The charity sector is today mourning the tragic and untimely death of one of its greats, Stephen Lloyd, the former senior partner at law firm Bates, Wells and Braithwaite. Stephen was one of the most knowledgeable and respected charity lawyers in the land and the outpouring of grief on social media as news of his death spread came from far and wide, reflecting the many people whose lives he had touched. The ‘creator’ of the Community Interest Company – which he liked to say he dreamt up in a wine bar…which you can take as you wish. Stephen became the ‘go to’ person for all things social enterprise as the sector, and it’s legal issues, developed.
I first met Stephen nearly 20 years ago, when I was still early in my career in the charity sector and I have some wonderful, enduring memories of Stephen since then. He was a family friend and I know my parents are both shocked and deeply saddened by his death.
Stephen was typical of his profession – professional, erudite and thoughtful. But he was equally unlike many lawyers – creative, passionate and jolly and never gave up on a cause he believed. No wonder then that he got on so well with my dad. Stephen was chair of the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA) which my dad, Michael Norton, set up and ran. Stephen was one of the few people who I think could even begin to try and ‘chair’ my dad. He was enthusiastic and encouraging but (presumably….I never attended a CIVA board meeting) was also able to reign him in from time to time….which is no bad thing.
I will remember him leading the singing and dancing (yes, really!) at my dad’s birthday– come–CIVA anniversary party. Cajoling all-comers to join him in a square-dance (or something) – no one was safe.
I will remember him agreeing to meet with me and a small group of ex-homeless people who wanted to register their small community project as a charity. Stephen, flanked by an associate from BWB, made themselves available to meet with us to discuss governance options. And, despite the rather inebriated state of one or two of our party, and an epic rambling discussion, he gave us a full two hours of his time without the slightest sign of irritation.
I will remember him taking the time to drop me notes to praise things I’d written, or thank me for doing something (which I only occasionally knew how he’d known I’d done them). Stephen’s notes usually came in the form of an email with a ‘letter’ in a pdf attachment. I always found this quite funny – a clearly dictated letter – often just a few lines – typed by a PA and attached in an email as a pdf. To me that was one of the few signs that Stephen was actually a lawyer J.
I last saw Stephen a couple of months ago at the Charity Times Awards, where we were both in attendance to celebrate my dad’s being awarded the Outstanding Achievement award. He was on fine form and looked well after recovering from illness.
His death is a tragic loss to the charity sector and we have truly lost one of our prize assets. My thoughts go out to his wife Lorna, children and grandchildren and to his surrogate family at BWB.
We will all miss you Stephen but your impact on the sector will not be forgotten.