Honiton mourns loss of a great leader

Patrick Allen, former mayor who chaired many of the town’s leading organisations, dies aged 77.

Honiton has lost one of its most public spirited citizens.

Former mayor Patrick Allen, who chaired many of the town’s voluntary organisations over a period spanning more than three decades, died last Wednesday. He was 77.

Mr Allen, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia, leaves a devoted wife, Jenny. The couple had been married for 49 years.

He also leaves three sons, Christopher, Nicholas and Richard, along with seven grandchildren.

A man who enjoyed a dry sense of humour, Mr Allen was a familiar face on the local stage and is credited with forging strong links between Honiton and its twin towns.

He was a passionate civic leader, who always spoke his mind and got things done. He relished being in charge.

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Tributes have been paid to his public spirit by members of Honiton and District Carnival Committee - an organisation he helped found in the 1970s, when the carnival was resurrected.

In a statement, the committee said: “He worked tirelessly, with great passion, for the carnival right up until he became too ill to do so. We will miss him greatly.”

Mr Allen was a former chairman of the committee and a life president.

Although he rarely had time for leisure pursuits, he enjoyed going to the races with the late Frankie Walden - one of the most colourful characters in Honiton’s modern history.

The Allens moved to Honiton from Exeter in 1969 and Mr Allen was appointed chef at Honiton Community Hospital.

He retired at the age of 62, after working in the NHS for 40 years, but then started a new career working with people with learning disabilities. Mr Allen learnt his trade as a cook in the RAF, serving his country in Egypt during the Suez crisis.

He was a member of the Territorial Army for 22 years and will be buried on Friday wearing his Devonshire Regiment blazer.

Mr Allen, affectionately known to many as simply Pat, was elected to Honiton Town Council in 1974 and remained a councillor until 1997.

He served two consecutive terms as Mayor of Honiton in the 1980s and was also an Independent district councillor.

Over the years, Mr Allen had been chairman of Honiton Pantomime Society, Honiton Town Football Club, Honiton Twinning Association and the board of governors of Littletown Primary School.

He was instrumental in Honiton’s twinning with Gronau in Germany and planted a tree on behalf of Honitonians in Mezidon Canon.

He attended a State Opening of Parliament and the reception afterwards with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He was also present, in London, when a memorial was unveiled to Bomber Harris - one of Honiton’s greatest sons.

Mr Allen served on the committee which ran Honiton’s former outdoor swimming pool, which was fitted with a plastic bubble to extend its use before the town benefited from new, modern facilities.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago and, following the onset of dementia, eventually needed round-the-clock care.

Jenny says his final days were comfortable and peaceful, thanks to the expert care provided at Silverleigh in Axminster.

She said: “The care Patrick received was second to none.”

Mr Allen ensured he was in charge right until the end, planning the detail of his own funeral.

The service will be held in St Paul’s Church at 2pm on Friday.

Former mayor Peter Blake will give the eulogy.

Anybody wishing to attend the burial afterwards at St Michael’s is welcome.

A celebration of Mr Allen’s life will then take place at Turk’s Head Lodge.

Family flowers only, but donations, if desired, will benefit a multiple sclerosis charity and Cancer Research UK.

Tributes to Mr Allen can be left below or emailed to belinda.bennett@archant.co.uk

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