Swap Shop stars mourn Keith Chegwin after his death at 60

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Keith Chegwin's Multi-Coloured Swap Shop co-stars have paid tribute to him after his death at the age of 60.

Noel Edmonds described him as "my first real telly chum" and called him a "true legend", while John Craven described him as "bubbly, positive, full of fun".

Maggie Philbin, who was his wife from 1982 to 1993 after Philbin joined the line-up of Swap Shop in 1978, said he was a "one-off".

Keith Chegwin death
Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin after their wedding in 1982 (PA)

Chegwin, often known as Cheggers, died at home on Monday after battling a progressive lung condition.

Edmonds, his Swap Shop co-presenter, said in a statement: "I've lost my first real telly chum and I'm certain I'm not alone in shedding tears for a true telly legend.

"He was an extraordinary showman capable of entertaining a vast crowd of excited children during the long periods between his live contributions to the show.

"I never saw Keith flustered or lost for words. In fact now I think about it I never saw him upset or angry. I never heard Cheggers say a bad word about anyone. Like all true professionals he possessed the knack of reinventing himself time and time again.

"He was a very generous performer. Keith was indeed larger than life but he never stole the spotlight. He was an all-round entertainer - a very funny comedian and accomplished musician and singer. He was at his best on location, with a film crew chasing him and a member of the public about to be surprised on their doorstep.

Maggie Philbin, John Craven, Keith Chegwin and Noel Edmonds (PA)

"The greatest achievement for any TV performer is for the viewers to regard you as a friend and today millions will be grateful for Keith's contribution to their childhood memories and like me they will mourn the passing of a friend."

Craven, who appeared on Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore with Chegwin, told the Press Association he first met him when he was 19.

He said: "I never saw Keith without a smile. He was always bubbly, positive, full of fun."

Craven added: "We worked together for 10 years and remained good friends, which doesn't always happen when strangers are thrust together on a television show.

"He was a master of the off-the-cuff remark and always made his job look so easy, whatever show he was doing, which is the true mark of a star on top of his game. Keith was much loved and will be much missed."

Philbin said she last saw Chegwin at the wedding of his sister, the radio broadcaster Janice Long.

Millione wine launch party
Janice Long (Carl Court/PA)

She said: "Keith was a one-off - full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered - his family.

"I saw him two months ago at his sister Janice's wedding, where he was still attempting to be life and soul of the party despite being on portable oxygen and made sure he knew how much he meant to us all.

"Our daughter Rose flew home from San Francisco to be with him over the last few weeks and I know he was surrounded by so much love from his second wife Maria, their son Ted, his sister Janice, his twin brother Jeff and his father Colin.

"Keith was loved by everyone who knew and worked with him.

"I first met him when we did a film about windsurfing when I joined Swap Shop in 1978 and was immediately struck by his fun, energy and kindness.

"He drove me home to Leicestershire from that freezing lake in Staines, insisting it was on his own way home. (He lived in Twickenham).

"He leaves us all with very special memories."

In his last message on Twitter, posted on September 28, Chegwin let fans know he was not well, tweeting: "Still not right. I will be back - But not for a bit yet. I'm so sorry."

Still not right. I will be back - But not for a bit yet. I'm so sorry

-- Keith Chegwin (@keithchegwin) September 28, 2017

His family announced his death, saying: "We are heartbroken to share the news that Keith Chegwin sadly passed away following a long-term battle with a progressive lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which rapidly worsened towards the end of this year.

"Keith died peacefully at home shortly after midnight on the 11th of December. His wife Maria, his daughter Rose and his son Ted were by his side.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Severn Hospice for the kindness, support and care they have shown us all over the last few weeks.

"Keith was a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. We would respectfully ask to be left to mourn his passing in private."

Heather Palin, deputy chief executive and director of care at Severn Hospice, said: "Our thoughts are with Keith's family at this sad time.

"Everyone at the charity is proud of the care we provide to all of our patients and the support we are able to offer families when they need us most.

"I am sure it was a comfort to both Keith and his loved ones that he was able to be cared for at home by our specialist Hospice at Home nurses."