Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Funeral for TV artist Tony Hart

Tony Hart
The avuncular presenter's shows included Take Hart and Hartbeat

Mourners have gathered to pay their last respects to Tony Hart, who died earlier this month, aged 83.

Close family and friends packed a small church in the village of Shamley Green, Surrey, where Hart lived for more than 40 years.

As they entered, the congregation used coloured paints to daub a canvas in memory of the artist and TV presenter.

During the service, Hart's son-in-law, Will Williams, described him as an "English gentleman".

"He kept a stiff upper lip, he never complained, and he was always gracious and kind and warm to everybody, because that's how he was inside," said Williams.

"He knew the meaning of chivalry, honour, duty and respect."


Tribute to Tony Hart
Mourners left artistic tributes to Hart at the funeral service
Hart's daughter Carolyn Ross recalled her father's gentle spirit.

Addressing her late father, she said: "I remember being very small and having a bad dream late one night. To comfort me you lifted me out of bed and took me downstairs where you fed me with Heinz tomato soup and read to me from Winnie the Pooh.

"I remember begging you to collect me from school, so that the other children could see that you really were my dad, and you did."

Hart had suffered from health problems for a number of years, including two strokes. He lost the use of both hands, robbing him of the ability to draw.

He was also devastated by the loss of his wife, Jean, in 2003.

The affable presenter spent more than 40 years teaching children to paint and draw on shows like Vision On, Take Hart and Hartbeat before he retired in 2001.

He served with 1st Gurkha Rifles as an officer before entering television in 1952. His funeral service was preceded by a bagpipe lament from a lone Gurkha soldier.

Paying tribute to his former colleague, Hart's BBC producer, Chris Pilkington, described him as a "magician who used his skills to inspire and empower his eager wide-eyed audience".

"Humble, yet ambitious, enthused, excited, surprised, delighted, self-critical, professional, dedicated, hardworking, an encourager, opening the eye of the audience and giving us all the nudge to 'have a go'.

"Children loved him because of who he was - how genuine he was," Mr Pilkington said.

"They responded to his delight in sharing discoveries, and they loved his invitation to participate. He took us all on a journey, wherein we too could play and be surprised and pleased with our picture-making process."

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