Born 11th August 1948 in Edinburgh
Died 4th April 2021 in Dumfries
Reply to the Toast “New Members & Guests” 1991
Proposer of the Toast “The Artistes” 1994
Proposer of the Toast “The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns” 1995, 2009, 2018
One of Let it Blaw’s “Jolly Beggars” 1999, 2003, 2016
Reply to the Toast “The Lasses” 2000,
Recited “Tam o’ Shanter” 2006, 2011
Members of Let It Blaw were saddened to hear on 4 April 2021 of the passing of our dear Cronie Neil Allan. Neil had been in poor health for some time and had been unable to join us at the Annual Supper in 2020 but had recovered sufficiently by 2021 to join in the “Zoom” Supper of that year (his suspicion of the technology having been overcome to the extent that when the last few stragglers were still joining in songs, stories and general hilarity into the wee small hours, Neil was very much to the fore).
Neil was a performer, whether on the stage in opera or in the court as a solicitor and latterly solicitor-advocate. So skilled was he that as a member of the Chorus of Scottish Opera he shared a stage with Luciano Pavarotti and Dame Joan Sutherland. Rumours that Dame Joan enquired “who is the big Italian bloke speaking to Neil Allan?” may be slightly exaggerated.
As a lawyer he enjoyed the highest reputation for his integrity, legal knowledge and courtroom skills. He was a formidable opponent, held in high esteem by Judges as well as those who faced him in court. As a Procurator Fiscal Depute he brought professionalism and scrupulous fairness to his role, many accused persons who deserved a break found the Fiscal doing the defence lawyer’s job for them just in case they missed the good points! He was also a valuable mentor for a generation or two of young Fiscals, many very senior Prosecutors of the present day will happily confirm how much they learned from working with Neil, who was never shy to share his experience.
Whilst dedicated to his work, he had many other interests and enjoyed his free time watching the rugby at Murrayfield, or sitting with a pint or two in The Oxford Bar among others. He was also a fan of rowing and as a member of the North British Rowing Club attended regattas as a competitor, umpire and observer, as well as enjoying dinners and social functions with the firm friends he made through the sport.
Balerno Burns Club benefited on many occasions from his dramatic skills, playing “The Fool” in three performances of The Jollie Beggars (surely not typecast) as well as giving excellent renditions of Tam O’Shanter.
His rapier-like wit and great humour equipped him well in his years as Croupier, as did his more serious studious side in preparing and presenting thoughtful and memorable Toasts to the Immortal Memory (in 2018 he joined the small group of Cronies who have given that toast on three occasions).
Those who knew Neil Allan not only as a fellow club member but as a dear friend knew him to be a man of great intellect and wit. His story-telling skills were legendary, his swift response whenever a punchline presented itself was remarkable, and he knew how to enjoy a social gathering. If Neil was at your table you would not be short of a witty interjection, or occasionally a slightly acid put-down if the circumstances demanded it.
The Annual Supper of 2022 will be a poorer place for his absence but we have been privileged to have had his company and his contributions over the years since he joined Let It Blaw in 1990. He will be sadly missed.
The Order of Service at Neil’s Funeral (copied below) highlighted his respect for Robert Burns’ life and work.