Tributes paid to well-known Eastbourne resident

Tributes have been paid to a well-known Eastbourne resident by his son and a close friend.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 9:02 am
Derek Hill with his dog Bear. SUS-210330-130214001
Derek Hill with his dog Bear. SUS-210330-130214001

Derek Hill, 71, was often spotted sitting on the town’s seafront with his dog, Bear who wore sunglasses.

Mr Hill’s son Richard said, “I am mourning the loss of the greatest man that I have ever known without a doubt. I have spent most of my life wanting to be him or to be at least as good as him or half as good as him.

“Even until the end he was always looking out for people and that includes me. Top notch dad.”

Derek Hill with his dog Bear. SUS-210330-131555001

Richard said his dad, who was a traffic data technician before he retired 10 years ago, had a wonderful sense of humour.

He said, “Just a barrel of laughs. Charismatic, funny, quick-witted. He would make a joke about anything. He always liked to help people. He always did his best to help everyone.

“A lot of people are telling me now, ‘Your dad helped me so much.’ He has got about six or seven people who used to call him dad. Not that they were his kids, they were just terms of endearment. He was just really good to people all round. He was a super dad growing up.”

“He was there as much as he possibly could be. I remember him taking me fishing, taking me to the seaside, taking me away.”

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Along with his humour and family-orientated nature, Mr Hill was also described by his son and friend Elaine Keatley as extremely generous.

Ms Keatley, who referred to Mr Hill as Del Boy, said, “Del would do anything. Any charity run he would do.

“When my father passed away he took all my father’s clothes and gave it all to the homeless because that is something that we planned. He never had anything bad to say about anybody. There was always a good thing in everybody.”

Ms Keatley, who was one of Mr Hill’s closest friends, said, “I am very proud he had a heart of gold and he is one in a million. There are people out there who are greedy for money and want things for nothing. Del didn’t. Del was too generous.”

Richard also recalled caravan holidays with his dad, who had family in New Zealand, where he would donate toys from claw machines.

Richard said, “He used to just hit them first-time, every time. The caravan was full of stuffed toys as he was always giving toys to charity. I think he was addicted to the machine. He was just battering them everyday. Putting in a fiver and getting like 50 toys. There were toys everywhere.”

Richard also discussed his dad’s fascination with vehicles, history, art and metal detecting among other things.

Ms Keatley talked about how Mr Hill would draw incredible sketches of his late wife Irene who his son described as ‘the love of his life,’

Mr Hill, who was original from London, was popular in the town and Ms Keatley said he enjoyed stopping for chats with people.

Ms Keatley said, “He used to come back and I would ask, ‘How was your day?’ And he would say ‘I loved it. I spoke to this person, I spoke to them.’

“I want to thank the town. All the people that he spoke to were special to him too. They added bonus to his life.”

Ms Keatley also explained that Bear is now with a close friend of Mr Hill and is very happy.

Ms Keatley said, “Some people stand out in life and some people don’t. Del Boy was very popular of course in the bike world. Everybody knew him. People got to know him in a different capacity in Eastbourne. As I always call him, one man and his dog.”

Richard said, “I still look up to him in a number of ways because there are so many examples that he set and they were examples to follow.”