It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Normandy Day UK founder Dennis Davison, aged 96.
Dennis, who set up the charity in has late ‘80s after spending 10 years living in Normandy, died on the 1st October. The decorated D-Day veteran was a larger than life character who was loved by several Coventry schools, where he became ‘living history’, regaling young audiences with wartime stories. Laced with mischievous humour, his aim was always to encourage young people to be every day peace-makers.
Dennis and the Normandy Day UK charity was ‘adopted’ by Cardinal Newman Catholic School, the UK’s first designated ‘Peace School’. Head Teacher Marina Kelly said, “When in front of an audience of young people, he had an uncanny ability to connect, with little or no preparation. He took risks with his audience, and you never knew what was coming next. But it worked. His stories left an indelible impression on the young people, who were left in no doubt about the about the horrors of war and the importance of being peace-makers. His parting is symbolic of the last generation to experience war so close to UK soil.”
His daughter, Heather Davison, said, “Dad will be remembered for the laughter, fun and friendship he shared with so many of us. He was a down-to-earth and popular figure in the real ale pubs of Earlsdon and Chapelfields. I am so proud of him for the part he played in protecting our freedoms, along with thousands of other young men of his generation.”
In the last few years Dennis has been awarded the Legion D’Honneur by the French government for his contribution to the Normandy Campaign and his work with the French Resistance. He was also awarded a British Empire Medal by the Queen for his services to the voluntary sector and a Points of Light Award by the Prime Minister’s office for his efforts teaching young people about the 1944 Normandy Campaign.
Normandy Day UK Project Manager Andy Duncan said, “Dennis loved speaking to young people in Coventry schools. But he often talked about leaving a legacy. His wish was finally granted when the opportunity arose to work with Coventry City Council and Cardinal Newman School to create the Coventry Community Peace Orchard at Coundon Hall Park. The apple orchard is designed to mirror the apple orchards of Normandy, where much of the combat took place, inland from the beaches in 1944. I would urge everyone to visit the orchard and join the Peace Orchard Friends group.”
Dennis’s funeral will be at Coventry Cathedral at 1.00 pm on Tuesday 29th October.
All are welcome.
Read more about Dennis Davison’s incredible life on the peace orchard website.