JACK “The Lad” Hayes spent 15 years waking up the avid listeners of Heart Sussex with his early morning show.

Now the former radio DJ is enjoying his own mornings, making breakfast for wife Sally Ann and taking his children Ruben, nine, and Eddie, five, to school.

Fans across Sussex tuned in to hear Jack and his friends and colleagues Tom Evans and Nicola Hume every weekday morning – but in June they were fired by Heart as part of the company’s plans to nationalise the breakfast show.

The three presented their final show at the end of May and for Jack it ended 15 years on the airwaves.

The DJ, who lives in Henfield, joined what was Southern FM in 2004 – it became Heart in 2009 – and was always up with the lark

Now he says it is time for a lie-in – and to draw a line under his career on the airwaves.

He said: “I was ready to stop for a good two or three years but it was never in my mind to work at another radio station.

“To spend 15 years on one show was a great amount of time, but now the whole landscape of radio has changed.

“I love where I live. I didn’t want to be chasing radio jobs across the country.”

Jack, Tom and Nicola were among a handful of casualties when Heart made the decision to nationalise its breakfast show, now headed by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden.

Jack said by the end, it was hard to go in each day.

He said: “The period we had to work where we knew we were leaving was three months and that was hard.

“I wasn’t going to be sulky and be unprofessional and petulant so I always gave my all.

“But when that 4am alarm goes off and you drive in the dark to a job you know you won’t have in a few months, that is soul destroying.

“I have a family and mortgage and it’s not nice having that over your head.

“Worrying about how you’re going to look after your family is tough.

“Anyone who has been made redundant will know that feeling.

“It was really hard for all of us to get ourselves up for it.”

Since Jack, Tom and Nicola left Heart there has been an outpouring of support from the community.

A petition to get them back on the air has reached more than 10,000 signatures.

Jack said that while he expected some sadness from listeners he never expected such a wave of support.

He said: “I was proud of the show and what we built together.

“I really tried to embrace the charity side of things, I did some amazing events and we did a lot of video work that was really funny as well. It was a hell of ride.”

“I was expecting some reaction, just because of the way people felt about the show but I wasn’t expecting it to hit the levels it hit.

“It was extraordinarily humbling.”

Jack, who turns 45 next week, is adamant that a return to local radio is not on the cards.

He is now taking time to enjoy all the little things that his 15 years in radio caused him to miss out on.

He said: “Life is good at the moment.

“There has been a transitional period – getting up at four in the morning for 15 years doesn’t just disappear overnight.

“It’s lovely being at home with my boys, and being able to make tea for my wife in the morning.

“A couple of days after the show ended I walked my boys to school for the first time ever and I had tears in my eyes.

“The older you get, you start searching for a life/work balance.

“I was bored with my working hours, so this has been a real blessing.”

Jack is currently working for three different companies – Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures in Hollingbury, Brighton, Rivervale Leasing in Victoria Road, Portslade, and the Love Local Jobs Foundation CIC in Queen Square, Brighton.

He said the best thing about the new jobs was being able to give back to the community.

He said: “I’ve been so impressed by Phileas Fogg. I built up a bit of a following from my time on radio so I wanted to help them get more people through the door.

“With Love Local Jobs I’m heading up the ‘Dare to Dream’ programme.

“I’ll be going into schools and colleges and talking about my life. It gives me a chance to tell children that there are opportunities out there.

“It’s another chance for me to give back to Sussex, a place that’s been so good to me.”