Today as we mark a year since our first lockdown began I wanted to use the opportunity to write about my amazing father, Joachim, who sadly succumbed to the virus back in April 2020. To say that I am still coming to terms with this loss, nearly a year later, is an understatement especially as he was still very much in his prime of life having just had his 66th birthday. The last year feels like a dream, or nightmare, depending on your perspective and I have wanted to write about him before, but today I thought would be a good opportunity to start.
Joachim came into my life when I had just started secondary school as a result of a passionate love affair with my mother and quickly was welcomed in our home by all of us. Including, magnanimously, by my farther who recognised what my mother and Joachim had and both men became firm friends. This has always perplexed outsiders looking into my family, but from my perspective it seemed completely normal, and when the time came that my father and mother divorced that was done amiably one afternoon using a website.
Joachim therefore, from an early age, had always been an amazing addition to our family unit, and I was the proud son of two fathers. Both complimented each other and I tribute a large part of my future successes to the input they had on my upbringing. My father, Edward, is an excellent cook and every night we had amazing meals at home, whereas when I spent time with Joachim he loved eating out and opened my eyes to fine dining from around the world. Certainly his penchant for the finer things in life rubbed off on me and we shared many happy experiences from luxury hotels to fast cars. He was pure class to the core, having worked his way up from a poor upbringing in Germany, he was not shy of hard work and demonstrated to all the naysayers that you get out what you put in.
It was therefore an honour to have him as Chairman of my company, Fluidata, when I set that up and he expertly supported me in finding finance, growing the business and then successfully exiting in 2015. Like my paternal father Edward, he had high morals and always demonstrated complete integrity in anything he was involved in. So growing up my view of business was shaped by his view that you treat people well, you get out of the way and let them get on with it. When news of his passing made it onto LinkedIn we were all blown away by the number of people who contacted my mother to say how much he had influenced or shaped them during his career.
Joachim died because his immune system overreacted to Covid, and while fit and having never been in hospital before in his life, it was on the ventilator where he caught numerous bouts of pneumonia which wrecked his lungs, and the Doctors made the decision to turn off life support. Could lessons have been learnt from his experience? Certainly. I hope that today less are suffering from the same response but it seems only now with the vaccine rollout that those numbers are dramatically dropping. Sadly it was too late for my dear farther and the world is a sadder place without him. My mother bravely soldiers on having lost her true love and we focus on the few rays of sunshine that come our way.
Last week we laid Joachim to rest at the base of a spectacular Larch tree which has taken centre stage to a wood we have planted in his memory. Opa’s Wood (Opa is German for Grandad) consists of over 2,000 new trees alongside existing trees including 700 year old oaks looking out on a hill in Warwickshire over five counties. A fitting resting place for a glorious gentleman.