COMEDIAN, game show host and television presenter Tom O'Connor, who sadly passed away in the past few days, loved the Island and made so many appearances here at theatres, holiday centres and clubs.

I first met him back in 1980 at the Ponda Rosa, Ashey, and we became friends for the next 40 years.

The last time we met was at the 2019 TRIC Awards Christmas party at a posh London hotel.

Tom was such a lovely man and always genuinely pleased to see you. He was one of the true gentlemen of showbusiness. His charming wife, Pat, always travelled with him.

His life as a schoolteacher has been well chronicled. I still remember the first paragraph I ever wrote about him back in 1980.

"Around the mid '60s Tom O'Connor's bank balance could not even run to the cost of a school dinner. That rags to riches showbiz cliché is just about worn out. In Tom's case, it really was 2/8d to international stardom."

Millions loved Tom for his television game shows and he held the world record for hosting nine different shows.

Tom's simple looking-at-life reflective comedy was way before its time and he was often copied by younger comedians. Some even stole much of his act. Thankfully, they couldn't steal his unique way of telling them.

Later in his life Tom became an international favourite on cruise liners. There was never a blue joke and his clever humour was a particular favourite of Americans. In 2016 he undertook 32 cruises.

Many will remember his Sandown Pavilion summer season in August 1985, when he starred in Startime '85 for Nick Thomas.

Ventriloquist Ward Allen was also in the show. It was rumoured he could hear that Tom and wife Pat were watching television in the next dressing room.

Roger the dog was heard saying: "They're probably watching ToM O'Connor. He's on four nights a week." Tom loved that line.

On one occasion I felt so sorry for Tom and Pat. He was such a hit at all the Warner's Centres and came many times.

On one occasion there was no room to stay at the cabaret venue and they were given a room at a local pub. I interviewed him there and left in a hurry, quickly followed by them. Very wisely, they drove back to their Berkshire home after the gig.

Sadly, another of our showbiz legends discovered on Opportunity Knocks has left us. It was a privilege to have known Tom O'Connor.