Town mourns loss of honoured sons

Ernie Warren received his BEM from the Duchess of Northumberland.
Ernie Warren received his BEM from the Duchess of Northumberland.

Two leading members of the Blyth community who were awarded British Empire Medals have died.

Jack Allen, former leader of Blyth Boys Club, and Ernie Warren, a leading wood carver, died within a week of each other.

Jack, 93, ran the boys club in Wright Street for 37 years until his retirement in 1988.

On leaving Princess Louise Senior School at the age of 14, he began work for Blyth Borough Council as an apprentice carpenter then during the war joined the Merchant Navy and sailed on colliers supplying coal to London.

At the end of the war he became a miner at Bates Pit, leaving to take over the boys club.

He was a keen maker of model sailing ships and also a collector of model cars. He was so well known to the manufacturers that they sent him new models free of charge. He had more than 400 cars displayed on walls throughout his home in Seafield Road.

His wife Norah died in 2007 after 70 years of marriage and he is survived by his two daughters, Ann and Elizabeth, and several grandchildren.

Ernie, who was 73, was born in Corbridge but moved to Blyth while a baby.

He showed his woodcarving skills while a youngster, using it on clothes pegs.

At 15, he wrote to many firms seeking work as a trainee woodcarver and eventually succeeded joining the famous Ralph Hedley woodworking firm in Newcastle.He was there until it closed when the Newcastle Civic Centre was built on its site.

Ernie then went on to establish himself as the top wood carver in Northumberland.

Apart from teaching the craft for more than 20 years at Kirkley Hall, he accepted commissions for large carvings, including ones at St Wilfrid’s Church in Blyth, Morpeth Town Hall and a model of Bates Pit for MP Ronnie Campbell, but many other pieces of his work can be seen at places around the world.

His most imp[ressive commission was being asked to carve the battle awards of Royal Navy ships which had carried the name of HMS Lion.

Ernie was married for 65 years to his wife, Sheila.