In memory of our loved colleague Jamie Kelly

tom hawes

 A tribute by our sales manager Tom Hawes - Jamie's line manager and close friend.

It was 10th May 2017, 12:30pm.  I walked into the reception area to see a young blonde man, smartly dressed in a navy suit with a blue and white striped tie. The candidate appeared slightly nervous but as he shook my hand I detected a tinge of confidence which I found admirable.

He introduced himself, ‘Jamie Kelly, here to interview for the role of Sales Coordinator with Tom Hawes and Lesa Orford’. This was the beginning of a fresh start for Jamie, an eight-month journey of learning, development and growth.

It’s not an easy thing to join a large business, especially when you are new to the industry and have little experience in sales. Jamie however, took to his new job like a duck to water. I was so impressed with his professionalism and the ease in which he absorbed the business. He was by far one of the quickest learners I have ever experienced as a Sales Manager; and he has twenty-nine other candidates to be compared against so that is a massive compliment.

Jamie was someone who threw his everything at something he really wanted; when he had an objective to hit, he targeted all his focus and attention at it. Failure was not a word in Jamie’s dictionary.

Jamie quickly became a prominent figure in the Fast Response team.  He managed one of the email groups, helped mentor new starters as they came into the business and was vocal on areas of his working day he felt needed attention.  Jamie continuously strived for improvement, for himself and his team mates.

I could write a book on the random facts, stories and jokes that Jamie came out with each day.  Not a day went by where he didn’t have the team in fits of laughter over something that he had done in his life or an interaction he had with someone that very day. The comedic imitations he gave on various figures the team collectively knew will be a personal lasting memory for me; in fact, as I write this I find myself smiling and my eyes glistening with tears.

One of Jamie’s passions was the subject of food. Every morning he would ask his team mate, Kate Fleming, what she had for tea the night before and then go on to share his own recipes. Most Friday afternoons as we were winding down for the week, Jamie and I would talk about our favourite type of food…curry, and what different dish we were going to try that weekend.

A memory that stood out for Daniel Jay, another friend and team mate of Jamie’s, was how Jamie once said he doesn’t have a care for material items. He lives for the experience.  As I hope you can tell, Jamie was wise beyond his years.

Jamie was unbelievably quick witted, when he saw an opportunity to make people laugh, he was there before anyone else had the chance. He wore his heart on his sleeve and from time to time wasn’t afraid to show it.

Whilst I considered Jamie a good friend, I was also his manager. That was something that Jamie always recognised and respected and his professionalism toward this made my job a little easier. 

Being Jamie’s manager and friend wasn’t always easy; it wasn’t always sunshine and laughter. Anyone who knew Jamie personally knew he sometimes struggled with his personal demons and at times he was his own worst enemy. What Jamie will never know, is that whilst he felt like he was surrounded by darkness and at times felt there was no escape from his own thoughts, HE was the shining light.  He was someone that brought so much happiness and laughter to so many people’s lives, when his team mates needed picking up, Jamie was first in line.

Wednesday 31st January, 8:15am. I was driving to the office through a dull drizzle with some random podcast playing. My phone made me jump, it was my manager Claire, calling me with news. Jamie had passed away. Car crash the night before.The podcast became background noise, loud swear words were bellowed into thin air and many tears were shed on that drive into work. An abundance of questions entered my mind, ‘how am I going to tell the team?’, ‘how do we carry on today?’ and ‘how the hell are we going to get past this?’.

That Wednesday and the days followings were so unbelievably difficult to navigate through. Trying to support a grieving team, ensuring the team is still fully functional and customers are being serviced appropriately whilst dealing with my personal grief is something I would never wish on anyone.

Midwich is a target driven business, but for 72 hours after Jamie’s unexpected passing, all that became a bit irrelevant. A building full of people, from all walks of life, came together to support one another. It put everything into perspective for a lot of people; mums and dads went home that evening and hugged their children that bit tighter. For the staff of Midwich, the colleagues and their welfare were what mattered the most.

The evening of Jamie’s passing, we had attended a company update meeting where the Managing Director, Mark Lowe, had mentioned words and phrases such as ‘better together’, ‘strongest team we’ve ever had’, ‘our people are the most important thing’… and sometimes this can appear as just words or ‘a corporate spin’. I believe in this ideology though, I always have. However, the next morning, Midwich proved Mark right.

On reflection of that 48-72 hours; I have seen the people of this business reach deep and support one another in its darkest hours. I have never been prouder to work for this company.

Whilst the team are absorbing the news and adapting to life without Jamie, we are now left with memories that will last forever. Jamie has left a lasting impression on us all and it’s one that will never fade.

Jamie will always remain a member of Fast Response in spirit and in heart.

Goodbye our friend.

Tom Hawes