My Eulogy Given at Alyn’s Funeral

At Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff, South Wales. Thursday 25th April 2024
Serviced offered by Gwyn Davies. Tributes by Gwyn Davies, Charles Hill, Zelis and Mick Ryan.

My deepest condolences to Alyn’s Family: Mum, Pauline; Dad, Ian and brother Rhys. To Aunty Leeann, Aunty Kath and Uncle Len and cousins Colin, Mark, Paula, Lisa and Simon. To his dear partner Zelis with whom Alyn shared his life.

Condolences to his extended Turkish family who were so important to him, to his friends and teachers in South Wales where he grew up, and the Night Sky community all across the world.

The grief that has been expressed over the last few weeks has been profound, and rightly so. It is a testament to the kind of person Alyn was, and the family he came from, who supported him and loved him throughout his life.

I’m Mick Ryan, publisher of Alyn’s book and Alyn’s friend. I thought it apt to describe how his book came about and what it took to achieve as it exemplifies what kind of person he was.

Above: Alyn’s YouTube channel grew at a rapid rate along with his videography skills and presentation. His broadcast career also included Moonshot – The Perfect Photo to Commemorate Apollo 11, for the BBC. Link. Right:The Z/V MOUNT that Alyn designed with MoveShootMove.

His book and images, his incredible You Tube tutorial channel, his work with the BBC, Alyn’s innovations in technical astro equipment, and his respect amongst the Night Sky community all happened in the last seven years. An incredible achievement.

I first encountered Alyn on 8th October 2017. He emailed a pitch for a UK location book for night photography. We’d already had two approaches for a Night sky book, but they were on the back burner as we were very busy. Anyway, I emailed Alyn back and we exchanged telephone numbers. He called me the next day. I can remember the exact spot on the moors above Hebden Bridge when I received his call. We talked for a long while, and whether it was his enthusiasm or his lovely soft Welsh accent or possibly that we both had Celtic blood, whatever it was, I knew I wanted to work with this person. That’s what Alyn called my ‘blind faith in him’. Little did I know, that this would be the most ambitious and complicated publishing project so far, for both Alyn and myself.

We were both about to embark on something remarkable.

Within a week, the original pitch morphed from a UK night sky location book, to a fully fledged Night Sky Skills and Technique book with a global list of locations.

One of the first things we did was to buy all the night sky technique books available so we could weigh up the competition, and together we vowed that we would produce the best astro photography book available. Three months later we had a front cover, a contents list and a Google doc with already 30,000 words written. Such was Alyn’s work ethic.

Above: The original Google doc for Alyn’s book

But we needed a final piece in the jigsaw. The talented Nathan Ryder was doing the layout, Susie Ryder and myself the editing, then there were numerous astrophotographers across the globe that helped with additional images and technical advice. Mark Crowther and myself were doing the graphics, but doing the rendered 3D night sky diagrams which grace Alyn’s book was way beyond my skill level. Then Nathan introduced us to Simon Norris at Little Fire Digital in Sheffield. Simon is a magician of the digital dark arts, and at our first zoom meeting, Nathan and myself sighed with relief as we listened to Alyn and Simon converse like two mad scientists in a language that was alien to us.

Above: Some of the graphics created by Simon Norris at Little Fire Digital in conjunction with Alyn. © fotoVUE/Little Fire Digital

The last piece of the jigsaw fit perfectly.

Above: Climbing, then a night out in Todmorden and visiting the Golden Lion pub and 3 Wise Monkeys for music and meeting local characters like ‘Four eyes’.

It wasn’t all hard work. Alyn came up to Hebden Bridge for meetings and after thrashing book stuff out we would always end up going climbing, and a pint afterwards. Alyn was a natural athlete, and as some of you know, an early passion of Alyn and his brother Rhys was roller and ice hockey, including a cap for representing Wales. Aunty Leeann told me he was known as the Exocet on the ice, as he was so fast as he sped down the rink with the puck to score yet another goal.

