Historian, Ex-Councillor and Much-Loved Local Hero By Pamela Kirkwood

Local legend Ion Earnest Castro, sadly passed away on 30th August 2018.

Life can feel too short, so what we do with our time here is so important; who we love, what we achieve, the influences we make, the heartache we feel, these things all make life rich with wonder. The joy and the pain in equal measure give us a truly fulfilled life. Ion Castro was a prime example of how to live your life well. He was loved by many, helped others, helped our town, was kind, funny, larger than life and will be very much missed.

Ion and his wife Sue on their wedding day, 3rd October 1980

Ion’s love for his home town and everyone in it can clearly be measured by his involvement in so many things. Ion was an integral force in the production of the GLC healthy eating cook book for schools. He hosted many community websites for free as this was something he passionately believed in. He loved passing on his vast knowledge to the avid readers of the Observer, writing about the history of Hastings (which you can still read online) and there wasn’t anything he didn’t know about the town. Ion was also part of the Hastings Week committee, Hastings Carnival, Old Hastings Preservation Society, Hastings Museum and the Fisherman’s Museum.

Ion may well be best known for his love of transport and, more specifically, the Happy Harold bus. Sue, Ion’s wife, lovingly expressed some memories, “Transport was a theme in my 40 year relationship with Ion. We met on a train, went to many transport rallies as a family with our various Austin A35s, enjoyed things such as the Weald and Downland museum and the trolley bus rally with the display of vintage cars, ours being one of them! And of course the trip across one of the London bridges to the pub riding in the basket of Ion’s butchers bike which I had bought for him! He was a great guy and tremendous fun! But also had a serious side and a very strong social conscience.

I think he would have said the time he enjoyed most in his working life was as a Labour Councillor for Baird Ward and as a governor at Sandown School which was very important to him. The principles which guided his life came from Robert Tressell’s book the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. He could see so many similarities between Mugsborough from Tressell’s book and the Hastings he lived in.”

Ion and his children (l-r) Bill, Chloe, (Ion) Lia and Jim

He was born in Tackleway and lived and died in Hastings. A true “Hastinger”. We must not forget his love for all his family who will truly miss him. Shortly before he passed away, he had the joy of watching his son Bill get married when he looked as if he would burst with pride. He was also honoured to have been in Croatia to walk his daughter Lia down the aisle and give her away. It was a very special moment for him as a dad. Ion was a brilliant grandfather and did many an emergency run whenever he was needed, along with short trips with the kids to Battle Abbey, hopefully to pass onto them his love of history. He can now look after his youngest son Tim and keep him company.

When you look back on his life and how much he will be missed by friends and family there will be nothing but love, respect and happy memories. Life will be quieter now he’s not around. Let’s all hope we can leave this world with love in our hearts and peace in our soul. Rest in peace Ion, and thank you for making this world better for being in it.


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