In some ways it seems like only yesterday that I was introduced to Dawn White: the latest recruit 40 years ago to what was then Bush Steadman & Partners.
My first impression was that she was very quiet. She was also very good on the secretarial basics, picking up on words like “oscilloscope” without any apparent problems – although she did confess in later years that she never really understood what she was typing.
What a completely different world we inhabited 40 years ago -Dawn was reminiscing recently about having to use the telex machine which was housed in a “smelly cupboard” – and press releases were still photocopied, stuffed into envelopes and delivered by “snail mail”.
Dawn prospered in this environment, and by the early 1980s was sharing the Account Executive duties with her long-time colleague and friend, Jean Wilson. It was during this period that she established many good friendships among both editors and clients, many of which she still keeps in touch with. She also managed to survive the company’s short-lived acquisition by Robert Maxwell! Eventually, what was to become Peter Bush Communications emerged relatively intact, with Peter, Jean and Dawn as the core team and most of the client base retained.
At this stage Dawn discovered that she had considerable skills as a negotiator of advertising rates, allowing us to boost our income without investing in additional personnel.
Throughout the company’s history, Dawn has been a constant and reliable presence. In recent years, Dawn has played a considerable part in the life of the Saffron Walden community through organisations such as Inner Wheel, the Saffron Hall concert venue, and St. Clare’s Hospice. She remains a close friend of Jean Wilson (now semi-retired), spends time in her garden, and has developed an interest in antiques, which she combines with visits to stately homes and country houses.
When I was asked to contribute this piece it was suggested that I include any “funny stories” I remember about Dawn. I have to confess that I racked my brains and couldn’t come up with any. So here is the next best thing: the one time I heard nice quiet, polite Dawn use a four-letter word.
The occasion was the retirement of the long-standing boss of the European operation of an American company, at which it was proposed that the Americans would take a greater role in the European marketing operation. As I left the room along with the US people and the retiring head of Europe, Dawn was left with the European Commercial manager, a genial Italian with many years of experience of life in multinational companies, who turned to her and said: “I’ll give it a year for the Americans to **** it all up!”. A couple of hours later Dawn relayed this conversation to me – word for word – over the phone. I nearly fell off my seat!
Finally, as an indication of the respect that Dawn inspired in the technical press, I was suitably impressed when two “golden oldies” from that world – Peter Ring, Publisher of New Electronics, and Peter Smith, who runs his own successful technical PR agency, asked if Dawn would like to attend the leaving party for veteran Editor Graham Pitcher earlier this year. Needless to say, she was delighted to be able to attend and meet many old friends. A great accolade indeed!
I would like to finish by passing on my own personal appreciation to Dawn for her support and professionalism over the last 40 years. Thank you Dawn.