It is with great sadness that we learn of Dennis Brown’s departing. The following is a letter that Pete Smith sent to Stephanie, his wife, herself a long-time supporter of Holt Morris, on our behalf.

Dear Stephanie,

Our Dennis

We are desperately sad to learn that Dennis moved from this world to whatever follows. We were so very fond of our Dennis, and the huge contribution he made to this side. Wherever it is that he is gone, music, dance, conviviality and real ale consumption will be the better for it.

We can’t quite imagine how you are feeling at the moment. It will be very difficult to share the pain with your family, because of the Covid restrictions. But somehow or other, virtual or otherwise, David, Andrew and wee Genevieve plus close family and close friends will be there for you.

You will know that Dennis made a huge contribution to Holt Morris, from 1990 for almost 20 years. He massively expanded our dance repertoire. He tried (unsuccessfully) to help us dance more cleanly, but he never minded much. He was a super dance tutor. Like us he wanted good dancing and good music.

He taught us Shepherd’s Hey, Fieldtown, better known as "Signposts" which, since the early 1990’s to date, remains our signature and best dance. Our top performance of any dance, ever, came at the Kirtlington Lamb Ale in 1996, when we danced "Signposts" at the show spot in the school playground. In 31 years of existence, it was our only 9.5 out of 10 performance, with Dennis perfectly paced and clean on the pipe, and the rest of us inspired. Tubby Reynolds and others in Sherborne were in tears (but in a good way!).

Now we will always think of Dennis when we do that dance.

Dennis was a good fit for Holt because after the dancing he, like us, enjoyed music, banter and real ale in any bar, anywhere. He did have the biggest beer glass in the side, which occasionally bemused barmen and left us facing a larger bill when we bought him a drink.

As well as being a good, precise dancer, Dennis was an amazingly versatile musician. It seemed he could pick up pretty well any musical kit and make it work. There were one or two teething problems when it came to early efforts on the Northumbrian pipes, but that all came good too. But we never did manage to persuade him to wear a bowler!

We loved him, Stephanie, and we hold dear his time with us.

With our love to you and your family,

Holt Morris.

Catch a prominent glimpse or two of Dennis by crossing to the website "Gallery" where you will find him playing, typically, piratically attired, on "Hammersmith Hop" in the Summer Solstice, 2008 video at Avebury. Play through to the end and he arrives in full resplendency, alongside an infant Bertie Wright. (Ed).