Its with sincere sadness and sense of loss that we learned of the sudden death of Paul Ruskin last week. Our thoughts turn to his loved ones including Viv his wife, his children, grandchildren and close friends, who we know played such a big part in this big man's life. Paul had not enjoyed good health in recent years, but still the news came as a real shock to all.
Most of us got to know Paul (Rusky) as the development of the ICT Hub got underway, and he soon made his particular mark on those developments, including work to develop the role of the Regional ICT Champion. Those of us who took up those roles in other regions alongside Rusky soon got to know about his particular style, exuberance and ambition. He always brought a sense of passion, dedication and commitment to the work which motivated others and provided true leadership to the project as a whole. Never one to avoid tricky issues or tip-toe around subjects, he championed the cause of voluntary organisations across the country and regularly reminded us of the 'sharp-end' of the work being done at frontline levels. He was a superb advocate for the sector and influenced many key developments during this time. He was also quick to adopt the role of 'social secretary' for the Regional Champions group making sure that we always enjoyed fun, good hospitality and plenty of 'bonding' experiences when we got together.
Rusky’s involvement with Cosmic extended beyond this national and regional work, and collaboration between the team at Cosmic and his team at I-Trust in Cambridge developed well. We were able to collaborate in the development of several projects and development in tech, training and website work. He also persuaded us to part with our beloved Space Shuttle and put it to use in the east of England delivering training to people and communities.
Rusky also brought out the best (and sometimes the worst!) in other people; he recognised the importance in building strong and lasting relationships based on trust and understanding, (but sometimes he struggled with just how to get there!). His powerful presence in meetings and events was well recognised, and he was a great presenter and speaker bringing plenty of his spirit and exuberance into play. In remembering him we all will recall times when he rode very close to the wind with his ambition and provocation; but those of us privileged enough to work closely with him recognised how much this was driven by a desire to make a difference and to challenge conventions for the good of organisations and the people they served.
And so we record the passing of a great colleague and a dear friend, with plenty of sadness and a few regrets that we didn't have more time to work with him and keep in touch more often. But he also leaves us with plenty of fond memories, and stories to recall many times over years ahead. And if I may make a small recommendation, it is that those of us fortunate enough to continue work in support of the voluntary sector use the spirit and pride which Rusky showed us all as a strong motivating force in the years ahead.
RIP Paul Ruskin - colleague, champion, friend.