Au Revoir French Fred
At the start of this week, whilst in Utrecht preparing for our recent mind map conference, I was extremely saddened to receive the news that my good friend, and a friend to many people in the mind mapping community, Frederic Veve, had lost his battle with cancer and sadly passed away. "French Fred" was a great man, and I wanted to pay just the smallest tribute to him here.
The timing of this news was particularly difficult, because Fred had been such a key person in the creation of our previous event in Paris, where he acted as host for a wonderful afternoon that he helped to design, alongside a great team of local mind mappers who are equally saddened to hear of this loss. To be preparing for the follow-up event having lost Fred so recently was very strange and difficult, but Fred was a huge believer in real events, and their important role in helping to unite and connect people on a deeper level, and their ability to stimulate change, innovation, and fun. I can only hope that Fred would look upon our event in Utrecht, and be proud of what we did.
As an event organiser with us in Paris, Fred was positive about everything, and determined to help me every step of the way, never asking for anything in return. He really believed in helping young entrepreneurs, and the importance of supporting ideas that interest you, regardless of whether they are financially lucrative or not. He would tell me that if you are passionate and enjoy your work, then money will always come, so there is no need to rush - just enjoy working with interesting people, and have fun.
As a host for our event, Fred showed all the great humour and effortless charm that made him such an instantly popular figure with everyone who met him. The response I have had since sharing this news with people via email has been huge, and is a small tribute to how many people Fred influenced with his amazing personality.
As a human being, Fred was simply wonderful. We first met for a 'quick coffee' in May 2012, and spent hours together chatting about everything from mind mapping, to rugby, national stereotypes, California (where Fred spent time as a student), and anything else that we liked. We formed an instant friendship, and our 'quick coffee' meetings in Paris became a regular fixture and highlight in my calendar. He was a true French gentleman, and utterly charming. Having previously talked with my girlfriend about champagne during his visit to London, Fred ensured that he had a selection of interesting French wines to give her as a present when we next saw him in Paris! It is a small example of how he was. His mindset was always to give his time, his energy, his expertise, and even his champagne(!) to other people. Fred was a great person to call when I had ideas, and even when we did not speak, I would often ask myself "what would French Fred say?" This is something I will continue to do. It will always help me to see through ego, money, and selfish interests, in the pursuit of things that are interesting, collaborative, and above all, fun.
I have sadly lost a great friend and influence in my life, but more importantly, there are others who have lost a husband, and a father. To Claire and Fred's two daughters, I can only say that we are all deeply sorry for your loss. Although Fred has left us too soon, the impact he left on me and many others is larger and more positive than many people would achieve in 100 years on earth. I have no doubt you are all extremely proud of Frederic, and the life he lived. I feel very lucky to have known him, and I know many others feel the same.
From myself, Larissa, my father Graham, all those from the 'Paris team', and anyone within the mind mapping community who had the pleasure to know him, I would like to say good bye Fred. You will be truly missed.