Ministers come and go, and to be honest I can’t even remember the names of most of the Ministers I’ve had dealings with at various points in my career across the NHS, the civil service and the voluntary sector.
The ones you remember are the ones that have a core of integrity that outweighs any party politics, and having connected with James all too briefly in his time at MHCLG it was evident that he really did have that integrity and commitment to the ‘community’ bit of his brief. I was so disappointed that he was moved on from that role before he had the chance to make his mark.
But my particular memory is of meeting James months later at the launch of the National Emergencies Trust. We were packed like sardines into the crypt of St Martin in the Fields waiting for the arrival of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, and I had no expectation whatsoever that he would remember me; but he did, and we had a lovely, warm, chatty conversation about the issues we both cared about. And whilst it was a pleasure to meet Will and Kate - I’ve always felt it was that conversation with James that was the highlight of the day for me.
I was so sad to hear the news of his illness; and even more so to hear of his passing. We need more men like him in our public life.