Our well-loved colleague, Ron Dawson, died in hospital on Wednesday 9th December. We wanted to say a few words about him and what he meant to us as individuals and to the company so that all those he touched throughout his life – family, friends and colleagues – can see and appreciate the Ron we knew.
I met Ron in the mid 1980’s when I was working for a Government Agency and he was Head of Economic Development for Liverpool City Council. It was just after the Toxteth riots and we were asked by our respective organisations to put a visionary strategy together for Liverpool City Centre. Ron immediately struck me with his deep-rooted concern for the future of the city he loved alongside his core values of helping communities and those in the city affected by economic hardship. This was to define our relationship for over 30 years.
Later on Ron persuaded me to set up the Northern office of a government company focusing on inner cities in Liverpool and together we formed a partnership to take over and manage 100 acres of City Council Estate on London Road. It was a tribute to Ron that this was achieved against a backdrop of turbulent politics, post Hatton and the growth of militancy in the city. But all politicians and community leaders of all sides and beliefs backed Ron and respected him which gave testament to the success of this project – at no little cost to him personally.
Through the next few years we worked together in Coventry and Edinburgh after Ron moved to Bovis to lead their regeneration company. In that move he was ahead of the game nationally stamping his values, his fairness in dealing with people and his absolute prioritisation for people in communities that were suffering. ESG before ESG became mainstream.
When Graeme Hogg and I set up Inpartnership in 2000 Ron was the first person to approach us with a project in Salford on which Bovis Homes had been struggling. He felt that our values as a company and as people matched his for the regeneration of Higher Broughton. The partnership with Ron at Bovis started a 20 year close relationship with him becoming a core part of the team at Inpartnership and latterly, Sigma.
He brought us wise counsel, not just on the politics of local government but also strongly expounded his values into all the organisations he worked with of fairness, community and doing what we could for disadvantaged people.
He could be a grumpy old sod at times, mainly when he had been let down by others or himself! I remember vividly the time we were at MIPIM and like any new organisation were trying to save money. We booked into our respective accommodations and all met up later. Ron was incandescent – ‘you booked me into a garage….’. As always with Ron we could not stop laughing as he regaled us on his experience.
We will miss him greatly – his ability to laugh at himself, his complete mastery of accents, his support and his respect for others. I will miss his friendship, his humour and his wisdom. It is difficult to imagine him not being around but he will remain strong in our memories as we go forward, personally and as a company, through the challenges ahead.
In order for Ron to be ever present in Sigma’s ongoing ESG plans and charitable donations, our annual contributions to local schools will now be known as the ‘Ron Dawson Donation’.