Tributes paid to former Hastings police officer who died of Covid-19
A former police officer, who served in Hastings, Battle and Rye during a 46-year career, has died after contracting Covid-19.
Simon Hills, 71, was admitted to Conquest Hospital three weeks ago today due to issues with his kidneys. According to his daughter Debbie, he contracted Covid-19 while in hospital and tested positive for the virus on February 1.
By Friday (February 5) he was having troubles breathing and on Saturday night his family was told he had just hours to live. He died at 5am on Sunday morning (February 7).
Debbie said: "We were unable to see him or be with him when he passed which has been traumatic for the children in the family as well as myself and my brother. I was given the option to visit on Saturday night but as I have arthritis I was concerned about seeing him. He would not have wanted us to be there, possibly putting ourselves at risk. It was a really difficult decision to make."
Simon was born in Hastings in 1949 and joined the police force in the late 1960s, starting his career in Battle. He also worked in Hastings during the 1970s and moved to Rye police station in 1979. After ten years in Rye, he moved to Lewes in 1989, before switching to Littlehampton in the late 1990s and then Chichester during the early 2000s.
He went back to Lewes in 2004 and spent the final ten years of his career working there before he retired in 2014.
"He was very well known," said Debbie. "I think even some of the bad guys dad dealt with were quite fond of him. He worked all across Sussex."
While living in Hastings, Simon had two children – Debbie, who is now 48, and Peter, who is now 41 and living in Somerset.
He also had a third child – Victoria – from a second marriage, who died at the age of 20 while studying at Bournemouth University.
Debbie said: "Dad never really dealt with Victoria's death and just days after this he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was a really tough time. He recovered from his cancer but he developed problems with his kidneys."
Simon was also a grandad to six – Debbie's children Rhiannon, 24, Josh, 21, and Aimee, 19; as well as Peter's twin sons Ben and Matt, 21, and daughter Ruby, who is 12.
He was also a great grandad to Rhiannon's seventh-month-old daughter Amelia.
Debbie added: "Dad was always positive and always saw the good in people even when it was hard to find. Everyone smiles when people mention his name. That's because of how positive he was.
"He really was my rock. That might sound cheesy but he was always there for me."
Debbie and her family are now raising money which will go towards a celebration of Simon's life in the summer, if the rules allow. The money will also go towards placing his ashes in the family grave in Salehurst, alongside his sister Sue, who died in 2013, and his mum.
Debbie added: "As my brother Peter lives in Somerset it would also be put towards us spending some quality time together with the six grandchildren and one great granddaughter dad left behind.
"Dad spent 46 years of his life serving as a police officer for Sussex Police, both east and west. He made many many friends along the way and you have all become extended family.
"We miss him more than words can say."
If you would like to donate, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-for-the-family-of-simon-hills