Tribute to David Allard BEM
David Allard BEM, born on 7th April 1933, has died aged 90, whilst walking.
In the early 1960s he and his brother Chris both worked in Nigeria for Barclays Bank. Late in ’64, unhappy with his proposed posting to Head Office in Lagos, David came back to England and secured a job with the Midland Bank in Watford at first, near where his parents lived. Subsequently he was posted to the Royston branch, where he settled in the late ‘60s. He worked for the Midland’s Cambridge branch until his retirement in 1993.
From the first, David took an active involvement in his local community as well as pursuing a broad range of interests and hobbies over the years, managing to combine some of them, for example his interest in learning other languages (including French, German and Spanish) with his enthusiasm for walking, by organising walking holidays for groups of French and German people in this country.
Countryside walking was a long-time passion of David’s. Aged 17, while working as a bank clerk, he joined the Ramblers Association, very sensibly or perhaps far-sightedly as a lifetime member. At weekends and holidays he would take himself & sometimes others on mammoth walks. Over the years he completed the Pennine Way three times. Wishing to share the benefits of walking more widely, in 1983 he set about establishing the Royston and District Ramblers club to help others enjoy the pleasures of rambling. 40 years on, in June this year, he facilitated the club’s 40th anniversary celebration by leading a walk on Therfield Heath before joining friends and fellow ramblers for dinner at the Heath Café.
As well as having served continuously as a Royston Ramblers Committee member since its inception, holding each of the officer posts, he also undertook sponsored walks to support various charities, particularly the Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust, for which he was the Social/Events Secretary; served as Hertfordshire Area Ramblers secretary for 12 years; was Treasurer of the local history society and remained so at the time of his death; was a Trustee of Royston Community Association for 50 years and, in 2020, when all group walking was cancelled because of Covid, he walked solo the entire 194 miles of the Hertfordshire Way, a published route which he helped to create in 1996. A non-driver, David used only public transport to link the different stages.
In 2018 David was awarded a certificate by the UK Ramblers Association, in recognition of his outstanding efforts in aiding and promoting the benefits of walking.
David was instrumental in planning part of the 110-mile Icknield Way and was until his death a conscientious and active footpath secretary for 8 local parishes, liaising with the Hertfordshire Countryside Management Services whilst patrolling the miles of countryside footpaths alone, fitting way mark signs, checking for faulty foot bridges and stiles or overgrown paths, often trimming vegetation back himself with his secateurs. His “pragmatic and common-sense approach” was greatly valued by the officials at Herts with whom he worked closely over the years. They commented that he really used the Rights of Way network, knew it like the back of his hand, understood it and worked hard to protect and improve it.
This year he was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list for services to the community.
David's busy life was always dedicated to encouraging walking for the health and enjoyment of others. At the age of 90, he continued with the same enthusiasm and energy as always, with no sign of easing up. Despite being the oldest walk leader in the group, he consistently led more walks than any other leader in Royston Ramblers in each of the last few years.
He was a legendary figure and news of his death came as a severe blow to those who knew him. He will be remembered by all those whose lives he touched as someone who made a difference. Those of us who were able to celebrate his 90th birthday are grateful indeed for the opportunity we had to let David know that he had improved our lives.
The precise details of his death are unknown at the time of writing – he had been missing since September 11th and five days later a member of the public came across his body on a footpath – but we do know that he died with his boots on, doing the thing he loved best. It feels like a fitting end.
Former Chairman, Royston Ramblers