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Alan Davis AKA ‘Dallan’ Remembered
Ilkeston Life Article October 2016 by Dave Towers

Photographs kindly supplied by Pete Green who brought them over from Holland

Alan was originally from Main Street, Mapperley Village, Nr Ilkeston, Derbyshire but spent the last 30 years living in Woerden, Holland.

Readers who knew Alan Davis may be interested to know that we remembered and celebrated his life at the Davy Lamp, Ilkeston on Saturday 10th September 2016.

Alan (known to many as ‘Dallan’) played an active role through the scouting movement in the lives of many, leading by example. He was involved in the teaching and in some ways mentoring of ways to deal with life through the media of music and scouting methodology. From a personal point of view whenever I wrote a song or performed in public I found myself even in my 50’s asking myself what Dallan would make of it and seek his virtual opinion.

Unfortunately last October 25th 2015 he succumbed to the effects of an asbestos related cancer which took his life at the somewhat untimely age of 70 years. At that point upon hearing the views of many of his friends I decided that we should re-create an occasion based on his brainchild “Mapperley Do’s” and sought opinion from a mutual Dutch friend Rene as to feelings over there.

From there I decided that an event should be organised to celebrate both the life of the man but even more than that the friendships across at least two countries of us all that he spawned. A committee was then set up to jointly make arrangements for the evening.

We decided that the event should be by invitation only and that the asbestosis related cancer charity Mesothelioma may benefit from the occasion by donation only as we decided not to introduce entrance tickets. We raised £141.08 for the charity.

Performing at the event were seven amateur acts which varied from local solo singer/guitarists to bands (two from Ilkeston and one from Holland). The general mood of the evening was one of celebration, which was indeed our intention. One of the bands performing was another brainchild of Dallan formed in 1978 the Ils’n Billies, reforming especially for the occasion. Another band “Todays Special” flew in from Holland to play especially, the bassist played using Dallans guitar.


Memories of ‘Dallan’ by Dave Towers

A fair sized group of maybe 10 of us formed a nucleus of the friendship that existed of which Dallan became a part of. Initially the group were from the 21st Ilkeston (Kirk Hallam) scout unit and Dallan came in as a venture scout leader helping out during exercises and scout camps in particular. He was very much a “hands on” chap meaning, if we decided we wanted to build an Alpine Slide in the woods, the man at the top of the tree organising and erecting it was Dallan. Unbeknown to us at that time he organised the hardware to be there for us as well. These acts of which there were many earned his respect from us as scouts and made our move up to Venture scouts seem smooth and not an option. As Venture Scouts he really came into his own, we helped him refit his “Blue Comer van”, which was easily transformed into a sleeping compartment, or a kitchenette. This made his move with the now BT easier to Ecclefechan (SP), nr Gretna Green, Scotland as he could commute weekly back to this area. At around 18 we grew too old to be in the Venture scouts, but such was the friendship forged between us it really just carried on. Without Dallan though it must be said that probably wouldn’t have happened as the van, the man and his burning desire to actually do something took over everything, we as late teenagers just went with the flow as we didn’t need to make decisions. So we went swimming multiple times during the week, but the passion he held whilst in The Storms took us to see many “live” local bands in the pubs and clubs during the week and especially week-ends. Another passion of his was to travel and so it came to be. He organised our first holiday as a group to Greece which was virtually unheard of in the late 70’s, we were still young and had no money so he came up with the idea of forming the Ils’n Billies.

It was a bit like Malcolm McLaren did with the sex pistols some 8 years later, we had a theme which was different to any other band around at that time, none of us could play any instrument and certainly hadn’t performed on stage before. The profits went back into the band and eventually were to subsidise our first holiday which cost me £80 including a small kitty to collectively spend whilst out there. We flew out there and caught the “Magic Bus” back from Athens some three weeks later. That holiday in itself would be worthy of a chapter in a book. Once back home though the Ils’n Billies disbanded as a “job done”.

At this time we were just a group of lads enjoying ourselves, but often when visiting local pubs/clubs there’d be 10-15 of us all young men, not causing trouble but just having a laugh. Indeed we at the suggestion of Dallan used to sort out any trouble if one of us started to step out of line. This made us popular in the venues we visited as we all liked a drink and the profits to them I guess were higher than usual. I used to play my guitar often which also added to the occasion and still has a nostalgic essence. As I’ve said we were all male in our late teens which soon attracted the interest of girls of similar age who then all of a sudden it seemed to me started coming around with the gang as it were. This boosted travelling numbers to around 25 people every week-end night certainly and forged friendships which lasted for a lifetime.

Dutch involvement
The first exchange visit with the Dutch in 1972 pre dated Dallan’s involvement with our troop to my knowledge which I think was started by our scout leaders of the time, namely Paul Watts who was present at our event on 10th September. Dallan was possibly involved with the Storms at that time then later with John Greatorex (Gret), Dave Grainger, Chick and another whom I can’t remember formed a band they called Styx whom I saw play a couple of times I think. However the exchange visits were proving difficult to organise and administer, possibly due to the extra cost for parents, well until Dallan came along. He seemed to see the value there and he started to organise them himself, there then became new interest in the 21st Ilkeston – Albert Sweitzer Grupen (sp) relationship, indeed the Ils’n Billies opened the first bouderaij (again sp) it means farm in Dutch, they have some difficult words and was their local scout headquarters. We had a return visit, then we had their next scout headquarter opening again with the Billies, which included us playing on a cruiser boat down one of the vast array of canal networks over there. During this period of his life I noticed in him an interest in the Dutch way of life and their liberal attitudes which he found complimented his own views, which in England were at times very much anti-establishment and anti-control.
It then came as no surprise to me when he told me he was planning on a semi/permanent move to Holland which eventually overcame him. He developed almost precisely the same scenarios in Holland as he had done over here.
Dallan was a decent and proper man, with a liking of socialising; he was always true to himself and his word and was very persuasive. For my own take on this I’m also very much anti (establishment, authority and control) there were many occasions however when I knew he wanted me to do a job and was doggedly determined not to do it. Five minutes in conversation with the man I was not only doing that job I was so determined to refuse, I came away thinking it was my idea in the first place. Hehe Extraordinary!

The friendships he spawned over at least two countries has remained very strong, in the Black Horse on the 9th September this year we ate with the Dutch and it was like a past revisited. British people had travelled from as far as the South Coast, and the Newcastle area to celebrate the life of the man in question who although I saw him sparsely after his move to Holland somehow when we did meet. It didn’t make a jot of difference.

He would have hated being cast in this way, but at our celebration night there wasn’t a person there who would have occasion not to speak in the same vein. It wasn’t just though the man himself it was what he created, as for Mapperley, he was very proud to be a community member of what he saw as a special and select village. He certainly never let us forget it.

The Ils’n Billies at the Davy Lamp, Saturday 10th September 2016
in memory of and in celebration of Alan's life

Dave Towers. October 2016.


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