A former mayor of Littlehampton has been remembered as a ‘fierce politician and campaigner’ and a ‘devoted family man’.
Great-grandfather Andy ‘Tom’ Hawkes, who held many roles in sports groups as well as local politics, died on Monday, February 12, aged 91.
His son, Matthew, said of his father: “He was a fierce politician and campaigner. He had no ideology except that of loyalty, generosity and public service, which he inherited from his parents and which was fostered in the Royal Navy.
“Having said that, he was known for his sense of mischief and fun, and a buoyant cheerfulness that never left him even in his last illness.”
Mr Hawkes grew up in Papworth, Cambridgeshire, and joined the Royal Navy aged 16 as an apprentice artificer in the Fleet Air Arm. During the war he repaired military aircraft in Rosyth and in the Orkneys, and in 1969, he was made an MBE for work on the Phantom jet in America.
He moved to Littlehampton when he was posted to HMS Peregrine, Ford, in 1954, and remained there for the rest of his life.
After working in consultancy in London, Mr Hawkes decided to invest himself in local life and became a town councillor, initially as member of the Conservative Party before standing as an Independent.
He served as mayor from 1996 to 1997.
Mr Hawkes was a familiar figure cycling through Littlehampton and, as mayor, was even given the town ensign and an old-fashioned horn for his bike, which became a sort of unofficial mayoral vehicle.
John Bagshaw, who was town clerk from 1997 until 2007, remembered him as an ‘excellent ambassador’ of the council and the town who held the mayoral role ‘in high esteem’.
Mr Hawkes also ran the Littlehampton Motor and Sailing Club part-time for ten years from 1981.
Taff Roberts, a former member of the club, said: “Andy took the sailing club by the scruff of the neck. He revolutionised its administrative structure, but without making enemies.”
A keen cricketer, Mr Hawkes played with Littlehampton Cricket Club and became captain of the second XI, secretary, chairman and president.
He set up the Sussex Champion-ship League and strengthened the club’s youth policy, and was also ground manager and chairman of the trustees of Littlehampton Sportsfield.
Hugh Milner, general manager of the Sportsfield and a friend of Mr Hawkes for 50 years, said: “His legacy is not only the support and commitment that he gave to Littlehampton but also how he laid the foundations of the cricket club as it is now established and the basis on how the Sportsfield is now managed.
“His passing will leave a huge void in Littlehampton – both in sport and in politics – and his death will be sadly mourned.”
One of Mr Hawkes’ achievements was leading a campaign which forced Southern Water to make major changes in their local sewage disposal practice, which eventually led to Littlehampton’s gaining the Blue Flag clean beach status – a process which involved meetings in Whitehall with the then Secretary of State, Michael Meacher, and with the European Commissioner in Brussels.
He was also involved in Sport for All during the 1980s – a campaign for greater participation in local sport – and made the case for full diabetes care at the Park Surgery.
A devoted family man, Mr Hawkes was married for 67 years to Joy, a nurse who ran the Roundabout Playgroup in Wick.
He is survived by his wife, his three sons Roger, Peter and Matthew, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Councillor Dr James Walsh said of Mr Hawkes: “He was well respected and liked by his fellow councillors, regardless of party, and always spoke his mind.”
All are welcome to attend his funeral, which will be held at 11am on Monday, March 5, at St Mary’s Church in Littlehampton.