He was also a natural climber, and much to his mother Pauline’s horror a neighbour knocked on their door as she had spotted the then 3-year old Alyn on the rooftop. He calmly shouted, “I can see trains”, to which Pauline replied, “you need to come down from there, the same way you got up”, which happened to be through the Velux fire escape window. On another occasion he went to a climbing wall birthday party and before the instructor could finish harnessing the other children, Alyn was already at the top; no harness, no helmet, he’d free soloed to the top of the wall.

I’ll fast forward to the 1st August 2021. A year before Alyn’s book is published, it’s been 4-years since we started. Within that time not only has Alyn worked hard on his book, but he has grown his YouTube channel which now had over 200 very professional videos and over 100,000 followers. Back in 2017 when he approached me there were two videos and a few hundred followers. How he juggled his book work, his workshops with clients, his trips abroad, his YouTube channel and its growing audience, his work on the Cambrian Mountains Astro Trail, his BBC work, his TedTalk, was amazing to witness.

Back to the 1st August. We are camped in our vans on the Gower just above Three Cliffs Bay (South Wales). Over breakfast outdoors, accompanied by half-a-dozen Welsh ponies, we mapped out the next year’s to do list before publication.

That over with, we walked down to the bay and walked across the sands to a 150ft cliff, to do a three pitch traditional climb. Alyn hadn’t belayed anyone before. So I give him a quick lesson, we don our helmets and I set off. My life is in his hands if I fall off. He belayed perfectly. The smile on his face as he followed me up was priceless.

He fell off a couple of times but was unfazed. Once we got to the top – 50m/150ft above the sea – Alyn walked along the ridge like a tight rope walker, right to the edge of the cliff where he looked down toward the sea then inland to sandy beaches of the Gower where he had spent so long photographing the night sky, and the sea, and beyond to his beloved Brecon Beacons……Bannau Brycheiniog.

But the day was far from over.

Above: Bioluminescent plankton at Three Cliffs Bay, the Gower, South Wales. Below left: Alyn descending a steep sport climb at the Foxhole, the Gower, South Wales.

After lunch we did some short sport climbs at the Fox Hole cave, gymnastic climbs protected by metal bolts. After a few routes, Alyn wanted to get on the lead, to go first with me belaying, that’s a big deal for someone who was on their first day climbing outside. Alyn was unfazed, and cruised the route to the finishing chains. Then after coffee and some food at our vans, it was back to work and as the sun set it was back down to Three Cliffs Bay to take equipment images for his book. What I wasn’t expecting was one of nature’s greatest shows, bioluminescent plankton. What an absolute delight to witness, as we paddled in the waves the water light up bright blue. I’d heard about this phenomena but I was a newbie and Alyn explained, in detail, as he does, the biology behind it.

Above: Alyn got his photograph for his book at the Rhossili sunflower fields, South Wales.

It was getting late and we needed refreshments. So off we trotted to the hot spot of the Mumbles for a beer and food, of course, Alyn led us straight to a Turkish restaurant – he knew the owner – of course he did. One more job. It was midnight. A 17 mile drive west down narrow lanes took us to the Rhossili sunflower fields (strictly pay to enter). It was milky way season and Alyn wanted shots of the milky way arch above a field of sunflowers for his book. We were a bit naughty, we jumped over the greased up five bar gate, and spent a couple of hours wandering around the field of sunflowers and photographing the milky way, and some selfies under an arch of sunflowers set up by the farmer for the instagrammers.

It was 3am before we got back to our camping spot where we had a wee nightcap, a good old chat and then we slept. It was one of the most memorable days of my life: work, climb, the natural wonders of the luminescent plankton and the milky way, and with the best company, the craic was fierce. Alyn had a wicked sense of humour, as well as a rebellious streak.

A year later, August 2022, it was publication time. Alyn flew out to Slovenia to meet me at the printers we used, to witness his book coming off the printing press, to check quality and colour. Thank goodness, he was happy.

