Hastings lifelong service award - ‘My customers feel like family because I have known them for so long’

A Hastings dry cleaner who has been honoured with a top accolade for a lifetime in the trade says his customers feel like family because he has known so many for so long.

John Newman won a lifelong service award at the national Laundry and Drycleaning Awards.

His daughter Hayley said:”His career has spanned 63 years since he was 15 years old, and he is still going strong, manning his shop Newman’s Drycleaners in Bohemia Road and serving the local community.”

Husband and wife team Pearl and John opened the family-run business in 1992 but it had been a lifelong dream since he started in the trade to open his own business.

John Newman from Hastings won a lifelong service award at the national Laundry and Drycleaning Awards

John said: “I still love working as my customers feel like family because I have  known so many of them for so long. I still get great satisfaction from my work, bringing clothes back to top condition gives me a reason to get up each day.”

He added: “I am  proud to be born and bred in Hastings. Without my loyal customers  of locals and visitors to the historic town, the shop wouldn’t be the success it still is today, when many dry cleaners have long since closed.”

John, 77, learnt the basics as a teenager at Courtney’s Dry Cleaners, Eastbourne, in 1958, but was soon asked to help set up a new branch in Hastings. 

He honed his skills for more than a decade at The Dorset Laundry in Hastings, before working  for the Sketchley chain across the South East.

John Newman aged 19, pictured in Alexander Park, Hastings

Hayley said: “Customers often travel great distances to benefit from his expertise. Others send garments in the post to entrust to him rather than a dry cleaner in their area. On one occasion he was even asked to clean a wedding dress from New York. He is unrivalled in his ability to remove tough, sometimes old stains. He hates to be beaten by a stain and will try everything in his power to remove it. Ninety nine percent of the time, he wins!”

She added: “It is not an exaggeration to say that he has made a difference to many people’s lives, restoring precious garments that have fond memories attached to them. He helps people look their very best for life’s milestones such as job interviews, weddings, christenings and funerals in an outfit that has been cleaned with real care and attention. He quite literally boosts people’s confidence and self-esteem without even realising it.”