Celine Connell

Contribution from Celine Connell, former publishing director, board director, Risk Waters

Celine Connell
Celine, second from right, with Simon Turner, far right

Simon came into the office one day with the most garish red trousers I had ever seen. I asked him whether he was wearing them as a bet. He laughed. He was incessantly ribbed each time he was decked out in those scarlet slacks, but he continued to wear them for years to come. That was Simon. He could be obdurate but he didn’t take himself too seriously and he loved a laugh, regardless of whether it was at his own expense. When I was selling him my car, he wanted me to sign a contract with more clauses than the Brexit Treaty. I politely declined to sign but I wasn’t offended. He was meticulous on detail and I’m sure his own mother would have been offered the same terms as myself. He was always forgiven for his little idiosyncrasies because he was my chum and so terribly caring and kind.

Dinah was glamorous and vivacious. She owned grape scissors and once sent a courier home to pick up a blouse that she had forgotten to pack for a company night out. This was the early 1990s, when procuring a courier was really, really opulent. Dinah truly believed in living life to the full and was very much in the present, and she always remembered my birthday with a card, inscribed with a thoughtful remark.

Neil was a truly decent and kind person: salt of the earth. He had incredible empathy and I remember a long email and phone call listing various antidotes for ‘bad backs’, following a flippant remark made to him about my back spasms. Dinah and Neil hosted me, several times on three continents over the years and each occasion was warm, fun and somewhat tipsy.

Karlie’s smile was all-consuming. She was the consummate professional with an enormous amount of spunk and expert frankness. Karlie was respected and liked by her team, her customers and her managers, yet she remained modest and unpretentious in all her interactions. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting her parents, Angela and Keith, so I know where her sublime personality was formed.

I remember Elisa’s beaming smile and her sense of fun. She was smart and witty and she was also equipped with a spectacular can-do attitude. Nothing was ever too difficult, and her clients were always singing her praises.

Oli was sharp and terribly droll and ever so decent.

Behind Paul’s easy-going and cheeky persona was an extremely capable professional who never seemed to be phased by any work-based adversity.

Sarah was incredibly detail-orientated. She was unbelievably efficient and organized, and I often joked with her that she’d have us all in uniforms next.

David always graciously greeted and welcomed staff when they visited our New York office. He returned calls promptly and openly shared his abundant knowledge and contacts. In a competitive and sometimes ruthless environment, David’s humanity and affable nature was clearly evident.

Michelle oozed confidence and competency, yet it was always apparent that her two young children were her primary concern.

Melanie was such a respected member of staff, extremely capable and revered, she was recently promoted and at the cusp of what would have been a flourishing career.

Every time I met Laura she was cheerful and resourceful and never seemed phased by the many issues and complications that surfaced at conferences.

As a growing and global company, regrettably I only had a nodding acquaintance with my other colleagues Amy Lamonsoff, Sarah Ali Escarcega, Celeste Victoria and Joanna Vidal, who lost their lives on that September Tuesday, 2001.

I would also like to pay tribute to all my colleagues, who after the events of that appalling day, rallied and nobly labored away in horrendous circumstances as they watched and waited, in the midst of their own grief and despair. The workplace is the new village, and our village lost 16 friends on that awful day, notwithstanding the 71 conference delegates who were also killed. I reflect often about my friends and colleagues whose futures were halted all too suddenly and far too prematurely. Certainly, as I strolled along Dublin’s Sandymount Strand with my godson William, Simon’s son, I lamented the horrific circumstances which culminated in Simon not meeting, holding or even touching this wonderful young man. Since 2001, clearly in our village, there are so many similar instances of pain at things that will never happen. But there are also many instances of pleasure and hope.

You move on because you have to and not because you want to. Over the past 20 years, I have often thought of those we lost and of their loved ones. I know they are missed, I know that they will not be forgotten and I know they will be remembered.

Ní fheicfimíd a leithéid arís.

If you would like to view all the articles in our 9/11 commemoration, click here

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