The Neil Duffy Scholarship

The annual Neil Duffy Scholarship provides a free place for a young writer on one of our Foundation courses. Nominations can be made by any Dark Angel, and the recipient will be chosen by Dark Angels. Please contact us to put someone forward or donate to the scholarship fund.

Remembering Neil


Neil Duffy was a rarity — a man of numbers, as well as a man of letters. It was the latter that led him to love Dark Angels – but in turn, it was Neil’s wit, warmth, wisdom and words that led us angels to love him back.

It’s true
That in death

Absence becomes presence

Memories of you nudge in...

Writing in the sunshine at Aracena
Delighting us with your words at Merton
Catching up over prosecco and canapés
In the October Gallery

Year after year after year

I treasure your presence

With heavy heart

Ichi for the michi

'Ichi for the michi' you called it, eyes sparkling –‘one for the road’, from Glasgow via Tokyo. Neil, you were never in a hurry to leave, and though it’s surely my round, you promised me a glass of rosé in the springtime sunshine. I’ll hold you to it.

The precision. The consideration. The kindness.
A touch of Zen. A trace of Glasgow.
The wardrobe. The accessories.
The cigarette. The wine. The long late night playlist.

The penmanship.

I only knew a county or two.
A hundred mile stretch.
Even so

There was only one Neil Duffy.

We met in France, 2010
A week by the Canal du Midi
Writing, talking, laughing, drinking
I remember someone
Quietly punctilious
Cheeks close shaven
Linen shirts crisp
Always courteous
Always attentive
Always up for it
That love of the East
Transmuted into
A kind of irresistible

Glasgow Zen

A soul on loan to us, cigarette always dangled casually,
white shirt, dark Glasgow eyes and
knowing smile. One of us three snored like a train in
that echoing southern house and I think
it was Neil. I never really knew him,
but I suspect I did, really.
Neil Duffy

NEIL DUFFY - Dark Angel

Neil Duffy was a special person, especially to Dark Angels. He was an enthusiastic participant in our courses at every level: Foundation (Moniack Mhor, Scotland), Advanced (Aracena, Spain), Masterclass (Merton, Oxford) and retreat (Ventenac, France). He was always engaged, bringing a gentle sense of humour and joie de vivre to our sessions. Coming from the world of numbers, (he could read a balance sheet as well as a novel) he loved the pleasure found in words. So it was a particular shock to us when he died tragically young at the age of 48 in April 2017. His sudden loss prompted us to set up a memorial to Neil in an appropriate way. Neil’s commitment to encourage others, particularly young people, in their writing is shared by Dark Angels.



I meant to

listen to Coney Island together again,
get the name of your tailor,
share dangerous drams,

learn how you did sharp and languid simultaneously,

but mostly

enjoy the time I didn’t know we didn't have.

Too late,

yet part of your legacy

is making friendship urgent.

Angel in a suit.
This charming man.
Snappy dresser
Party maker
Drinks bringer
Careful listener

Brave performer.

Of words and wit

Of brilliance and bonhomie.

He was always the
Place where the
Party started

And ended.


The kind of Dark Angel

We all strive to be.


Death’s always a shock. Yours more than most. You were so alive.

There was always the prospect of an idea, a thought, a laugh to walk through the door with you.

Always the glimmer of a smile in your eye.

Now the glimmer of a tear in mine.

Last goodbye
It was a small gathering of Dark Angels, sharing wine and stories at Brindisa. Neil was his soft-spoken self, that little pursed-lip smile lighting up his eyes as the rest of us laughed.

‘See you soon,’ we said.

I wish I had hugged him for longer.