Buxton says ‘goodbye’ to rescuer

Buxton Advertiser Archive, 1993, Poole's Cavern warden David Allsop in the river running through the cave
Buxton Advertiser Archive, 1993, Poole's Cavern warden David Allsop in the river running through the cave
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Buxton says a final farewell to an explorer, lifesaver and record setter today, as the funeral is held for Dave Allsop.

The ‘true Buxtonian’ was an inspiration to countless cavers and environmentalists throughout his decades in the town.

Dave was famed for founding the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation in the 1960s and his tireless efforts to reopen Poole’s Cavern in the 1970s.

Alan Walker, manager of Poole’s Cavern, started out as a cave guide at the age of 16 working with Dave.

“He was a true Buxtonian and obviously very passionate about the environment and the landscape,” he said.

“He promoted the town and encouraged people to come here.”

Born on December 6, 1936, he was raised in Heath Grove, attending primary and junior school in Hardwick Square before going onto Kents Bank.

At the age of 18, he was called up for national service and was stationed with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

He met his wife, Brenda in 1956 and the couple had two children, Carol and Ian.

It was when he was doing some wiring work in Poole’s Cavern in 1976 that he saw the potential to open up the old tourist attraction to the public once more, and worked with the Buxton Civic Association to make it happen – taking on the role of its first warden.

Alan continued: “He did a tremendous amount of caving and published some of the early guide books for cavers, some of which are still in use today.

“He was just a very inspirational character.”

Journalist Alistair Macdonald got to know Dave over the years through filming him for countless TV appearances.

He commented: “Dave was in many ways Mr Buxton with a long and distinguished history of service to the town and the local community.

“He founded the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation in 1961 after the tragic death of Sheffield University student Neil Moss in Peak Cavern in Castleton.

“He was one of the last people to reach Neil while he was still alive.

“Dave was personally involved in more than 100 rescues and saved countless lives.”

One of the people he rescued was an army cadet called John Stevens, from London, who he was reunited with ten years ago.

John now attends the annual cavers’ dinner in Buxton in gratitude to Dave and the rescue team’s efforts.

In 1962, he set a new world depth record after leading the first successful British expedition, made up mainly of people from Buxton, to the Geoffre Berger cave in the French Alps.

Not content with exploring the underground however, Dave set his explorers mind to work elsewhere. He would often call Alistair with story ideas and among the many films he featured in, was one showing wild wallabies at The Roaches, in Staffordshire, which ended up being shown around the world.

The animals had been rumoured to be living in the area, but had never been caught on camera.

“He used to feed them with cabbages when the weather was bad and he saved their lives,” Alistair said.

Later on in life, Dave achieved a personal goal of trekking to the base camp of Everest with a friend.

“Dave had Buxton running through him like a stick of Blackpool rock,” Alistair concluded.

He suffered an embolism at his home, in Heathfield Nook Road, and passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 13, aged 76.

His funeral is being held today in St Mary’s Church, in Dale Road, Buxton, at 12.30pm.