Last night my three brothers Joel, Elliott, Daniel and myself held a memorial event for our father Ron, who died earlier this year.
We decided to hold it at the Royal College of Art because the place meant a lot to him. He’d studied there from 1959 to 1961 alongside, amongst others, David Hockney and Ridley Scott. It’s also where he met his first wife; my mother.
It was an emotional day.
It had taken five months to organise.
We’d invited a load of people and had a load of acceptances.
But despite that, aware of Ron’s brutal reputation, I truly was expecting many of those who’d said they’d attend to end up ‘busy’ on the night.
I was honestly astounded at who did turn up.
Alongside many friends and family were his ex boss from both DDB and French Gold Abbott, David Abbott. His ex boss from CDP Sir Frank Lowe. His ex copywriters Tony Brignull and Gray Jolliffe. All three of his ex WCRS business partners Robin Wight, Andrew Rutherford and Peter Scott. Cathy Heng, who without doubt enjoyed the longest and most fruitful working relationship anyone ever had with Ron. Not to mention the likes of luminaries such as Mike Everett, Paul Smith, Brian Watson, Peter Harold, Jerry Hibbert, Dave Trott, Alfredo Marcantonio, John O’Driscoll, John O’Donell, Nigel Rose, Ken Hoggins, Mark Roalfe, Barry Lategan, Paul Weiland and Sir Alan Parker.
These were people who, though pride may have prevented him admitting it while he was alive, really meant a lot to Ron.
A few of the crowd gave speeches, sharing memories, good and bad.
There were a lot of laughs. Many, quite rightly, at Ron’s expense.
And there were a few tears. Us boys managed to keep our composure. But only just. I myself was a hair’s breadth from ending up a blubbing wreck in the corner.
What stopped that was the amazing outpouring of love in the room.
That so many people were there who actually felt so much for the man despite his many and varied faults made our hearts soar.
Ron was a troubled soul.
He’d had a tough childhood. One that left him with heavy baggage that he carried round with him to the day he died.
He desperately needed to be loved.
So I’m convinced he would have really enjoyed last night.
And I’m sure he would have been delighted, if not a little surprised by the turnout too.