Tributes to Bexhill columnist
An ex-journalist and keen gardener has died aged 98.
Harry Hamilton wrote the ‘In your Garden with Harry Hamilton’ column for the Observer series from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.
His daughter, Jemima, paid tribute to him.
She said: “If my horticulturalist dad were to write his own obituary it would surely start with a pun or some well-known saying like, ‘an old gardener never dies, they just go to seed’.
“There would always be as many of those crowbarred into his gardening column for the Bexhill and Hastings Observer as he could manage. “He always loved to talk and give advice about gardening and was a loving and sentimental soul. “Dad was born in 1921 and died aged 98. It was a shock, despite his great age, as he was still very much interested in current events and engaged in his community. He lived in Little Common for nearly 40 years.”
Harry started his career in journalism as a junior reporter alongside Alan Whicker on the Hants and Sussex County Press.
Him and Alan, who later went on to be a TV personality and travel reporter, ended up running the paper for £100 per week.
Jemima added: “Later they applied to work for a firm called Putnams, which published several newspapers. Alan was assigned Weymouth and my dad took Poole. My dad had many stories relating to his and Alan’s antics together, one of which he told when Alan appeared on the TV show This is Your Life.
“When the war came he was asked to go to the Hampshire regiment because he came from Bournemouth and this was the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
“He always told the story that he blagged that he could ride a motorcycle on the first day and then later blagged that he could speak German, which meant that he went from second lieutenant to captain in under a month.
“At the end of the war he was assigned to the Americans, General Patton’s army, as they were keen to have a British presence.
“There was a convoy driving through Paris to demonstrate to the people the war had been won. My dad was part of this convoy but his lorry broke down and by the time he managed to restart it the convoy had moved on.
“He did not know the route they were meant to be taking and so just headed to the finishing point. He beat the rest of the convoy and consequently was the first to drive down the Champs-Elysees, which erupted with cheers and applause for him.
“He was even given a bottle of Lanson champagne by a stranger. He always joked that he liberated Paris and always loved Lanson champagne.”
Harry also worked as a private detective, a solicitor and then retrained to be a horticulturist in his 50s.
Jemima said: “He was a lover of all things nature, with green fingers and a gentle soul.
“He will be greatly missed and remembered with much love.”
Harry’s funeral will be held at Langney crematorium on February 17 at 4pm. Arthur C. Towner is directing the funeral and flowers are welcome.
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