A RESPECTED Stourbridge astrologer who rose to fame after predicting a major sea ferry disaster has died.

Dennis Elwell, who has been described by his loved ones as a "sharp thinker", passed away at Abele View Care Home, Stourbridge, on November 13.

The self-taught astrologist and former County Express journalist, had recently moved to the home where he was receiving round the clock support for vascular dementia.

He hit the headlines in 1987 when he made predictions about dangers facing shipping companies and underground transport.

Shortly afterwards, there was a devastating fire in London’s King’s Cross station – something he had warned of in an interview with a local paper.

P&O Ferries also suffered a tragedy when their ship the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized, with the loss of 188 lives, two weeks after Mr Elwell had received a reply from them dismissing his warning that safety procedures were not adequate.

Sceptics criticised the basis for the predictions but Mr Elwell ended up appearing on the BBC’s Kilroy programme that year and featuring in a Channel 4 documentary, Witness, in 2000 which examined the rising influence of astrology.

He also lectured all over the world and wrote a book and numerous articles on the subject, with his1987 work, Cosmic Loom becoming a recommended text among astrologers.

A problem-solving consultancy he set up provided help to many, including celebrities, who had come to a crossroads in their lives and he also taught budding astrologers through his distance learning course.

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.”

Care home manager, Patricia Stevenson, said Mr Elwell had fascinated staff by explaining the thinking behind theories of the stars and their influence on human lives.

She added: “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 described himself as "a man of ideas", according to Alan Worrall, who worked with him for more than 30 years.

The former news editor of the County Express, said: "During his time at the County Express he was a district reporter in Brierley Hill, covering courts, council events and sport, and later moved to the Stourbridge head office where he took over responsibility for covering the Kinver area and for writing a wide range of special features - particularly on political events.

"He was also appointed as leader writer for the paper, expressing cogent and carefully balanced opinions on public matters and events."

Mr Worrall added: "Dennis had great intelligence and an ability to get to the core of quite complicated subjects and explain them in a detailed but understandable manner.

"He described himself as "a man of ideas" and he was often able to observe and tease out aspects of news events which most of us had failed to identify.

"All-in-all he was a talented journalist and writer."