Town pays its tributes to ardent tourism promoter

Dorothy Clements
Dorothy Clements

A TIRELESS woman who campaigned to promote tourism in town and was one of the leading lights behind the creation of the Hastings Week festivities has died.

Dorothy Clements passed away on Monday, January 28 aged 93 after suffering from dementia for a number of years. She lived at St David’s Nursing Home in West Hill Road.

Born in Wymondham in Norfolk, Dorothy came to Hastings in 1945. She set up a guest house in Warrior Square, St Leonards that specialised in catering for families with children under five. With her friend Nancy Taylor they then opened the Russell Hotel, also in Warrior Square.

The hotel proved to be very popular with families. In the late 1970s Dorothy and Nancy decided to sell up and retire.

She became chairman of the new Hastings and St Leonards First Association in 1976. This pressed for better roads, housing and employment conditions which could be offset by tourism. It also kept a close eye on council policy.

Dorothy’s nephew Peter Taylor said: “She was an imposing woman, with strong views and an equally strong voice. Her vision for starting the Hastings First Association came at a time when Hastings was going through one of its many identity crises. She initiated and led the first years of the fledgling group.

“Dorothy was a determined lady, a good public speaker and an excellent administrator. Those skills were put to good use in the early days of the association.”

She was also a leading light with Hastings and St Leonards Hotels and Tourism Association, serving as chairman from 1980 to 1982, and also on the executive committee until the late 1990s.

Mr Taylor added: “Dorothy was the right person to lead the vision having known the strengths and weaknesses of the town from a business point of view and from the many friendships she forged with local people.”

Dorothy was awarded the Order of 1066 medal for her services to the town in 1988. In 1991 she was given the BEM, now known as the MBE.

She supported the late mayor John Hodgson’s proposal in the late 1970s to make October 14 Hastings Day. The Hastings Day committee was then formed which eventually led to the present week-long Hastings Week festivities.

Ion Castro, spokesman for Hastings Week, said: “Dorothy was instrumental in getting Hastings Day extended to being the festival it is today and without her there never would have been a Hastings Week.”

Former councillor Richard Stevens said: “Dorothy was quite a formidable character and yet at the same time showing great diligence and determination to keep an eye on the council. She was a great believer that Hastings should make more of the 1066 factor. She was quite a force to be reckoned with.”

Her funeral is beinmg held today (Monday) at Hastings Crematorium.