George Smewing, 90, from Durrington Lane, Worthing, died peacefully in his sleep at Worthing Hospital on March 22 after having stomach cancer.
From 2009 to 2017, he was a familiar sight outside M&S in Montague Street, Worthing, playing his piano accordion for the masses. During this time he raised more than £43,000 for Chestnut Tree House children's hospice - including a standalone donation of £1,000 from one impressed onlooker.
His son John, 66, described him as 'quite a character'. He said: "He would do anything for anyone really, he was that sort of bloke.
"I think it is amazing how much money he raised. One of his quotes was 'you can never retire'. He always felt you had to have something to look foward to when you got up in the morning, and that's why he did it."
George, a retired charge engineer at Kingston Power Station, started playing the accordion in 2000. Together with his wife Stella they would play in a band and visited care homes to do charitable performances, even taking to Worthing seafront to play.
After Stella moved into a nursing home, George took up busking in 2009 and never looked back.
According to his step-daughter Cynthia Maynard, his favourite songs to play were from the 1940s and 50s, and Christmas carols.
She said: "He loved his busking, he said it gave him a purpose; he would meet up with his regulars for banter and conversation.
"His three children and six step-children are extremely proud of him. He would go out in all weathers, rain or shine. Its an amazing amount of money he raised."
John added: "A few years ago, he had to have a pacemaker fitted and it meant that he couldn't play for six weeks.
"The story I heard was that someone contacted the Herald to find out where he'd gone! So he had to stick up posters around the town to say he would be back."
In 2014, George was named Most Inspiring Volunteer of the Year at Adur & Worthing Council’s first Community Angels awards, receiving his honour from the town crier and then-mayor of Worthing Bob Smytherman. He also picked up a gong at the Herald's Community Stars awards.
George retired from busking in 2015 - but missed it so much that after Stella died in 2017 he picked it up again and carried on until recently when his health began to fail.
Caroline Roberts-Quigley, a community fundraiser from Chestnut Tree House, said: “I have known George for many years and always enjoyed speaking to him about his accordion playing. He was a very kind, generous man, and always said he wanted to give something back to the local community.
"He has been a wonderful supporter of Chestnut Tree House, raising over £43,000 for us over the years. This is an incredible amount and makes such a difference.
"Without supporters like George, we simply wouldn’t be here to support local children with life-shortening conditions and their families.
"I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to George for everything he has done for Chestnut Tree House. I shall miss speaking to him, and send my sincere condolences to his family for their loss.”
George also leaves behind 23 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.
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