Fond memories of Hastings character

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A family has paid tribute to a well-known local character, who passed away the day before what would have been his 78th birthday.

Dave Wills passed away on August 31, following a short spell at the Conquest Hospital.

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Dave was born in Tonbridge but later moved to Hastings, the home town of his mother Rose, shortly after the war.

He met June Rigden on Eastbourne Pier and the couple were married from 1958 until June sadly passed away in 2010.

The couple, who had children Nicola, Tracey and John, used to attribute their strong relationship to their mutual humour and love for others, as well as each other.

Dave played football at a high standard locally and captained Hastings Schoolboys, National Association of Boys Clubs and also Sussex County.

He was later signed by Hastings United with one Observer write-up calling him ‘the jewel in the Hastings attack’ as he claimed a hat-trick.

Son John recalls: “He was good at many sports and I grew up loving sport due to his enjoyment of it.

“Mum wasn’t too keen on our hallway football and cricket.”

He added: “He was a lovely kind father who faced up to adversity with a smile and a laugh which kept others’ spirits high.

“He gave us a great example of humility and kindness and that it was people that were important and not material possessions.

“Both Mum and Dad were spoken of as people that gave to anyone in need without expecting anything back – very often he would pick us up from school or later work and there would be a homeless person or someone else in need in the car who he had decided to help.”

Dave was known as a local bus driver and HGV driver, who received diploma awards from the Road Operators Safety Council as he had never had a single accident.

Dave was a man of many talents, and nurtured his artistic side.

Jon said: “Dad was a rough diamond with many skills but never boastful. He took up art in the 1970s and enjoyed this – we have lovely paintings of our children to cherish.

“He was gifted musically as a pianist - he said he only ‘plays by ear - which is painful!’. He was still getting a tune out of a harmonica just a week before he died.”

Dave was laid to rest at Hastings Crematorium, with commemorative service at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, last week.

John said: “Dad will be very missed by many in the town.

“All those that knew him will remember corny jokes and razor wit, designed to break the ice and cheer people up.”

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