FORMER journalist, George Willey, better known as Mr Swanage, has died suddenly while on holiday in Germany with his wife Beate.

"They were visiting family and friends when George was taken to hospital on Thursday and he slipped away the following evening, at the age of 86," said his son Wolf-Christian Willey.

"George grew up in Wales and won a scholarship to Newport High School. He did his National Service as a clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps and then took up a post as a cub reporter on the South Wales Argus.

"He moved north and spent three years working as chief reporter with the Durham County Press, and in 1953, he moved to Swanage where he worked for the Western Gazette, while also writing and editing the Swanage Times."

This is where he created the Tilly Whim column to help fill space in the newspaper, which continued in the Swanage Advertiser, and ran for over 50 years.

"The move to Swanage was only intended as a staging-post to Fleet Street and a career as a political journalist, he quickly realised that he had found his new home, and chose to stay," said Wolf-Christian.

George was also an active member of a large number of the clubs, societies and organisations within the town. Most notable of these was his contribution to the work of the Rotary where he was president, and he also served the Rotary internationally.

"The few organisations of which he was not a member still benefitted from his support, both in his columns and on the microphone as a commentator. It was in this latter capacity that he was known to thousands of holidaymakers who visited the town,"said Wolf-Christian.

"George was known as a wit and raconteur and will be remembered for his infectious enthusiasm and tremendous positivity for all things Swanage."

George and Beate celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in April. They had two children, Wolf and the sadly-missed Katina, and six grandchildren.

George's funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Swanage, on October 13 at 11am. To donate to Save the Children go to