A CHARTERED accountant who enjoyed spending his free time as an Elvis impersonator and playing poker has been remembered for his “great zest for life”.

Bruce Atkinson, from Brighton, died at the age of 78 on Friday, January 12.

Bruce, who was born in 1939, was well known in Brighton and Hove, having worked as a chartered accountant in the area since 1962.

His childhood years were spent living on a farm with his little brother Roger during the Second World War, which meant his family were not as limited as others when it came to rations.

His mother left home when Bruce was six, leaving him with his brother.

Bruce moved in with his aunty Marjorie where he shared a room with his cousin, before moving and back and forth between there and his father’s home in the years that followed.

Bruce was very bright at school and after succeeding in his O levels, he made plans to study languages in his further education.

He used to commute by bicycle and bus to Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (Bhasvic) and moved to live on his own when he was 17.

Bruce had a chance encounter that would change his fortunes when he hitch-hiked a lift one day after missing a bus.

Edwin Stanley Prince stopped his vehicle and asked the young man, “What do you want to be when you’re older?”

When Bruce replied that he was not set on a particular career, Mr Prince proposed the idea of becoming a chartered accountant and offered him an article clerkship that same day for £2 a week.

Four years later, Bruce gained his qualifications and went on to build up a long list of clients.

Bruce had several passions that took him away from work, including performing as an Elvis impersonator under the name Elvis-Senior, raising a lot of money for The Martlets hospice in Hove.

He loved to play golf and ran celebrity golf events in the 1980s to raise money for the Mountbatten Trust, with attendees including the late Sir Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck.

He also owned a number of race horses over the years and enjoyed playing poker and watching dog-racing.

Poker was one of his main passions and he is known for co-inventing the game London lowball, with him holding the record for the biggest cash game win for a game. Bruce received great care from the Royal Sussex and Royal Marsden hospitals in his later life before he died.

His funeral was held at St Andrew’s Church, Brighton, last Friday.

Bruce’s son Greg Atkinson said: “He was a pretty unique sort of bloke and one of a kind.

“Our dad had a few great passions in his life, but top of the list had to be Elvis and with that singing. We as brothers are all immensely grateful and proud to have the family business to take over and hopefully run on for another 50 years.”