‘I lost my best friend and hero’ says comedian

BILL Nankeville, the Woking-born Olympic athlete and father of the actor and comedian Bobby Davro, has died at the age of 95.

Mr Nankeville was moved into a care home late last year after becoming frail and coronavirus restrictions meant Bobby was unable to visit him. The comedian had revealed to a national newspaper the heartache being kept apart was causing him.

Actor and comedian Bobby with his dad Bill

The TV star announced his father’s death last Friday (8 January) on Twitter, saying: “I lost my best friend and my hero. The most wonderful human being I have ever known. I’m so proud of him.

“He was GB mile champion and represented his country in two Olympic games but to me he was just ‘Dad’. I will miss him so very much and I will love him forever.”

Dozens of people tweeted their condolences, including many of Davro’s friends in the entertainment industry, including the actors Ricky Grover and Gary Webster, the singer Sheila Ferguson and the journalists and broadcasters Piers Morgan and Nick Owen.

Mr Nankeville was the son of a Woking milkman and born on 24 March 1925.

The family lived in Arnold Road, Maybury, and Bill went to the same school as the Bedser cricketing twins, Alec and Eric.

He left school at 14 and worked at the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory at Brooklands.

Bill went into the army in 1944 and after the Second World War was one of the country’s top athletes, competing at the London Olympics in 1948 and the Helsinki Games four years later.

He was a teammate of Sir Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway and twice set records for the 1500m relay. He won the national mile title four times.

Mr Nankeville wrote The Miracle of the Mile, about Bannister becoming the first man to break the four-minute mile.

He was well-known in Woking, having gone into retail and running discount shops that he called Davro, a contraction of the names of his sons David and Robert.

Mr Nankeville received a rapturous reception at the Woking County Grammar School for Boys sports day in 1950, where he presented the trophies.

In 1947 he married Janet. His wife died in 2010, having been cared for by Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. Bobby has held many fundraising events for the charity.

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