Tributes to Derek “Drafty” Brown

Kind words from the Morris community.

Derek "Drafty" Brown
Derek “Drafty” Brown

On Saturday, 3rd May 2003, while dancing with Britannia at the Kellybrook Cider Festival in the Yarra Valley, Derek “Drafty” Brown collapsed and died, presumably from a massive heart attack.

Derek was a stalwart of Britannia, and a prominant figure in the Melbourne folk community. He played banjo and had a love of Irish music, but we never held that against him. 🙂 Derek was responsible for all our recent folk festival appearances, and was central to the effort to get a real ale tent operating at the National Folk Festival.

Derek would have turned 60 on the 14th of May. Although he passed quickly and while doing something he loved, we all feel that he passed too young.

On this page we archive the notices and well wishes emailed among the Morris and folk community on Derek’s passing.

Subject: RE: [Melbourne_Folkies] Some sad news
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 10:05:53 +1000
From: “Towns, Colin” <>

Richard, Kirsty

Please forward my condolences to Derek’s family, and the BMM – that was quite a shock to hear. I’d always joked about dying on the dance floor – but when it actually happens……… Keep me informed; if you are sending cards/flowers or whatever – I’ll contribute.

All the best, Colin.

Subject: Sad News From Britannia
Date: Mon May 5 11:06:12 EST 2003
From: Jacka Macka <>
To: David Barnes, chaps@britannia


We had some sad news on the weekend. We were dancing out at an Apple Cider Festival at a place called Kellybrook when Drafty (Derek Brown) collapsed and died, presumably from a massive heart attack. There were experienced CPR people and the ambulance wasn’t that long coming but he wasn’t revived at all. Angie (Jolly Hatters) flew up from Hobart and is now helping Drafty’s son and daughter with the arrangements. As it turns out, Drafty had been organising his 60th birthday party this coming Sat so that will probably now be a wake for him.

In Morris terms, Drafty was full on. He was at the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter (organising the beer tent as well as dancing), he flew down to dance with the Jolly Hatters for May Morning in Mt Wellington and then came back to do Kellybrook – one of Britannia’s premier gigs in glorious Autumn days, golden leaves on the vine, etc. The lads had just finished the set when he collapsed so he definitely went out on a Morris high.

Could you pass this on to those on the NZ tour who would have met him.



Subject: [CHAPS] A Tree at Kellybrook for Derek?
Date: Mon May 5 11:17:47 EST 2003
From: Richard Greenwood <>


Kirsty suggests below that if the Kelly’s are willing we might plant a tree at Kellbrook for Derek – an apple tree might be appropriate.

Any thoughts?


------- Forwarded message follows -------
Subject: Just a thought re Derek
Date sent: Mon, 5 May 2003 10:47:23 +1000
From: "Kirsty Greenwood" <kirsty.greenwood at>
To: "'Richard Greenwood'" <richard at>

Hi Richard,

I was just thinking about Derek, and about Britannia donating their fee to cover a wreath for him. That’s nice, but how about something more permanent as well? It occurred to me that it might be fitting (Kellys permitting) to plant a tree for him in the gardens at Kellybrook. An apple tree would be good, since it was a cider festival – however that might not suit the gardens. If you think it is a good suggestion, would you forward it to the Britannia list to think about?



There followed several messages agreeing that this was a good idea, including:

Julian: Thanks Dave for letting Deb know who called me in the US. I still can’t believe it. Sympathies go especially to Angie.

Simon: Great idea. Maybe an oak, it’s English, and his dedication to the Morris was as solid as one.

Cart: My God… I’m stunned… Please pass on my sympathy..

Wayne: A great idea. As Simon said, Derek was a stalwart member of BMM, and this would be a fitting tribute, providing a reminder of his great contribution to the side.

Subject: Re: Sad News From Britannia
Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 14:34:41 +1200
From: David Barnes <>
To: Jacka Macka <>

devastated to hear of that, have passed it on to nz morris

please pass on my sympathies and regards

Cheers, David

Subject: Fwd: Sad News From Britannia Morris Men
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 15:08:37 +1200
From: Grant Platt <>

Dear Jacks.

