A founder member of the Black Country Ale Tairsters has died just days after discovering he was suffering from cancer.
Joe Hill died at Sandwell General Hospital on March 21 after he went to see his doctor complaining about poor vision.
The 83-year-old from West Bromwich helped found the group in 1984 with his son Peter and close friend John Drew, starting them on an ambitious challenge of drinking a pint of ale in every pub in Great Britain – raising thousands of pounds for charity on their travels. They visited 17,500 pubs in all.
Peter said: “He went to his doctor following some problems with his vision and they referred him on to Sandwell Hospital. On March 19 we were told the news that much of the lower half of his body was affected by cancer and he died a couple of days later.
“It came as a shock to us all. We had planned a number of trips for the near future including a trip to the micro-breweries of Kent.
“My dad was a real character and a brilliant storyteller. He always had a little tale to tell and was well known wherever he went. We spent the last 30 years together. It’s going to be hard when it’s all over.”
The group, who started their quest by visiting each and every one of the Banks’s pubs, have recently just completed the final part of their cross-country quest by visiting 3,905 pubs in Wales, which took seven years and raised more than £11,000 for charity.
“Dad must have kept his illness quiet from all of us. None of us knew anything about it. He must have suffered a lot of pain in silence, but that was the kind of man he was and he wanted to complete the challenge we set out on all those years ago,” added the 58-year-old ,who lived with his father in Stour Street, West Bromwich.
“It’s funny that we started this by visiting Banks’ s brewery pubs. My dad’s favourite drink was their latest beer Sunbeam. It was the last pint he ever had.”
As well as being an ale drinking connoisseur, ‘Oggy,’ as he was known, was a keen motorcyclist who helped found the Moonshiner’s Motorcycle Club.
His funeral will take place at 11am tomorrow, at St Peter’s Church, Whitehall Road, Greets Green.
The service and burial will be followed by a wake at The Yew Tree Pub in Albion Road where the group first met.