Man dies with wife at suicide clinic

Downes, 85, was almost blind when he and his 74-year-old wife, who had become his full-time carer, travelled to Switzerland to end their lives, a family statement released to the BBC said.

Born in Birmingham, Downes had a long and distinguished career, including conducting the first performance at the Sydney Opera House. He worked with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Opera House.

The statement from the couple’s son and daughter said they “died peacefully, and under circumstances of their own choosing”. “After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems.”

They died at a clinic run by Dignitas, the Swiss organisation which operates a specialist euthanasia service.

The family said: “Our father, who was 85 years old, almost blind and increasingly deaf, had a long, vigorous and distinguished career as a conductor.

“Our mother, who was 74, started her career as a ballet dancer and subsequently worked as a choreographer and TV producer, before dedicating the last years of her life to working as our father’s personal assistant.”

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