Anne and I are sad to learn of the sad death of Derek Brown aka Drafty.

Our condolences to family and your side, friends and acquaintences.

Grant Platt aka Curly.

Palmerston North,
New Zealand.

Subject: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 12:35:56 +1000
From: David Purdue <>

We have some very sad news to report.

While dancing with Britannia at the Kellybrok Cider Festival in the Yarra Valley, Derek “Drafty” Brown collapsed and died, presumably from a massive heart attack. Experienced people applied CPR straight away, and a MICA ambulance was on the scene soon after, but despite all their efforts they were unable to resuscitate him.

Derek was a stalwart of the team, and a prominant figure in the Melbourne folk community. He played banjo and had a love of Irish music, but we never held that against him :-). Derek was responsible for all our recent folk festival appearances, and was central to the effort to get a real ale tent operating at the National.

Derek was to turn 60 next week – and in fact was busy organising a large party to celebrate this milestone. Although Derek passed quickly and while doing something he loved, we all feel that he passed too young.

Britannia is in a bit of a state of shock, and will spend the week mourning Derek. We will miss him. In Derek’s honour, we have renamed our newest dance “Drafty’s Shuffle.”

Morris on,


Subject: RE: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 12:43:02 +0930
From: “Lloyd, Bronwyn (NWAHS)” <>
To: “‘'” <>

Thanks for letting us know David. What an incredible shock. We spent a fair bit of time over drinks with Drafty and Angie at the National – he was a great guy and will be sorely missed. Our love and thoughts go to the Britannia lads and of course to Angie.

on behalf of Hedgemonkey Morris

Subject: [oz_morris] Re: Sad news from Britannia
Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 08:15:05 -0000
From: brophy47 <>

Dear Dave and Britannia members

The Jolley Hatters were devastated to hear about Derek on Saturday. As you would know Derek was a most welcomed member of the Jolley Hatters in Hobart and Longford Morris in Launceston, at footups, workshops and festivities. Knowing that Derek was in town to see Angie was always a joy. It meant an extra friend at practice and another pair of legs at footups.

We were lucky to have him at this year’s May Day on Mt Wellington and breakfast that morning. Although as our photos show he was mostly on the phone to his beloved Britannia comparing temperatures, weather forecasts and photo opportunities.

We share your loss, we will miss him greatly. Our love and best wishes go to Angie in Melbourne at the moment. Thank you for looking after her, she will be in good hands on her return.

Take care
Mary Eckhardt
Jolley Hatters

Jolley Hatters, May Day 2003, Mount Wellington
Revellers at dawn, Mt Wellington, 1-may-2003
Drafty can be seen on the phone to Britannia.

Subject: from Margot
Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 18:49:01 +1000
From: “Ms Margot F Hitchcock” <>
To: <>

Hello Kirsty & Richard,

thanks for letting us know.. what an awful shock, I know Derek well through the Folk Club, and am so sad to hear of his death. How terrible for all of you who were with him. But I guess if we have to go, what better way, than go out doing what you love, .. Dancing, and Morris Dancing at that, I’m sure he will be smiling at that. Making a grand exit from this world. My condolences to you all ..

when in the funeral..?? my thoughts are with you all

from Margot Hitchcock

Subject: Drafty
Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 21:40:56 +0000
From: “Helen O’Neill” <>

Hello Jacka,

I read your message and was filled with great sadness, for Drafty, for Angie and for Britannia Morris Men. Although the nature of his death must have been extremely shocking for you all, it seems to me, as you also indicated, that it was an fitting end to a full on life for a full on guy. It is touching too that his party should now become his wake. I am sure you will give him the very best send off ~ which he deserves.

I shall always remember Drafty, as I do you all, as bringing a breath of fresh air into NZ morris. We all had such fun in the summer. I for one am very grateful that I had the chance to spend even a small amount of time in his compny.

