Tributes paid to 'gentle giant' who died following tragic accident at Washington home

The family of ‘absolute gentleman’ Peter ‘Zak’ Allen have paid tribute to the grandad-of-four who died after falling down the stairs of his Washington home.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 4:00 pm
Peter 'Zak' Allen with wife Lilian

The 62-year-old, who was known as Zak, passed away peacefully at Sunderland Royal Hospital surrounded by his family two weeks after he fell down the stairs in a ‘tragic accident’.

Zak’s loving family have now paid tribute to the ‘gentle giant’ who was ‘loved by all’ and is greatly missed.

More than 300 people turned out for Zak’s funeral at Sunderland Crematorium after he passed away on November 2, 2019.

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Daughter Hayley Johnson with dad Zak

His youngest daughter, Hayley Johnson, said: “He loved to follow the Sunderland AFC, he went to Wembley. I use to go to the match with him when I was younger. He’s always followed them.

“He was a real club man. He had over 25 year’s service at the Westwood Club. He was the treasurer and he had been on the committee for over 25 years.

“He was still heavily involved with the miners, they gave us his banner for the funeral.

“He lived and breathed the Westwood, he was out four nights a week doing books and wages, committee meetings.”

Zak sadly died in hospital in November.

Following his funeral, friends and family gathered at the Westwood Club to remember and celebrate Zak’s life.

Hayley’s husband, Paul Johnson, said: “It was such a nice comforting kind of feeling to have so many people there. It was overwhelming.

“The Westwood Club has such a big room – everyone is terrified to have a party there because it’s so big. If it’s only half full it looks empty even though you’ve got loads of people there. We walked in and there wasn’t a seat to have – it was like a football match.”

Zak, who spent most of his working life as a miner at Herrington Colliery, married wife Lilian a year after they first met at Fusion nightclub.

Zak and Lilian with grandchildren Archie, Bobby, Sophia and Harry and Paul and Hayley's dog Lola.

The couple, who were married for 40 years, had two daughter’s Kimberley, 39, and Hayley, 37, and four grandchildren Archie, Harry, Bobby and Sophia.

After the closure of the mine, Zak turned his hand to building work and finished working at the Asda warehouse before he had to retire due to ill health.

Eight years ago Zak suffered from kidney failure and needed a transplant. Despite extremely rare odds his wife Lilian was the perfect match.

Paul added: “There’s not many people who match who are a couple it’s normal a sibling or someone with the same bloodline.”

Son-in-law Paul Johnson with Zak

The couple loved travelling together with Mexico and Egypt among their favourite places.

Hayley, 37, said: “He was in Egypt in July just gone he went snorkelling in the Red Sea and lost his wedding ring there. It’s actually nice to think because after he fell with breaking his wrist they probably would have had to cut his ring off so it’s nice that there’s a little part of him left over there.”

“The nurses were absolutely fantastic. He fell early hours of the morning. We were talking to him and packing his bag and Paul was ringing the ambulance. He was talking to us he never lost consciousness and then obviously he went downhill. As sad as it is we got to spend two weeks with him, I was there all day everyday and he knew we were there.

“He’s such a big miss.”

Last week, an inquest into Zak’s death heard he had fallen down the stairs and later lost consciousness and deteriorated in hospital.

A post-mortem found the 62-year-old had suffered irreparable damage to his brain and had contracted pneumonia as he needed a ventilator to sustain his breathing.

Zak Allen

Karin Welsh, assistant coroner, made a short form conclusion of accidental death.