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Dennis puts best foot forward with his much-loved shoes

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Meet dapper dresser Dennis Whinfrey – who still has his best shoes reheeled every six months at the Sheffield shop where he bought them 25 years ago.

Dennis, aged 91, first bought the brown leather lace-ups from Peter’s in 1989.

Back then the cobblers was down in the bowels of the city centre’s famous Hole in the Road – and in the years since it’s moved premises to High Street.

But Dennis has never wavered, returning loyally for a quarter of a century to owner Peter Bullock to get his shiny shoes repaired.

The sartorial Sheffield war veteran – whose daily attire is a double-breasted blazer, waistcoat, shirt and tie, with a freshly-ironed handkerchief popped in the pocket – said he is often complimented on his smart appearance. But it’s his faithful footwear that gains him the most attention.

“They polish up well and I try to look after them,” Dennis told The Star. “I always get complimented on them.

“They may be 25 years old but I still take care of them.

“I come to Peter’s every six months – and if I’m still here in another six months I will be back again!”

The pristine Loake shoes – a style called Derby, popular for sporting and hunting in the 1850s, and for town by the turn of the 20th century – were an expensive purchase even in 1989, priced £60.

Since then Dennis has kept them tip-top with plenty of TLC, and twice-yearly attention at the little shop on the tram tracks near Sheffield Cathedral.

When shop owner Peter got chatting to Dennis, he was amazed to hear the shoes he had sold to one of his most loyal customers were still going strong after more than two decades.

“They must be the most repaired shoes in the country,” marvelled the 54-year-old, from Dinnington.

As a way of saying thank you to Dennis, both for his custom and his military service – Dennis served with the Green Howards in WWII, and in the Army for a decade -–Peter offered him a free pair of new Loakes worth £200. But, while Dennis said he was delighted by the gesture, he is unsure whether to accept the gift.

“It’s a lovely offer but the shoes I’ve got have served me well,” he said. “I’m not sure a new pair could be any better.”

Widower Dennis, who worked as a machinist after the war, lost his childhood sweetheart wife Alice years ago, but still keeps active, attending tea dances at Sheffield City Hall regularly.

But he wouldn’t dream of wearing his Loake shoes for those occasions.

“They are not suitable for dancing,” he scoffed.

Andrew Loake, managing director of Kettering-based British firm Loakes, said: “We’d like to thank Dennis for being so loyal! We are delighted his shoes still look so smart after all these years.”

 

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