I would like to send you all my love and deepest condolences. I shall be thinking of you over the next few days.

Helen (Rosewood)

Subject: RE: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 10:03:46 +1000
From: John Milce <>
To: “‘'” <>

Hi Dave,

Steve Custance passed on the tragic news about Derek Brown. Please pass on our condolences to his family and to the rest of Brittania. It must have been a great shock to everyone. Whilst we have had our fair share of untimely deaths over the years (Huffy, Bill The Bushy, Pete Wayman, Amnon Doernburg, and a recent apprentice -‘Catman’) they have all died either at home or in hospital.

I can think of no better memorial than having a dance named after you. I look forward to seeing it performed at The Adelaide Ale.

With deepest symathy and very best wishes

John Milce
Sydney Morris Men

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 12:44:45 +1000 (EST)
From: Gerry Amos <>

Thank you Dave for advising and sincere condolances to Angie & Brittania – Drafty made us feel very welcome last year when Greg Hall & I visited the national and the inaugural ‘real ale’ component of the festival was msot enjoyable.


Gerry Amos
Squire Belswagger Morris

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Tue May 6, 2003 1:25 pm
From: Glenda Neild <>

This is terrible news. I feel for all involved. Condolences to all and especially Angie.


Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 13:58:56 +1000

Dear David and Britannia,

Please add Molonglo’s sympathy and condolences to the growing list of messages from Drafty Morris friends. He will be sadly missed. Perhaps you could teach us all “Drafty’s Shuffle” to feature at next year’s National Folk Festival as the highlight of the massed display or busk in his memory.


Subject: From an old member
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 13:39:56 +0930
From: graham <>
To: “‘'” <>

Dear David,

Could you please pass on my and Adrienne’s condolences to the team. Very sad news for any Morris team, but all I can say is – what a way to go!


Graham Wright

Subject: [CHAPS] Derek’s funeral arrangements
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 15:41:18 +1000 (EST)
From: David Purdue <>

Hi all,

These are to be confirmed – please check the funeral notices section in the Herald-Sun.

The funeral is planned for 1pm on Saturday 10th May.

It is to be held in the Crick Chapel at the Fawkner Crematorium, 1187 Sydney Road, Fawkner, 3060.

Afterwards, there will be a gathering at Derek’s house – 7 Latona Ave, Preston, 3072.

Britannia men should come in kit – we have been asked to do one dance at the commencement of the funeral.

Britannia – please acknowledge receipt of this email to me directly. I will phone up those who don’t to make sure everyone gets these details.

Gail or Kathy – can you please take on a similar role for Brandragon.


Subject: Sad News
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 17:46:19 +0900
From: Rob Pilgrim <>
To: Various addresses

For those of you not on the Oz Morris list, the following sad news was received from Britannia Morris Men.


Repeat of DavidP’s message to oz_morris.


I had stayed with Drafty in Melbourne on more than one occasion and I can say that he was one of nature’s gentlemen. He will be sorely missed by the whole Morris family.


Subject: Condolences
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 20:25:58 +1000
From: Ian Redpath & Frances Lowe <>

Dear Britannia

Very sad to hear your news. Condolences and best wishes to the side, and to Derek’s family.

(Molonglo, Canberra)

Subject: briTaNNia
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 23:47:38 +1000
From: “Dr Greg Ash” <>

Sorry to hear the sad news – I was a member of BMM from 1985 to 1987 (in the era of the likes of Cart, Graeme W, HG, Pam and Dave A but post Welham, Leverton, Cunningham etc) – I think I witnessed the first outings of big Greg (I know if you can remember these things you probably weren’t there) – if I pull my finger out I will scan some pix I have from that time and email them to you (or drop onto a CD if they are too big!!). Before and after that time in Melbourne I was with Canberra Morris Men (from 1978) and was squire some time around 1988-89 (hazy there). From memory, you are always a member of BMM unless you are booted out (which I may have been… if so the papers are probably in a filing cabinet somewhere on Alpha Centauri – must get into the local neighbourhood more often!!), so maybe your website could reflect that and try to build a chronology of old members?? I still have my wes’coat but I can’t guarantee that I can do all the buttons up. Please feel free to pass my details on to current BMM…

Regards to All


Subject: [oz_morris] Confirmed – arrangements for Derek’s funeral
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 14:50:13 +1000 (EST)
From: David Purdue <>

Dear all,

Angie asked me to put this message out to you all.

