This is the sort of post I never envisaged writing – I’m using this blog to say goodbye to someone who has died suddenly and well before their time. Jane Marshall – forever ‘@roogly‘ to her discerning 1.6k Twitter followers – died last Friday tragically while doing one of the things she loved best: walking in the mountains. Jane was one in a million – witty, generous but totally unassuming,
I’d heard good things about Jane for several years from her colleague at Manchester Business School library, Dominic Broadhurst, before meeting her for the first time in St Petersburg at an EBSLG (European Business Schools Librarians Group) conference. Being Jane she quite unnecessarily apologised for not being bantering Dominic (whose place on the group she was taking), however we were to realise very swiftly that Jane was just as quick off the mark as her Manc counterpart. The stage was set for much silliness and sarcasm and Jane quickly became ‘one of the gang’. I met her again in Cranfield early the next year by which time the gloves were off and she enjoyed sending me up (and quite right too) as we drank and caroused.
I had the fortune to spend a good chunk of time with Jane last summer in Switzerland – firstly, filling her in on all my news and hearing hers (people who know me will realise immediately that the airtime was unequal) as we travelled from Zurich to St Gallen by train, and secondly as we mused over life choices and careers one evening late into the night. I resigned as President of EBSLG at St Gallen as I was about to leave my business school librarian job to start freelance training and consulting. Jane couldn’t have been more supportive about my choice, banishing completely any lingering doubts I had about the decision I was taking with a directness and level of insight that really mattered to me.
As usual we did a fair bit of pratting about during the Swiss conference. She gamely posed for the photo below with German librarian Uwe Boettcher knowing full well it would soon wind up on Twitter together with a sarcastic aside from me.
I also enjoyed snapping away as she confidently presented the findings of a group session. She was completely natural as a presenter – also doing a splendid job of a session on maximising your LinkedIn presence at the same conference – for behind her quiet and calm exterior was a hugely capable woman. Jane was never one to seek attention, and perhaps as a result she gave some the impression that she was conventional. In fact she was anything but. Only just underneath the surface was a passionate quirky individual with a zest for life who really ‘saw’ people. She certainly saw me – and I’m very grateful that we connected and understood each other.
You only have to take a glance down her twitter-stream to see how much Jane loved life and interacting with others. Whether she was discussing fashion, tv comedy, shoes, sheep, insomnia, pies, cake, music or The Archers, Jane entertained us all on a daily basis. And in the flesh she was just as much fun.
My heart goes out to Jane’s family and close friends, and all her colleagues at Manchester University. I don’t know what is being arranged in her memory – something significant I hope – but in the meantime I urge you to leave a donation on Jane’s Moonwalk donation page – a walk in Edinburgh that she was due to complete in June in aid of breast cancer. How about we get that total rocketing up in her memory?
‘Sleep tight twits’ she used to say on Twitter.
‘Sleep tight @roogly’.