Dennis Ramsbottom MW
Became an MW 1972, died 2011
Tribute by John Vaugan Hughes MW, April 2012
I first met Dennis as a student on the MW study course, and then did not see him again until the day that we became colleagues when he joined Pedro Domecq’s agents Luis Gordon and Sons, and after that I got to know him well. From what he told me subsequently, he had had a varied and interesting life.
He was from Norwich, and before WW2 when a teenager he played football as an amateur for Norwich City. When war was declared he joined the RAF and successfully qualified as a bomber pilot, but never saw targets in Germany from 20,000 feet. Instead, he was posted to America as an instructor schooling our pilots. A shortage of available aerodromes meant that much RAF flying instruction took place in the US and Canada. Then in 1943 or 1944 he was posted to India, where he spent the rest of the war, and afterwards stayed on and assisted in the development of the fledgling Indian Air Force. During this time he met his wife and married and in 1949 they came back to austerity Britain, settling in his native Norfolk, where he got a job with Coleman’s of Norwich. Not the Mustard empire, but a wine company based in the town of the same name who were distributors of, among other brands, Franz Reh’s German wines and Luis Caballero sherry.
It was not long before Dennis was promoted and moved to London as the company’s representative in the Home Counties working from their offices in St James’s. This job proved a success, and before long he became Coleman’s National Sales Manager, and it was during this time that he studied for the MW exam, passing in 1972.
I forget his motives for leaving Coleman’s, but at Luis Gordon he became a highly effective sales manager and later sales director. The concept of branded goods proved to be just up his street. He was one of the few salesmen who I felt had a proper understanding of the other related skills that contributed to successful branding.
The sherry industry was declining throughout the eighties and nineties which prompted massive structural changes, and Luis Gordon was one of the casualties. Dennis chose to retire and moved back to Norfolk. After that we used to meet from time to time at the Luis Gordon reunions, but in due course he felt too doddery to make these and we spoke on the phone two or three times a year. He had been increasingly unwell for around 20 years from the time he was given infected blood after an ear operation, and towards the end was a courageous yet physically fairly battered man who did well to carry on as long as he did.