A tribute to Debbie Hockham

21 February 2024 by
Memcom, Rachel Appleton

We bring you the sad news of the passing of Debbie Hockham, Memcom’s Co-Director, who died from cancer this weekend. Debbie’s Co-Director Julian Smith has written the following as a tribute.

When you go into business with someone, you don’t expect to have to write their obituary – and this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Debbie and I have known each other since we both worked together in a recruitment agency more than 20 years ago. We both started around the same time and we both stayed 10 years, and left strong in the belief that we had complementary skill sets which could be put to good use if we went into business together.

We have had such a journey together over the last decade and a little bit more, but the one thing I’ll always remember about Debbie is the twinkle in her eyes and the ability to see the humour in most situations. We worked well as a team; when one of us would have a little wobble, the other one would pull them upwards. Only twice in 12 years did we both have the wobbles at the same time – and the last time was when covid hit, threatening to destroy all we had worked so hard to achieve.

In twelve years, we only had three arguments (although I’m sure that there could have been more if Debbie didn’t let me get my way when I had the occasional rant). Two wobbles, three arguments, a misunderstanding, and a few moans – not a bad outcome for almost 13 years of partnership. And much better, perhaps, than most marriages! So yes, we were right; we had something special together, and we worked hard to make it work.

One of Debbie’s secrets was that she maintained a really good work-life balance, keeping in regular touch with her many friends and family whom she adored, and although she was incredibly open and transparent, she was a listener rather than a talker, and a great shoulder to cry on.

There were many sides to her that perhaps not many people who met her professionally would have realised. Those who did know her well saw both her dedication and unwavering commitment to Memcom and the membership sector, and her penchant for improving things – but how many would have known the cheekier side, the “it’s never too early for a glass of champagne!” side of someone who constantly presented as a professional?

Cheese. Wine. Champagne. Yachts. Rhubarb vodka. Vinho verde in the wine bar behind the office. Pizza. Veganuary. Shoes off at the end of the day of the conference. A day trip to Paris. Murder in the Dark. Laughter, lots of laughter. Giggling like school children on our first day in the office. Buying cocktails to celebrate when we sold our first event ticket. I have so many, many good memories of Debbie and our times together – but I know that many of you will also have your own.

We will all remember Debbie in our own way, but when I think about Debbie’s legacy, it transcends the events that she’s organised and the brand that she’s helped build. Rather than telling you something concrete or mentioning something specific, I can only tell you of the gaping hole she leaves behind. Not just at Memcom, but with all of the team, and especially in my life. My heart aches as I write this, but I do want the world to know how much we will miss Debbie, her laugh, her energy, her positivity, and her vibrancy.

If you can be anything in this world, be kind. And if you’re as kind as Debbie Hockham, you’re a very, very special person. And to Debbie, I’m glad you’re no longer in pain, and thankful for your friendship and support all these years. Keep shining and brightening the lives of those who knew you. And I hope they serve champagne on your next journey…xx

Memcom, Rachel Appleton 21 February 2024
Share this post