TONY Billingham, the multi-talented Lapal businessman and musician, has died aged 81.

Mr Billingham, who ran Lapal House Care Home and performed in All Stars jazz band, died at home on Friday (October 29).

He also ran Beechcroft Residential Home in Oldbury and Grange Hill House in Bromsgrove Road, Halesowen, and was a key member of Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club.

Halesowen Business Improvement District (BID) paid tribute to him saying: "It is with great sadness to inform you that one of the founding members of The Halesowen BID, Tony Billingham, has passed away.

"Tony was incredibly passionate about Halesowen and his hard work and dedication will never be forgotten.

"His legacy in caring for our town will live on in every step we take on our journey for a brighter future for Halesowen - our thoughts and prayers are with Tony’s family at this very difficult time."

Mr Billingham, who was a committed Tory, changed his band's name from Europa, which he had used for 40 years, to All Stars, because of his belief in Brexit.

He loved jazz. The accomplished saxophone player also had a passion for classic cars. 

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris paid tribute to Mr Billingham calling him a "kind, passionate and considerate gentleman."

He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of Tony’s passing last week.

"I got to know Tony well over the years, he was very passionate about the Halesowen community and looking to help wherever he could.

"He has left his mark on the care industry and I’m sure the staff and residents in the homes he owned will be saddened by this news.

"Tony was a keen saxophonist, and his annual jazz festival was often a highlight of the summer for me.

"I will always remember him as a kind, passionate and considerate gentleman, and my thoughts are with Pam and the whole family at this difficult time.”

His loyal PA Lyn Willetts had worked for Mr Billingham for more than three decades.

The 61-year-old said: “We had our moments – I worked for him for 32 years!

“He was a lovely man to work for and to know.

“Life has never been boring.”

The kind-hearted businessman invited lonely OAPs to enjoy a free Christmas dinner at Lapal House and started a support group for carers of people with dementia after witnessing first hand the ravages of the disease and the toll it takes on carers in his homes.

He carried on working during the coronavirus pandemic despite being over 80 and spoke of the nightmare when when five residents and 13 staff at Lapal House tested positive, with one resident passing away.

He contracted covid himself and was affected by long covid.

Mr Billingham was Halesowen born and bred and stayed in his home town all his life, living near his care home Lapal House in Lapal Lane South.

Halesowen News:

Pic Tony and Pam Billingham