It was with immense sadness, that I learnt this week that Alan Whitford passed away on June 8th after a brief battle with cancer.

I had been working on a tribute to him when I read two which I thought just perfectly summed up how I feel about Alan.  I have posted some photos on Facebook of Alan from events of the years and there are some wonderful messages about him from so many people.

He was my guide and advisor many times over the 15+ years since I first met him.  He generously gave of his time, his wisdom and his friendship.  He shaped many people’s careers and lives and I only hope he knew how many people respected and adored him.

No alternative text description for this imageFirstly, from Matthew Jeffery

When I learnt late last night that Alan had sadly passed away after a short battle with cancer, I was shocked and saddened.

Alan was a very humble guy. Super kind & caring. He would make time for anyone. Deeply intelligent. Sharp as a tack. He knew his stuff inside and out & twice over. Massively inquisitive. He loved the recruitment industry with a real passion. And wanted to make a massive difference, (& did). He cherished debate. He was always at the end of the phone ready to discuss new ideas. He thrived on innovation. Challenging the status quo. He had a deep passion for HR Technology. This passion was infectious. Alan thrived on the art of the possible and making the impossible possible!

Alan was a real family man. Always speaking lovingly about his wife and family. The foundation stone of his very success.

What really was his trademark was he wanted EVERYONE to do well. To be the best they could be. He was supportive of so many people in this industry. He made time to train, support and nurture talent. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. A genuinely big heart that championed everyone.

In the early days of my recruitment career he was a rock. He took both Jennifer Candee and I under his wing. Encouraged us to speak & write. Gave us a stage at his conferences. Always there to offer advice. Encouragement. I got to know Jen thanks to Alan and we have a friendship that survives to this day in an industry that can be very turbulent. Both Jen and I owe Alan so much.

As I write this I am reminded how short life is. How precious it is. For some time I have been thinking, ‘I must call Alan, find out how he is, ask his advice’. But that call kept being put off. Life is busy. Work hours long. Family needing support. Time flies and I regret that, latterly, I did not get to speak to Alan and thank him. I did thank him a lot in the early days of my career. But not recently. It’s another clear message. Don’t put off saying how you feel as you might never get the chance. Without Alan, I would not have enjoyed the career I have.

Alan, I will treasure our memories forever. I owe you so much. I hope that you will be waiting for me on the other side with a glass of wine and ready for one of our long debates.

RIP. A true legend of recruiting. You will be sorely missed & forever appreciated.

And, Secondly from Stephen O’Donnell:

I realise mine will be only one of many, but I’d like to say something about Alan Whitford, and what he meant to me.

Alan was instrumental in the development of the National Online Recruitment Awards. As a long-time judge, we would confer regularly on how to keep the essence of the NORAs, by building and maintaining credibility. At one point (as most awards do) the NORAs were criticised by a number of people in our industry for giving recognition to the same job boards each year, and seemingly excluding deserving winners.

Alan reminded me that our only preference was that our finalists and winners deserved top be so in the eyes of jobseekers, and that our judging process was fair. Along with Alan however, we decided that the best way to stem criticism was to invite those critics to become judges themselves. We did exactly this, and established 2 distinct set of judges to ensure complete openness. Alan’s wise counsel both kept me sane, and also ensured the value of our work was evident.

When I suffered a broken ankle in 2011, it was Alan who made a point of calling me every day during my recovery. He knew that the emotional trauma would be harder to handle than the physical injury, and made sure I didn’t go off the rails at a time when I felt pretty useless.

Since his passing, I have heard many similar stories, where Alan went out of his way to help, and encourage others, with no thought of a benefit for himself. It was simply in his nature to be there for others, to share his knowledge, his humour, and his expertise.

We should all be very lucky to be as well remembered as Alan Whitford.

Main blog photo credit: Oscar Mager

Alan was helped greatly by Kate’s Home Nursing. They are a non-profit palliative care service in Bourton-on-the-Water. His family have asked that Alan’s friends, who wish to donate to Kate’s, do so in Alan’s honour. Please find more details here:

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