GOODBYE TO A KIND BRAVE MAN
1952 – 2018
By Jim Hollands
The people of the Old Town lined the streets on Thursday to say farwell
to John Napier, better known as ‘John the Cobbler’ who lost his battle
with cancer on Monday 9 April.
His world famous business, ‘Cobblers to the Old Town’ has raised many
smiles with locals and visitors alike. Just as John’s warm welcome
touched everyone who entered his shop.
I met John 10 years ago when I was selling advertising for the August
2008 issue of Hastings Town. He went for a half page, we took a picture
of him and his giant shoes outside the shop and he supported the magazine
over the intervening years. His advert has caused so many comments
from readers all round the world, he was, without doubt, one of the
best loved characters in the Old Town. I only saw him once a month
when I delivered his magazine, during the 10 years I knew him but
always looked forward to a little chat and invariably left the shop
with a lighter step
He fought a 10 year cancer battle with incredible courage and inspired
many others in the way he kept on working despite pain and discomfort
and setback after setback.
He was a great admirer and friend of Amber Rudd when she first moved
to the Old Town in 2007. He told me that he thought she would be Prime Minister, that was several years ago, now she is Home Secretary.
Even since she has been Home Secretary, Amber has kept in close touch
with John. I remember at the Rye Maritime Festival, just a day after
John had told me his cancer had returned, I asked our Home Secretary
if she knew John was ill again
“Yes, I went to see him this morning”
Every single Old Towner will have their own memories of John, whose
shop was a meeting place and centre of Old Town knowledge. Dogs were
always welcomed with a tit bit.