Tim Bacon’s legacy by Ann Elliott
Friday Opinion – Propel Newsletter – 27th May 2016
Last week, I went to Tim Bacon’s memorial service in Manchester along with about 1,500 other people – there was standing room only at The Albert Hall above Albert’s Schloss in Peter Street. It was the most amazing event with emotional speeches from a close family friend, his mother, his brother, his son, Peter Martin and business partner Jeremy Roberts. A brilliant band played plus great soloists and an inspirational choir. Although it was an open invite, I felt very honoured and privileged to be there.
I remember years ago, at one leadership training programme at Whitbread, we were asked to write down what we wanted others to say about us at our funeral. The point being if we wanted others to think those things then we had better start acting that way now. A bit like Covey when he says “Begin with the end in mind” (although I am not sure he had dying in mind when he wrote that). I was thinking of that all the way through the service. How had Tim wanted people to remember him? What did he want his legacy to be? There are others who were much closer to Tim than me – others who will know absolutely what he would have wanted but, if the memorial service was the first time I had heard about Tim, this would have been my take out.
- Love your children and make sure they know you love them. Tim’s son’s speech was moving and poignant as were the many pictures shown during the service of Tim and his children. There was a real sense of balance of work and play in his life.
- Do what you love. It felt, having tried a number of jobs (including acting), Tim found what he loved the day he walked into a bar. He seemed to thrive on buying businesses, opening new sites, developing new brands and generating success. He loved the business. He was creative, innovative and hugely energetic with tremendous vision and ambition.
- Work with someone you trust and admire. Tim was making decisions with Jeremy about the future of the business on the day he died. Theirs was an amazing partnership based on immense mutual respect. It’s clear those who had worked with him for a long time felt the same way too.
- If you are going to do something, do it well. A video played at the service showed Tim practising his cocktail making/ bottle juggling/flair skills for what may have been hours on end. He even demonstrated them on the Richard and Judy show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB2l2CMQY8Y. His mum spoke about Tim getting up at 4.30am as a young boy to deliver milk in order to earn money and then going on to swim for an hour because he wanted to be an Olympic champion. From an early age he had focus, determination and real drive.
- Be yourself. I remember going to a Multi Unit Foodservice Operators conference in America one year and waiting in the hotel lobby before we all went out for dinner. All the men were wearing their “going out” clothes – blue Polo shirt, chinos and deck shoes. Tim was the last to arrive and was wearing flip flops, shorts and an Hawaiian shirt (although he did play by the rules when he won the Mancoolian awards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB2l2CMQY8Y). He was very much his own man and loved for that.
- Never give up. If there was an ever a person with endless positivity, optimism and a zest for life it was Tim. He tried so hard to live. He wanted to live. He did everything he could possibly do to stay alive and he never stopped trying.
On a personal front, Tim was very kind to me. He helped organise a Manchester tour for the whole of our team and was incredibly generous during our stay. I had emailed him the week before about catching up and was sending dates through – he was always so good to spend time with. Last week I went to The Trading House in Gresham Street and it seemed to summarise Tim for me – beautiful, warm, stylish, full of laughter and fun. I will miss him.