The Exocet, in a short space of time had gone from zero to Mach 1 in the world of astro photography, and in 2022 Alyn was firmly established as a leading educator in that field.

Because of all the hard work he put in establishing himself, the pre-orders for his book approached 3,000, 1,000 of those being hard backs. Alyn had fulfilled his promise to his dad, Ian, after he got in a spot of bother. He wrote a letter to Ian and Pauline saying that he would make the family proud. And that he did, and this is without mentioning his first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cardiff University and his role as a student ambassador there, head boy at Hawthorne Sixth Form College and numerous academic accolades.

Back to the mailing out of his books.

Logistically it is a massive job to ship all those books all over the world. We started in Maribor, Slovenia where the printers are based and from an airbnb there and a contract with the Posta Slovenia Alyn and myself mailed out over 600 EU orders which took several days, and of course several nights eating Turkish food in Maribor in the evening, and we climbed of course. Alyn then visited Zelis in Frankfurt where she and her sister were trying to get a visa, then we reconvened in the UK at Cordee, where the books were warehoused. Along with the Cordee team, Alyn and myself were joined by James Rushforth (a fotoVUE author), and John Dollard (a volunteer who followed Alyn on YouTube) and over a week we mailed out 2000 books.

Above: Alyn’s memorial edition is available as a limited edition of 1000 hardbacks and an open edition softback, you can pre-order HERE..

Over the last couple of months this year Alyn, Nathan and myself worked on a reprint of Alyn’s book, making corrections. The reprint is now sadly a Memorial Edition. But rest assured, I will do my part in ensuring that Alyn’s hard work lives on. And that is the message from the thousands around the world who loved what did, he made an impact on the lives of others, providing motivation and knowledge, so that his audience could do what he did.

Here are a few quotes from Alyn’s You Tube channel.

@pitbroox432 wrote:

I don’t know why this hurts so much, the only way I knew Alyn was through YouTube and Instagram. He just seemed like such a beautiful person, knowledgeable and down to earth. The way he communicated was very encouraging and helpful. He showed me personally the path forward when it comes to photographing the night sky.

@gemmarichards5035 wrote:

So sad to hear of Alyns passing, don’t think i’ve ever been so upset over someone I didn’t know in person. The months wont be the same without a WITNS video. His talent and enthusiasm will be truly missed. Rest among the stars now mate.

@faisalirfan6285 wrote:

I can’t believe the tragic passing news of Alyn Wallace. He was one of the leading legends when it came to astrophotography. I spent hours and hours watching his videos. The way he travels to different places, camps there with his camera gear, shares stories about his journey. One day I’ll travel like this and shoot photos of the stars. Rest in peace boss. The stars will remember you forever.

There are thousands of similar messages. And the video tributes! If you haven’t already search them out on Instagram. They are incredible. You’ll need a handkerchief, they are very moving.

Now I’d like to share with you a tribute written by a friend of Alyn’s, the French astro photographer Adrian Maudiut.

Tribute to Alyn Wallace by Adrien Mauduit

Above: Alyn and Adrien in the the Atacama desert, Chile to photograph the total solar eclipse in 2019.

A great man has departed this Earth to join the stars he aspired to. The gargantuan black hole left in the wake of Alyn’s passing is a testament to how kind-hearted, selfless, skilled and passionate he was. Alyn was the reason why many picked up a camera or a telescope. His role in making the astrophotography community much larger, more cosmopolitan, ever unified, and as innovative as it is today, is undeniable.

I share a special bond with Alyn. He and I were born only days apart. We followed a very similar scientific curriculum before picking up astrophotography at the same time in life. We also began our journey becoming full-time professional astrophotographers at the same time. Who’s daft enough to abandon the comfort of a stable nine-to-five job and to throw themselves so willingly into such a risky but oh-so exhilarating business, right Alyn?

