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A Tribute to Renes by Adam Willoughby

Fri 11th Jun 2021

To all at Broadway House Chambers, Renes was much more than a colleague: She was an integral part of our Chambers family and a very dear friend. Renes was part of the fabric of Chambers… always there to greet us in the morning, set us up for the day with a hot drink, and offer us her endless friendship, kindness and warmth.

Renes’ passing leaves an unfillable void and she will be sorely missed. But whilst today is a day of great sadness, it is also a day to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman and to be grateful for the blessing that was her friendship, and the lasting memories we have of Renes. Memories of a life lived, a life of service, of meaningful friendships and of grace, matched only by her sense of humour and her often surprising sense of adventure.

Renes was known to surprise us from time to time with tales of her weekend excursions: She had a social life which put most of us to shame. Whether it was going to a Tom Jones concert at York Racecourse, or going for a day out at the seaside on the bus, Renes lived life to its fullest.

She loved music. During early mornings in the office, Renes and I would often sing together, anything from Sinatra to Paul Robeson. Just one chorus of Ol’ Man River, could guarantee Renes’ beaming smile would soon light up the room.

Whether it was the tales of her weekend adventures or her singing along to the songs she loved, Renes and her often mischievous sense of humour brightened up the dullest mornings in the office.

She was proud of her Jamaican heritage, her faith and her family. We were privileged to learn through Renes about these important parts of her life, which she spoke of with warmth and fondness. Before the pandemic she was able to travel to Jamaica to spend some time with her family, a trip which I know would have brought comfort to her and to those who got to spend time with her. It is perhaps another example of her kindness and generosity that whenever Renes would go to Jamaica or on one of her day excursions, she would bring back gifts for all in Chambers to share. She introduced many of us Jamaican Rum and Blue Mountain coffee – which was a big hit in a barristers’ Chambers fuelled by caffeine.

Renes was a lady with many deep and lasting friendships – a natural consequence of her personality. I once gave Renes a lift to a memorial service being held for a colleague who sadly passed away a few years ago. On the short drive from Leeds to Bradford, I don’t think we went more than 100 metres without Renes pointing out a house or a landmark where one of her friends lived or a place she previously worked or volunteered serving the local community. She made an impact wherever she went and on whoever she met.

Renes could proudly recall when members of Chambers and staff got married, when they had children and their children’s names. She knew our highs and our lows. This mattered to her. Like everyone she met, she cared deeply about us. We mattered to her and she mattered to us. She celebrated our highs and offered wisdom, compassion, and the shoulder of her friendship during our lows.

We were blessed to be part of the remarkable life of Renes. A life lived fully. A life of adventure and of fun. A life of service, of bringing joy and comfort to others. Her selfless generosity, and her unwavering kindness, compassion and warmth will be sorely missed.

But today we can be grateful… Grateful for the privilege of being able to call Renes our very dear and much-loved friend.

Adam C. Willoughby

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