Farewell to fun-loving Stuart

Stuart Blackshaw with his wife Jean.
Stuart Blackshaw with his wife Jean.

A ‘fun-loving and outgoing’ man, who was part of the very well-known family behind an Alnwick car dealership, has died at the age of 68.

Stuart Blackshaw, who lived at Christon Bank, passed away peacefully in hospital on Christmas Day.

Stuart Blackshaw with his son Tim.

Stuart Blackshaw with his son Tim.

And in what has been a very tough time for the family, his passing came just a few months after that of his wife of almost 50 years, Jean, who died, also 68, in September.

Stuart was the oldest son of William Dixon Blackshaw and joined the family business in 1964, working in the sales department following an apprenticeship with Murray and Charlton, a car wholesaler in Newcastle.

When William Dixon died in 1977 after a short illness, Stuart and his brother David became business partners at Blackshaws in their 20s.

The pair then went their separate ways in the mid 1990s with Stuart starting a new business partnership in Belford – a used car dealership – with his son Tim. He only really retired from that business in the past six months.

Stuart’s youngest brother, Richard, 11 years his junior, gave the eulogy at the funeral, which took place in Beadnell on Friday.

In his address, he recalled a number of funny stories about Stuart, not least from during his Blackshaws days, which included returning from auctions after buying a hearse and – by accident – a fully-prepared rally car.

Stuart, a talented golfer who played off a handicap of three in his heyday, introduced Richard to the sport as well as taking him to watch Newcastle United for the first time.

“I also remember many great days horse-racing at various tracks up and down the country culminating in owning shares in a few horses which all added to a very special time for the pair of us,” Richard said.

“Indeed, we once arrived at the Cheltenham Festival, the world cup final of National Hunt racing, in a helicopter to watch our horse run. Special days together which I’ll never forget.

“After Stuart’s rheumatoid arthritis curtailed his golfing days and the horses came and went, Stuart turned his affections to greyhound racing.

“After attending many meetings at Gosforth and Brough Park, Stuart decided to become an owner and purchased his first dog Russian Joe.

“From there his love of the sport grew and Stuart owned and trained many winners around the North East of England.

“When Stuart began training the greyhounds himself, he asked if he could use the outbuildings at our house for the kennels.

“I agreed and promptly two greyhounds arrived, quickly followed by a joiner who created a further 14 kennels which filled up rapidly. All was going well when we noticed our electric bill shooting through the roof.

“I couldn’t put my finger on it until one winter’s morning I noticed steam coming through the roof of the kennels.

“On inspection, there were two greyhounds enjoying a Jacuzzi bath and the mystery of the electric bill was solved!”

Richard described his older brother as ‘a funny, good and gentle man’.

Stuart is also survived by his son Tim, daughter-in-law Mel and his grandchildren, of whom he was very fond.

Tim described his dad as ‘a great guy’ and ‘an amazing man’, adding: “He was my idol really.”

Stuart’s brother David added: “There was a large gathering at Stuart’s funeral which was testament to a much respected and loved gentleman.

“The family have taken strength from this and also the kind messages received which run into several hundreds.”