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Brothers take over cobbler business after Covid-19 loss

Shoe repair shop to carry on, four months after losing father and grandfather to coronavirus

21 August, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Tevfik Kamil and Erkin Kamil at High Class Shoe Repairs in Newington Green

TWO brothers have taken over a family shoe repair business after both their father and grandfather died from Covid-19.

Kamil Ahmet died from the coronavirus in late March, just seven days before his son, Ahmet Kamil, 63, also passed away from the disease.

The 87-year-old had opened High Class Shoe Repairs in Newington Green in 1980, before handing the business to his son in 1998.

Now, after the devastation of losing two loved ones to the pandemic, his grandsons, Tevfik Kamil, 36, and Erkin Kamil, 32, are taking the shop on.

Ahmet Kamil at work in the shoe repair business. Photo: Spitalfields Life/The Gentle Author

Tevfik, who has worked at the shop for 15 years, said: “You have to enjoy what you do for a living.

“I thought it would be best for me to carry on the family business so I started here and my dad trained me up.

“My dad was an angel, just a different kind of human being. He was a people person, like a real people person.”

The brothers’ grandfather was also co-founder of the Hackney Cypriot Association and a well-known figure in Cyprus.

Kamil Ahmet

Four months on from the tragic deaths, passers-by are still dropping in to pass on their condolences.

Erkin, who has previously worked as an Uber driver, said: “Luckily me and my brother have always got along and are quite close, even with four years between us.

“Every day someone always walks in and says something. His [their father’s] old mates come around and still hang about. They say, ‘your dad was a lovely man’.

“But it is nothing new – we knew that.

Tevfik and Erkin inside the shop

“It’s like I’m grieving for my dad but I am also helping everyone else grieve too.

“Some of them are in tears. We have got a big family and all of our cousins, they all loved him very much and admired him. It’s sad.”

Erkin, who has three children, the youngest just eight months old, added: “I don’t believe my dad died from this virus. My grandad might have had some underlying health issues we were unaware of. But I think my dad, he might have contracted the virus, but I think he died from heartbreak.”

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