By Brad Foster
It is with great sorrow that I and the micenet team learnt of the passing last week of ICMS Australasia Chairman, Bryan Holliday, after a long battle with cancer.
For the past 20 years Bryan has been a quasi-mentor to me: on the meetings and events sector and on life generally. We talked about work: the value of meetings and events and his utmost belief that good meetings could change the world for the better; and many other things, particularly the English Premier League and the World Cup Football when it came around every four years.
When we started micenet magazine almost 20 years ago now, Bryan was among the first people Helen Batt-Rawden and I approached to sit on our Editorial Advisory Board. His opinions on how and what a magazine for the business events community should be were well-devised and have served us ever since.
The articles that he wrote each and every issue – Events Make Sense – were never boastful about what he had done or was doing. Rather, they were thought pieces on why, as the title proclaimed, events are as necessary to life as the air we breathe.
A gentleman in the true sense of the word, he was, as a former colleague described, “an eternal optimist”.
He NEVER sought praise for himself but welcomed it for others, particularly those he worked with. His preference was always to remain in the background, like an AV technician at the rear of the theatre, ensuring things were running smoothly from the shadows. The stage, he believed, was for others; for people who had far more valuable things to say than him.
That thought just wasn’t true.
Often in our chats I would tell Bryan I was thinking of doing this or that. Not once did he ever tell me something was a bad idea. Instead, he was always encouraging. He would turn my question to him back onto me: “What do you have to lose?”
And he was right. I really didn’t. He believed that taking a chance on something was far better than taking no chance at all.
Since his illness he stepped back from his role at ICMS Australasia, acting more as mentor to his 35 staff than Chairman and particularly his senior management team. With the business in the capable hands of his business partner and love of his life, Emma Bowyer, it has continued to thrive.
He did the same when he was involved in the early days of the industry association, Meetings & Events Australia. He helped, he planned, he became the National President, and then, when things were going well, he stood aside for others to take the lead. But he retained his interest in the organisation, even planning to attend this year’s annual conference in Brisbane until his body told him otherwise.
It’s ironic that just last week I decided to conduct a full interview with Bryan for an upcoming issue. He probably would have grumbled about it and said that there were far more interesting people to focus on than him and maybe he might have even refused. As a friend I wanted to show him that he was wrong.
Maybe I’ll do one anyway. Bryan would definitely see the humour in that.
A memorial service will be held for Bryan Holliday next Thursday, June 27, at 12 noon at St Peters Church, 29 Waters Rd, Cremorne.
By request no flowers and, in lieu, donations can be made to Cancer Council NSW.
Vale Bryan Holliday.