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Don't panic! Sitcom star joins charity on roadshow in Tavistock

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 06, 2012

  • Dad's Army star Bill Pertwee poses with Mike Lyall of the Military Vehicle Trust at the 'Devon in Sight' roadshow in Tavistock. Mike wears the uniform of the US 29th Infantry Division, which was based in Tavistock in the war

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"Keep Calm and Carry On" may be the words on the mugs, posters and fridge magnets of the moment, but it was Dad's Army's Lance Corporal Jones, played by Clive Dunn, who first famously coined the phrase "Don't panic!" in the late 1960s.

Dunn's co-star, Bill Pertwee, who played Chief Warden Hodges in the long-running BBC sitcom, is today vice-patron of Devon in Sight and recently he made a guest appearance at the charity's roadshow at Tavistock Town Hall.

Bill, 86, was happy to pose for pictures as he toured the event, which was held to promote the work of the Exeter-based charity helping people with visual impairments across Devon, and a number of organisations it works with.

"I'm delighted to be here to help Devon in Sight, which is a wonderful local charity which does so much good work for people with a range of sight problems," he said.

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He regaled visitors with a story of how, on a trip to London, he was recognised by a taxi driver, who told him: "Of course, they can't make any more episodes of Dad's Army, because you're all dead, aren't you!"

Bill also took time to inspect a Second World War truck parked outside the town hall to publicise his visit. The 1942 Dodge WC51 weapons carrier was built in the US for the American military and saw service in the UK and France, before being sold to the French army after the war. It was brought back to the UK in 2008 by Mike Lyall of Bere Alston in West Devon, who has completely restored it.

"I'm wearing the uniform of the United States 29th Infantry Division, which was based in Tavistock in the war," said Mike, a member of the Military Vehicle Trust. "In fact, General Eisenhower inspected the division here outside the town hall."

Devon in Sight's director of services, Martin Pallett, said: "I'd like to thank Bill for coming along and making the roadshow so memorable. We're so delighted to have him on board as vice-patron."

The Devon in Sight resource centre in Topsham, is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, to help people with visual impairments. The charity also runs low-vision clinics and drop-in sessions to demonstrate how the latest technology can help with day-to-day tasks.

To find out more about the work of Devon in Sight, call 01392 876666, visit the website www.devoninsight.org.uk or email enquiries@devoninsight.org.uk

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