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Denby Allen (Staff 1963 - 1991)
25 October 2021
It is with great sadness that we recently learnt that Denby Allen, former Biology teacher at Friends’, passed away on Friday 8th October 2021 aged 87 years. The funeral was private and we send our condolences to his wife Carolyn and their 5 sons who all went to Friends’ namely: Julian (YG78), Nicholas (YG80) , Paddy (YG82), Adrian (YG83) and Jeremy (YG86).

Martin Hugall recalls. Joining the staff at FSSW as a young and inexperienced Biology teacher in 1972 I could not have hoped for a better mentor and role model than Denby. He taught me all I needed to know about Biology teaching. One thing I picked up very quickly was to mark work in pencil – not as harsh as red biro. He was kind and gentle and with a great intellect that was particular apparent in his sixth form teaching and in the way in which he created a new school timetable each year without the aid of a computer program.

Others will also remember him as either a Form 5 or the Sixth Form formteacher. See the attached photo of Denby with 6iy in September 1990

But Denby had many strings to his bow especially his love of farming and he devoted an amazing amount of time to running his Young Farmers Club. There were always sheep and chickens in the young farmers’ fields and often a cow and a calf, in addition to the hives of bees down the Avenue. So I have many happy memories of the project room in the Bio labs being filled with pupils extracting honey, trussing chickens or making corn dollies for the Essex Young Farmers show, and at other times bottle feeding young lambs and raising chicks from eggs in an incubator. It was a shame but not surprising that when Denby retired in the summer of 1991 no one could be found to continue his Young Farmers’ Club.

I will also remember with fondness our annual Biology field courses which for many years we ran in the North York Moors basing ourselves at the Quaker school in Great Ayton where self catering was very much part of the experience.

Others will also remember with great fondness the annual work camp Denby organised to La Coûme – a small experimental school with a Quaker background, high up in the mountains of the French Pyrenees, which I am sure proved to be a coming of age experience for many sixth formers, where many were pushed to their physical limits - and that was all before health and safety. But there were many enjoyable moments and the wild camping en route and the trips to Andorra were also to be remembered.

A number will remember visits to his ever expanding house in Quendon where his considerable building skills were evident, including an extension and a swimming pool heated with his own home made solar heating panels. Staff will remember a number of most enjoyable end of year barbeques held there.

I know that many staff and pupils who overlapped with Denby will share the fond memories I have of him and his family.

There have been many nice comments on Facebook recently about Denby. To quote a few:

Clare Thompson “ A real gentleman”

David Heydecker “ A lovely man and a great teacher”

Geoff Barnard “ He had an aura of wisdom and kindness about him that gave him natural authority”

Joanna Harris “Combination of Denby Allen and Martin Hugall in the biology labs was inspirational. The best of best times at FSSW”

Chris Hickling “ Not only was Denby an excellent biology teacher he was also a modest cricketer……”
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