Goodbye, Alison

By December 18, 2007April 20th, 200812 Comments

Alison RichardsAnother week, another loss. This time, a little closer to home – Alison Richards, founder of The Pier, raiser of millions for Unicef and part of my extended family, passed away on Sunday (click the link on that page for the full story). I’ll never forget her friendly manner and self-effacing style whenever I met her, which was always a surprise as she must have been as “hard as nails” – as one ex-colleague put it – underneath it all to get where she was in the retail industry – as the article says, she was “one of the best-known and most successful female leaders in retail.” I’ll also never forget her 50th birthday party in Vinopolis – an extravagant affair if ever there was one where people like her friend Dave Richards, owner of former Formula 1 outfit B.A.R., rocked up for a few drinks.
Even if I didn’t see you much after I left The Pier – you’re a bright light extinguished, Alison.
Update: Alison’s London Memorial details here.


  • Stephen Whittaker says:

    I was introduced to Alison when she was in the process of launching The Pier and it was my good fortune to be retained as the company’s lawyer during the entire period of her stewardship .
    We learnt a lot together and I admired her ballsy approach.
    I’m sure she was at times hard as nails and needed to be so but she was dear friend to us, kind generous funny and now sadly missed.

  • Matthew Griffiths says:

    I met Alison through my wife, we shared
    a passion for shopkeeping and design. Throughout her career Alison was generally regarded as having a great buying eye a great merchant.The passion for style which cannot be taught.Alisons parties were wonderful full of interesting friends.Each of her houses perfectly styled.
    More than anything I remember Alison as a truly kind and caring person.When my wife had a accident Alison did everything possible to help and ensure the best care-regularily arriving to visit at hospital.
    Alisons death was quick and untimely she will be remembered to me as a very nice person( the highest acolade ) a great godmother I am sure !
    Matthew Griffiths

  • Paris to UK
    PLEASE send news of any memorial service.
    I last saw Alison 1 December and am devastated (also “out of the loop).
    She was a VERY dear friend
    Hope to hear from you

    00 33 6 85 58 04 24

  • katy widdows says:

    Hi Simon

    Dont know whether you’ll remember me – I was Alison’s PA at The Pier from 2002 – 2006…and of course it was me who helped choose what you ate on that memorable night at Vinopolis!

    I spoke to Alison a week before she died – I had arranged to meet her at home but unfortunately she was whisked into hospital with DVT that night. I think of her SO much. Still involved in retail, I can hear her in Trading Meetings – I can’t believe how much I learnt from her.

    I hope things are good for you, Simon – is it still the intention to hold a memorial service for A? I was working abroad on the day of the funeral so am keen not to miss the memorial if it is still going ahead?


  • Mike Killingley says:

    I got to know Alison as she was a non-exec of Beales, where I am chairman. Her death was a huge loss to us all. I so valued her no-nonsense yet caring approach, always offered with humour.

    Does anyone have any news on hte timing of the planned memorial service?


  • Wibbler says:

    The memorial date is not quite finalised yet – some logistic problems, apparently. But I’ll let you all know as and when…

  • Sassie Ansell says:

    I’m Sassie, Alison’s neice. I’ve just come across this site simon! Just to let anyone who may not already know, that Alison’s memorial service is on 23rd May (her birthday) at St Pauls Church, Covent Garden, Bedford Street , at 12 noon.

    Sassie x

  • Jo Fennell says:

    Hi Simon. Thanks for putting the details of Alison’s memorial up – I’ll definitely be there. I worked at The Pier from 2003 – 2006 and had an enormous respect, as well as friendship with Alison. She was indeed a ballsy lady and one certainly didn’t want to mess with her on a bad day! I used to sit right outside her office and on some days could feel the tensions radiating out of it! But she had a heart of gold and like so many people who are thought of as being ‘hard as nails’, was, I think, a real softy underneath.
    I will always remember her passion for UNICEF which she passed to me through the opportunity to go a field trip to Malawi. I’ll also remember her advice to me about being a woman in business and how that could very much be used to good advantage where necessary. She was maddened by women who felt undeserving of their position in a ‘man’s world’ and passed on to me a real belief that I have every right to be here (something I use regularly to ward off the self-doubt demons!).
    A truly amazing woman who will be very much missed.
    Jo x

  • It is with regret that we have had to cancel the Memorial Service for Alison Richards, on 23rd May 2008 at 12noon.

    Sassie (Alison’s niece)

  • katy widdows says:

    Happy Birthday, Alison
    A few of us are getting together this evening to toast her and all the memories we have of her

  • Kerry Nichols (Mcivor) says:

    I would just like to say a BIG thank you to all those who sponsored me in the race for life, in honour of Alison.
    The race took place in Oxford University Park last Saturday (7th June), on a glorious sunny day. I managed to raise £620 for the charity which is fantastic and will help in the fight to save lives. I completed the race in 28 minutes which I’m very pleased with and was better than my target of 35 minutes.
    Thank you again!

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