irony Paul McMullen was back at the Alban Arena, where he was manager for many years, the night before he died after being trapped under a metal door in a loading bay at a theatre in Guildford.

Paul started work at the Alban Arena in 2000 as marketing manager and went on to become business manager, bringing such shows as Blood Brothers to the local stage.

He left in 2008 to promote tours across the country, including Adam Ant, and it was while he was working with the Cornish group Fisherman’s Friends that the accident happened.

The 10-piece band, who also lost one of their singers Trevor Grills as a result of the same accident, played the Arena last Friday night. The accident happened only hours later and Paul died at the scene after suffering severe injuries to his legs.

Frank Leclezio, general manager of the Arena and a long-time friend of Paul, said he had seen him on Friday night and he had seemed upbeat and in a really good mood.

“We had a chat and the next thing I knew was that he had been badly injured in Guildford.”

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Paul, 44, was married to Sarah with a seven-year-old son Daniel and had moved to Disley in Cheshire after leaving the Arena.

Frank said: “Paul left the Arena to set up his own business, Campbell Smith Management and because he wanted to get back home to his family as well.”

The two men had been friends for 15 years and every summer they went up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival together. Frank said that Paul had taken the Arena to a whole new level with Fun Lovin’ Criminals as the first big name act to come to the venue followed by nationally touring shows like Blood Brothers.

Frank added: “He was happy, charming, funny, approachable and a very good friend. He will be sadly missed.”

St Albans council’s tourism manager, Charles Baker, another close friend of Paul’s, described his death as a “bolt out of the blue”.

He said: “I have many fond memories of Paul. I have known him for about 10 years. He was a friend, confidante, colleague, lodger and more recently an usher at my wedding. He was sociable, charming, generous, and always cheerful, with a smile and laugh that would make you laugh or smile in return no matter what mood you were in.”

He described him as always very professional at work and spoke about how his belief and support of his staff gained their loyalty and respect.

Charles went on: “He was a man with great integrity and flair, and a passion for the arts and in particularly for live music from which he eventually carved out a career.”

But, he added, his first love was his family. “He was devoted to his wife Sarah and young son, Daniel. You only had to mention their names and his face would light up with love and pride. It is with them that my thoughts are at the moment.”

Tributes have also been paid by his many friends in the area. In a tweet, Trestle Theatre in Russet Drive, St Albans, described him as “an amazing man and such a large part of the St Albans arts scene for so many years.”

And a statement on behalf of the Arena said that all the staff were deeply saddened by the loss of a long-time colleague and friend who still had strong ties with the venue.