Tributes paid to Topsham’s TV legend Bill Pertwee

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- Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to beloved TV actor and Topsham resident Bill Pertwee, who has died aged 86.

Mr Pertwee was best known nationally for starring as ARP Warden William Hodges in the classic BBC sitcom Dad’s Army.

However, after moving to Topsham six years ago, he became heavily involved in the community, becoming vice-patron of the charity Devon in Sight, and supporting a number of other causes.

Born in Buckinghamshire in 1926, Mr Pertwee enjoyed a varied acting career, also appearing in the sitcom You Rang, M’Lord and three Carry On films.

He was awarded an MBE in 2007, the same year he moved down to Topsham from Surrey.


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Speaking in 2010, he said: “I came down to see some friends for four days and rather liked the place as it was chummy and so forth.

“When I returned home I thought I would love to go down there again and that was it; I was hooked. I think that Exmouth is a wonderful place and Topsham certainly.”

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The move meant that Mr Pertwee was closer to family in Cornwall, and also meant the keen railway enthusiast could enjoy the trains passing through the town.

While living in Topsham, he supported several local charity events, including for the Royal British Legion and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, as well as many appearances for Devon in Sight.

With his health declining, Mr Pertwee had to move last year to a residential home in Cornwall, however he maintained his Topsham address, and spent last Christmas and New Year there.

Exeter PR Glen King, who befriended him after working with him on several events, said: “He was well loved and did so much for charity and involved himself fully in the local community.

“Whenever we went out for lunch in Topsham each pub or restaurant knew that his favourite meal was chicken Caesar salad, and whether it was on the menu or not they did it for him.

“He had all his faculties and was a joy to listen to when he reminisced about his career and remembered every little detail. He will be sadly missed.”

Devon in Sight operations manager Grahame Flynn said: “Everyone here was very saddened to learn of the death of Bill Pertwee. He was a great supporter of the charity, helping to spread the message about our work with people who suffered from visual impairment.

“We know many people in Topsham will join us in passing on our condolences to his family and friends, who are very much in our thoughts at this sad time.”

Mr Pertwee died peacefully on Monday at a hospital in Cornwall, with his companion Maggie Bourgein, his son Jonathan Pertwee and Jonathan’s partner Louise Yarwood at his side.

His wife Marion McLeod died on the same date in 2005. He is survived by Jonathan and two grandchildren, aged 15 and 19.

Ms Yarwood described him as a wonderful grandfather, and said he was always there when others needed him.

She added: “He was quite a comedian, definitely. He had a great sense of humour. Slightly eccentric with things but fun, just really good fun. He really had a twinkle in his eye even up to this week.”

Jonathan Pertwee said: “He just had a great love for people around him but he was very, very down to earth. He wasn’t at all starry but he loved the business and the people in it.”

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