In Memory of Jan Secker
A tribute to our wonderful and much-loved colleague by her friend and colleague Sam Finlayson.
Jan Secker, a colleague, a friend, and our very own ‘Mrs S.’ There seems to be a million words that could be used to describe the amazing woman we all knew and loved: funny, passionate, crazy, caring, dedicated, driven, resilient, beautiful, brave, creative, strong…the list goes on, and all are true, yet none seem ‘enough,’ to capture the light she carried, or convey what it was that made Jan such a special person that she was able to touch the life of so many simply by being herself.
We all have a Jan story, and what I realised when talking to those close to her and starting to write this is that so many of those memories are connected to laughter and smiles, but even when they weren’t, she was always there for those she cared about, and that speaks volumes about the person she was and the positivity she brought to all our lives.
Jan was funny and smiley. At work she greeted colleagues with kind words and cups of tea. There hasn’t been a ‘Cluster Birthday’ that’s passed by without her famous lemon drizzle cake, party lights and Stevie Wonder blasting through our offices for as long as we can recall. She was an organiser, but more than that Jan was a bringer together of people. Her parties and girlie nights were infamous as she shared her warmth & hospitality openly. She was inherently social, the last to leave every party, first on the dance floor, always the last one off and categorically the worst gin maker I have ever met!
At work she introduced herself to the students as ‘Jolly Jan.’ She was a fab teacher, loved and respected by those she taught & worked with. A mentor, someone to look up to and again, her caring nature meant she invested in those she worked with, staff and students alike. Jan was as passionate about teaching as she was about photography and her confidence & personality resonated throughout both her classroom and her practice.
At home, family was everything and Jan shared her life with her loves. Her pack: Chris, her husband, her best friend. Matthew her son, her greatest & most proud achievement and of course ‘The Dogs.’ Jan always thought it was hilarious that for at least the first two weeks of knowing her, I assumed her husband was called Colin… I must confess I did think she must have a bit of an odd relationship until I later discovered that Colin was in fact one of their three Weimaraner’s! She loved the outdoors, she saw vibrancy and beauty in every landscape, sky and person. She filled her time by being outside at every opportunity, walking with Chris or enjoying her garden and she filled her social media by sharing the beauty she experienced. Her zest for life was infectious and her fun and frivolity, fearless. Jan knew more than most how fragile life could be and perhaps that’s partly what allowed her to really live it.
As most will know Jan’s journey with cancer began almost a decade ago. Throughout which she fought with unwavering strength, determination and courage and even when immersed in battle, Jan was, without exception, the first by the side of any friend who needed her support, whilst simultaneously always flying her flag high to support others who were facing similar challenges. She was without question the strongest, most courageous person I have ever met. A fully-fledged member of the ‘Strong Girls Club’ and at times like this she is the one who would pull us all together and remind us all of the strength we have.
So, as we face such a tragic loss, I hope that we can be reminded that although cancer took Jan from us, sharing her life was the greatest gift. Jan was special because she touched the world around her and made it better. She would smile at a stranger. Give the best hugs. Made phenomenal cakes…and stood up for everything and everyone she believed in. Ultimately, she reminded us all how important it was to genuinely care, and for those of us privileged enough to have been loved by her, she provided a friendship second to no other.
Jan was completely full of life, with a light & presence that filled every room. She fought cancer in the same way she approached everything in life, not only fiercely, but with a smile on her face and love in her heart. She was truly inspirational, completely irreplaceable and she will be greatly missed by all those who knew & loved her. The world is a better place because Jan has lived with in it…. she made her mark for good, and there can be no greater achievement in life than that.
‘Wherever a Beautiful Soul has travelled, there is a trail of Beautiful Memories’