I’m writing this on a train from Sheffield to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. My house, which was built by my parents-in-law and is the house where my wife was born and raised, is named ‘Waverley’, as many years ago that was where her parents would meet; her father travelling by train from Liverpool to meet his Irish love, who at the time was living and teaching in Edinburgh. As my train approached the Station, my thoughts turned to my Mother in Law.

My wife’s mother was a great and natural business woman. She had an incredible intuition about things and despite being in her 60s when I first knew her, she always seemed very much younger than her years. I remember at one stage, when she must have been almost 70, she said that she was still searching for her ‘passion’ in life. That said a lot about her – at a time when others might be slowing down, she was looking for her next great challenge.

I think perhaps that this was the secret to her ability to always seem so young. She was constantly looking to grow. She was always searching for ways to improve herself, to develop new skills and abilities. This thirst for improvement brought her to the Sorbonne one Summer when she was 70-something to learn French (virtually from scratch), sharing bathroom facilities with students 50 or more years younger than her. It was the same desire not to stand still that saw her take on an official role with a major national pensions body, again in her 70s, despite not having any particular expertise in the area – she didn’t understand much of the detail about the subject at first, but she made sure that she had a good grasp of it by the time that she started in the role.  She was aware of her limitations and constantly worked to minimise these, or, if she felt that this was beyond her, she would surround herself with people who had those skills and abilities.

People believed in her, whether they were staff members, friends or casual associates. Much of her work went unseen – for years after her death people would regularly come up to my wife to say how her mother had helped them, often in deep and profound ways.

Humility, a desire to get the best out of others, a desire to be the best version of herself: She was a true leader in the best sense of the word.


Leadership is for everyone. LIFT Ireland was founded on a desire to affect positive leadership change in Ireland.

LIFT Ireland’s learning process is based on eight key leadership values. Each week, for a total of eight weeks, a certified facilitator guides a roundtable of 4-6 individuals through a specific leadership value. Using a proven systemic approach, the members of each roundtable reflect on what that value means to them and how they can improve in this area. Learn more about LIFT’s learning process by following the link below. 

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