Tributes have been paid to Alec Cottrell a flamboyant, eccentric and much-loved Fulham resident who died aged 95 on December 13 last year.
The ultimate 'Mr Fulham' , Alec was born and lived his entire life in the borough, serving the area as a carpenter in his working life, amateur actor and latterly as an outspoken, witty and committed vice-chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Pensioners' Forum.
Born in 1914 as Alexander but known to all as Alec, he was the last survivor of the 'Old Contemptibles' an association established to honour the memory of first world war veterans, and each year he was active in organising memorial events across the borough.
A dapper dresser, who would often be seen in a bow tie and waistcoat, friends remember him as a man with a sharp sense of humour and a big heart.
"He was a marvellous man, who you could always trust to come up with a quip no matter what the situation ," said Phyllis Perlin, his friend of 30 years and chair of the pensioners' forum. "But his humour was never mean or sarcastic. He wanted people to have a good time and he did his best to help those around him whenever he could."
Those efforts included dissenting against council decision to charge for home care as well as being a vocal campaigner for rights for older people, something he would do at forum meetings with a rare charm and light touch.
Close friend Adriana Sinclair, who met Alec at St Saviour's Church in Cobbold Road in 2000 and who was at his hospital bedside when he passed away, said: "He was forever the thespian. He loved being on stage and lived much of his life as if he was still on one, always laughing and joking and living in fantasy lands he had created. He was just a wonderful man."
Alec, who survived with one lung for much of his life after contracting asbestosis, liked to place small bets in his Askew Road bookmakers, enjoyed the occasional drink and had a sweet tooth.
"But he didn't spend a lot of money on his hobbies..as he would always say 'I'm saving up for my old age'", she added.
He survived his wife Muriel, who passed away in 2002. Tragically the couples' only child Dilys, died in an air raid in the 1940s.
Heather Armitage, secretary of the pensioners' forum, said the couple were very close and had got through the unimaginable trauma of losing a child.
"Alec was very good with children and he would be invited to give talks at local schools on the war days," she said. "They loved him and it made him very happy to bring a smile to their faces."
An antiques collector and lover of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – his mother was housekeeper to Edward Burne-Jones at The Grange, in North End Road – Alec kept several antique clocks at his home in Wendell Road, always resisting the temptation to send them to auction.
Friends agree it was for his kindness and humour that he will be most missed.
"I shall miss his attitude to life – he was 95 but was strong, alert and full of life," Mrs Perlin added. "He was a great friend to many people and a unique man."