CILLA’S FI­NAL HOURS OF LAUGH­TER AND FUN

Sons re­veal their mum’s ex­u­ber­ant spirit and love of life

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Tom Bryant

CILLA Black’s fi­nal hours were filled with love and laugh­ter, as she sipped cham­pagne and joked at the fam­ily’s lux­ury Span­ish villa, her son has re­vealed.

Heart­bro­ken el­dest son Robert Wil­lis, 45 – who found his mum slumped on her bal­cony af­ter she suf­fered a fa­tal fall – re­vealed how they had spent the morn­ing chat­ting and watch­ing Jeremy Kyle.

Speak­ing in de­tail about his last pre­cious mo­ments with his 72-year-old mum who lived in Den­ham, Robert, who was also her man­ager, re­called how he’d gone for a swim be­fore join­ing her in her room.

“She was sit­ting around hav­ing a glass of cham­pagne killing her­self laugh­ing at Jeremy Kyle – with­out the hear­ing aids, ob­vi­ously – so blar­ing out across Mar­bella,” he said.

“We hung out and at about 1pm I said I was go­ing to do a shop. I said good­bye and that was the last time I saw her.”

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed the pop­u­lar singer and TV pre­sen­ter died af­ter top­pling back­wards on her sun ter­race, knock­ing over a ta­ble be­fore hit­ting her head on the wall. The im­pact left her un­con­scious and caused a rare form of stroke.

Cilla, who had two other sons Ben, 41, and Jack, 35, lay undis­cov­ered on the ter­race for up to four hours, ac­cord­ing to a re­port into her death.

She died on Au­gust 1 – the first day of her planned hol­i­day with Robert.

Robert also told how she had be­gun to feel the af­fects of old age.

He said: “Dur­ing the last two years she be­gan to suf­fer fairly stan­dard things that peo­ple as they get older would suf­fer.

“Her hear­ing had started to go, so she had to start wear­ing hear­ing aids. Typ­i­cal of my mum, she wouldn’t wear them. The thing that really af­fected her phys­i­cally was her arthri­tis.”

Her sons opened up about their late mum in an ITV trib­ute show aired on Christ­mas Day called Our Cilla.

They also told how Cilla – who had a string of pop hits in the 1960s be­fore pre­sent­ing TV shows Blind Date and Sur­prise Sur­prise – strug­gled with the death of her beloved hus­band Bobby long af­ter he died in 1999 aged 57 from can­cer.

“It was so dif­fi­cult for her just to ac­knowl­edge it,” Robert says. Ben adds: “It knocked mum for six.” Paul O’Grady , one of her clos­est pals, also fea­tured in the pro­gramme.

“Things used to hap­pen when we’d go out and I’d al­ways get the blame. In­vari­ably it’d be dawn break­ing be­fore we’d get in or go home,” he laughed.

Joan Collins, 82, and Jimmy Tar­buck, Cilla’s friend for 55 years, also paid trib­ute in the spe­cial.

Speak­ing of her fu­neral, Jimmy, 75, said: “It was like a state fu­neral, it was six deep on the pave­ments. Liver­pool did her proud, as she’d done Liver­pool proud.”

PIC­TURE: CATE GIL­LON/GETTY IM­AGES

Fun times: Cilla Black with close friend Paul O’Grady

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