Tributes as Doncaster real ale stalwart and former Donny Drinker editor dies

Tributes have been paid to the former editor of a magazine set up to champion Doncaster’s real ale scene.

By Darren Burke
Monday, 21st March 2022, 11:09 am

Dave O’Brien was a familiar face on the town’s pub circuit for many years and was heavily involved in the Doncaster branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), at one time editing Donny Drinker, a magazine given away free in the town’s bars celebrating the area’s best beers and pubs.

Mr O’Brien, who was 63, was given a full page obituary in the latest edition of the magazine which he was in charge of for a number of years.

It said: “It is with sadness that the branch has learned of the death of life member and former activist David O’Brien.

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Real ale stalwart and former Donny Drinker editor Dave O'Brien has died.

"Dave, as he was universally known, held a number of key posts on the committee and, as a former editor of this publication, received an award from CAMRA for the quality of the magazine.

"He was a key campaigner and helped to organize many of our early beer festivals where his beer skills as cellarman were much appreciated.

"So dedicated to the success of our first festival was he that, unsure of the security at Bentley Pavilion, he volunteered to camp overnight on the premises to ensure nothing was disturbed.

“He was also responsible for many of the logos which appeared on festival publicity, T-shirts and glasses.

“Dave worked very hard for CAMRA over the years in a variety of roles. He was a past editor of Donny Drinker.

"He was responsible, in many ways, for modernizing production and bringing the publication into the digital age. He encouraged contributors to write articles on a wide range of subjects connected to CAMRA and edited his early issues on a computer he built himself.

“Modest and fair minded, he was a natural choice to be nominated as branch chairman and served in this role from 1996 until 1998.

“Amazingly, he also found the time to set up the branch’s first website which he managed long after he’d stepped down as chair.”

Outside of CAMRA, Dave was a member of the Green Oak Morris dancing team and regularly danced at events in Doncaster. He also travelled to other parts of the country to dance at the invitation of other Morris sides.

Added the tribute: “He was never far from real ale however, as most events were usually connected to a good pub in some way.

“A keen musician, when Dave couldn’t dance he was known to pick up the bodhran and mark time for them. He was also pretty good on the guitar and ukulele.

“When Dave decided to step down from mainstream CAMRA activities he left big shoes to fill.

"He set the standard in many areas that we now follow.

"He was well known by many branch members and was last seen when he took part in the branch’s 40th anniversary celebrations, held at the Leopard in 2015.

“The Doncaster and District Branch of CAMRA is very grateful to Dave for all that he achieved for us.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family at this difficult time. He will be sadly missed.”