Jacqui Forster. What is there to say? She touched so many people’s lives, and did so much good. I knew her from 2004, when I started working on a temporary contract at Supporters Direct, within about nine months of her starting. That’s when our friendship was really forged: I knew nothing about the rules, and she educated me (sometimes in such detail my head would begin to ache). Alongside then acting MD, Dave Boyle, we kept the ship afloat long enough for Phil French and Laura Knewstub to join us. That’s when the organisation really took off, and we were blessed for that. But it’s true that when your backs are against the wall like they were in ‘04 – funding under threat, MD Brian Lomax having had to stand down because of ill health – you really learn what people are made of.
Jacqui was also hilarious – though not always intentionally. She would just make me laugh, regularly. But most of all what I’ll remember was the utter dedication – almost obsession – with fairness. Every organisation that needed her help, would get it, and she would be utterly committed to each and every one of them. I’m pretty sure that they knew that, but if any of you out there who have formed supporters’ trusts, or are on the board or are a member of one, I’m almost certain that she’s put the hours in for you. I also know she’d had some really tough times in her life aside from the cancer that so cruelly beat her on Sunday night, but she seemed to use that as fuel to keep fighting for everyone else.
I last spoke to her towards the end of January, when she sounded noticeably worse, and was talking about approaching the end of her life almost vividly – getting everything in place. At the time I was rushing through Manchester to change trains to get to Blackburn, and she’d called me up, ostensibly to tick me off for sending her flowers: as far as she was concerned, she didn’t accept gifts, but that on this occasion she’d have to accept them, as I’d sent them by courier! Typical Jac. Though I regret not calling her since, because I never got to say goodbye, I’m glad those were the final words we exchanged, because it was the sort of conversation I could imagine having with her at any other time. Most of all I heard her voice for the last time.
The essential truth of Jac was they they threw the mould away when they made her. Of course that’s true for everyone, but for some people it resonates more. There are few people so committed, so utterly determined to give people a voice, and only now am I beginning to realise that she’s gone, and how terribly I’m going to miss her.
Picture Credit: Women at the Game