West Sussex entertainer Ray Bill sadly passed away on November from bowel cancer at the age of 79.
Originally from London, Mr Bill moved to West Sussex and started as a market gardener lovingly growing lettuces, tomatoes, celery – to name but a few on an LSA (as it was called then) nursery in Sidlesham.
He then built his own nursery, Cedar Nursery (later FuschiaWorld) in Apuldram just outside Chichester.
This was Mr Bill’s first love in the early years along with his family and three daughters.
Mr Bill always loved entertaining and at his funeral, which was attended by over 100 people, there were many funny stories of impromptu singing and dancing.
Mr Bill for many years loved amateur operatics, amateur dramatics, singing, dressing up as Elvis and being in as many shows as he could.
He was a regular for Selsey and Chichester Amateur Operatic Society and then went onto sing in the Solent Male Voice Choir, learn the Ukulele and enjoyed putting on shows with song, dance and laughter.
Mr Bill particularly loved performing in ‘Me and My Girl’ as well as belting out renditions of Mario Lanza and Elvis songs when the moment took him.
The much loved entertainer was always the optimist and needed this in later life when Parkinson’s struck him about 12 years ago.
Mr Bill carried out a lot of fundraising and raising awareness and could often be seen in Chichester high street singing and collecting for Parkinson’s local branches.
He persevered with all that Parkinson’s brings, but unfortunately with his health had to move to Dovecote Care Home in Westhampnett.
As ever Mr Bill was at the forefront of what the entertainment was and brought a real smile to all the staff’s faces, especially in the last two years of Covid isolation.
Mr Bill, in the last few months was diagnosed, with Bowel Cancer which led to his passing in November.
He was passionate about helping others and donated his brain to research with Parkinson’s and really wanted to help others.
At Mr Bill’s funeral, which he had detailed all the plans, there were speeches by his daughters and other family members which were on the “bright side of life” and supported by the Solent Male Voice Choir and the Salvation Army playing Christmas Songs which he would have loved – just like one of his shows.