A world-class dancer was found hanging alongside a light-up picture frame displaying the message "thank you and goodbye".

Neil Penlington, 47, was the leading dancer with New Adventures, Matthew Bourne's company, performing at Sadlers Wells.

He danced as an original cast member in a West End production of Swan Lake in London in 1996 and toured the USA performing in Los Angeles and Broadway in 1997 and 1998.

Later on he worked as a personal assistant to designer Jasper Conran and at Londons' exclusive Claridges Hotel which saw him looking after some the worlds' most famous celebrities.

But coroner Xavier Mooyaart told Southwark Coroner's Court how the highs of his glitzy career were met with the lows of suicide attempts and homelessness.

Mr Penlington would become "withdrawn" and even end up sleeping rough "despite offers of help" from family and friends, the court heard.

During a period of homelessness Neil was helped by homeless charity St Mungo's and later went on to work for the organisation full-time as a housing support adviser.

From 2017 he continued performing with London's The Young Vic theatre's Neighbourhood Theatre Company.

On December 11, after a call from a concerned friend, police visited his home in the gated Monarch Mews development in Norwood, where they found him dead, the court heard.

Mr Mooyaart said: "In the last couple of years he had suffered a period of homelessness but subsequent to that he had started to work for the homeless charity St Mungo's before withdrawing again.

"Police visited his home in the early hours of December 11 having been asked to carry out a welfare check on December 10.

"When entering his property they found him to be deceased.

"They note that he was cold to the touch and that they looked around the property and found a light-up picture frame that had the words 'thank you and goodbye' set out.

"They found no suicide note but noted that he had a history of previous suicide attempts."

A pathologist and toxicologist who examined his body discovered he had been drinking, but only enough to be "moderately drunk."

They also found he had taken twice the therapeutic dose of paracetamol, but not enough that it caused to his death, The post-mortem report concluded the cause of his death was "hanging" while alcohol consumption was considered to have contributed to a small degree.

Mr Mooyaart added: "They note that the deceased was found with typical findings of hanging and had ingested alcohol and twice the therapeutic dose of paracetamol but not in the toxic range."

Concluding the hearing, he told the court he had considered the possibility that Neil's death could have been "misadventure" - meaning that he might not have intended to kill himself but expected to be rescued or that his attempt was a "cry for help."

But after reviewing the evidence, he formally declared the death a suicide.

Mr Mooyaart said: "He had lived a rich life, experienced the highs of a career as a dancer of a highly acclaimed company, as well as the lows of of previous suicide attempts and homelessness.

"Following a spell of homelessness he worked for the homeless charity St Mungo's.

"It is no surprise to me he was described as being much loved by family and friends.

"Officers discovered a picture frame displaying the words 'thank you and goodbye'.

The police considered his death to be non-suspicious and an apparent suicide."

He added: "There are no suggestions that he hoped to be rescued or that this was a cry for help.

"The circumstances suggest this to be a deliberate act. I also note the message of 'thank you and goodbye' which has a tone of finality to it.

"I do not believe that he was so intoxicated as to be incapable of forming intention or understanding the consequences."

Mr Penlington was born in Rhyl, Wales and as a youngster he went to Nancy Clarke School of Dance and the Little Theatre on a ballroom dancing scholarship.

He earned another scholarship at the London Academy of Live and Recording Arts, and lived in the city from the age of 19.

At the time of his death, choreographer and director Matthew Bourne said: "We have lost a very special member of our New Adventures family and I have lost a dear friend.

"As a member of my company at a sometimes difficult time when we were breaking new ground, in the West End and on Broadway, Neil was always the most joyous force for positivity and fun and a pleasure to be around.

"A warm, generous open spirit that was easy to fall in love with but impossible to truly 'know'.

"A mercurial personality but also highly practical and reliable.

"A man of fascinating contradictions and all the more lovable for it.

"High profile jobs with Jasper Conran or at Londons' exclusive Claridges Hotel saw him looking after the worlds' biggest celebrities, in the most glamorous of locations.

"However he was also regularly dogged by ill health and even found himself homeless and sleeping rough a couple of years ago, an experience that led him to work with various homeless charities in his final years.

"Whatever life threw at him, Neil always bounced back with his same characteristic positivity and good humour.

"The proverbial cat with nine lives. But not this time, sadly.

"We really have lost him this time, far too soon.

"We will miss him of course, but as lives go, by any standards this was a remarkable one."