Tuesday 13 December 2011

A year on

A year ago today, we heard the terribly sad news that my work colleague had died suddenly at home. He was a larger than life character who had been with my company for many years - one of those people who becomes 'part of the furniture' and a stalwart you can't imagine your organisation without. He was a rough diamond who got on as well with the cleaners and the porters as he did with the heads of department and senior staff.

I remember when the Boy and I were saving hard for the wedding and I couldn't afford an office lunch - we tend to go out as a department when someone has a birthday - and as it was his birthday I emailed my apologies. Later in the day an envelope appeared on my desk with enough cash to cover the lunch and a scribbled note that this was our secret and I was not to mention it again. I was so touched I almost forgave him for being a Manchester United fan! But that small incident shows the kind of person that he was - he had a huge job here and organised our biggest events and conferences, he was often overworked, harried and stressed and we would all know about that! - but he never lost sight of the detail and of the human side. It's a great loss for everyone who knew him.

I feel very sad when I think back to what happened and how we heard the news. He didn't come into work one morning, which rang alarm bells. In his long - and colourful! - history here he'd never missed a day in the office without an explanation. He was an old school professional, and we all found it unusual. Our department secretary spent time during the day trying to raise him - his personal numbers went unanswered and his records with personnel were woefully out of date (this was very typical of him!) so we had no other numbers for him. Eventually, through contacts, we found the number for one of his two young sons. He then had the horror of going to his father's house to look for him, to find that he had sadly died very unexpectedly of a heart attack.

We were all deeply shocked, and through the year I have often thought of the boys and how they are coping without their Dad. He was one of the hugest personalities I have ever encountered in my life, and the office is certainly a quieter, different and less entertaining place without his powerful presence.

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