What do you get to celebrate the life of someone who had everything? A pair of his favourite shoes, of course.
Sir Jack Hayward was famous for his desert boots and went nowhere in anything else. Correction: He once confided in me that when he attended black-tie events, he took the distinctive, more comfortable footwear along for when he could safely change out of his formal pair under the table.
They’re the ones he is immortalised in on his statue and, in an imaginative twist, they’re the sort that are making an appearance at this impressive Molineux landmark sometime today.
It is exactly 100 years on from the day of the great philanthropist’s arrival in this world and his family have marked the occasion by displaying a pair of the boots, along with the note: ‘In commemoration of your 100th birthday….love from all the family.’
“He wore this style for decades and decades,” said his youngest son, Jonathan. “He didn’t like wearing anything else.
“We were thinking about what we could do in his memory to celebrate June 14 and think he would have appreciated the gesture.
“I was up for the Wolves v Everton game at the end of the season and, as well as going to the memorial service at St Peter’s, went into Clark’s in the Mander Centre. I bought a pair of his favourites shoes in off brown, which was as close as to his preferred colour as I could find, and had my photo taken with them by his statue.”
The shoes will be minded during the time they are on public show today and then taken away before the family and Wolves Foundation staff set about finding a deserving recipient for them.
In true Hayward style, the process will then extend into considerable wider help for the community, with 100 local children being provided with a free pair of shoes.
“I have been liaising with a lady called Chloe and a guy called Jack – someone at Clark’s is going to be busy with sorting out a school pair or some smart trainers for the 100 youngsters the Wolves Foundation identify as being suitable recipients,” Jonathan added.
“They will be issued with a voucher and, in the meantime, we will be raising a glass at home to mark this special day. We think Sir Jack would have appreciated the gesture, not just because it’s a bit quirky but because it is helping Wolverhampton families.”
This isn’t a cheap week for the Haywards….Jonathan has corporate tickets for Edgbaston at the first two days of the Ashes series and will have Tom Finn and Richard Skirrow as his guests, as well as being accompanied by his sports-writer son, Rory.
Wolverhampton-born Sir Jack passed away in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in January, 2015 and the South Bank end of Molineux was soon renamed in his honour. The statue commemorating his enormous impact on the club and city was unveiled on his birthday five years ago.
*The top photo was taken by Jessica Hornby – WWFC/Wolves.