Emsworth is mourning the passing of an acting legend who had made the market town his home.
Albert Finney – best known for his roles in Annie, Murder On The Orient Express and Scrooge – has passed away at the age of 82 following a short illness, his family has announced.
The Oscar nominated actor moved to Emsworth in his later years where he became a popular figure in the town.
Owner of Driftwood Cafe, Clare Wright, summed up the sombre mood after hearing news of his death. "What a terribly sad loss, he was such a lovely chap and I’m sure Emsworth will miss him," she said.
Resident Ray Cobbett added: "He was often seen around the town talking in his broad northern accent to the locals and sometimes for a pint or curry."
The internationally acclaimed Shakespearean actor was born in Salford in 1936. He was nominated for five Oscars across almost four decades for Tom Jones (1963), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Dresser (1983), Under the Volcano (1984) and most recently Erin Brockovich (2000).
Despite such acclaim, locals believe it was the normality of his life in Emsworth which was at the heart of his affinity with the town.
Jessie Grant, a regular in the Blue Bell Inn, said: ‘Albert was an extremely well-liked man with the locals here. We are all working-class builders in this pub and he was one of the boys."
Alistair Gibson, who runs a wine business in the town, added: "He was such a lovely man and everyone respected his privacy. Albert didn’t want publicity. He just became part of everyday life in Emsworth."
Albert had been in the Royal Marsden Hospital for the past month and died from a chest infection last Thursday.
In a heartfelt tribute, Mr Gibson said: ‘Albert loved Emsworth which is why he stayed for so long. It is very sad news."
Mr Cobbett added: ‘He was an original in many ways and straight talking. His signature film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, remains a classic of sixties British cinema.’