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Elizabeth Jeavans - Tuesday, 06 May 2014 07:05

Sad news.


Duncan gave me my first job after I went freelance three years ago. He had an amazing ability to make me think about things, like REALLY THINK about things. I hope I can continue to take that thoughtfulness forward in my own work. He was an absolute gentleman to work with and I will remember him with great fondness. Sincere condolences to his friends and family.

Jayne Fenton Keane - Monday, 28 April 2014 19:29

Although I never met Duncan I am grateful for his legacy. I only wish I was lucky enough to have met him

Graham Downie - Monday, 28 April 2014 08:10

Both fairground enthusiasts and travelling showmen will remember Duncan Dallas for his extremely perceptive (and wholly sympathetic) book 'The Travelling People'. Published in 1971, it appeared at a time when there was only one other book on the subject in print. It was immediately recognised as a work of great authority, and is still recalled by those he met and interviewed during the course of its compilation. Equally, those who read it first over 40 years ago still pay homage to its splendid qualities.

Tim David - Sunday, 27 April 2014 21:40

I remember those first few meetings with Duncan in the "In Vino Veritas Cafe" just off Chapeltown Road. It was a great time. Here was this tall guy who had the most amazing contacts bringing such people as Alan Sokal and Oliver Sacks (see in the picture with the Guardian obituary). He was such a great and fun person to be with. I knew him as a kind, rather silent man, willing to help other people. Though he certainly was sharp with people who tended to hog the conversation.

He did lead by example and the world-wide success of Cafe Scientifique is the proof. He will be sorely missed.

chris - Sunday, 27 April 2014 15:27

Duncan was a man of great vision and charm - success was inevitable. But humble man that he was, I don't think he ever predicted just how successful the Café would become.

Thank you for encouraging us to make science more inclusive and accessible, and for leading by example.

In tribute, I dug through my archives to find this charming interview of Duncan sharing about the Café's humble beginnings: https://soundcloud.com/chris-creese/duncan-dallas-on-creating-the-cafe-scientifique

Were there more people like you, Duncan!
 
You are deeply missed, and very celebrated.

Chris
Daniel Glaser - Sunday, 27 April 2014 14:54

I first met Duncan when we were setting up, with others, the Cafe Sci at the ICA in London in 2002. He has been a continuous inspiration since then. In a testament to his future-facing perspective up to the end, we last engaged a few weeks ago when he requested a recommendation for a fellowship application he was submitting. I wrote:

Duncan has a rare combination of qualities: he is a visionary who makes things happen. But also through his example and unswerving passion he brings about massive change by inspiring others. He has always resisted the possibility of Café Scientifique becoming a centralised structure. The deepest influence of his work is in the independent activities that follow. The 700 cafes worldwide have almost all sprung up by indirect association. This is a remarkable achievement from someone who is modest, unassuming, generous and open. He has an indefatigable willingness to engage with everyone he meets on their own terms and a fundamental distrust of those who seek to control the lives and imaginations of others. Through openness and curiosity he has found himself at the centre of the world’s most diverse, committed and dynamic network of engagement.

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Scott Keir - Sunday, 27 April 2014 14:39

Too soon, Duncan, too soon.

Of course, I have no real idea how old Duncan was. But it still feels too soon for him to go. He was an exceptionally generous person. Generous with the idea of cafe scientifique, happy to see it spread far and wide, to allow people to copy, adapt, modify and run with it. Generous with his time, freely offering advice, ideas and his physical help on the night, chairing cafes with good humour and rapport. And generous in spirit, warm-hearted and effusive with praise for others. I am grateful for his all help in the cafes I ran, and remember him fondly.

My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Roger Highfield - Sunday, 27 April 2014 12:25

I seem to remember that I first encountered Duncan when I tried (unsuccessfully!) to get into Yorkshire TV many decades ago. Over the years I was fortunate to bump into him again and again -  inevitably at the Scientists meet the Media party. He was charming, affable and we always ended up chatting about the latest developments in the Cafe Scientifique movement. Duncan was such a fixture that it is hard to believe that he has gone. Many condolences to his family, who must be very proud of his wonderful legacy.

