HIS FASCINATING tales of alien abductions, little grey men and UFOs flying through the night sky caught the imagination of fellow believers and sceptics across Hampshire.

It will be those stories that will be the lasting legacy of UFO believer Ernie Sears who has died at his home in Netley.

The 83-year-old, who claimed he had been abducted by aliens eight times during his lifetime, passed away after suffering a heart attack.

Ernie, a member of the now d e f u n c t Southampton UFO Group, h a d claimed to have h a d c l o s e encounters with the third kind, beginning in 1960s.

From hovering objects over Gosport, to being abducted from his Southampton garden where he met little grey men, the dadof- one said he had seen it all.

Speaking about his experiences in 2006, he said: “I remember little grey aliens. They were very short, less than five feet.

They have smaller ones that I have only encountered once.

They are blue one in uniform, very dwarf-like.

“I remember going up towards this triangular object floating in the sky and I remember going through a jelly-like door.

“They do talk to me in English but it is all in your mind. They don’t have mouths or ears as such. But they put things in your mind and you understand it perfectly.”

But although Ernie dedicated his later years trying to convince non-believers of extraterrestrial activity, his first true love was jazz music.

During the 1960s and ’70s Ernie opened many jazz clubs, bringing big names such as Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball to his stages across Hampshire.

And it was through his work at his club in Fareham, Rendezvous that brought him together with cabaret artist Sandra Lane, who he married in 1973.

The couple graced the front page of the Daily Echo in the 1970s when they starred in the Wurzel Gummidge Christmas Special that was filmed in Lymington.

Despite the pair divorcing in 1982, Sandra, now 60, and Ernie remained good friends. She said: “UFOs were his hobby in his latter years but jazz was his first love and his work in the entertainment business is what brought us together.

“He was a very happy and kind man, who would do anything to help anyone. His sudden death has come as quite a shock.

Although we had divorced we stayed friends because that was the type of man he was.”

Ernie’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, October 20, at Southampton Crematorium, at 11am.