Drawing strength and comfort from memories

I get to do some great things as MD of FB Chain and I enjoy almost every element of my job but this month I had to do one of the hardest things in my 7 years in charge – tell the team that our colleague Amanda Ward had passed away just 3 month since she was diagnosed as having Motor Neurone Disease. She was well thought of by our customers and one of them gave me some good advice: “Draw strength and comfort from your memories”. So I thought this month I would share a few Amanda stories. 

Not long after taking over as MD of FB Chain, I set Amanda the goal of visiting the key accounts she looked after to see what they did, how our product arrived and was assembled into their machines. From this better understanding we could further improve our customer service.   The very first visit was a great success, one material planner who had always given us lots of trouble warmed to Amanda and from then on was much more helpful and accommodating. On the back of this we made arrangements to visit 2 customers in the Republic of Ireland appointments were made and flights, car hire and hotels were booked.  

A few days before we were due to travel to Ireland, Amanda arrived in my office “about this trip, I have to tell you that I hate flying in fact it been many years since I have flown and I am not sure I can do it and by the way my passports in my maiden name so I just cannot go”. After some reassurance and the promise that she would not have to do it again if she did not like it and amending the name on the booking she agreed to travel (we did not think of the penalty for travelling on a pseudonym). The day of the trip arrived and I made sure we arrived in plenty of time at the airport and while nervous she was determined to get on the plane. As we taxied toward the runway she gripped my hand, gripping even tighter and tighter as we lifted off until I lost all feeling in my hand. Luckily for me as we levelled out she let my hand go and by the time we landed in Dublin feeling had almost returned. For Amanda it was the first of many flights for work but more importantly it gave her confidence to fly with husband to explore many European cities, something they both enjoyed.

Amanda was not keen on heights and a number of times over the years she tackled this head on.   One visit to a customer making access platforms, her contact had arranged for her to get in the basket of a machine our chain was fitted to which would take her 18 metres in the air. Mindful that not going up may look like she did not have confidence in our or the customer’s product she gamily climb in and griped the handle rail very firmly. “I am a little scared of heights” she told the operator “just shout when your high enough he said and we will go back down” a few seconds and less than 2 metres from the ground the shout went out, the operator smiled and took her back to the ground, Amanda jumped out jubilant that she had reached new heights. When Amanda told this story she soared into the air higher each with each telling.    

She will be missed by colleagues and many customers but not forgotten. 

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