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SORROW OF CHARLES AS ODD JOB MAN DIES; Prince makes last visit.

Prince Charles was devastated yesterday by the death of the odd job man who became his loyal friend.

The Prince made a mercy dash to be at the bedside of Paddy Whiteland, 84.

And in a remarkable tribute to the plain-speaking Irishman who was his confidant for 17 years, he said Paddy was "one of the best and truest individuals".

Charles added: "I am forever indebted to him. He is one of those rare characters who can get things done by yesterday and he was one of the most loyal people I have ever met."

The sad Prince flew to see Paddy one last time after being told he was "sinking fast".

The two men had grown close when Paddy worked at the Prince's Highgrove estate.

But the odd job man, who suffered from a heart complaint, had been battling a series of illnesses for over a year.

Charles once said everything he had done at Highgrove could not have been achieved without Paddy.

He added: "I soon discovered that I could not survive without Paddy and his truly remarkable organisational abilities."

Charles' press secretary Sandy Henney yesterday said widower Paddy was a "loyal and dear friend" to the Prince.

She said: "He will be sadly missed for his wit and wisdom and will be remembered with deep affection by His Royal Highness and members of his household who have known Paddy for years."

Princess Diana, who was equally fond of the blunt, no-nonsense Irishman, had also been asked to be kept informed of his worsening condition.

She grew close to Paddy and his late wife Nesta in the early days of her marriage.

Princes William and Harry were regular visitors to the couple's bungalow home in nearby Tetbury, Glos.

When childless Nesta was dying from cancer, Charles sent a car to their home so she could see her "dear little princes" for the last time.

And as Paddy's health deteriorated over the last year Charles insisted he should move in with his two elderly sisters so that he could be cared for.

The Prince phoned them daily to ask: "How's Paddy today", and visited him whenever he was staying at Highgrove.

Over the years the caring Prince has also:

Given Paddy a brand-new Ford Escort which he was too ill to drive;

Replaced the World War Two medals the ex-Japanese POW mislaid;

Arranged for him to see the top heart specialist in the area and paid for the treatment;

Offered to pay for Paddy to move into a nursing home of his choice;

Made a special trip to see Paddy on his 86th birthday last Tuesday.

After his final visit to the dying odd job man, Charles' helicopter left Highgrove yesterday morning to fly the saddened Prince back to London for an official lunch engagement.

An insider said last night: "The Prince had been desperately worried about Paddy and so was Princess Diana.

"Charles realised he could no longer look after himself and eventually persuaded him to move in with his sisters.

"He had been very, very ill for some time and a priest visited him several times in the last few weeks."
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Author:Young, Sydney
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 13, 1997
Words:524
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