Obituary: Falkirk businessman David Dillon dies after lengthy cancer fight

David Dillon, of Falkirk, who died aged 81
David Dillon, of Falkirk, who died aged 81

Tributes paid to well known Falkirk Bairn.

August 11, 1936 — June 21, 2018

A well-known Falkirk Bairn who set up one of the town’s most iconic music venues — and founded its ski club — has died aged 81 after a brave battle with cancer.

The family and friends of David Dillon gathered at Falkirk Crematorium on 
July 2 to pay their respects to the man who launched the La Bamba beat club, among many other successful business ventures.

As well as running La Bamba, David also became a familiar face to many after 
he started up a number of fashion boutiques and art 
galleries.

The son of Ray and Agnes Dillon, David was born on August 11, 1936 at the family home in Rennie Street, Falkirk.

A former pupil of Comely Park Primary, he went on to study at Strathallan Boarding School in Perth.

David’s get-up-and-go was obvious from a young age. At just 12 years old, he cycled to North Berwick after being told he wasn’t allowed to take his bike there for a family holiday.

Upon finishing school, David enrolled for national service where he lent on his experiences as a keen amateur photographer when sent to work on aerial photography for the Royal Air Force. Unfortunately for him, this only involved setting up cameras on grounded planes, meaning David never took to the skies in his two years in the RAF.

For his 21st, David travelled to Canada. It was there he further developed his passion for skiing, having taken to the sport in Norway. His interest eventually led to David teaching countless Falkirk district youngsters how to ski as a founder of Falkirk Ski Club.

David initially began his working career in his dad’s store, Henry Dillon’s, selling school uniforms.

Although he enjoyed working for the family business, David had a desire to pursue business ideas of his own and, in 1963, opened La Bamba, along with Ian Stirling, Ian Rule and Barry Quayle.

La Bamba shot to local fame for the nights of live entertainment at its East Bridge Street base.

David met his wife-to-be, Clare Nicholson, at a birthday party where he persuaded her to see him again.

The pair married on July 20, 1967 at the Erskine Church in Falkirk and became proud parents to their son, Colin, the following year.

In 1969, David left the family business and went his own way, setting up The Grapevine fashion store in Kerse Lane.

He then moved away from fashion retailing to open the first West End Gallery in Falkirk.

When his son joined the business, the duo opened the Acorn Gallery in Callendar Square. By this time David’s family had grown and he was a father-in-law to Colin’s wife Yvonne and a grandfather to Grant and Millie, both of whom he trained to become accomplished skiers.

David finally retired in 2000, handing over the reins to Colin.

Despite facing cancer, David continued skiing until he reached 72 and was a keen sailor.

David’s lengthy battle with cancer defied doctors’ predictions and his courageous fight came to a peaceful end in late June.

The Dillon family has thanked all those who have offered their condolences.