THE family and friends of a keen South Tyneside golfer have paid tribute to him.
Dr Ralph Blakey, a member of Whitburn Golf Club since 1933, died last week.
The 91-year-old former GP held just about every position at the club, in Lizard Lane, South Shields, over the years, including acting as secretary, captain, chairman and president.
Dr Blakey was born in Sunderland on October 2, 1921. He had dreamed of becoming a solicitor but when his doctor father, Alec Blakey, became ill, he changed his A-level subjects to study the sciences, before going on to study medicine in Newcastle.
After leaving school, Dr Blakey completed a year’s national service as part of the Royal Air Force, serving in Castel Benito, Tripoli.
But his service was cut short due to his father’s death in the late 1940s.
Dr Blakey then took over the three Sunderland practices his father ran, in High Street East, Mainsforth Terrace and Fordland Place.
Dr Blakey worked at the surgeries until he retired at the age of 65. He was also a keen Sunderland supporter and a cricket fan and held season tickets for both the Black Cats as far back as 1930, and Durham County Cricket Club.
His nephew, Alan Goldman, said: “When my uncle retired he spent a lot more time at the golf club and he was obviously very passionate about it.
“He was a huge Sunderland fan and he was even friends with the son of the once manager, Johnny Cochrane.
“When they went to Wembley in 1937 he stayed with the team at the Russell Hotel, in Russell Square.
“It was his job to pour the champagne into the cup and he wasn’t even old enough to drink it – he was only 16.
“He went to every one of the team’s appearances at Wembley, and we still all follow the team even though we live in London.”
Mr Goldman added: “He would often go to the Riverside to watch the cricket as well. He was a creature of habit, my uncle, and he would always go to the golf club one day and the cricket another.
“He has a brother, Michael, who is 83, and lots of nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews, and he was always great with children.
“His memory was tremendous, he never lost it. He would sit and tell you about test matches he’d been to in the 1950s and he could tell you who’d been playing. He was a walking encyclopedia.”
Ian McConnell, the golf club’s treasurer, said: “Presidents always died in office, but Ralph did it for six years before he stepped down and said it was someone else’s turn.
“This made him our only ever living past-president at the time.
“He was a total gentleman and he had a very good sense of humour – he could find the funny side of any situation.
“He always put the club first too. Even if he felt differently, he would do whatever was best for the club and its members.”
Dr Blakey passed away on September 3 and was buried in the Jewish section of the municipal cemetery of Bishopwearmouth the following day.