Wednesday, 21 January 2015

John Coll: Friend, Mentor, Gentleman

Borne by email
It is with great poignancy that it was by email that I got information about an event in the life of the person who gave me my first real email address just over 20 years ago.
It was an unusual friendship that started with my answering a job advert in the Pink Paper for a role I was not qualified for, nor was I looking for favours, but it launched me on a very successful career in Information Technology, something I can never ever be fully grateful for.
Unlike any other employer, John Coll did not dismiss my application and my CV by chucking it in the bin, he called me and proceeding to offer advice.
Knowing John
Then he invested 3 hours of his precious time in knocking my CV into shape, a CV he said appeared to have everything but said nothing. He was thorough and disciplined like an old schoolmaster that he was, in just over 3 months I landed my first job outside the public sector and the rest is history.
John became the man I could go to when I was suffering a crisis in confidence, a career crossroad or even issues of life and relationships, he had done it all.
At Connection Software, his drive and his ideas with his team of amazing young minds led in ground-breaking mobile software solutions long before the internet was big or mobiles were everyday products, he just had that foresight.
A little known fact, he was a pioneer in the personal computer industry having helped write the functional description of the BBC Computer and then the BBC Microcomputer User Guide.
The man, I knew
As a man, he gave so many support, opportunity, advice and encouragement, he mentored, he uncled, he fostered, he befriended, he encouraged, he was a life-long enthusiastic teacher who always had a great sense of fun.
When I last spoke to him, he did say he did not have another year left, I listened to how he had planned for things to continue after he had gone and had planned with my best friend to pay him a visit one long weekend I was in London.
Alas! That was not to be, John passed away just two days to Christmas and it was through an email that I learnt of his passing.
Thank you, John
There is not enough space for me to express my thankfulness for knowing John Coll, how he like a big brother always had my back, especially when I was at my lowest point. He was ready and generous with time and resources even before I asked, he was there.
I will remember John the most for his zest for life, his amazing unretiring self that even into his 70s he was a technology buff as good as any, his homeliness and desire to give others opportunity and vision beyond our limits.
He was forthright and funny, a great friend, a sure mentor, an example to living life sensibly and fully, a confidante, a supporter and a fine gentleman. Two years ago, I wrote an email to 6 friends I expected to be my pallbearers, one has gone.
Dear John Coll, thank you, you’ll be sorely missed and may your honest, gentle, loving and wonderful soul rest in peace. Goodbye John (1943 -2014).

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