Coronavirus: Newington Green cobbler and his father who co-founded Hackney Cypriot Association both lost to Covid-19
PUBLISHED: 15:18 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:58 14 April 2020
A father and son who were much-loved in Islington and Hackney have died within days of each other after reportedly catching Covid-19.
Ahmet Kamil, 63, was a cobbler who ran the High Class Shoe Repairs store in Newington Green for decades. He died on April 1, a week after losing his father.
His father, Kamil Ahmet, 87, established the Newington Green store and was also co-founder of Hackney Cypriot Association (HCA) in Balls Pond Road.
HCA was set up about 40 years ago to promote cohesion within the Cypriot community in Hackney. It runs a luncheon club three days a week and an advice centre providing support on issues such as housing, welfare rights, immigration and employment.
Ahmet’s wife of 37 years Sevgül Kamil told the Gazette: “We had strong, loving marriage. “He adored our three sons and our three grandchildren beside our extended families. He loved by not just his family but everyone who knew him. He was gentle, giving and understandable person. He loved helping and took my family in when needed.
“He worked since age of fifteen in couple of years he will be retired and we had plans to enjoy life and spend more time with our grandchildren he always addressed they’re my life what ever I have in my life it’s all theirs.
“All his brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces loved and adored him. All I can say he left good deed behind him, my loving husband.”
Suleyman Fuat told the Gazette: “I was very close to both of them as a relative and comrade. They were very good friends.
“They were extraordinary, friendly people to everyone. They liked to help and socialise.
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“You can see clearly in the [tributes on social media] how socially popular and loved they are in society. Both have been a big loss for all of us.
“The father was the most popular person in the community.”
The Gazette interviewed Ahmet Kamil for our business of the week feature in September 2018, when his warm-hearted nature and interesting conversation kept us chatting in-store long after the initial interview had finished.
Ever the salesman, he also convinced us to buy a new pair of shoes to wear to court that day which are as still in good condition, as comfy and smart as the day we brought them.
During that interview, Ahmet, who grew up in Clissold Crescent, said of the Newington Green community: “It’s nice working with friendly local people who you understand.
“When a customer brings their shoes in I can never understand exactly what’s in their mind – but 99 per cent of the time I get it right.
“In the beginning the shop just sold shoes but in business you have to adapt to what the customer wants, so now we sell keys too.”
“Customers have lots of choice, of course, but they should come here because of the high quality of my work. I get self-satisfaction from doing a job well.
“I have been teased over the years that another shop is going to open up next door – but could they compete with my craftsmanship?”
Ahmet only took cash payments because he didn’t “want to deal with the banks”, adding that this allowed him to keep prices low.
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