Thursday, 9 July 2015


Charles Ford, 81, was born in Cape Town on 23rd May 1934 , the second eldest of seven siblings.

Just after he passed Standard 5 (Grade 7) Charles got a job, as a young teenager, as  a sweeper in a shoe factory to help his family make ends meet and also to help keep his brother at high school. Two years later he obtained an apprenticeship and three years later qualified as a shoemaker and sample-cutter. 

During his long career in shoemaking he made shoes for many local luminaries and in 1966 was sent to London by his employers (Lotus Shoes) to present  a pair of shoes that he had personally made  to  Miss Sweden -  who was soon to be crowned “Miss World”. 
Before returning to South Africa he also did a stint working in Ireland for Tyrone Shoes.

Charles is a Christian with a strong sense of “caring and community” and he has always subscribed to “do whatever you can to help the community”. When he was working as part-time  barman for the Western Province Cricket Club  he met members of the Claremont Rotary Club who invited him to join Rotary as an “honorary member” in recognition for his years' of community work. 

At the Claremont Rotary Club he became an active fundraiser and was ultimately given the “Paul Harris Award” - Rotary International’s highest award in recognition for exceptional community services rendered !

At the age of 25 Charles married his childhood sweetheart, Alma Johnson, from Windermere (near Kensington, Cape Town). They had two sons and were extremely happily married for 45 years. Sadly, Alma passed away eleven years ago.

Nowadays  Charles dotes on his only grandchild, Karyn (aged 9) whilst still leading an active life - even periodically still working as a barman at major rugby matches  at Newlands Rugby Stadium.

Now in his 80’s and the epitome of good health Charles gets up every morning before 6 am to do voluntary “pedestrian crossing duty” at his granddaughter’s school in Retreat (Cape Town).

Charles loves all people regardless of their economic status, culture, race or religion. You will easily recognise Charles by his sincere charm, smile and friendly manner as he walks to catch a suburban train at Retreat or Claremont stations. Charles, who cannot abide unfairness and rudeness, believes in greeting  everyone with a friendly "good morning" or "good afternoon" or "hello" bringing some warmth and cheer into the lives of others. 

In today's world of so much selfishness, greed and lack of courtesy, Charles Ford, who is  one of life’s “selfless givers and carers”,  remains a humble man with a humble background, without any airs and graces.  He is a living  role-model for all of us, young and old, and a beacon of what we all should try and aspire to be.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man! Beautiful article.

  2. An extract from an email sent by Eric George to Andre Ford, Charles's son, said: I was impressed with the wording of the account of your Dad's views of life and his contributions to others, describing his very sincere values. It is exactly how I knew him from the first day we were introduced at Cyril Plato's place in Crawford in 1993. Charles has never changed and is a role model for any young person to follow. Please let him know how pleased I was than an account of a real person with such an attitude to life and others was made public.