Alan Walker has spent his working life looking after Poole’s Cavern before stepping down as cave manager when he retired in May.
Friend and work colleague Simon Fussell, from Buxton Civic Association (BCA), which owns and manages the cavern and the town’s woods, said: “He’s always been there and we’ve never had to manage without him.
“His knowledge of caves is second to none and he will well and truly be missed.”
Alan started working as a tour guide while he was still at school in 1976. He returned to Poole’s Cavern in 1987 and has taken on many roles in his time but was most passionate about preserving the heritage of the caves.
Alan was also instrumental in sharing the site’s industrial history last year when the Advertiser ran a fundraising campaign for a female quarry worker statue in Grin Low Woods.
Peter Philipson, chair of BCA, said: “He has overseen such changes and his hard work and dedication has made Poole’s Cavern one of the finest show caves in the country. He championed the site to become a place of scientific research and organised the cave to become more accessible to those with mobility issues.”
Before covid the cavern was welcoming 65,000 paying visitors a year and Peter says that is down to Alan’s hard work.
Simon said: “During the pandemic he updated the booking system so everything could be done online to keep visitors coming in when they were able to.
“For nearly 40 years he has put Poole’s Cavern and the woods at the heart of everything he does. He is forward thinking and a problem solver as well as a people person.
“I feel honoured to have worked with him and it will be sad not seeing him around every day but if anyone deserves a happy retirement it’s Alan.”
His views were echoed by Peter who said: “Over the years so many people both residents and tourists have come into contact with Alan, spoken to him, asked him questions about the cavern, learned from him and seen him in and around the woods. We will all miss him and we all wish him a very happy retirement.”