The arrangements for Derek’s funeral have been confirmed:

Time: 1pm, Saturday 10-may-2003

Place: Crick Chapel, Fawkner Crematorium, 1187 Sydney Rd, Fawkner, Vic, 3060

Afterwards: 7 Latona Ave, Preston, Vic, 3072


Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 22:31:42 +0930
From: roger foster <>
Cc:, John Browning <>, John Browning <>,,, Mike Day <>,, Geoffrey_Wark/Gun_&,,,, stuart hill <>,,, mike james <>,,,, “Lloyd, Bronwyn (JFS)” <>, Mike James <>,,, Glenda Neild <>, Tim Neild <>, NEWBOB <>, Kim Osborn <>, david purdue <>,,,,,,, Geoffrey Wark <>

To the Britannia Men

The Adelaide Morris Men collectively and individually send their sincerest condolences to you and to Derek’s other close associates and family on the loss of a true gentleman. Derek’s fun and friendly nature will be missed at Morris (and we’re sure other) functions for a long time to come.

What better way to go than dancing………..


Roger Foster – Squire
The Adelaide Morris Men

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad News – Derek Brown
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 11:42:47 +1000 (EST)
From: Kowari <>

On behalf of Brandragon Morris, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences. We were at Kelly Brook on Sunday with Angie and Britannia and everyone was so very sad and very strong at the same time. It was a very emotional time. As Dave Purdue said, Kelly Brook was a special event for Britannia, their having been to just about every festival. Now, it is going to become even more special.

Personally, I will have a drink for Drafty, think about the good times and remember him.

Gail Miller
Brandragon Morris

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad news from Britannia
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 11:16:00 +0930

As a member of the Adelaide Morris Men, I would like to send my sincerest condolences to you and to Derek’s family.

Any loss from within a community that spans borders still leaves a hole.

Steve Custance

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad News – Derek Brown
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 13:10:40 +1000


Please forward my condolences on behalf of the Whyalla Morris to Angie and Britannia. We have lost one of the true Morris characters. However, when you gotta go, what better way? I have passed on the news to Perth Morris Men and to David Scott, who add their condolences.

Bill TW Singleton

Subject: [CHAPS] Crick Chapel map
Date: Fri, 09 May 2003 09:58:17 +1000
From: Richard Greenwood <>

So there is no confusion, please see map attached. Dancers and Musos Meet by 12.45 – those later will NOT be guaranteed a place in the side, and it would be good to get two sides up if possible.

Argy (Side Fascist, if nobody minds)

Subject: Derek
Date: Fri, 9 May 2003 10:25:56 +1000
From: michael hendrickson <>


I have just heard the news. Please pass on Jenny’s & my sympathies to Derek’s son, Angie & the other guys. I don’t think that I can add anything to what has already been said. I would have liked to attend this Saturday, but am away for the weekend.

Although my dancing days are probably gone (knees), I’ll endeavour to meet you all at a practice night or whilst you are out & about.


Subject: Re: [oz_morris] Sad News – Derek Brown
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 10:29:51 +0930
From: kimbo <>

Hi All

Sad news indeed.
Drafty is one of those really nice genuine morris characters who will be sorely missed. He was good bloke to have a chat with, a drink with and a good laugh. We had a few good ones and the last Canberra will be a fond memory for me, sitting around the bar with Drafty, Angie and the Britannia Boys talking bollocks, beer and even the occassional serious stuff. Even more reason to the get the Real Ale bar happening at the National.

we’ll miss his smile and sense of fun.

our thoughts are with Angie and the Britannia Boys.

