Tributes Paid to Kent Legend Dave Lee

Tributes are being paid to Kent legend Dave Lee who has died after a battle with cancer.

The comedian, panto star and tireless charity fundraiser had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the end of last year.

The 64 year old was made an MBE in 2003 and was also due to be honoured with the Freedom of the City of Canterbury at a special ceremony at the end of the month.

Dave notched up more than 1,000 performances over 16 years of pantomime productions at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, with his famous "Ghost Bench Gag" becoming a regular feature, and was reluctantly forced to pull of this winter's show because of his health.

As well as entertaining Kent he also set up his charity, Dave Lee's Happy Holidays, providing holidays and days out for sick, disabled and underprivileged children. Since 1995 it has raised more than £2 million.

Fellow comedians and celebrity fans and friends have been paying tribute to Dave on Twitter. Comic Bradley Walsh said: "He brought smiles to so many faces both as the comedian and through his charity." TV critic Garry Bushell said: "He was a wonderful comedian and a good friend. Heaven just got funnier."

The Marlowe has also issued a statement paying tribute. Theatre Director Mark Everett said: "Dave was a very good friend to The Marlowe, all who worked in it, and to live entertainment of all kinds in Kent and beyond.

"He never had a bad word to say about anybody – he was absolutely wonderful. It is a sad day for our theatre and all of the staff send their condolences to his family and many friends.

Mark Everett spoke to Heart

Mark Everett on Dave Lee

Presenter Ross King has tweeted to say that Dave Lee was "the funniest of comedians, a big man with an even bigger heart and a true gentleman." While England and Kent cricketer Geraint Jones has called for a statue in Dave's memory to to stand outside the Marlowe Theatre.

And Pantomime producer Paul Hendy said: “Everybody knows Dave Lee – he was Kent’s best mate and everyone has a story to tell about him. We always billed him as a ‘legend’ and as far as the local community was concerned, this was true.

"Dave was the life and soul of the party and always had a gag to tell. He will be missed."

Dave Lee

Dave (pictured with Stephen Mulhern) started his showbiz career as a drummer and singer, going on to release several records before forming a comedy show band. But he decided to go solo as a comedian after advice from Eric Morecambe who'd seen him perform.

Dave was a warm up man for the likes of Michael Parkinson, Michael Aspel and Jimmy Tarbuck, before going on to appear in front of the TV cameras in his own right on a range of shows including The Generation Game, The Brian Conley Show, Celebrity Squares and Live from the Palladium.

He was nominated in the British Comedy Awards, and also hosted his own radio shows.

A tribute concert and Gala night has been arranged for the Tower Theatre in Folkestone for January 29th featuring Alvin Stardust and Chas Hodges from Chas and Dave

Please leave your tributes here.