Farewell to ‘modest, unassuming’ Jack

Jack Deeble with his MBE.
Jack Deeble with his MBE.

A community champion, who worked hard to support Alnwick’s hospital which led to the award of an MBE, has died aged 91.

John William Deeble, known as Jack, was heavily involved in the Hillcrest appeal to provide the town with a new maternity unit as well as the League of Friends of Alnwick Infirmary.

Fittingly, it was at this very hospital that Jack passed away just before Christmas. In July last year, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an an incurable asbestos-related cancer.

Jack was born in 1921 in Greenwich – as a real cockney within the sound of the Bow Bells – but moved to Alnwick aged six along with brothers Alf and Alan, when his father was appointed electrician at Alnwick Castle.

He was educated at the Duke’s Grammar School before he joined the Post Office as a telegraphist and sorting clerk.

He worked there until his retirement in 1981, save for an interruption of five years during the Second World War where he saw service in the Pacific and North Atlantic as a petty officer in the Fleet Air Arm aboard HMS Victorious.

In 1948 he married Joan and the couple had two sons, David and Peter.

In his career, he eventually rose to the role of head postmaster at Morpeth in 1977.

After he retired, he became involved with the appeal for a new maternity unit and was both treasurer and then chairman of the Hillcrest Maternity Trust Fund.

For many years, he was also treasurer of the League of Friends of the Alnwick Hospital, before taking on the role of chairman after the death of Mavis Curry. He remained in the post up to his death. He also drove the hospital minibus, taking people on outings.

Anne Harper, the league’s vice-chairman, described Jack as ‘modest and unassuming’, adding that he ‘loved meeting people and talking with them – he had the ability to talk on any subject and could tell some wonderful stories’.

A keen sports fan, Jack had played both football (he was a lifelong Arsenal supporter) and cricket and held honorary life memberships at Alnwick and Alnmouth golf clubs.

At various times he held the positions of treasure of the Shrovetide Football Committee, chairman of the North Northumberland Golf League (both senior and junior), chairman of Alnwick Golf Club and a member of the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs executive committee.