Family tribute to ‘fun-loving’ son who died on railway line

Sew Grove Hill

The parents of a young man who died on a railway line two weeks ago have paid tribute to their mischievous but ‘lovely, funny and generous’ son.

Emmett Gillah, 21, who grew up in Tunbridge Wells and lived in a flat on Meadow Hill Road, died on Saturday, January 23 after being struck by a train at Nutfield Station in Surrey.

In recent times, Emmett had suffered from mental health issues, but he was nonetheless a popular and well-loved character around town and was often seen in the silver grey Astra van he had recently bought for his gardening business.

He attended The Mead School from kindergarten, and Bethany School in Goudhurst as a day boarder from 2006 to 2011. After school, he went to Plumpton College near Brighton where he studied for a Level 2 diploma in horticulture.

Mum, Wendy, and dad, John, who moved to a family home in Chiddingstone Hoath last March, said Emmett had always been fun-loving and witty, even as a child.

Wendy said: “As a child he was always climbing trees and playing at soldiers. He loved his scooter, skate boarding, BMXing, and his mountain bike. He was also a good skier and snowboarder.”

The family enjoyed going on skiing holidays together, and often joined school ski trips with other families from The Mead School. More recently, they had gone on family trips to Chamonix and Les Deux Alpes.

John, who works at Harvey Jones Kitchens in Tunbridge Wells, said: “Latterly he had given up skiing and taken up snowboarding. I would be skiing along and he would come gliding past and call out, ‘I’ll see you when you get there!'”

Emmett had recently started his own freelance gardening business, which his parents said was going well. He looked after a seven-acre garden in Chiddingstone, as well as working at Garden Proud in Tunbridge Wells and Lawn Culture in Hildenborough.

Wendy, a marketing executive, said: “He loved being outdoors, so with gardening he had found his niche. He worked very hard.”

Emmett was very close to his sister, Lana, 19, and had many photos of them together pasted on the door of his fridge in his town centre flat.


He had also kept in touch with lots of his school friends, and many of them attended an impromptu memorial evening held for him in The Forum on Saturday, January 30. A number of DJs played, and a collection was made on the door for mental health charity Mind, which raised a total of £405.

A keen amateur artist, Emmett also played the drums and loved listening to Green Day.

Wendy said: “He could be a monkey, but he loved everybody and was very generous with everything he had. He gave his first drum kit away to a little lad who was younger than him. And the one he’s got now he lent to another friend.”

She added: “He had a great childhood but he wasn’t that keen on being an adult. He felt that he’d had the best years of his life.”

An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

A funeral service for Emmett will be held at King Charles the Martyr Church on Friday, February 26 at 3pm. The family said that anyone who knew him is welcome to attend.

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