Clare Matterson - Wednesday, 23 April 2014 03:16

I was very sad to hear the news of Duncan’s death, as were many of us here at Wellcome, as we had the good fortune to come across him on many occasions over the years.

I want to leave a message that is both personal, and that is on behalf of others at Wellcome who also knew him.  Duncan was always good company and will be much missed, leaving the world a more interesting and inclusive place.  He was a well-known, admired and respected figure in the public engagement with science community and I know that his wisdom, encouragement and words of advice were well received and will be missed.

His commitment and passion for engagement and fostering dialogue was infectious.  He always seemed averse to take personal credit for his role in setting up the (global!) Café Scientifique movement but now is a time to recognise his contribution as significant and lasting.  Most importantly in that the movement is self-sufficient and not dependent on any one individual, let alone Duncan himself, which I believe is exactly how he would have wanted it.

Our thoughts go to his family at this sad time.  He will be missed by us all.

Tim Birkhead - Monday, 21 April 2014 10:47

What very sad news. Duncan was an inspiration. I met him at several Cafe Sci meetings over the years and always enjoyed his cheerful, enthusiastic questioning. His achievement with Cafe Scientifique is extraordinary. A remarkable man and a wonderful achievement.

Betty Kituyi - Thursday, 17 April 2014 04:14

The last time I heard from Duncan, he was answering a query on my claim for March 2014 salary (hardly two weeks ago)!  He told me that things were bad on his side and that he was in hospital. That email left me worried and after a few days, I wrote to his son George and to Caitlin his girlfriend to ask about Duncan. It was Caitlin who sent me the ground-collapsing news, She said, ‘I am very sorry to let you know that Duncan is very unwell and the doctors say he has a few weeks to live at most’. My world was instantly changed and I cried. I cried for the unfairness of death to be taking a way a good human being like Duncan. That was my first instinct – Duncan the good man who would be leaving us. The second thing that came to me was to ensure that Café Scientifique continues to makes ripples in Uganda through Café Sci and to establish a permanent Adult Cafe Scientifique with my friends in memory of Duncan.

I met him in 2008, at the the British Council offices where I was the job applicant for the Café Scientifique - Uganda coordinator job. I remember vividly his hearty vibrating voice from across the interview panel as he asked me how I would make science interesting for teenagers. Duncan hired me and over the years, he told me that he had dropped me at the heart of the ocean and that I had swum and survived. It wasn't only me that survived because i found my niche and became hooked to informal science communication through Café Scientifique, it was Café Scientifique – Uganda that stands out in schools as making a luminous difference in student’s lives after normal school to discuss with eminent scientists the science that mattered to them.

Duncan was very passionate about and supportive of Café Scientifique Uganda. He gave it all he had through coming around and sitting in the students' cafes to listen to talks on black holes, GMOs, robotics science. He knocked at the doors of the ministries and companies to share the exciting news of Café Sci and to lobby for support for the project. One of my last conversations on phone with Duncan was early this year when he jokingly told me that he was considering applying for a job at the Wellcome Trust so that he can donate his salary to our project! I was very touched and felt humbled.

At the International Africa Café Sci conference last year, 135 Ugandan students met Duncan Dallas, the man behind Café Scientifique for the first time. They watched in awe as he took the stage to explain in simple terms what we had been doing in with Café Sci – Uganda for the past four years. After the conference, Duncan phoned me from UK and thanked me again for organising a brilliant conference. But it is him who made the conference happen by lobbying for more funds from Wellcome Trust and for constantly giving brilliant ideas on what might work.

The afternoon of 29th April 2014 will be a special day for me and Café Scientifique Uganda to say farewell and celebrate the life of Duncan Dallas as our dear father, mentor and friend. In our own way, we shall say our farewell but memories of Duncan and Café Scientifique will stay with us for a long  long time.

I send my special prayers and deep condolences and comfort to his immediate family and friends.

Rest in peace Duncan.

