Saturday, 1 November 2008

Garth Heron, RIP

Last year, in reference to Anita Roddick, I wrote lightly about the phenomenon of going on holiday and missing the death of someone famous, only to be surprised when this is mentioned at the end of the year. I had no idea this could happen with someone I knew.

I was in touch with Garth Heron just before I went on holiday – his last email to me was on the evening of 25 August. On 28 August he died suddenly, and the next day I went on holiday. So it was a bit of a shock when I read yesterday - some two months later - the memorial tribute to him in the current issue of HR Network Scotland magazine.

Clearly, we weren’t close, and it wasn’t uncommon for months to pass without us being in contact, but we went back a bit. Garth was the HR Director at United Distillers when he invited me to his table at a charity dinner in the mid-90s at Glasgow’s Grosvenor Hotel, and introduced me to the then world snooker champion, Stephen Hendry (I still have the photograph). This was around the time he became Chairman of the Scottish Advisory Board of the Open College, where I was Manager for Scotland, and although we both moved on soon after, we kept in touch. I have Garth to thank for putting me forward for two jobs, when I was last in the market (one successful, one not) and we often had a coffee together when I was in Edinburgh.

I’m a bit late to offer a tribute to Garth, as it’s all been said by now, but I didn’t like to think of his untimely passing without at least acknowledging him. Garth was easily the most impressive HR professional I have encountered in my career, and the world is a lesser place without him. My condolences to his family and everyone who knew him.

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