DENNIS JOHN NEWELL
1954 to 2017
We first noticed Dennis standing on the ‘front’ near the starting line paying a welcome if unusually rare attention to the Menai Strait One Design race that was in full swing. He was photographing the yachts initially and was clearly taken by their shape and gentle appeal.
Before long he approached us after one of the races, expressing his interest in the yachts, their history and enquiring as to whether any were for sale. Having owned our MS for nearly a quarter of a century we were due a ‘break’ and with less than no fuss Dennis duly bought No 8, Taeping from Tim Booth and I.
At the time I suggested to Dennis that he was buying a ‘lifestyle’ as much as he was buying a boat, and it was a delight to see how Dennis and his family, Alison, Hugo and Jack embraced the ownership and social involvement in the fleet. For me it became more as Dennis was somebody who had a phenomenal zest for life and our friendship developed more widely, usually agreeing and arranging to attend concerts of previously unheard of artists while sampling new beers and food. The stand out’s being Too Many Zoos and an Otis Redding tribute band fronted by a wonderfully charismatic Burundian vocalist both at Band on the Wall in Manchester.
Significantly, Dennis’ lack of sailing experience was overcome by his drive to learn and improve. On occasion it would be fair to say that his enthusiasm perhaps resulted in him attempting to sail in conditions that he ought not to have (attempting to ram the Dock Wall near his home in Caernarfon is arguably the best example!). However, his (and the entire family’s) resilience was rarely dented and the boat was always swiftly repaired on the rare occasions it needed it and subsequently sailed with greater rather than decreasing glee!
He was a talented photographer and produced a beautiful pictorial history of the fleet in book for the yacht’s 75th anniversary.
Sadly Dennis was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer (Sarcoma) and died in February 2017. Despite being a member of the yacht club for 50 years, I cannot remember anybody who had such a positive impact in such a short time. He is profoundly missed.
In memory of Dennis, his wife Alison has not only donated Taeping to the project but has also committed a significant donation. Further, as of writing this it looks like she is taking on the mantel of the (unofficial) Administrator for the project.