Alan Colls: the Dartford Folk Club co-founder who nurtured an array of talents

Alan Colls
Alan Colls formally retired from Dartford Folk Club in May 2019

It is with great sadness we share the news that on Thursday 16 April Alan Colls, the co-founder of Dartford Folk Club, passed away after a long battle with several serious health problems. He celebrated his 85th birthday in January. Alan survived his beloved wife, Pam, by just over four years, and until about 18 months ago he remained at the helm of the club, overseeing the artists booked and providing a superb PA sound system for the weekly guests.

Last May, when his health deteriorated, Alan formally retired from the club but continued to be an occasional visitor.
In his final months he was supported by a fantastic team of health carers, family and close friends, all of whose support enabled him to remain in the comfort of his own home.

Alan and Pam set up and ran Dartford Folk Club together for around 45 years, booking an amazing variety of artists within the folk scene, additionally giving many new performers the opportunity to play their first gig.

They encouraged and assisted artists to reach their potential, develop confidence and build up self-esteem through involvement with the club.

Over the years they helped to launch and develop the music careers of many singers and musicians from both the local area and further afield.

Through their faith in individual performers and willingness to take a risk in booking an eclectic range of artistes, Dartford Folk Club soon became well known throughout the UK and overseas as a successful and vibrant live music venue.

The club continues to regularly feature performers from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe as well as from across the whole of the UK.

Additionally, Pam and Alan fostered a sense of community, friendship and mutual support among regular attendees that extended far beyond the weekly meetings of the club.

Over the years, there have been a number of marriages and partnerships within its membership.

In 2008 the club won the BBC Radio 2 folk club of the year award and, in 2013, Alan and Pam were presented with a Dartfordian award for services to music and the local community.

Dartford Folk Club will continue to run, when it is safe to do so, in memory of and as a legacy to Alan and Pam’s amazing love for music.

This article appeared in Folk London 307, June-July 2020