Died 15 October 2012, aged 90: Sandal resident Alan McLean Blackburn, MBE, DFC, received distinctions for his service in both peace and war. During the Second World War, when he was commissioned in the RAF, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1998 for services to the community. He joined the RAF when he was only 17 years old, training as a wireless operator/air gunner. He served with 84 Squadron in North Africa, Greece and Burma, rising to the rank of flight lieutenant. During the Burma campaign against the Japanese he flew in dive bombers in support of General Orde Wingate and the Chindits. In 1943 he was in a crew which made a remarkable escape from Java in a fishing boat, sailing to Australia. With the war over he joined Marks & Spencer and rose to become a manager specialising in expanded stores. This led to him being in charge at Romford, Huddersfield and Belfast.

After he retired he became chairman of the northern region of the company’s retired staff association. He was also a trustee director of Wakefield Hospice and was part of the team that raised money for the building of the hospice.  After his wife Stella died, he took over her role as chair of Wakefield Guide Dogs for the Blind. Mr Blackburn, who left a son, granddaughter and great granddaughter, died in Pinderfields Hospital but he had been living the Sycamores Care Home. Previously his home was in Kingfisher Grove, Sandal. The collection at his funeral at Wakefield Crematorium was in aid of the hospice and Guide Dogs for the Blind.


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