A mum whose son passed away suddenly late last year has written an open letter to Sir Paul McCartney asking him to help save Hastings Pier in his memory.
Janet Gross’ son Brad died on November 24, 2017, at the age of 45, a week after suffering a heart attack.
Brad – who was a drummer in a number of bands in Hastings – was originally from Connecticut, USA, but moved to London 14 years ago before moving to Hastings in 2008.
In her letter to the Beatles legend, Janet referred to Friends of Hastings Pier which is trying to raise £500,000 before May 31 to keep the pier in public ownership.
She wrote: “The reason I am writing to you is that Hastings Pier is in trouble. The pier is now up for sale to a commercial buyer. The last time this happened it was left to decay and was eventually abandoned.
“The Friends of Hastings Pier is a community group fighting to keep the freehold as a community asset while leasing the above-deck as a commercial operation.
“They have until May 31 to crowdfund £500,000. They are optimistic that they can get additional match funding from other donors, but they need substantial support from the public to encourage other investors and funders.”
Brad – who has an 11-year-old son called Milo from a previous marriage – was described by his widow Khadija Khan, 47 – whom he married in 2013 – as a ‘musician, scientist, teacher and mentor’.
She said visiting the pier has been ‘difficult and lovely’ in equal measures since her husband’s death.
She added: “The pier is part of people living in Hastings.
“I like to describe Hastings as a little bit of north in the south. Everyone says hello and it’s quirky and fun.
“It is a little bit rough but overall it is good. The foundations to Hastings are good.
“We need to take care of the pier as it is a part of us.”
Brad spent many years mentoring young musicians, helping to build up their confidence to perform on Hastings Pier – something he had done many times during his drumming days.
Archie Lauchlan, a film maker who also now lives in Hastings, met Brad while creating a feature-length film about Hastings Pier.
He said Brad loved his music and was drawn to Hastings due to its ‘amazing music scene’. He added: “(Brad) was an amazing, gregarious, larger than life character. He was also a comedian. It was quite simple, everybody knew him and he knew everybody.
“I remember the time his mum came to visit the last time before the funeral, last summer. We had a wonderful day out down by the pier with Ben, his mum, me, Khadija and my daughter was there as well.
“When Janet returned after Brad’s death she decided we needed someone to save the pier. She thought about all the wonderful musicians who had performed on the pier throughout the years and then decided to write her open letter to Sir Paul.
“We do not want the pier to be sold off as we don’t know what will happen to it.”
Janet said she chose Sir Paul McCartney after learning that his daughter Stella had attended Bexhill College, giving him a link to the area.
In her letter, she added: “I thought you might be interested in helping the group save the pier.
“I will never forget being on a ride with my son in Rye and we drove down this lovely country road. We went by a beautiful home with a windmill and Brad casually said, ‘That’s Paul McCartney’s house.’ I went crazy. It was the highlight of my trip that year. I was in college in 1962.......need I say more?
“I realize you must have people hounding you all the time for this and that but I wanted to at least try and ask for your help. Brad performed and taught at the pier and it will always be a special place to remember being there with him.”
The Friends of Hastings Pier has so far raised £72,898. The group has until May 31 to raise the remaining funds.