Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2015

Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Alan Davey

Stan Lovell writes:

Alan George Davey was born in West Ham on 25th May 1930 to George and Flora. He also had a sister, Renee. Alan was registered blind at an early age and throughout his life managed very well with a very small amount of vision.

During the 1939-1945 war the Davey family moved to Bristol for a short while before settling in Cheltenham, where Alan spent the rest of his life. He attended the Royal School for the Blind, Bristol, where he learned his trade as a piano tuner. After qualifying in June 1950 he went to work at the Bentley Piano factory near Stroud. After a relatively short time, however, he left piano tuning as a full time profession, and spent the rest of his working life in engineering, keeping his hand in with a few tunings at evenings or at weekends.

In March 1963 Alan married Stella, whom he had known at the school in Bristol. They became proud parents when their daughter, Angela, was born in November 1964.

Alan was a very active man, with a wide variety of interests. He took a keen interest in most sports and was a life-long supporter of the Hammers. He was very interested in Cricket and was an avid listener to the test match commentaries on the BBC. Alan was known as a man who was very generous with his time, particularly when there was anyone around who needed a little help or advice.

Among his other interests, he was very fond of old time dancing and he ran sessions at a local blind club for a number of years. He was also often to be found entertaining various groups with his keyboard or with his inexhaustible store of humorous tales.

I first met Alan in 1948 when I was playing for the junior chess team against the seniors at the school in Bristol. For the next couple of years we often met up to renew the contest. We met up again, when I moved to Cheltenham in 1956, and a regular round of socialising developed with our families and friends, in particular, Chris and Bob Brown and the late Malcolm Draine. Alan was still playing chess and he had joined the renowned Cheltenham Chess Club where he played a number of games in the North Gloucestershire League. Around that time Alan and I could often be found on a Sunday lunchtime in the garden of the Albion Inn, with a chess board on the table between us and a foaming pint of Cheltenham and Hereford Ale at our elbow. Alan was enthusiastic and adventurous in his chess play, rather than studious. He liked nothing better than making, what he might refer to, as an interesting or speculative move and sit back to see what happened.

When Alan joined the BCA he soon formed an alliance with Richard Harrington, Geoff Patching and the late Francis Collisson. They all enjoyed their walks exploring the areas where the BCA had landed up for one of its events. They were soon being referred to as the ‘Four Musketeers’.

Alan remained very active until six years ago, when he suffered a severe stroke which resulted in a lengthy stay in hospital. Upon leaving hospital he became a resident of Bay Tree Court, Nursing Home in Cheltenham. In spite of some difficulties with mobility and with his speech he refused to give in, and continued to be regular attendee at the local blind club. He also greatly enjoyed his regular Thursday visits to his close friends, Chris and Bob Brown when he was able to enjoy another of his enthusiasms for a game of cards.

Alan died at the nursing home in Cheltenham on 30th June 2015. His funeral was held at Cheltenham Crematorium on 16th July, when BCA members, Chris and Bob Brown and Juliet Reeve were among the congregation of more than fifty.

Alan will be missed by his many friends. Our condolences go to his daughter, Angela.

Editor’s note: Donations made in memory of Alan were given to RNIB talking books. Angela felt that Alan would have approved of this because he loved listening to talking books and they had been such a lifeline to him.

Joan Shorrock has composed a tribute to Alan in verse:

At Morecambe with blind chess players, how my heart did sink,

But Alan, you made me welcome and said 'Come and have a drink.'

From then on I warmed to those known as the BCA.

Alan, you were a good friend, so I would like to say

Thank you for the memories what happy times we had.

And when you couldn't be with us it made us all quite sad

But you were cheerful to the end, from life's cares you found release.

It's been good to know you, Alan. Goodbye and rest in peace.