Variety is the spice of life
Johnny Lamonte, known as Juji to his family, died last year leaving his coin collection to RNLI Rye Harbour
For more than thirty years Johnny and his sister Suma were one of the most popular and in-demand speciality acts in British Variety. They appeared at Les Folies Bergères in Paris for a season and upon returning to Britain toured the country and performed in every major theatre.
Despite the advent of commercial television in the 1950s Variety was still big business and Johnny and Suma continued to thrive. Although at times they were paid well, there were many lean times too, as all Variety stars had to pay all their own expenses including accommodation.
Juji’s fascination with coins began some fifty years ago and he became quite a collector. The custom of appreciating and collecting coins goes back to the fourteenth century and because generally only the wealthy could afford to pursue this pastime it became known as the "Hobby of Kings". When he died last year he left no will but his family knew of his wish to have his coins sold and the proceeds given to the RNLI.
On Sunday 3 March Juji's family, including his brother Juno and his wife Jan, visited Rye Harbour station and proudly presented a cheque for £3,100 to Tony Edwards LOM (Lifeboat Operations Manager). Jan spoke fondly of him, remarking that he was the loveliest man you could ever wish to meet. Darryl, his nephew, said, 'It was a huge loss to everyone when he died. He was a true family man and was selfless. I spent a lot of time with him as I was growing up and would travel with him for the summer seasons to Blackpool and Yarmouth.' At his funeral a well-wisher said simply, 'He was the nicest bloke I ever met.'
When Variety dried up Juji had to look for other work but this was difficult as he had no qualifications or experience. He applied for a job at BOC and at the interviewer said to the foreman that his experience in Variety had taught him to be punctual, reliable and, even if ill, still to perform. He was given a trial and secured the job. He found having a regular salary rather strange as his income in the past had been so variable.
Juji had fond memories of Rye Harbour from visits during his lifetime and it was wonderful to welcome his family to the lifeboat station and to receive his generous donation which helps the volunteer crew to train and maintain their equipment, enabling them to help save lives at sea.
RNLI Media contacts
· Kt Bruce, Rye Harbour RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (07789) 818878 Kt@ktbrucephotography.com
· Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org/. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.Learn more about the RNLI
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.