As Chairman and founder of the Philip Green Memorial Trust (PGMT), Cyril Paskin was not only the driving force behind the hugely successful charity that achieved so much in terms of helping literally tens of thousands of disadvantaged children, Cyril was the PGMT. He was a remarkable man and anyone who was fortunate enough to get to know him knew that he had a heart of gold and fierce hatred of injustice.
Cyril was very proud to be associated with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force was very proud to be associated with Cyril…and for good reason!
On the 1 Feb 1942, at the age of 19, Cyril was enlisted into the newly formed Royal Air Force Regiment as one of the first ever Gunners. In 1945, Cyril found himself participating in the fiercest and most successful battle that the Regiment has ever been involved in.
He was part of 2708 Squadron that was sent to capture Meiktila airbase in Burma from the Japanese. After a few weeks of hard fighting in horrendous conditions against a last-ditch Japanese defense, the airfield was captured on 5 March. The Japanese immediately severed the British supply lines and surrounded the airfield. After several days and nights of constant small-scale attacks, the Japanese artillery opened intensive fire on Cyril’s position on 15 March. The enemy followed up with a major attack - 2708 Squadron’s casualties in this action were seven killed and eight wounded, but the Japanese left 150 of their dead and wounded behind. This was just the first of many such attacks and it was weeks before reinforcements arrived.
Cyril and the few hundred men succeeded in defending this strategically important airfield. We can only imagine what Cyril endured - with dysentery, malaria, lack of supplies to contend with on top of the constant attacks. This experience shaped him into the man he was – someone who couldn’t stand inequality – he dedicated his life to fighting injustice and to raising money for disadvantaged children.
Some would say that Cyril was obsessed with raising money for charity but he knew that there were too many children to help but he was going to help as many as possible. His aim was simple - to make their lives better or a bit more comfortable.
However, whilst he was one of the most kind-heartened and caring people you could ever have the pleasure of meeting, he was also one of the most forceful and focussed. Occasionally you needed the skills of a bomb disposal expert to defuse him especially if he thought you could do more for the charity. This determination and resolve resulted in Cyril personally raising literally millions upon millions of pounds for great causes.
Always looking for and taking every opportunity to talk about the PGMT and to raise money – his battle cry was "Its for the children". He was the PGMT, it was thanks to his leadership and force of character that ensured so many young lives were enriched.
He was a rough diamond with a heart of gold; his dedication, focus, drive, commitment to help disadvantaged children made Cyril in Royal Air Force terms; Second to None.