Reprinted from Newsletter 151, dated 2019 spring

Dennis Allen, 1937–2018: lifesaver, mayor, loyal tree-planter and treasurer

Ena and Dennis Allen outside their home in Hamlyn Road, shortly after retiring there in summer 2001 from their years at the gift shop and launderette in Glastonbury High Street. [Newsletter 100]

Dennis Allen, a longserving member of Glastonbury Conservation Society, died on November 15 in 2018.

  His mum had been married before, and Dennis had an older half-brother. His dad worked for the Whitehead engineering company, which bought the family to Weymouth, and there he became involved in building equipment for use in the 1939–45 war. Weymouth experienced heavy bombing raids during the war, so the family moved to the safety of a rural village: West Pennard.

  For Dennis and his family, the village at the time felt quite “enclosed”: it seldom saw new families arrive and they found it tricky to settle.

  The Griffiths family was also new in the village, having moved there from Wales. At West Pennard their daughter Ena was born. One day her brother was showing off his amazing cycling skills by riding backwards: he accidentally managed to knock young Dennis down. Ena’s family were mortified and came to visit and apologize.

  Thus began a lifelong friendship between these two families. They went to school together, were in and out of each other’s houses and the grown-ups socialized together. With the bombing worsening in London, Dennis saw the arrival of his maternal grandparents, who fled down to escape the doodlebugs.

  When Dennis left school he started work for Clarks, until he was called up for National Service. He elected to serve an additional year and so spent three years in the Royal Air Force. Following his initial training, he served most of his time on Cyprus. When Dennis came out of the RAF he returned to Clarks.

  He and Ena had been friends since childhood and for them falling in love was a bit like falling in love: slowly at first and then suddenly all at once. They married on September 14 in 1963.

  Unfortunately Clarks made Dennis redundant. This made Dennis and Ena courageously try various new jobs. They started with a convenience store in Newton Abbot and then returned to Glastonbury and opened a gift shop and launderette in the High Street with bed and breakfast, which they ran together for some 16 years.

  When Dennis was 29 he was driving along the road behind a car driven by an elderly lady. As they crossed Coldharbour Bridge her car plunged into the river below. Without a second’s thought Dennis leapt into the water and rescued her from what would almost certainly have been a watery end. Dennis received the Royal Humane Society Testimonial Award for his brave action.

  In later life Dennis was to show great consideration for the well-being of others by taking young offenders out and about in the community. He also became a voluntary driver for social services.

  As a member of Glastonbury Conservation Society, Dennis became an active tree-planter and served for many years as treasurer. He also was elected a town councillor and Mendip District councillor and was a key mover in establishing the Tourist Information Bureau in the historic Tribunal building in the High Street. In 1994 Dennis became Mayor of Glastonbury, with Ena supporting him as Lady Mayoress.

  Dennis was born in 1937 on July 23 and died at age 81.

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