Industry gathers for Holder tribute

The great and good of the direct marketing industry have gathered to pay their own personal tributes to IDM founder and industry visionary Professor Derek Holder, who passed away in February, aged 60.
The ‘Celebration of Life’ service was conducted by a former IDMer-turned-preacher, the Reverend Sarah Smith, on Friday, and featured three generations of people who had been influenced by a man who will be remembered as a true legend.
A mix of light-hearted reminiscences and heart-felt tributes, Reverend Smith started proceedings by admitting she was probably on a ‘shortlist of one’ to carry out the service.
Derek, she explained, was a big man in many ways, but not big on religion. Yet, she added: “He was funny, inspirational, a great practical joker, a visionary, and, at times, curmudgeonly. He could also put on a good show of being annoyed when he had to.”
The audience then heard from Bernard Keavy, who Derek met at university and with whom he had remained firm friends for the rest of his life. Bernard painted a picture of a man who, some may be surprised to hear, liked to play squash and go running…he was something of a fitness fanatic.
Derek was also an ardent Chelsea fan, and, ironically since his passing, had missed possibly the biggest night in the club’s history – winning the European Cup in May. Bernard said: “He would’ve loved to have seen that.”
But the most striking thing was that, even back in his university days, he had a vision. While his fellow undergraduates mused about their futures, Derek knew exactly what he wanted to do; he wanted to be a marketer, and he wanted to be a ‘boss’. As Bernard explained: “He was so determined. It was obvious even then that he would be the boss of a large marketing organisation.”
IDM chairman Simon Hall paid tribute to Derek’s qualities as a leader, and as an inspirational teacher. He said: “I was pretty much dreading it when, in my early 20s, I was told I had to go back to the classroom. But not only did Derek sort out my professional life – giving me those golden nuggets of direct marketing knowledge – he sorted out my love life too; I met my wife as an IDM student.”
From humble beginnings, a single office in Kingston Polytechnic Business School in 1981, the IDM has grown into a centre of excellence, Hall explained. Today it has trained more than 64,000 marketing professionals in the UK, and awarded 9,000 internationally recognised professional qualifications.
Next up was one of the most recent IDM pupils to benefit from Derek’s guidance. Although Tim Connor, CRM manager at Encore Tickets, had only had one brief conversation with Derek in 2006, his advice to start his career agency side had proved invaluable. Tim’s spells at Rapp, Quant and OgilvyOne had given him the perfect grounding for a career in direct marketing.
The memorial was wrapped up by Rev Smith, who likened Derek to Saint Paul the Apostle. Like Derek, he worked tirelessly to spread the word, she maintained, dubbing Saint Paul the “first ever direct marketer, who pioneered targeted marketing techniques”.
Attendees were then treated to a short film of tributes featuring former colleagues, industry figures and even Derek, to the sound of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ – Derek’s favourite song and IDM mantra.
As Marc Michaels, former COI director of direct and relationship marketing, posted on Derek’s memorial page on Facebook: “A very fitting and appropriate tribute to Derek. Well done to all those who arranged the afternoon and those who spoke so well and conjured up such wonderful images of the man.”

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2 Comments on "Industry gathers for Holder tribute"

  1. Far too young to have passed away and with so much still left to do. It was a joy to see so many people at the memorial and hear such fitting words to describe the man.

  2. Charlie says: “Derek would have been chuffed as punch to see his legacy live on. “Simply the Best” is a hard act to follow, but let’s hope his work will continue to inspire generations to come.”

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