In 2014/15 I was paired with Andy in the university Mentoring Connections programme. I'd just moved into Colin Semple's research group as a core bioinformatician after my first postdoc, and was trying to figure out a career pathway.
For a year, Andy met with me monthly to talk research, careers, training, work/life balance, etc. We always went to the Aroma coffee bar at the Victoria building and sat at the same table. In my memory it's always sunny and one or the other of us is squinting against the light. Andy would roll up his sleeves - I don't think I ever saw him with his cuffs actually all the way down - lean back in his chair, and focus on what I was saying.
He had a real talent for picking out the important thing out of the mess of words that I would brain dump, and would reflect that back to me. I always came away from our conversations feeling energized and optimistic. I was inspired by Andy to re-join the mentoring programme in 2018 as a mentor myself, and tried hard to follow his model with my mentee partner.
Towards the end of April this year I gave a talk to the HGU about a data science training programme I'm leading, and was pleasantly surprised a day or two later to get an email from Andy:
"I’m afraid I missed your talk, but your slides look great. I hope you got a good turnout?
There is plenty of scope for this across the college – well done."
I'm so glad I wrote back right away to thank him, and to tell him how much the mentoring had meant to me. I didn't hear back again, but I hope he did read my reply.
Just in case he didn't get the chance, thank you again Andy. I will miss you.