FORMER journalist, better known as Mr Swanage, George Willey, has died at the age of 86.

George Patrick Willey grew up in Newport, South Wales and won a scholarship to Newport High School and was always proud of the classical education he received there.

"He did his National Service as a clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps and, on demob, took up a post as a cub reporter on the South Wales Argos. He then moved north and spent three years working as a chief reporter with the Durham County Press, and in 1953, he moved to Swanage. There he worked for the Western Gazette, while also writing and editing the Swanage Times," said his son Wolf-Christian Willey.

In 1955 he created his alter-ego, Tilly Whim, in the Swanage Times to fill the old broadsheet newspaper. The column continued after the Swanage Times became the Swanage and Wareham Advertiser under the Southern Newspapers take over, and ran for over 50 years.

George met many celebrities through his work including the historian Arthur Bryant, actress Googie Withers, and the author Enid Blyton who visited the Purbecks most summers and owned the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club.

"The move to Swanage was only intended as a staging-post to Fleet Street and a career as a political journalist, but 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 clubs, societies and organisations. He was a past chairman of both the Round Table and the 41 Club as well as chairman of the Christmas Festivities Committee and president of the local United Nations Association. He was president of the Regatta and Carnival as well as announcer. He was president of the Choral and Operatic Society and had many roles within the society as well as with the Purbeck Players.

Most notable of his contributions was the work of the Rotary where he was president, and he also served the Rotary internationally. He was also president of the Chamber of Trade for over 40 years, secretary of Wareham, Purbeck and District Licensed Victuallers' Association as well serving on the Purbeck Tourism Group, the South Purbeck Task Force, the Drugs and Alcohol Advisory Board and a governor of Purbeck School.

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

George died suddenly while on holiday in Germany on September 22. He is survived by his wife Beate, Wolf and six grandchildren.

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

His funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Swanage, on October 13 at 11am.