You are an Old Viking if you spent three years at the College or joined us for the Sixth Form. If you taught at Shiplake for two or more years you are an OV too. We are a very inclusive and welcoming alumni society. So what do Old Vikings do? We host reunions and sporting events at the College and beyond. Once a year we gather in London for a rip-roaring reunion, usually around November. Every January an OVS Magazine should drop onto your doormat, wherever you are in the world. We like to support OVs to get in touch with each other and to organise their own events and reunions. We look forward to seeing and if you have any ideas please get in touch with us.
Ben Fitzwilliams - OVS Chairman
Spending his pocket-money on junior Chemistry Sets and investigating their combustible qualities, including an incident where David blew-up a compost heap, demonstrated his tendency to experiment and take calculated risks from an early age.
David arrived at Shiplake College in 1968, after his prep school headmaster had declared him a “write-off”. Shiplake College provided the environment that David needed to flourish. Encouraged and with leeway from an era of less stringent Health and Safety legislation, David became the innovator and leader that he wanted to be whilst the College stretched his innate design and mathematical talents.
A succession of ever-smaller “magic boxes” in his Welsh House study, manufactured from components bought on visits to London’s electrical stores, meant that David could wake up in the morning, clap his hands and the day would begin. His door would automatically un-lock, the kettle would come-on and Led Zeppelin blast out from his ultimate hi-fi system.
David Welsh, his Housemaster, spotted an entrepreneur in the making as David ran his own mail-order electronics business from school and rose inexorably to become Head of House.
Down at the river hours were spent training to become stroke of the first Shiplake VIII to race at Henley Royal Regatta. The crew progressed to the Quarter-Finals with a time of 6 minutes 58 seconds, an astonishing achievement in era of wooden boats.
Leaving Shiplake, David gained a first class honours degree in electronics from Bath University and went on to become Dr Dalzell when he completed his PhD at Imperial University.
Returning to Reading, David settled in the area and married Tina. David’s business career was taking off too, when his company was taken over he found himself director of a Public Limited Company, Sintrom, at the age of 30. The arrival of daughter Emma and son James added to busy but happy times.
Yet David was at his happiest when innovating and testing new products. Whilst working for others, his original company, Onelan, had been put on the back-boiler. Then in 1989 David re-launched Onelan. In the true spirit of technology start-ups it was based in his garage next to his house in Lower Shiplake.
Onelan now employs 45 people, has spacious premises in Henley, and received the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2010 and the Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2012. Work was David’s passion and anybody fortunate enough to have received a tour of the Onelan premises would have seen the glint in David’s eye as he took you behind the scenes to the area where he developed his latest ideas for products. Customers don’t always know what they want. David had a talent for identifying a need, producing the product and then selling to the world.
David renewed his links with Shiplake. He became a member of the Old Vikings Society Committee, providing a pragmatic voice when it was needed but abundant enthusiasm when he thought that the Committee had a winning idea. He was one of the driving forces behind the OVS Rowing Dinner, providing the vision and the technology to transform the Sports Hall for a wonderful evening in October 2012.
David juggled the difficult task of being a Shiplake parent, when son James followed in Dad’s footsteps, and being a College governor too. He joined the Board of Governors in an era when the College needed to invest time and man-hours in keeping up with the technological revolution that was engulfing education. David supplied the prudent guidance that took Shiplake to the forefront of educational technology but kept the costs within reasonable bounds.
Chairing the Education and Welfare Committee, increasingly dealing with the delicate issues of Child Protection and the College’s desire to boost academic performance, provided another chance for David to use his well-honed people and management skills.
Meanwhile David was at the heart of Shiplake village life providing the technical expertise for events such as the pantomime and village parties, rowing for the Vikings and hosting dinners and BBQs, where seafood paella was often his much enjoyed signature dish. The site of David running was a common feature of village life, he kept fit for squash as well as rowing.
In March 2011 David was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than slowing down David was determined to live life to the full. He met up with as many friends as possible, he took holidays and spent time with his family and continued to pick away at his guitar.
Over 300 people attended a Memorial to David in the Shiplake College Great Hall. They came to pay tribute to “a nice chap” as son James said, a man who had time and respect for everyone, a leader who had that rare ability of taking people with him whatever the task, whatever the challenge.
The David Welsh painting presented to the Dalzell family, by the Old Viking Society, in memory of David's service to Shiplake College.