George Willey: obituary

George Willey

George Willey was known as ‘Mr Swanage’. He wrote for the Advertiser and Swanage Times and his ‘Tilly Whim’ column ran for more than 50 years. His son Wolf-Christian Willey has written this obituary.

George Patrick Willey 09/05/1931 – 22/09/2017


George Patrick Willey, known to all simply as ‘George’, died suddenly and peacefully while on holiday in Germany with his wife, Beate. The devoted couple were on their way to visit family and friends when George was taken into hospital on Thursday 21st September and he slipped away the following evening, at the age of eighty-six.

Born on the ninth of May 1931, in Newport, he grew up in Wales. George won a scholarship to Newport High School and was always proud of the classical education he received there. He did National Service as a clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps and, on demob, took up post as a cub reporter on the South Wales Argus. He then moved north and spent three years working as chief reporter with the Durham County Press, and in 1953, he moved to Swanage. There he worked for the Western Gazette, while also writing and editing the Swanage Times. This was where he created his alter-ego, Tilly Whim, whose column – later featured in The Advertiser –ran for over fifty years.

Although the move to Swanage was only intended as a staging-post to Fleet Street and a career as a political journalist, George quickly realised that he had found his new home, and chose to stay.

George established himself not only as the local reporter, but also as an active member of a large proportion of the clubs, societies and organisations within the town. Most notable of these was his contribution to the work of Rotary: he was a club president, a District Governor, and he also served Rotary internationally.

Those few organisations of which he was not a member still benefitted from his support, both in his columns and on the microphone as commentator. It was in this latter capacity that he was known to thousands of holidaymakers who visited the town.

In 1961, he met his future wife, Beate. They were married the following year and this April celebrated their 55th anniversary. They had two children, Wolf and the sadly-missed Katina, and six grandchildren.

Known as a wit and raconteur, George will most be remembered for his infectious enthusiasm and tremendous positivity for all things Swanage, and by his family for the love and devotion he bestowed.


The funeral will take place at St Mary’s Parish Church in Swanage at 11am on Friday 13 October.

The family requested that any donations be sent to Save The Children.

Donations can be made through James Smith Funeral Directors or via the link: