I have so many amazing memories that it is hard to know where to start – but I do distinctly remember interviewing Vantil and instantly warming to his personality, his chat and also realising he really knew what he was talking about…! Everything from that first impression was true and it just all became larger than life over the following 18 years that we worked together….
Having sat in adjacent offices for all of those 18 years, we knew each other pretty well – lots of fly-by chats; lots of big, long, deep chats; lots of bits of gossip; lots of advice – both work and life; and lots of gentle, subtle mentoring and care, for which I will be forever grateful. Probably my most abiding office memory is of him sauntering in every morning – bright clothes, big fluffy coat in winter, massive white headphones on his head. He would walk past my office, stick his head in and say “Morning KIS-FM” (a prime example of his school-boy sense of humour….!). When he said, “How are we doing today?”, we would have a quick chat and catch up on our respective goings-on. But sometimes I would be tired or stressed or grumpy and my answer would be “Fine, thanks” and then look back down to my screen. That’s when he would walk in, shut the door, pull up a chair and ask me how I was again… and then we’d have a proper chat. I would feel better and he would leave with a “Look after yourself, young lady…” Just one example, among thousands of others, of how he was always able to connect and he truly cared about people.
Other office memories mostly involve food and sleep! He loved food and never did it by halves. His favourite wind up was to offer to take US colleagues out for lunch when they came to the LDO. He would make sure it was never in Noura or Mango tree – far too easy – he would sit down, order at least 2, if not 3, courses, often a glass of wine and then stroll back to the office at least 2 hours later… he thought it was important that he pressed our cultural differences! But really he wanted to get to know people over food! And, over time, returning visitors loved those lunches…!
He also loved a post lunch nap! This was there from day 1. We all got used to it. There were attempts to wake him up from time to time throwing paper aeroplanes or grapes at him. What was completely uncanny though, was that we could be having a long deep discussion about something macro that was going down a gazillion rabbit hole and, from nowhere, he would suddenly wake up, and come out with the perfect, to the point, summation of our discussion, cutting out all the BS – despite having appeared to have been asleep through most of it. A unique talent.
There is so much more I could say. I was fortunate enough to be able to say most of it to him directly. But I will be forever grateful to have had this warm, big-hearted, life-affirming, generous, kind soul in my life for so long. The giant Vantil-shaped hole that he has left behind will never be filled and I am not sure we want it to be. His impact was so great that he has left part of him in all of us and for that we can be truly thankful.
Sending so much love to Lilian, Oliver and Cameron and his extended family and thank you for sharing him with us xxx