This saturday is our English Ale so there more than one dance and beer had in Drafty’s name.

here’s to you Drafty!


Words spoken by Nigel Edwards on behalf of BMM at Derek Brown’s funeral – Sat 10 May 2003

To preach a lesson is easy but to bear witness to that preaching takes courage.

When I first came to Britannia, the first man to shake my hand and make me welcome was Derek Brown. I learned about friendship.

The first dance I ever did with Britannia required me to ‘cuddle’ another man in public whilst going around in a circle. That man was Derek. I learned a little more about exuberance.

Derek always honoured group decisions. I learned about loyalty.

Derek turned out to all the gigs – the big ones, the little ones, the popular and the difficult ones. He was a part of the record breaking near 40 dances on a hot summer’s day. I learned about commitment.

After dancing one hot day, we sat down to eat. I had neatly folded my waistcoat but could not reach my bag. As I was about to toss it a very small distance, Derek stopped me. He reminded me that the coat was our team colours and they should be treated with respect. I learned about honour.

My seventh child was danced into the side. Derek was there from first to last helping and dancing. I learned a little more about celebration.

Derek would do the tasks and jobs that keep a side going. The little jobs, the dirty jobs, the forgotten and unsung jobs that nobody seems to do. I learned about reliability.

Derek would always turn out. If he felt a little unwell, or when the gig was inconvenient, or just too far away, he was one of the few that would always be there. I learned about endurance.

I have a fond memory of Derek sitting near a fire, in another state, laughing and playing the banjo. I learned about fun.

To teach is easy but to live out that teaching is hard.

Yes, it will be harder without Derek, yet it will be easier for having known him.

Oration delivered at Derek’s funeral – Sat 10 May 2003

This oration was inspired by Earl Spencer’s funeral oration for his sister, Princess Diana.

Thank you, Derek, for the way you cheered our lives, though we will always feel cheated and deprived of your genial company because you were taken away from us at a comparatively early age. Yet we must give thanks that you were among us when you were. Only now that you are gone are we slowly yet truly appreciating the strength of your presence among us, and we want you to know that life without you is diminished, difficult and sad.

Your joy for life was infectiously transmitted wherever you took your beautiful smile and that magical sparkle in your unforgettable eyes.

Above all, as Morris Men, we give thanks for the life of a man we are proud to be able to call one of us. Derek, you were unique: a complex, calm, dignified, friendly, and fair-minded yet private chap; one with a clarity of mind and wisdom that would compel me to seek your advice. We give thanks for being with you and enjoying your witty company on our recent New Zealand tour. You are irreplaceable and we shall never forget your qualities.

We can thankfully take comfort that you died amongst us, doing what you loved. We know that you would have wanted us to continue as we did at Kellybrook last week. You were there when we danced the Side Step in tribute and again today.

Now, whenever Britannia Morris Men may dance William and Nancy and whenever we meet at Kellybrook Winery, you will be in our hearts and minds.

Wayne Burtt
for Britannia Morris Men

Subject: Fwd: Vale Drafty
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 20:18:10 +1000
From: Jacka Macka <>
To: David Purdue <>
Cc: Roderick Graeme McKenzie <>,


See below for Rod’s request for an obituary for the NZ Sphere. I have put together a collage of words from various postings but would appreciate if you can add/edit/replace my offering and send some words and a picture to Rod.




Britannia had some sad news on Saturday 3/5/03 when they lost one of their own. Britannia were dancing out at an Apple Cider Festival located at Kellybrook Winery when Drafty (Derek Brown) collapsed and died due to a blocked artery. There were experienced CPR people and the ambulance wasn’t that long coming but unfortunately he couldn’t be revived at all. Angie (his partner and a member of the Jolley Hatters) flew up from Hobart immediately and was with Britannia on the Sunday (second day of the Kellybrook festival). Whilst there was a sense of not wanting to dance, it was clear that to honour him, we needed to dance on.

