Kim Allen who was the current Event Director for Burnham Week sadly and recently passed away.
Kim was only eight years old when his father Glenn died. Glenn, together with brother Tony were the co-founders of Allen Brothers (Fittings) Ltd. After Glenn’s untimely death, Kim’s mother Vera remarried and Kim was sent to boarding school in Rutland, an experience he did not enjoy. Many of his formative years were spent with his Auntie Ann and Uncle Tony Allen, growing up with Elizabeth more as brother and sister rather than cousins. Kim completed his education at the local state school in Hornchurch, did a year’s business course at Ardleigh Green where he met Lindsay, and they married in 1993. Their two sons, Edward and Richard were born in 1991 and 1993.
Robert Coyle met Kim in their Cadet days, along with Alistair and Stuart Munro, Mark Wade, David Shapiro, John Lewis and many more. Kim’s boat was called Happyin line with the family tradition of all boat names beginning with HA, although not a good name at the time! It was already clear that Kim not only loved competitive sailing but was good at it. His calls on the water became well known, most might use ‘starboard’ or ‘water’, but Kim normally preferred ‘xxxx off’ which seemed to work! After leaving Cadets Kim sailed 470s for a while, with other Corinthian members, especially the Wades.
Kim started working for the family business in the seventies, under Tony’s guidance and also became his apprentice for the Endeavour Trophy Championship and Icicle events, watching and learning how it all worked. As his competitive dinghy sailing tailed off he became increasingly involved with his company’s Soling, Dragons and Roller Coaster, a twin-masted ketch on which the whole Allen family spent many happy holidays.
His first serious foray into keel boat sailing came when Tony commissioned a one-off 1/2 tonner Harmony built at Priors to a design by Rob Humphreys. On the river Kim dabbled with Squibs, Sonatas and Impalas before his excellent organisational skills were employed to very good effect on the Pages’ Sigma 36 Chasseur II in 1998 on which he helped win Burnham Week’s Town Cup and several EAORA races including a memorable Houghton Cup.
At about this time Kim’s two young sons, Edward and Richard, showed an interest in sailing and Kim with the Page brothers got involved in a project to build four composite Optimists, two for his boys and two for his Godchildren. His own sailing continued on his Beneteau 30 Eau de Vie, and then he very successfully campaigned his Beneteau 36.5 Pelorus, narrowly missing a second Town Cup by just three seconds!
Kim was always keen to promote sailing, whether at his own Club, RCYC, or around the world. In recent years he added his depth of knowledge to Burnham Week in his role of Event Director, which he fulfilled with vigour and with his knowledge of technology, made Burnham Week move forward to achieve what the competitors wanted. The Endeavour Trophy Championship was Kim’s passion: he worked tirelessly to make it happen year on year. He enjoyed the challenge and made sure the competitors’ ambitions of competing in this prestigious event were fully realised. As a race officer he was always fair, as he was in life.
Of course he took the organisation of these events seriously but it was always fun when Kim was around, you had to watch and listen – it was often the little smile he gave at the end of the sentence that gave him away! Kim always ran a commentary about the starts and finishes:Edwin Buckley wishes he had kept some of those tapes, with interesting comments ranging from quips about Armitage Shanks 29 to dress codes at the start, often with his famous line, “Did I just say that?”
When Tony Allen retired in 2002 Kim became Managing Director, with his cousin Liz Adams as Co-Director and in 2008 Kim and Liz decided that in order to save the business they would need to market the fittings themselves with a rebrand and restructure. The Allen brand is now seen around the world as an innovative market leader – a legacy of which Kim was extremely proud, nurturing a fine team of workers, giving Tony Allen confidence in the company’s continuance through to the next generation.
Kim, though, will never be replaced and we are all shattered by this cruel blow.
We offer our sincere condolences to Lindsay and their two sons, Edward and Richard.
Liz Adams, Ann Allen, Tony Allen, Edwin Buckley, Robert Coyle, Graeme Page