Double cancer tragedy for Blyth family

Alfred Douglas
Alfred Douglas
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A double cancer tragedy struck a Blyth family at the weekend when a widower and his only daughter died within four hours of each other.

Alfred Douglas, known as Alf, was a well-known children’s magician and local actor. He died in the Palliative Ward of Wansbeck General Hospital.

Sandra Ferbrache

Sandra Ferbrache

His 64-year-old daughter, Sandra, died four hours later in a hospital on the island of Jersey where she lived.

Both had been suffering from liver cancer.

Alf, 88, lived on the South Beach Estate. He was born in Blyth in Disraeli Street and educated locally.

On leaving school, he was employed at a Tyneside engineering works – a job he kept until taking up a position as a trainer at the Blyth Adult Training Centre on the Cowpen Industrial Estate.

He was later appointed manager of a similar unit in North Shields.

It was there he became a member of the North Shields Rotary Club and he was still a member at his death. He was also an active Freemason, having held the position of Master of the Seaton Valley Lodge.

Alf’s career on the amateur stage started when along with his late wife Doreen, who died 11 years ago, they joined Cambois and Blyth Phoenix Drama groups.

In 1979, they became members of the Blyth Operatic Society and played parts in several shows at the Wallaw Cinema in the town. At the time of his death, he was president of the society.

For several years, he was also a member of the famous Shiremoor Marras singing group that appeared on TV and toured the North East.

Sandra left Blyth to work in South Africa and she moved to Jersey following her marriage to Dave Ferbrache, who runs a crab fishing business.

She was featured in national newspapers and on television when a schoolgirl as a result of testing out a wristwatch that its makers claimed would keep working even when attached to a bicycle wheel.

She attached it to her cycle and then wrote to the firm saying it had failed after being driven through mud.

The firm then used her and her story to promote its product nationally.

Alf last saw Sandra when he visited Jersey in October. He was due to spend Christmas with her until the illness intervened.