HE WAS the armless pianist whose life story has got Gwent talking - and now Tommy Twinkletoes’ sister is the latest to reveal her memories of the unique entertainer.

Our story on Saturday about how a Bettws man is researching the life of the music hall headliner sparked dozens of phone calls to the Argus His sister Olive Jones, 83, of Archibald Street, was one of them - and yesterday she recalled her life growing up alongside her "marvellous brother" who always kept her smiling with his special tricks.

She said: "My mother told me the first thing Tommy ever did was put a dummy in his mouth using his feet and it just went on from there."

The eldest of seven children, Tommy, whose real name was Tom Jacobsen, was born in the early 1920s in Newport and attended Bolt Street School, Pill, before being moved to a special school away from his home.

But on his return, Tommy would entertain the family with his unique talent playing the piano while they sang along.

He would also hold shows in Newport pubs, played at the London Palladium and even travelled to Iceland and America to perform tricks including sewing and shaving members of his audience.

Mrs Jones, who is the only surviving sibling of Tommy, said: "He was also really good at painting. I would go out to shops and get him cardboard boxes to paint on."

The family lived at a number of addresses in Newport including Maesglas Crescent.

When their mother Nellie Jacobsen died at a young age, when Mrs Jones was just seven years old, she said Tommy cared for the rest of the children.

She said: "My dad Charles was out working on the docks so Tommy used to look after us all. He would sweep up by putting the broom under his chin. He was a marvellous brother."

Tommy also held a job for a short while at Belle Vue Park monitoring the tennis courts where he would hold his foot out to collect the money.

He married Violet Prouse when he was in his 30s and had a daughter Diane. They all lived in Cwmbran although Mrs Jones does not know the whereabouts of his wife and daughter now.

Tommy died suddenly on October 3, 1973, aged 52, and is buried at Panteg Cemetery. Mrs Jones was never told by her father what the cause of Tommy’s death was.

Fond memories of Newport character

Other readers recalled their memories of Tommy Twinkletoes.

Fred Nicholas, 84, of Walford Street, Newport, said: "My grandma was Rosina Jacobsen. I used to go to Tredegar Park with Tommy. We would throw stones into the water and you could guarantee Tommy would always get his stone the furthest. We used to watch him at the pubs in Newport too. He was a very friendly guy."

Gladys Hennessy, 82, of Park Square, Newport, said: "He used to come and play at my mother’s home in George Street. My three brothers Alexander, Howard and Teddy Williams would play the drums, guitar and trumpet and Tommy would be on the piano. They were always very entertaining."

Shaun McGuire, 63, of Bettws, said: "My auntie and uncle used to own the Forge Hammer pub in Cwmbran. There was a picture on the wall there of Tommy which always intrigued me from a young age. I’ve since found out more information on him and been to visit his Cwmbran home and his grave in Panteg Cemetery."