Remembering Fred – a true gentleman

Retired physiotherapist Fred Dyson .
Retired physiotherapist Fred Dyson .

A TRUE gentleman with a huge intellect and vast knowledge has died aged 78.

Fred Dyson practised as a physiotherapist in Alnwick with his wife Sheila for 52 years before retiring last year and was involved in a plethora of groups and societies in the town.

Born in Huddersfield, Fred went blind at the age of 12 but he never let his lack of sight get in his way.

He married Sheila, whom he met when they worked as physiotherapists in Aylesbury, six months before moving to Alnwick in 1959 when they set up a practice on Bondgate Without. They had three children, Andrew, now 51, Julian, 49 and Joy, 47.

Fred became heavily involved with life in the town and was on the town council, chairman of the Round Table and Young Conservatives and president of the Rotary Club.

He was also the chief reviewer for Alnwick Music Society.

He died on August 13 at Castleview Care Home in Alnwick where he had been for two months after suffering from heart problems.

Fred treated more than 20,000 patients in his time, including filmstars who were on location in the town.

But physiotherapy wasn’t his only passion.

Fred loved literature, astronomy – even though he couldn’t see the stars – archaeology, palaeontology and the arts.

Poetry was his forte and he wrote numerous verses but he was also an avid supporter of Alnwick Music Society and wrote reviews of concerts for the Northumberland Gazette.

Fred was also a founder member of the Bailiffgate Museum and appeared on BBC TV’s Mastermind in 1992 with his specialist subject, the history of the Percy family.

He was one point away from getting through to the second round.

Sheila, 79, said: “He was very knowledgeable and he loved his work. He loved the people he met – from fishermen to film stars, and he got on with everyone.

“He never let his blindness stop him. He didn’t want to use a white stick for years and wouldn’t use a guide dog.

“He only started to use a stick when we went to the Edinburgh Festival because the crowds were so awful.

“He was also remarkably well-known for walking his dogs. Fred will be very much missed by us all.”

Tom Pattinson, chairman of trustees at Bailiffgate Museum, said: “Fred was a lifelong acquaintance of mine. When I played football years ago he dealt with the sports injuries and his three children came through the Duke’s School when I was teaching there.

“About 20 years ago when Adrian Ions had this idea for the museum, we got one or two interested parties and that included Fred.

“He became chairman when we became a registered charity and we had 10 years of meetings in his house.

“Just before we opened the museum, Fred had to pull out but he remained a firm friend and used to come to the preview evenings with Sheila.

“I remember him as a great supporter of the Bailiffgate Museum, as a true gentleman and a really splendid man.”

Roy Todd, chairman of Alnwick Music Society said: “I knew Fred through the music society and the Rotary.

“He knew more about everything than everyone else put together and everyone wanted to be on his quiz team. He had an enormous range of knowledge.

“He was a member of the music society throughout our 30-year history. He was fascinated with and delighted in classical music. He regularly attended our concerts and wrote very very good reviews. He was extremely knowledgable about the arts.

“Fred was a wonderful man and was somebody I certainly had a great deal of pleasure in discussing and talking about everything. And for a blind man it was remarkable how he managed to find his way around Alnwick. He will be a big miss.”

Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “As a regular contributor to the columns of the Gazette over the years, Fred will be sorely missed.

“His words of wisdom and reviews displayed a sharp, highly-educated mind and a popular knowledge of his subject.”

A private cremation for Fred took place on Wednesday while a celebration of his life will take place next month.

Sheila has asked for no flowers to be sent but for donations to be made to the Bailiffgate Museum and Alnwick Playhouse in his memory.