MARCH: Centre mourns suspected suicide of popular 17 year-old found dead at his grandfather's home
PUBLISHED: 12:59 26 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 02 June 2010
SHOCKED teenagers hugged and cried as they comforted each other following the suspected suicide of a 17 year-old youth worker. Jake Gillen was found hanged at his home in Gaul Road, March, at 7am on Saturday, where he lived with his grandfather, Bob Gille
SHOCKED teenagers hugged and cried as they comforted each other following the suspected suicide of a 17 year-old youth worker.
Jake Gillen was found hanged at his home in Gaul Road, March, at 7am on Saturday, where he lived with his grandfather, Bob Gillen.
Managers of Young People March centre where Jake was one of two youth leaders, spoke today at their shock at his sudden death. The centre stayed open all weekend to offer to dozens of teenagers, friends and family arriving to express their grief.
The centre's basketball court has been bedecked with scores of floral tributes, with more arriving hourly.
Sarah Brown and Jayne Manders, who manage YMP March, paid tribute to "one of the most adorable, sensitive and passionate" teenagers they've known at the centre.
Sarah said: "He was so popular, everyone looked up to him. This place will not be the same without him."
Jayne added: "He will always be remembered for his smile. Even last week he was smiling and laughing with people. You would never have guessed something like this would happen."
Jake organised a number of events at the centre - including the March Has Talent competition for which he was known as YPM's Simon Cowell.
He was also a youth leader, alongside Jayne's daughter Charlie-Jean, and helped support the club's younger members.
And he enjoyed several group outings, most notably an exchange visit to Finland where he managed to get lost and summons a search team to find him.
But one significant memory Sarah and Jayne said they'll always have of Jake is of how the youngster stuck up for what he believed in. An example they highlighted was when March councillor Kit Owen, two years ago, claimed the doors of the City Road centre were locked while youngsters roamed the streets.
Sarah said: "Kit came here to meet everyone at the centre and Jake stood up to him, just because it's what he thought was right. And he saw it through to the end, just like he did everything else.
"Ever since then, Kit has asked us 'how's Jake' when we seen him, but he only ever met him once. That's the type of impact Jake had on everyone."
Jayne added: "He got himself in trouble with the law most of the time because he stood up for his mates. Police kept warning him that if he didn't shut up he would be in the nick, but he would always keep going and would end up in trouble himself."
Floral tributes currently decorate one side of the YPM courtyard, with friends, family and colleagues at the centre leaving their own messages.
Nearly 300 people have also joined a group on the social networking site Facebook, set up in his memory by best friend Danny Pointer.
A drop-in event is set to take place at YPM on Friday from 7pm, for people to visit the centre and pay their respects to Jake.
Sarah and Jayne have worked at the centre together for six years and remembered how they called Jake and Danny as 'the terrible two'.
"We felt we could not handle them," Sarah said. "We actually banned them from the centre once, but they always managed to wriggle their way back in.
"He always took control of everything going on at the centre. I thought that, one day, he would become centre manager here. He had all the qualities needed."
Jake's mum Catherine lives in Cavalry Park, March, and he has two younger sisters, Whitney and Shona.
Police confirmed they were not treating the death as suspicion and say it has now been handed to the coroner.
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