Posted by James Mullan on Friday, 21 September 2012
I don't write too many personal posts, but I've felt compelled to do so given the events that have taken place in the last two weeks, which for me have been quite tough.
For those of you that don't know me well I'm the President of the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL). During my time with BIALL I've worked with a large number of people as a Committee Member, Committee Chair, Council Member, President Elect and now President. I've made long term friends and met some people who have really inspired me.
Of those Sarah Spells definitely falls into the latter "category". I first met Sarah at the BIALL Conference in Edinburgh in 2004 walking up the stairs from I believe a dinosaur exhibition, I could well be wrong as things are a bit hazy from 8 years ago. My immediate impression when I sat down next to her for dinner was that she had a lovely smile and she was very enthusiastic about her job. I enjoyed talking to her about her work and what she was looking forward to at the Conference. I don't recall exactly when I next met Sarah but it was probably at the conference the following year. However it was whilst I was the Web Committee chair and later Council Member that I had most contact with Sarah at Council meetings where she always had a useful point to make or was ribbing me about not ordering water and soft drinks. I'll never forget to order Tea, Coffee AND water ever again that's for sure.
It was a joy to talk to Sarah and she would always share a joke or a laugh and tell us what she was working on, at the most recent Council meeting Sarah had taken great joy in showing everyone present her engagement ring and telling us all about her wedding plans. She was just entering the next stage of her life, so it's tragic that her life ended at the beginning of September.
Whilst listening to the wonderful tributes at her funeral, how busy she was, how much she was giving back to BIALL and the international associations she worked for I began to reflect on my own life as I imagine a lot of people do when attending funerals. Am I'm I living and loving life as much as I should be, is there more I could be doing? I think the answer is yes, but when someone you know passes away it really does make you see things in a different light. This isn't groundbreaking stuff I'm writing here I know, but I felt like I needed to write this to express how much BIALL are going to miss Sarah and the valuable contributions she made and how her death has affected me on a personal level. It was an honour to attend Sarahs funeral as both a friend and BIALL President and I hope in some small way my attendance helped her family see how very highly respected Sarah was.