It is with very mixed feelings that I post here for the first time in a long time.
On Tuesday night I was honoured to receive the itSMF UK's Paul Rappaport award for a lifetime's outstanding contribution to service management.
I hope that during that lifetime I have encouraged many people to stand up for for the things they value and to reappraise how they see the world and how their actions impact others. I am eternally grateful to those of you who have come forward and said that I might have done that to some degree.
At the beginning of the Awards Dinner, Sally Bogg gave a very powerful speech about how our industry needs to change. And I echo everything she said, and look forward to the future.
But my joy at receiving this year's award is tempered by the death last week of my wonderful cousin, Danny.
What follows is a rough transcription of my ex tempore speech on the night. For those who were there, I apologise for any inaccuracies, but this is what I would have said had I had time to prepare a proper speech. It is what I meant to say, even if I didn't say it at the time.
"I am extremely grateful to receive this award. There are so many wonderful people I've met during my career in this industry, some no longer with us, like Ashely Hanna and Paul himself, and others who aren't with us tonight, like Ivor Evans and Alan Nance. And I continue to meet new people who inspire and encourage me.
I'm sure, that like others who have been coming to these events for many years, I'm not alone in having in my head the opening lines of a speech, "just in case." For most of that time, my opening line has been 'Grateful though I am for this award it is a travesty of justice that Ivor Macfarlane hasn't won it before me.'
Well as many of you know, last year he did win it before me, so all is right with the world.
And normally that is where I would have finished this speech. But with your indulgence, I want to make some very serious additional points.
Early last week my beautiful cousin Danny killed himself.
Yes, I know, I'm a bit of a party pooper.
But I want us all to take some positives away from this.
Danny was in the building industry, a steel erector, tattoed and up for anything. He lived in the same small market town I was born in. His brother and sisters lived in that same small town, the aunt who loved him as a nephew did, and she also has the misfortune of being my mother. We are a very close family.
And none of us knew how he hurt, how he felt.
The last time I spoke to him online he told me how happy he was.
My beautiful cousin Danny killed himself.
In the organisations we work in, and particularly in the IT departments, the ITSM professionals are often the focal point for an emotional, human, view of the world. We know that many of our colleagues might be somewhere on the autistic spectrum. We also know that we, ourselves, are often working in very stressful conditions.
Please look out for others. Please look for the signs of stress. And not just in others, in yourselves as well.
In the last week, I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from our ITSM community. Both online via the Back2ITSM group on Facebook and in person during SITS. I am sure to have missed someone out but I've received messages of love from New Zealand, Australia, India, South Africa, Russia, The Scandinavian countries, Europe, the UK, Mexico, the USA and Canada.
It is incredible we have become such an international community and family. And we should be very, very proud of that.
Many of us did not know the immediate trigger for Danny's death at the time, but in retrospect, I think he never recovered from seeing his mother, my much loved and missed Aunt Cindy, taken away from him as a child. Taken away from him, from her other children, from her husband and from everything a mother should be, at far too young an age, by that cruellest of diseases, Motor Neurone Disease.
I don't want to take anything away from tonight's charity, because I suffered from learning difficulties as a child myself, but some of you will recall that for my birthday this year I requested donations to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
If you could give them some donation, and in doing so remember my cousin Danny I would be very grateful.
As indeed I am to the Directors of itSMF UK for this award. Now please enjoy the rest of your evening"