In a sense, my connections with Allan were stirring a long way back. Allan and I went to the same Cambridge College; we just missed each other as he left at the same time that I arrived.

It wasn't until my wife and I moved to Sutton Valence in 1976 that I caught up with him, or perhaps he with me. It didn't take long before Allan spotted me as a potential recruit to the Red Hill School Managers. As he applied that combination of jovial charm and assumption that everything would turn out as he felt right, I found myself installed without really noticing - and he applied the same irresistible persuasion later to get me to take on the Chairman's role.

Red Hill students could never be described as easy to manage. Allan's good humour in the face of all manner of stress was more than impressive, and I say that as a former deputy head in a school facing minimal difficulties by comparison. The impression that his character made on the students I leave to Adrian Gray to describe. From the Managers' point of view, it was always amazing to see on how many levels Allan could operate.

Indeed, you could well say that Allan was the school. He switched seamlessly from counsellor to business manager, from archivist to classroom teacher, from staff team leader to pantomime dame. Several Old Redhillians will remember a pantomime when he appeared in a fur coat and fishnet tights to add to the general jollification. They may not realise that my wife (who also taught at the school) then achieved a successful wind-up by sending him a faked hospital appointment letter advising him that tight stockings were bad for his health!

Allan coped seemingly effortlessly with all the problems that Red Hill generated. He could calm an angry student with a word or a gentle touch on the shoulder; and find new clothes on the instant as a visit to France was leaving for the boy who had just returned (wearing his travel clothes) from doing work experience at the local pig farm. In between all this, Allan found time to get involved in village affairs. He was Chairman of the Parish Council, and took that duty beyond the formal business with practical help in, for instance, re-settling people who had to move out of their cottage at short notice.

Eventually, government policy withdrew financial support for residential special schools, a policy which spelled the death knell for Red Hill and its like, and did their potential pupils no favours. This must have been a dreadful blow for Allan, who had spent his whole working life there. Nevertheless, he only spoke to me once of how deeply this had depressed him. For the rest, he thought positively of what could be done in the spirit of Otto Shaw's tradition; and successfully activated his professional contacts to set up Red Hill with a second lease of life as a Pupil Referral Unit, or day special school for Kent County Council.

Even this came to an end, and the Red Hill Trust (as the Managers had now become) needed to sell the school. Allan maintained his loyalty to the Trust and was absolutely invaluable, putting his intimate and detailed knowledge of the property to good use in getting the Trust the best value in the deal. As a result the Trust is in a better position to carry on the work in the spirit that Allan would have wanted.

In the last few years, he was Clerk to the Trust, going beyond the mere administration needed. He advised applicants for grants on how to apply, and Trustees on the soundness of applications. He used his contacts to ensure that knowledge of the Trust and its ability to make grants was well spread through the community of workers with disturbed children.

From the Trust's point of view, I can truly say that we will miss his expertise, his sympathetic advice and his willingness to ensure that the legacy of Red Hill continues.

(read by David Wilson at Allan's funeral on November 1st 2007)