Parents’ tribute to Bamburgh man: ‘We were proud to call him son’

Alex Watson.
Alex Watson.

The distraught parents of a 30-year-old man who died suddenly have spoken of their shock and devastation at losing their only child, admitting: ‘Our world has fallen apart’.

Alex George Thompson Watson, from Bamburgh, died at the village’s Castle Inn pub at 12.10am on Sunday, November 27. He had heart disease.

Alex Watson excelled at rugby.

Alex Watson excelled at rugby.

The incident has shocked his family and friends and tributes have poured in for the popular restaurateur, who was outgoing, a talented sportsman and had a great knowledge of wine.

His funeral, which will be a celebration of his life, was held this afternoon at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, with donations to the British Heart Foundation and the church. It was attended by hundreds of people.

Speaking ahead of the service, his grieving parents, Ronnie and Janet, told of their pain at losing their ‘brilliant, clever and lovely son’.

In a joint statement, they said: “Alex was the most precious thing to us on this planet and our lives will not be the same without him. He was a real lad and we loved him.

Alex Watson.

Alex Watson.

“He was our life and meant everything to us. We miss him so much, it tears our hearts out. We have lost our precious only child, which is almost too much for us to bear.”

His parents said he had many qualities and they are proud to have been able to call him their son. They added: “He had a rare ability to get on with people from all walks of life and watching him speaking and interacting with people was unbelievable.

“He was so nice as a son and a lovely person, not only to us, but to everyone he came into contact with. He had this incredible gift of mixing with people. We would watch him in amazement and pride as he had such confidence in himself – but he could also instil confidence in others.

“Alex was a wonderful and very talented son who succeeded in everything he did. We will mourn him, but he will live on in our memories.”

Alex went into business with his father. While Ronnie ran The Castle Inn, known as The Middle, Alex’s baby was the nearby Mizen Head Hotel, which he turned into a popular and acclaimed venue. He also became involved in the village’s Lord Crewe Arms and The Collingwood Arms at Cornhill.

Ronnie said: “We are absolutely devastated, but life must go on for us, as it must for Alex’s band of brothers – the staff who work for us at The Mizen, The Lord Crewe Arms, The Castle Inn and The Collingwood Arms.

“They are finding his sudden loss as difficult to come to terms with as we are. They need the support of the locals to help them carry on and need to see familiar faces at this difficult and painful time for us. Please don’t stay away.”

Alex will be remembered for many things, including his outstanding sense of direction, amazing memory, love of practical jokes and strong work ethic.

He had a great knowledge of wine; it was his true passion. Pol Roger Champagne was his favourite, as was a good glass or red, and he went far and wide on wine-tasting tours.

Ronnie called Alex his ‘boy wonder’ and the pair founded a wine company, Half Cut Wines. The business was just starting out.

Alex also excelled at sport. A talented sprinter, he ran the 200m in 21.9 seconds – at the age of 15. He was also a fine swimmer and rugby player, having represented the county at both sports. Alex would join the lads on rugby tours, making trips to Rome, Dublin and Twickenham to cheer on England. He also loved football, watching Newcastle United and his second team, Juventus.

His love of life was remembered at his funeral today. One mourner said: “If there were 200 inside the church, there must have been another 300 outside listening to it as it was relayed on speakers.

“It was a lovely service; the sunlight streamed into the church and the singing was great. It was very poignant.”

The family is asking for donations to go to The British Heart Foundation and St Aidan’s Church c/o Alan D Haile Funeral Services, 5 James Street, Seahouses, Northumberland, NE68 7XZ.

Francis Watson Armstrong, owner of Bamburgh Castle, and former England and British Lions rugby union player, Fran Cotton, spoke at the funeral. Francis said: “It is always tragic to lose a friend and such an upstanding member of the community as Alex was. But to have such a talented and charismatic young life cut so short is harrowing.

“Alex will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue in the future with the businesses he and his father, Ronnie, have established in the village.”

Testament to Alex’s character and popularity, touching tributes have poured in from all over, including from Jersey, Switzerland and Canada.

South African rugby player Schalk Burger Jr is among those who have paid their condolences, while Andrew Bird, head barman at the Castle Inn, described Alex as someone who was always smiling.

Alex’s parents said: “Knowing that he meant so much to so many people is a comfort.”