“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind” (John Donne).
Some people’s deaths, however, diminish us more, when we reflect on their qualities as human beings; though we may not discover the extent of their virtue unless we hear what others have to say about them when they have gone. This was my experience on attending the wake last week for Daniel Phelan, who died on 11 February following a long battle with cancer, at the age of 58.
Daniel was founder and editor-in-chief of Civil Society Media, publisher of several important magazines in the Charity sector and founder and principal organiser of the Charity Awards, the annual UK-wide programme recognising excellence in charity management. He was also our Landlord at Prescott Place for the last three years. As such, he took a genuine interest in Momentum’s work, making us feel welcome and supporting us with the offer of additional space at a critical time in our development, so that we could take on young people as interns. We count Civil Society Media as one of our most trusted sponsors.
At Daniel’s wake, I had the chance to speak to many of his colleagues and friends who had known him much longer and better. The stories varied, but the message was always the same: this was a man who was motivated by a desire to do right, a belief in other people, a love of life and a dedication to his chosen field of work. Loyalty, fairness, good humour, commitment, passion, goodness, courage, respect – these were the kind of words being spoken of him.
Too often nowadays we see the ruthless pursuit of money and power, the selfishness of ambition, the sacrifice of basic human decency and values in the name of profits, targets, outcomes, or raw vested interests. This quiet leader showed that it need not be so.
It was a privilege to know Daniel, however slightly, but it is only now that he has gone that I realise how much of a privilege.
We send our condolences to all Daniel’s family, friends and colleagues at Civil Society Media.