Locals pay tribute to pub campaigner Dick Morton

Dick Morton
Dick Morton

A FORMER pub landlord who campaigned for publican’s rights in Hastings has died aged 71 after a brave fight against cancer.

Dick Morton died at his home in Upper Sea Road in Bexhill in the early hours of Monday, November 7, with his family by his bedside.

During a 23-year career in the trade, Dick was fondly remembered as the landlord of the Tivoli Tavern in Battle Road, Silverhill, the New Inn in Sidley and the Pebsham Sports and Social Club in Bexhill. He was also chairman of the local Licensed Victuallers Association between 1990 and 1992.

After working as a self-employed builder for 25 years, Dick took up his first licence at the Tivoli in 1982.

Ten years later he moved to the New Inn in Ninfield Road, Sidley where he introduced his beloved darts, shovehapenny matches and pub quizzes.

Dick was a darts fanatic and setting up a pub team was a labour of love. He even organised exhibition matches with legends of the game such as Bobby George, Cliff Lazarenko and Keith Deller.

After 20 years in the pub trade he took over the Pebsham Sports and Social Club which he ran with his wife Rona for three years. He retired from the trade in 2005.

During his time as chairman of the LVA he campaigned for landlord’s rights, fighting the rising costs of beer and rent by breweries.

Dick also raised thousands of pounds for charities including the Macmillan Cancer Support and St Michael’s Hospice. He was also instrumental in raising £4,000 to send a young boy to Disneyland shortly before he underwent a bone marrow transplant.

Dick suddenly became ill in July 2009 with bowel cancer. After two major operations, he spent almost three months in Eastbourne General Hospital. He was then very ill and never fully recovered. Last month he was admitted to St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne for palliative care and returned home two weeks later where he died on Monday.

Paying tribute to her husband of 47 years, his widow Rona said: “Dick was a real character and everyone had a story to tell about him in our pubs.

“He just loved the pub life and the people he worked with.

“He was a champion of the licensing trade too and even went to Parliament and attended conferences nationwide to represent the LVA and the Licensing Trade as a whole.”

Joe O’Riordan, secretary of the Licensed Hospital Business Group, worked with Dick for many years.

He said: “He cared for other publicans and worked on their behalf. He was a man of the people and will be sorely missed.”

Dick’s funeral will take place on Wednesday (Nov 16) at St Peter’s Church in Bexhill at 2.30pm.