In Morris terms, Drafty was full on. He was at the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter – organising the beer tent as well as dancing and playing banjo in the Irish sessions until the wee hours. He flew down to Hobart to dance with the Jolley Hatters for May Morning on Mt Wellington and then came back to do Kellybrook – one of Britannia’s premier gigs in glorious Autumn days, golden leaves on the vine, etc. The lads had just finished the set with William and Nancy when he collapsed so he definitely went out on a Morris high.

Drafty was one of the stalwart Britannia Men who took up Morris about 8 years ago after rubbishing it for many years. He was a good dancer and a tireless worker behind the scenes (Bagman for a few years) and could be counted on for each foot up. He was a cohesive force within the Morris and eased Britannia back into the folk club. He had a big hand in the organisation of the NZ tour and certainly rounded up a few tardy souls (like myself).

Drafty is survived by a son, Andrew, a daughter, Jacqueline and 3 grandchildren. There was a huge crowd at the Fawkner Crematorium on Saturday 10/5/03. Britannia danced Drafty out to our signature dance, the Bampton Sidestep -: two sets were formed with a vacant spot for Drafty. It was a fitting farewell to a sterling and stalwart Britannia Man.

As fate would have it, Drafty had been organising his 60th birthday party for Saturday 10/5. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a wake and there was plenty of singing and dancing in his memory.

I’m sure his soul is soaring across the heavens and no doubt he’ll be watching over us on our next foot up, our next brewery tour and our next trip to NZ. Vale Drafty.


Subject: Drafty
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 19:46:49 +1200
From: Roderick Graeme McKenzie <>

Dear Jacka,

Rod Mckenzie here, from the Sphere.

Sorry to hear of the death of Derek. Would it be possible for the Sphere to get an Obituary for him? If you could send just a few words, and even a picture of him it would be appreciated. I am having trouble puting his face to his name. I could most probably find a picture of him here if I could get a clue to which he was. I am trying to get the next issue out in the next couple of days which is a bit of a rush. Sorry about that. All the best… Rod Mack.

Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 23:27:37 +0930
From: “Jagodzinski, Liz (PIRSA)” <>
Subject: [oz_morris] Derek

Dear BMM,

Andrew and I have just returned to Adelaide (ironically from Melbourne) to learn of Derek’s death, and are sorry we didn’t realise in time to join you at his funeral. We always enjoyed chatting to Derek at the National and other events on the Morris calendar, and will miss him about the place. He was an affable chap with a lovely smile!

Condolences to you all on behalf of ourselves and Glorishears. Our thoughts are with you, especially Angie.

squire – Glorishears.

Subject: Re: [oz_morris] thanks for your kind wishes
Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 22:52:49 +1000
From: Angela McGowan <>

Dear Everyone,

I’d like to thank you all for all the kind wishes I’ve been reading on the OzMorris list. These have all been very valuable to me.

As many of you would know, Derek and I met at the Witches 13th birthday Ale in Adelaide/McLaren Vale a few years ago. Some of our most fun times together since, we had a various morris events around Victoria, SA, Canberra and Tas, sharing a dance, a beer and a chat with friends. thank you all again for your loving thoughts and wishes,


Subject: [oz_morris] a bit more from Angie
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 18:14:25 +1000
From: Angela McGowan <>

Dear All.

I’d like to make some public acknowledgement to the Britannia Morris Men (and Brandragon and hangers on) for all their support in recent weeks. As well as their individual ongoing support for me, BMM also danced the Bampton Sidestep and played Orange in Bloom as part of Derek’s funeral. Also several of the Chaps spoke for Derek during the service, as did some others of his friends.

I’d like to add what I said for Derek at his funeral to the other tributes that have been posted to the OzMorris list: Never in my wildest teenage dreams did I imagine that I would fall in love when I was fifty, much less that I could be loved in return by so caring and passionate a man. But from the first time he kissed me behind the bunkhouse shed at the Tatachilla Winery, to the last time I kissed him goodbye at Hobart Airport on May Day morning, his passion for me has been a total gift. And I shall miss him very much.


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