' Big Al' - a man who touched lives of so many in so many ways'
- Credit: Submitted
One of Brixham’s most popular and colourful characters has died, leading to tributes from all around the Bay.
Alan Franklin, known as ‘Big Al’, left his mark on so many people in so many ways from the young and sport to music and the local RNLI. He was 80.
Alan was born in Birmingham and loved to swim, play football and participate in his greatest love - cricket. He played cricket for Warwickshire third team and was a lifelong Birmingham City supporter.
After leaving school he did various jobs, working at Cadburys, with his father doing upholstery and a spell in the Merchant Navy.
In his teenage years he became involved in a big Birmingham youth club called the Stonehouse Gang. Young people were to play a huge part in his life.
He went on to become a leader and he took his Youth Leader qualifications.
One of the things that Alan always talked about was that at one of his clubs he had live music sessions on a Sunday night and one of the groups he employed was Joe Cocker and the Grease Band who he paid £8 a session.
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Alan gained a qualification in Physical Education and Art. This enabled him to apply for youth leader positions within Education.
In 1970 he applied for a job at Brixham Secondary School where he was to spend the rest of his working life after moving there with his family. Alan opened the Youth Centre in Brixham, and he also taught PE.
The club’s Tuesday night disco of the 70s, 80s and 90s was ‘legendary’ and many other activities were offered such as football, gymnastics, film evenings, crafts and canoeing.
Alan also used to provide discos for local venues and for many Brixham couples.
He ran a Saturday club for primary children and play schemes in the school holidays. In 1976 he helped organise the Silver Jubilee celebrations within the town even climbing scaffolding with a broken leg.
Alan, who married Gill in 1979, also had a big interest in Canoeing. Many a happy hour was spent down at the breakwater teaching the youth of Brixham canoeing. From these beginnings came the formation of the Ibex canoe club which continues to flourish to this day and Alan was President until he died.
Alan was an active member of Brixham Cricket Club for many years. He was a slow bowler often told the story of how he took 8 wickets for 5 runs! He formed the Brixham and Torbay teachers cricket team.
Alan became involved in the Hameln twinning with Torbay and was a leader for many years with the Hameln/Torbay Youth Exchange. He was also able to take young people to visit Poland, Russia and to go canoeing in Sweden. He was also part of the group that started the twinning with a town in Holland.
It was at the port’s Burton Pub and with his talented musical friend Jeff Bull that the Bull’s Hit Band was formed. Alan was allowed to play the tea chest bass. In later years local musician Drew Millin became Alan’s musical facilitator and they moved up to the Ernie Lister Bar at the Quayside.
He always found time to support Gill with her interests and help organise the social side at Brixham Yacht Club.
When he retired, he became involved with the RNLI and for many years was the ‘Education and Visits’ officer at the Torbay Station. He loved his involvement with the crew and was very proud to receive an award for work and Alan and Gill went to the RNLI headquarters in Poole to receive it.
Alan was a family man who loved and was very proud of his children Karen, Trevor and Dan and grandchildren Sam, Matt, Tom and Amelia.
Gill said: “Alan will be missed not only by his family but by many in Brixham who have commented on how he has influenced or touched their lives. Many have spoken about his how he was always the life and soul of the party and how he gave much to Brixham especially the young.”