downes.jpgAssisted suicide is currently banned in the UK (a point of contention for many), but not so in Switzerland, where a famous conductor and his wife chose to end their lives this week. From the AP comes the sad report:

British maestro Edward Downes, who conducted the BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Opera but struggled in recent years as his hearing and sight failed, has died with his wife [Joan] at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. He was 85 and she was 74.
The couple’s children said Tuesday that the couple died “peacefully and under circumstances of their own choosing” on Friday at a Zurich clinic run by the group Dignitas….

“After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems,” said a statement from the couple’s son and daughter, Caractacus and Boudicca.

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The statement said Downes, who became Sir Edward when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, had become almost blind and increasingly deaf. His wife, a former dancer, choreographer and television producer, had devoted years to working as his assistant. British newspapers reported that she had been diagnosed with cancer….
Downes’ manager, Jonathan Groves, said he was shocked by the couple’s deaths, but called their decision “typically brave and courageous.”…
The couple is survived by their children, who said their parents “both lived life to the full and considered themselves to be extremely lucky to have lived such rewarding lives, both professionally and personally.”
The family said there would be no funeral.

There is currently a poll regarding assisted suicide in the UK, here.

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