Lionel passed away on Thursday at the age of 92. The legendary entertainer had last been in Worthing in September, 2017, when he unveiled a blue plaque for singer Alma Cogan outside her childhood home in Lansdowne Road.
Before unveiling the plaque, Lionel said: “It is a pleasure for me to be able to do this. I hate doing it, because I want her to be here. To this day I miss her.”
His visit was organised by Geoff Bowden, of the British Music Hall Society, with help from the Alma Cogan Fan Club and the Worthing Society.
Geoff said: “When I contacted Lionel to ask him if he would unveil the plaque at 29, Lansdowne Road, Worthing, where Alma and her family lived in the late 1940s, he agreed straight away – but explained that he would need a car to collect him from his home in Surrey and take him home again after the ceremony as he no longer drove.
“A local firm, Arrow Cars, agreed to do this free of charge and so Lionel arrived in plenty of time for the event.
“He spent some time chatting to us all in the house while drinking coffee when he noticed the crowds gathering outside. Immediately, the entertainer in Lionel came to the fore. He went outside and chatted to everyone waiting for a good 20 minutes, doing a sort of improvised ‘question-and-answer session’ before the unveiling took place.
“He was on terrific form that day, even shedding a few tears as he recalled his dear friend Alma.
“It was a memorable afternoon, filmed by the BBC local news, and Lionel delighted everybody present. RIP, Lionel.”