Black Country astrologer who predicted the Zeebrugge ferry disaster dies aged 84
An astrologer who forecast the Zeebrugge ferry disaster has died aged 84.
Dennis Elwell of Stourbridge had feared shipping companies' safety procedures were not adequate.
Two weeks after P&O Ferries wrote to him dismissing his warning, their ship the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized off Zeebrugge, Belgium in 1987. More than 190 people died in the tragedy, which led to new safety regulations in the British ferry industry.
Mr Elwell had also made predictions about dangers facing underground transport. In the same year there was a devastating fire in London's King's Cross station – something he had warned of in an interview with the Express & Star.
Sceptics criticised the basis for the predictions but Mr Elwell ended up appearing on the BBC's Kilroy programme in 1987 and featuring in a Channel 4 documentary, Witness, in 2000 which examined the rising influence of astrology.
The father-of-four taught himself the basics of astrology before having an article he wrote on reincarnation published in the magazine Prediction at the age of 19. This set him on the path to a long career writing regularly for American Astrology, lecturing
all over the world and writing a book and numerous articles on the subject. He set up a problem-solving consultancy, helping many people, including celebrities, who had come to a crossroads in their lives, and also provided teaching to budding astrologers through his distance learning course.
His 1987 work Cosmic Loom is a recommended text among astrologers.
Mr Elwell also worked for 30 years as a journalist on the County Express, which later became the Stourbridge News.
He had lived in the Stourbridge area all his life and had recently moved to Abele View Care Home, where he was receiving round the clock support for vascular dementia.
Yet right up until the last few days of his life Mr Elwell had fascinated staff by explaining the thinking behind theories of the stars and their influence on human lives.
Sarah Smith, one of Mr Elwell's four children, said: "My father was an original thinker who was widely respected in his field.
"In spite of his illness his sharp mind and intellect were in evidence until very nearly the end of his life. And in his final weeks he was looked after brilliantly by the wonderful staff at Abele View, to whom we are very grateful for the compassion and care he received."
Abele View Care Home manager Patricia Stevenson said: "Dennis was only with us for a short time but he was a very kind and thoughtful man with a great sense of humour and some fascinating stories to tell. We all miss him greatly and feel privileged to have been able to support him."
Mr Elwell passed away on November 13.