Top Rotary award for support to the town

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A man whose family donated thousands of pounds to Eastbourne and helped pay for the Wish Tower Cafe and Sun Lounge has received a top Rotary award.

John Foyle was presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the Rotary Club of Beachy Head at a special ceremony at Eastbourne’s Hydro Hotel recently.

Mr Foyle, whose father Gilbert was the founder of the world famous London Foyles bookshop, was chosen as the recipient for his contribution to the community.

Gilbert Foyle was a former member of Eastbourne Borough Council and donated around £70,000 in the late 1950s for the Wish Tower Cafe and Sun Lounge in memory of local people who were injured or killed between 1939 and 1945 and for the fortitude of the people of the town during those years.

The family’s donations towards the Wish Tower Sun Lounge and Cafe were £33,750 at a time when a four bedroomed house in Eastbourne could be bought for about £4,000.

John Boyle, a family friend of the Foyle’s and former borough council solicitor, said, “I find that I actually drafted the deeds of gift in 1959 when I was a solicitor at the Town Hall on a salary of £800 per annum.

“So the Foyle gifts would have paid my salary for 17 years.”

Gavin Whippy from the Rotary club said, “This is the highest Rotary International Award possible to present to a deserving person from the local community by a Rotary Club.”

Carolyn Heaps, a Liberal Democrat on Eastbourne Borough Council said, “The council wishes to express gratitude on behalf of the council to the Foyle family for all their gifts to Eastbourne.”

Mr Foyle was devastated when the council decided to demolish the Wish Tower Cafe and Sun Lounge earlier this year.

Hehad hoped the building would be refurbished.