Outpourings of affection and sorrow from around the world greeted the news of the death of legendary actor Peter Vaughan yesterday.
Many who worked with the star - most recently known for his role in the TV series Game of Thrones - took to social media to pay tributes to him.
And among them were also many who got to know Peter, 93, after he moved to Mannings Heath on the edge of Horsham with his wife, fellow actor Lillias Walker, eight years ago. The couple had previously lived at Goffs Manor in Crawley with their family for 20 years.
Peter’s agent Sally Long-Innes put out a statement on Monday: “This is to confirm that very sadly Peter Vaughan passed away at approximately 10.30 this morning. He died peacefully with his family around him.”
Peter’s son - jazz drummer Dave Ohm - later posted a message of thanks on Twitter: “Twitter often gets a bad press, but the love shown towards my dad today has been a huge comfort to me & the family. Thanks all #PeterVaughan.”
Actress Susan George tweeted: “Sad #news today the #uniquely #talented #PeterVaughan has left us. #Honour working with him knowing him. God bless you Peter RIP.”
MP Jonathan Ashworth tweeted: “What a wonderful actor #PeterVaughan was. So many great characters but for me Felix in OFITN was the very best RIP.”
Local resident John White posted on the West Sussex County Times’ Facebook page: “I used to look forward to our chats when walking through the village and I would make sure Peter got home safely as his eyesight was becoming a problem for him.
“My sincerest condolences go out to Lillias and their family, friends and colleagues. You will be sadly missed around Mannings Heath, Peter, but thank you for the legacy you’ve left for us to continue to enjoy for years to come! RIP Peter Ohm (Vaughn).”
Peter Heneghan posted: “Going to miss seeing Peter Vaughan in his shorts and high viz on his little walks around the village.”
Peter himself invited the County Times to his home in Mannings Heath for one of his last major interviews earlier this year.
He spoke then fondly of his long career on stage and screen with anecdotes of the numerous leading stars with whom he had shared his life - including Frank Sinatra, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Craig and Robert Lindsay to name but a few.
He also recalled one of his best-known roles: that of Harry Grout in the TV comedy series Porridge. Even, now, he said, people often greeted him in the street with the shout of: ‘Oi, Grouty, let you out ‘ave they?’ Adding: “Working with Ronnie Barker and dear Beckinsale was a great experience because they were so brilliant together.”
Peter gained world-wide acclaim and a new generation of fans after playing the role of Maester Aemon in the fantasy television series Game of Thrones.
Back in May Peter told the County Times he was now in “semi retirement” but, in fact, he worked steadfastly at promoting his newly-released autobiography Once A Villain.
He attended a number of book-signings including one at Horsham Library and at Waterstones.
He also attended a summer fayre organised by The Friends of Goffs Park in Crawley back in July.
And the screen tough guy - in reality a gentle giant - was due to perform in a piece entitled: Peter Vaughan - It’s Only Grouty at London’s Museum of Comedy on December 18.
Sadly it is not to be.