A well-known and successful Horsham businessman has celebrated a milestone birthday surrounded by friends and family.
Jim Hills, the owner of Jim Hills Sports Warehouse in Coolham, celebrated his 80th birthday on Saturday March 19.
The popular figure has led an extraordinary and colourful life. After leaving school at the age of 16 he trained to become a physical training instructor in the army and then did his national service.
In 1958 he was the founder of the Horsham Boy’s Club, which later become the Horsham Youth Club, coaching a range of different sports to young people.
Through this he started the Horsham Olympic Football Club.
By the time he was finished with the youth club 18 years later, it had become the biggest in the country.
Leaving the youth club did not mean Jim stopped working with young people and sports. He then became a magistrate at Horsham Magistrates’ Court for over 20 years, eventually becoming chairman of the Juvenile Court.
He has also been running a sports equipment shop for more than 40 years. During that time he built up a strong following from across the district and beyond.
His distinguished career and achievements led him all the way to Buckingham Palace, where he was invited to a garden party with the Queen.
Recalling the event, he said: “It was quite an occasion. We actually got lost on the way. It wasn’t easy driving around that part of London. We managed to get there on time though.”
Despite being well over retirement age, Jim still runs his sports equipment shop in Coolham, where he now lives with his daughter.
He works there with four other part time employees, all from Weald School in Billingshurst.
His store has been based in Coolham for the past three years after spending almost 40 years in Billingshurst.
He even continued working at the store during six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.
A recent hospital admission did not even stop him coming back to work promptly.
Talking about his recovery from cancer, he said: “I’m happy to say I’m back in good health and I feel one-hundred percent better.”
When asked about the secret to living a long life, he said: “Working hard and keeping fit, without a doubt.
“I’ve always had two jobs and I’m still working 11 hours a day now.”
For more information on his store, please go to www.jimhillssports.co.uk