Tributes are paid to Bognor Butlin’s ‘Uncle Hal’

Hal Brooks, aka Kerby Drill
Hal Brooks, aka Kerby Drill

The family of Hal Brooks – aka Kerby Drill the Clown –has expressed its thanks for the messages of sympathy which have been received since his death last week.

Hal’s dedicated the majority of his 90 years to making people smile, from being headhunted by Butlin’s after moving to Bognor in 1960 to be in charge of children’s entertainment at the then new resort to being the principal organiser of the town’s numerous Clown Conventions.

Son Jim, now a town and district councillor, recalled touring with his dad as ‘The Super Sausage Squad’, a 20-minute Gala act which toured galas and made a TV appearance with Robert Brothers Circus.

Jim said, however, that it is likely many will remember Hal for the extensive tours of schools he undertook teaching road safety or for his famous ‘Face Names’ sketches.

The latter goes back to where Hal’s entertainment career started in Collins Music Halls as a lightning sketch artist that would turn people’s names into cartoon faces.

Hal was also known for being a talented writer, painter and self-taught piano player, with his love of creating staying with him to the end as Jim revealed he was making sculptures from waste materials just before being taken into hospital.

It was during his time stationed in Mumbles, near Swansea, where Hal spent most of the war – in charge of a gun emplacement on Mumbles Lighthouse – that he met his wife Deena at a local dance.

The couple, who went on to have both Jim and his brother Michael, were affectionately called Uncle Hal and Auntie Deena during their time at Butlin’s – names which stuck.

A funeral service is to be held for Hal, who died on June 4, at Chichester Crematorium next Friday, June 22, at 1.15pm. Family flowers only are requested, as is a ‘light-hearted’ approach to dress code, with some clowns expected.

Any kind donations will go towards preserving Clown Events in Bognor Regis.