John Durant - Wednesday, 16 April 2014 09:45

I first met Duncan many years ago, when he was still best known as a fine science TV program maker. At that time, he was already pulling back for his work with Yorkshire TV and beginning to take an active interest in other forms of science outreach. We met from time to time, at conferences and workshops about "public understanding of science" (later, "public engagement with science"); and I quickly came to value his unassuming, thoughtful and insightful contributions to our field. As recently as last autumn, we had the pleasure of Duncan's presence in our conference here at MIT, on "The Evolving Culture of Science Engagement".

What Duncan managed to achieve by way of globalizing science cafes is truly extraordinary, and it will surely be a lasting legacy. He always insisted that the very simplicity of the science cafe - no fixed format, no fixed venue, no fixed budget, no fixed outcome or performance measure (!) - was the secret to its success. People all over the world simply picked up the idea and ran with it, each in his or her own way; and the result is science cafes of all possible shapes and sizes all over the world. We could all take a lesson from this.

It was a real shock to learn of Duncan's passing. I shall miss his quiet presence and telling questions in key meetings. My condolensces to his family and close friends. A great Yorkshireman!

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John Durant

Paolo Politi - Wednesday, 16 April 2014 09:00

Very sad news. I met Duncan in Leeds in 2007, for a Cafe Scientifique Organisers' Conference, and I have had fruitful exchanges of mail with him. He was very active and there is no doubt that success of Cafe Scientifique initiatives around the world due a lot to him.

Richard Elwes - Wednesday, 16 April 2014 04:26

I met Duncan in 2007 when he invited me to talk about maths at the Chapel Allerton Café Scientifique. I knew him by reputation beforehand, however - my PhD supervisor had impressed on me, in truly glowing terms, the magnificent work Duncan had done in founding the worldwide Café Scientifique movement. We chatted over dinner beforehand, and I found him a charming, generous, and amusing man.

As an early-career mathematician, this was one of my first ventures into what you might call scientific outreach, and I felt honoured to make my debut at that venue under Duncan's watchful eye. I remain grateful for that opportunity. In retrospect, I think I gave a pretty ropy talk though - I am more practised now! In fact, public engagement has subsequently grown into a significant part of my career as a scientist. In that sphere, Duncan will continue to act as an inspiration, for his dedication to his work, and his respect for the subject, but his good-humour and sense of fun alongside.

Tom Shakespeare - Tuesday, 15 April 2014 03:14

So sad to hear of Duncan's death - far too early.  I met him in 1998, when I was working at Leeds University and he was looking for talent for his television documentaries on science with his company XYTV.   He had just founded Leeds Café Scientifique in Chapel Allerton.  When I started work at the Centre for Life, promoting ethical and social debate on science at Newcastle University, I borrowed his inspired idea.  At that time, there was Newcastle Café Scientifique, Leeds Café Scientifique, and Nottingham Café Scientifique, run by a bar owner.  Duncan schmoozed a large grant out of Wellcome Trust, invited me to join him in starting Café Scientifique Ltd, and we employed Theresa Anderson to go round UK trying to drum up support for the concept in other cities.  Look at the website to see how this simple concept took off!  British Council became interested and used Café Scientifique as their vehicle for science in cities across the world.  After publicity in Nature and Science, the idea was adopted across the pond, to great success (look at the map!).  Duncan turned his attention to Science Cafes in schools - for which Wellcome coughed up another dollop of cash - and Science Cafes in Kenya and Uganda.  I believe that Duncan's simple innovation, coupled with his dogged and maverick personality, has done more for global public engagement with science than any other single individual.  He will be sorely missed.

Ken Skeldon - Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:38

Very sad to hear of Duncan's passing. Will always remember Duncan as the most passionate advocate of the power of simple conversation. Every time we met, he showed such interest in what we were doing with the cafe format in Aberdeen. His work in other countries and continents was inspiring. From today, our 'no powerpoint please' message will be all the stronger! 

Steve Grand - Monday, 14 April 2014 13:38

What sad news! The first time I met Duncan he'd come to film me sitting on a hill, for some reason. Little did he know that this would involve miles of hiking through rough woods, followed by scrambling down a steep cliff to pay off woodmen who were using loud chainsaws below us, but he took it all in good spirit, bless him. This is such a sad loss for everyone who wants to share their passion for science with the world, as Duncan himself did.