26 Fruits


Neil Duffy

In a year crammed with drama, there is an individual tragedy that brings home the fragility and poignancy of life. A few weeks ago Neil Duffy died, aged 48, from a heart attack while out walking.

Neil’s death hit me and others who knew him hard. He was so young, so full of life and ideas. He was a Dark Angel at every level. He’d been on courses that I’d run at Moniack, Aracena, Merton and Chateau Ventenac (when we ran a writing retreat two years running). I remember Ventenac in particular as Neil – quite a refined gourmet normally – became very fond of the pink wine that we bought in five-litre containers. For a few euros it was surprisingly good.

Neil was a terrific writer. I was proud some years ago to post his piece on ‘Passion’ on this blog site. That showed his sense of humour, crisp and dry as our memory of the pink wine. But above all, Neil was a generous writer, always trying to support and encourage others. He had sent the first acceptance of my invitation to the launch of Spanish Crossings – but of course, tragically, he didn’t make it.

Neil died but we don’t want our memory of him to fade. Dark Angels particularly want to honour his memory and we have decided to institute a special scholarship named after him. To recognise Neil’s own writing and his generous encouragement of others, particularly young people, we intend to award the Neil Duffy Scholarship as an annual prize.

This will be a free place on a Dark Angels foundation course for a young writer, a chance to kickstart a young career, something Neil was always keen to do. Your nominations will be welcome.

We will announce this on the Dark Angels website www.dark-angels.org.uk soon. On the page about the Scholarship, we would like to include your written tributes to Neil. You won’t be surprised that there will be a word constraint – just 48 words, one word for each year that Neil lived.

You can email me or post your tributes in the Comments below. Thank you.

3 Responses

  1. Johnny Lyons says:

    I never met Neil but it’s clear from your blog John that the world has lost a good and kind soul and one taken tragically early in his life. My thoughts go out to Neil’s family and friends.

    Dark Angels’ decision to introduce a scholarship in Neil’s honour is a truly fitting gesture and a wonderful way of keeping his generosity of spirit and passion for writing alive.

  2. Faye Sharpe says:

    What a shock. An amusing, generous and kind man. A great companion to write (and cook) with. My condolences to his family and friends.

  3. Therese says:

    John, I remember the reading of Neil’s ‘Passion’ piece at DA Master Class Merton College 2017 – it was wonderful: so clever, so engaging, so on-message, so well written. How wonderful to have set up a scholarship in his honour – I never knew him, but feel as though I would have really connected with him. RIP Neil Duffy.

Leave a Reply