David Parkin is inspired by a star in sequins

I REMEMBER once hearing a great phrase used to describe a footballer who played without much passion and who sapped the morale of his team-mates.

“He’s a real ‘mood hooverer’ in the dressing room,” I was informed.

It made me think that every workplace tends to have one.

You know the type: when they walk in the office they sap everyone’s collective energy, nothing cheers them up, in fact they appear to be happy being miserable.

On the flip side, if you meet a positive person, in work or in life, then what a difference it makes.

That’s why I was so sad to learn of the death of charity fundraiser Mandy Taylor yesterday.

It was also a shock because such was Mandy’s positivity and joie de vivre, that even in her final days she was posting warm, heartfelt and inspiring messages on social media.

I first met Mandy and her husband Andrew when she was involved in the Huddersfield Town Foundation charity and her success led to her helping raise over £2m for a host of other charities too.

Having beaten cancer twice, when she was diagnosed with it again earlier this year she still managed to find the positives.

Whether it was trying out new blonde wigs to wear after her chemotherapy treatment or planning her return to Bibis Italianissimo restaurant in Leeds where she worked as sales and business development manager, Mandy focused on the positives rather than the challenges that life had thrown at her.

I was fortunate to be at Bibis when they hosted a Ladies Day at Royal Ascot event and donated the money raised on the day to Maggie’s Yorkshire.

A glamorous and bubbly blonde, Mandy loved getting dressed up for events and the more sequins, glitter and feathers the better!

That’s me with Mandy and Luciana Spirandio of Bibis in the photograph above.

I think the caption should be: ‘A thorn between two roses’.

Mandy made me laugh back in April when she tweeted the photo below.

Mandy was a friend and colleague of Gill Laidler of TopicUK magazine and was reading the copy of the magazine where I featured on the cover when she went in for chemotherapy treatment at St James’ Hospital in Leeds.

I replied: “If you can cope with looking at me on the cover Mandy, your hospital treatment will feel pretty painless! Sendings lots of good wishes.”

She responded: “You’ve been the talk of the ward!”

Which I think roughly translates as hospital staff asking the question: “What the hell’s he doing on the cover?”

Mandy was also a proud ambassador for the splendid Piece Hall in Halifax and it was touching to see that the historic traders’ bell was rung 12 times in her memory yesterday.

In recent months a campaign sprung up on social media with the hashtag #bemoremandy which aimed to inspire people to do something positive for their local community.

Yes we should be inspired by her incredible charity work and community support but we should also be influenced and invigorated by her indomitable spirit, her positive personality and her great talent to see the best in everyone she met.

The 53-year-old from Huddersfield will be hugely missed and was a unique and very gifted individual.

She made the world a better place during her life.

If Mandy Taylor’s legacy is to inspire others to #bemoremandy then she’ll be happy with that.

And we are all better off thanks to her.

:::

I THINK I set a new record yesterday.

I accepted an invitation to a lunch at two hours notice.

Henry Shires of Investec had a space on his table for the annual Leeds Rugby lunch at Headingley – a joint venture between the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and their union counterparts, the Leeds Tykes.

When fellow guest Jonny Hick dropped me an email yesterday morning to invite me to join the table, I was just about to go into a meeting.

But hearing Eddie Jones, the England rugby coach, speak at a festive bash sounded tempting, plus the opportunity to catch up with a few old friends.

I’ve also not got a packed diary in the run-up to Christmas.

Whether that’s because there aren’t as many festive bashes taking place or there are and I’m just not getting invited to them is the question.

So I accepted and headed up to the soon-to-be-renamed Emerald Headingley Stadium where I joined over 400 people at the event.

There was a nice buzz in the room and it was reassuring that after the return of compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport this week following the news about a new coronavirus strain, that it hadn’t put people off wanting to get out and socialise.

Yes we should all follow the rules and take sensible precautions, but the knee-jerk reaction of cancelling Christmas parties by some firms is another body blow that the hospitality sector just doesn’t need after the last 18 months.

Yesterday’s lunch was compered by former British Lions and England winger John Bentley.

Bentos was on subdued form – he only mentioned dogging twice.

He played a short video message from Eddie Jones apologising for not being there because he was self-isolating after catching Covid.

At short notice Bentos had scrolled through his phone contacts and persuaded his captain on that victorious Lions tour of 1997, Martin Johnson, to step in.

I noticed from the programme that the lunch was going a bit off-piste in terms of timings and events even before a fire alarm went off in the room.

I was looking forward to the entertainment because the lunch served was not exactly cordon bleu.

The slice of meat with the main course reminded me of stories I’ve read about the rations served to British troops in the trenches in the First World War which was dubbed “bully beef”.

The fire alarm proved to be a false alarm but it tripped the sound system and so while John Bentley waited for the microphone to be fixed, he shouted the results of the raffle to the room of 400-odd people.

It all meant that guest speaker Johnson didn’t actually take to the stage until almost 5pm.

But the Belarusian Merlot was flowing freely and so guests didn’t seem to mind.

Martin Johnson gave an entertaining if not particularly memorable speech and I headed off out into the chilly evening at about 5.45pm leaving the majority of guests still seated at their tables.

I haven’t checked, but there is a good chance that some of them may still be there now.

Have a great weekend.

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