Raingard Esser remembers Phil Ollerenshaw

I remember Phil as a great colleague with a great sense of humour, as an academic teacher, for whom the care and nurturing of students stood at the heart of his work, and as a dedicated researcher, who took his profound scholarship lightly. I remember very well two scenes capturing these characteristics. The first centres on a presentation that I gave to colleagues about a research project that I was pursuing at the time. It was Phil, who, politely and reassuringly asked what, in a less supportive environment, could have been the intellectual ‘killer question’. The study became a much better book in consequence of his intervention. The second event initiated by Phil also had a profound impact on my future. When I was invited for interview at the University of Groningen, he organized a mock interview with colleagues, which, although making me feel terribly embarrassed, helped me focus my presentation and also took care of such seemingly mundane items as the font size of my Powerpoints. And I never forget that he came round to see whether I was OK after the sudden death of my husband, our colleague Trevor Johnson. He was then Head of Department, and it is such a telling mark of his sense of duty, but also a sign of his warmth and compassion that he paid me this visit. I am very grateful to have known him.

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