A POPULAR former Sunderland Echo columnist has died after a five-year battle with breast cancer.
Astrid Klemz became a popular name across Wearside through the Echo columns she wrote fighting for the rights of people with disabilities as well as addressing other issues affecting her beloved North East in the early 2000s.
On Valentine’s Day 2006, Astrid was delivered the devastating news that she had breast cancer.
She underwent several bouts of chemotherapy but was unable to fight it off.
On October 10, Astrid died, aged 72, in the Royal United Hospital, in Bath.
Husband Bryan, 80, said: “She did extremely well for about two years, then had a bad turn, but she recovered from that.
“Then she had another bad turn about a couple of months ago. They started with the chemotherapy but it was too much for her to withstand.”
Astrid was born in Easington Colliery and went to school in Sunderland before moving to London in her early 20s.
She worked as a mobility officer for the blind in the capital before going on to be an expert witness for people who had become blind through an accident or fault.
She would help them overcome their disability as well as sort out any compensation to which they may be entitled.
After retiring, Astrid and Bryan, who married in 1965, moved to Wells in Somerset.
The avid writer also penned several books, including Reading In The Shower, an entertaining selection of anecdotes, and Blindness and Partial Sight: A Guide for Social Workers and Others Concerned with the Care and Rehabilitation of the Visually Handicapped.
Bryan said: “Astrid was always full of energy, was really interested in people and liked talking to them.
“She also did a lot of voluntary work and was very active with Cats Protection.
“She loved animals and she was a genuine out-going person who was very sociable.”
Echo editor Rob Lawson added: “I remember Astrid very fondly. She was one of life’s real characters.
“She was also a really good writer and her column was appreciated by Sunderland readers.
“She had a particular passion for disabled rights and that was often a topic of her columns in the Echo.”
Astrid’s funeral took place at Mendip Crematorium in Wells, Somerset.