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1986: Charlie, the oldest paper boy in the country, is forced to retire aged 80

Mid Sussex Times January 31st 1986


The familiar site in Cuckfield of Charlie Hawkes on his paper round will sadly be seen no more. 

Ill health has forced Charlie to move from his Whitemans Green cottage into Hapstead, the old people's home in Ardingly, and also into retirement. Charlie was found collapsed outside his home just after the New Year, suffering from frostbite. He was taken to Cuckfield hospital and after sufficient rest he has now gone to live at Hapstead. But an early retirement it certainly isn't.

Charlie delivered his first newspaper in 1934 and his last at the ripe old age of 80.

The sight of Charlie with his woolly hat, rusty bike and batch of newspapers was as familiar a sight to the folk of Cuckfield as the sun rising in the morning. Previously he worked as a butcher’s boy in the High Street, until an arm injury forced him to stop.

But he was not out of work for too long. His father Bill ran a newspaper delivery business and gave Charlie a job. That was 52 years ago and ever since Charlie has been Mr Reliable to his customers and others in the village.

Mrs Phil Bowering of the independent state of Cuckfield said:

“Not only did he deliver his papers, but he became a great friend for many of the old people of Cuckfield who cannot get out much.

He would willingly interrupt the paper round to do errands for them and would stop by to do odd jobs around the house.

He is a marvellous character and will be greatly missed around the village”.

Mrs Bowring told an amusing little story that typifies Charlie’s spirit and humour. He was cycling up London Lane in the dark without any lights when he was stopped by a policeman. “Why haven't you got any lights?” Asked the Bobby, and Charlie promptly replied “don't worry officer, I can find my way around here without any!” 

The paper round was Charlie’s own business and he supplied most of the people in the Whitemans Green area with their newspapers. Mr Derek Murphy of NSS Newsagents in the High Street, said: “Charlie wouldn't work for anybody else. Some of his customers have been with him since time in memorial and he did a great job for them. The Mayor of Cuckfield, Mr Ron Knight, has known Charlie all his life. 

“He was born in his Whitemans Green home and lived there all his life until now. But he has taken to his new home wonderfully and he is happy and warm,” said Mr Knight. 

“He'll be missed around the village hugely. He wasn't just a newspaperman, because the elderly used to rely on him for their shopping or prescriptions and he used to carry biscuits for the children.

Charlie couldn't possibly do an unkind thing to anyone.”



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