SMILING as he enjoys a round of golf with his friends, Alan Hill looks the picture of health.
But just months after this photograph was taken, the keen sportsman, of High Barnes, was struck down by a fatal heart attack.
The 55-year-old gas engineer, who played football into his 40s until a knee injury forced him to quit, was visiting homes on Teesside when he was suddenly taken ill while driving.
Wife Janet, 57, said his death came as a huge shock to her family, including daughter Sarah, 28, and son Tony, 27, as the SAFC fan had shown no warning signs of a life-threatening heart problem.
“It was completely out of the blue,” she said. “There was no real warning sign. He lived a pretty active life.
“He played football until his early 40s and he’d been interested in golf for the past 15 or 20 years.
“He was a member of Boldon Golf Club and he’d play every Sunday. He’d also take part in competitions and travel abroad with his friends. He’d often go with Tony.
“We could never see anything like this happening to Alan.”
After the tragedy, Janet is urging anybody who suspects they have a heart condition to get in touch with their GP.
“Alan wasn’t experiencing any major health problems,” she said.
“He could get short of breath at times and his blood pressure was slightly raised, but we put that down to the stress of returning to work after he had a knee-replacement operation.
“As far as his overall health was concerned, he seemed fine.”
Clerical officer Janet also paid tribute to the support of family and friends, with hundreds of mourners attending her husband’s funeral at the city’s St Gabriel’s Church, in Chester Road.
“It was really touching to see so many people there,” she said. “He was a really popular fellow. Everybody you spoke to said the same thing. He was an amazing person.”
Now, shortly after the first anniversary of his death on Christmas Eve 2010, a special charity night has been arranged in his memory.
The event, at the Roker Hotel, will feature guest speakers including ex-Liverpool footballer Joey Jones, who underwent heart surgery in 2002.
It is expected to raise vital funds for the British Heart Foundation.
“We’re hoping it will be a massive success,” added Janet. “We’ve had so much interest in it.”
The sportman’s evening, which will also feature a comedian, will take place at the Roker Hotel on February 10 at 7pm.
Tickets are £30 each and £300 for a table of 10. To purchase tickets, call 0792 901 0291.
For more information about heart problems, visit www.bhf.org.uk.