Our paths crossed for the first time in 2018 on La Palma island in Spain. I remember my heart pounding out of my chest, as I parked next to his rental car at a narrow and dusty layby near the Caldera’s summit. Was it altitude sickness? The never-ending, winding roads? No, it was the excitement of meeting such a talented and like-minded photographer for the first time! We exchanged a smile through the window, and as we rolled it down, we burst in laughter at the same time, just like two old friends who had known each other their entire lives.

Alyn and I connected instantly in a sort of inexplicable, mutual understanding. The stars were aligning! We climbed together to the mountain top where we photographed the stars until six in the morning. In between shots, we chatted about our past experiences, present struggles, and future plans. In a late-night conversation, we expressed our admiration and respect for each other’s work. However, it couldn’t end on a too serious note, so we joked and the ‘astromance’ was officially born. It was one of the best nights of my life.

Our newly found friendship would have us return to shoot together again the following nights. We had such a blast planning the crazy walkie-talkie Rho Ophiuchi portraits or getting caught by the El Roque Observatory security guard after trying to sneak into an out-of-bounds spot with 30 kilos on our backs.

Above: A snow-covered cabin under the aurora in Senja, Norway

The next year, Alyn visited me for a week in Norway for a full Arctic immersion. Literally! Alyn fell into freezing water. Twice. I will forever miss our completely improper language when faced with some of the most mind-blowing northern lights we had ever seen.

Above: Alyn and the July 2019 total solar eclipse in La Serena, Chile..

The same year, we planned our first full trip together to view the total solar eclipse in Chile and capture the wonders of the Atacama Desert. I couldn’t think of a better companion to share what we have experienced there: Santa Claus in the middle of the desert, the cactus spines piercing our shoes, falling victim to altitude sickness and surviving on cheap oxygen bottles, getting a flat tire in the middle of the desert, breaking the only telephoto lens minutes before eclipse totality.

Alyn was more than a friend, he was family. I will never forget our memories together.

As astrophotographers, we cherish the moments of solitude under the starry skies. Staring in awe at the vastness of space, we question our place in the universe. Astrophotography brings an unequivocal sense of self-reflection, focus, peace, and healing. Yet, it also has a strange way of drawing us humans closer together. Alyn had understood that from the very beginning. He made it his mission to share the night sky with everyone, handing down his passion and skills. Today, we lose a pioneer, a teacher, a role model, a friend whom both amateurs and professionals alike looked up to. Still, the legacy that Alyn built through his workshops, his vlogs, his videos and his book, is a treasure trove that will live on to serve many future generations of astrophotographers for a very long time.

My dear, dear friend. If anyone deserves to become a star in the night sky, it is you.

You are our guiding light.

Sic itur ad astra


I’d like to finish with a few words about what we can learn from Alyn. Alyn understood that life can be short and at times fragile. He grasped the nettle of life fully, never missing an opportunity to learn, share, travel, make new friends, love, eat, drink, laugh, speak out, dance and explore – with a healthy disrespect for authority and a strong rebellious streak.

His is the best example of a life well lived that we all should aspire to.

Anyone who knew Alyn will not forget him. It is a very sad time for all of us, but especially his family and Zelis. Please, say a few prayers, whatever faith you follow, or no faith at all, for Pauline, Ian, Rhys, Zelis and all of his tight-knit loving-family, to give them strength in this time of deep grief for the loss of their son, brother, nephew, cousin, partner and friend.

Thank you….

and remember….. Cofiwn

If you are going out to enjoy the night sky anytime soon, Alyn wishes
you good luck and clear skies.

ALYN WALLACE: 27th November 1989 – 28th March 2024



Mick Ryan

Director of fotoVUE and Co-author of Photographing The Peak District
Mick Ryan is the founder and the director of fotoVUE. He is based in Calderdale having spent the last seven years in the Peak District. He also spends part of the year in Saratoga Springs, upstate New York. He is the founder of Rockfax guidebooks and introduced well-designed large-format photo-topo...