A television and stage actress has paid tribute to movie icon Richard Attenborough whom she shared an “unforgettable” 30-year friendship with.

Rottingdean-based actress Barbara Whatley, who once famously turned down a marriage proposal from Elvis Presley, worked closely with Lord Attenborough for more than a quarter of a century on the council of Combined Theatrical Charities.

Mrs Whatley, who is married to former Sussex wicketkeeper Rupert Webb, said the Brighton Rock star would be “deeply missed by everyone who knew him”.

Following the death of the former University of Sussex chancellor on August 24, Mrs Whatley reminisced about times they spent together, including organising an all-star gala in 1992 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

She also remembered his acts of kindness, which included adopting two orphan boys after travelling to South Africa to direct a film about the anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko.