Royston Ramblers have paid tribute to founder and "legendary" walking enthusiast David Allard, who died "doing the thing he loved best".

David Allard BEM was born on April 7, 1933, and died earlier this month at the age of 90, after going missing while out walking.

In the early 1960s, David lived in Nigeria working for Barclays Bank alongside his younger brother Chris.

Late in 1964, unhappy with his proposed posting to the head office in Lagos, David returned to England and secured a job with the Midland Bank in Watford, near his parents' home.

He was later posted to the Royston branch, settling in the town in the late 60s, and worked for the Midland's Cambridge branch until his retirement in 1993.

Countryside walking was a long-held passion for David, and he joined the Ramblers Association at the age of 17 while working as a bank clerk.

Royston Crow: David led the Royston Ramblers on their 40th anniversary walkDavid led the Royston Ramblers on their 40th anniversary walk (Image: Royston Ramblers)

In 1983, wishing to share the benefits of walking more widely, David established the Royston and District Ramblers Club.

To mark the club's 40th anniversary in June this year, David led a celebratory walk on Therfield Heath before joining friends and fellow ramblers for dinner at the Heath Café.

David served continuously on the club's committee from its inception, holding each of the officer posts, and undertook walks to support various charities - including the Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust, for which he was the social and events secretary.

He was also treasurer of the local history society up until his death and a trustee of Royston Community Association for 50 years.

When group walking was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid, David walked all 194 miles of the Hertfordshire Way solo - having helped create the published route himself in 1996. 

In 2018 David was awarded a certificate from the UK Ramblers Association, in recognition of his 'outstanding efforts' in aiding and promoting the benefits of walking.

He was instrumental in planning part of the 110-mile Icknield Way, and was footpath secretary for eight local parishes, patrolling miles of countryside footpaths to fit signs, check for faulty bridges and stiles and trim vegetation.

Earlier this year, David was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours for services to the community.

Vivienne Brown, chair of Royston Ramblers, said: "At the age of 90, he continued with the same enthusiasm and energy as always, with no sign of easing up.

"Despite being the oldest walk leader in the group, he consistently led more walks than any other leader in Royston Ramblers in each of the last few years.

"He was a legendary figure and news of his death came as a severe blow to those who knew him.

"He will be remembered by all those whose lives he touched as someone who made a difference.

"Those of us who were able to celebrate his 90th birthday are grateful indeed for the opportunity we had to let David know that he had improved our lives."

The precise details of David's death are currently unknown. He went missing on September 11 and was found five days later after a member of the public came across his body on a footpath.

Vivienne added: "We do know that he died with his boots on, doing the thing he loved best. It feels like a fitting end."

David is survived by his younger brother Chris and older sister Jenny.