Tributes to champion snooker player from Jarrow

Terry Melia
Terry Melia

Tributes have been paid to a former South Tyneside sportsman who blazed a trail on the green baize after being disabled in a horror workplace fall.

Terry Melia refused to let his injuries – caused by an 80ft fall in a ship’s hull at the age of 30 - deter him from enjoying life.

Terry Melia, with Jimi White

Terry Melia, with Jimi White

His attention turned his attentions to snooker after a spell playing table tennis and - despite only having one arm, he developed his skills so well he became a consistent tournament winner and British wheelchair snooker champion.

In the lates 1980s he was chosen to be part of the Paralympic team for the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul. However, he was unable to take part after suffering an injury.

Mr Melia, 80, of The Hollow, Hedworth, Jarrow, died on Wednesday, May 16.

His death came over 50 years after he broke his back in a fall inside a ship berthed in Jarrow’s former Mercantile dock, leaving him confined to a wheelchair and unable to work.

After he died we found trophies we didn’t know existed

Gavin Melia

Despite the life-changing setback, he went on to play snookerr at various clubs across the country and the North East, winning over 50 tournaments.

In an exhibition match at the Deneside Catholic Club, around 12 years ago he was beaten by legendary star Jimmy White – but only on the black ball.

Paying tribute to his dad, son Gavin, 56, said: “He was a loving father and grandfather, and loving husband to my mam.

“He was pretty blase about his snooker. After he died we found trophies we didn’t even know existed. The latest trophy he won was in 2008, but he still continued to play every now and then.”

His playing was aided by specialist rests created to his own design by friend and neighbour Bob Brabon, 81.

The former shipyard worker, said: “Terry was a very determined man who became a fantastic snooker player.

“He couldn’t play in the leagues because most clubs didn’t have the facilities to support him, but he entered other competitions and won a fair few.

“Terry couldn’t use a normal rest, so he asked me to make one for him – he drew the diagram and I made it.

“It’s fair to say that he really did blaze a trail for people who are disabled and who want to play a sport.”

Mr Melia leaves behind wife Roberta, 80, sons Gary, 57, Gavin and Stuart, 54, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Mr Melia’s funeral is at 1.45pm on Monday, June 4 at St Joseph’s Church, Hedworth, followed by burial at Jarrow Cemetery.