In memory of Wayne Ashmead de Man

Wayne died last year. I didn’t know at the time. For various reasons, we’d lost touch some six years or so before his death and his family wouldn’t have known how to contact me.

I was shocked although perhaps not entirely surprised when I heard the news. But I would never have predicted the circumstances in the early days of our friendship and relationship. When I first met Wayne he was affable and happy-go-lucky. I was fairly stressed in my work and life, so I enjoyed his more relaxed attitude, and it wasn’t all that long before we got together as a couple.

Wayne wasn’t ambitious, and thoroughly enjoyed life despite a relatively low income and few possessions. He was a gentle soul, so it was a bit of a surprise when he decided to apply for a job as a prison officer. But the role revealed aspects of his character that I, at least, hadn’t anticipated.

Wayne was always gregarious, so it was predictable that he would get on well with both officers and prisoners. But he also turned out to be surprisingly unfazed by what some might have experienced as an extremely intimidating environment. He won awards for his mastery of control techniques, but preferred to talk people down from a potentially explosive situation, rather than resort to physical restraint. And he threw himself into the challenge of encouraging prisoners to turn their lives around on release, supporting them by simply being interested in their lives, taking the time to chat on a ‘man-to-man’ basis, and establishing a literacy programme on his wing. On several occasions we bumped into ex-prisoners Wayne had worked with, and their affection and respect for him was clear.

But being ambushed at gunpoint whilst taking a prisoner to hospital, on what was supposed to be a routine assignment, had a profound and devastating impact. Wayne developed post-traumatic stress disorder and never regained his prior bonhomie and joie de vivre.

It’s something of a cliché to observe that bad things happen to good people. Nonetheless, Wayne was a thoughtful, generous and creative man, and deserved better from life. He is remembered by family and friends with affection, and with sadness that things didn’t go differently for him.

Wayne Ashmead de Man
Photographer: Sue Phillips

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Sue Written by:

I'm a finance professional who's interested in whether we're accounting for the right things in the right ways.

One Comment

  1. Anthony King
    March 31, 2020
    Reply

    That’s a beautiful tribute to just a part of the life of such a wonderful soul. It makes me so proud to have been his cousin, to see all these fantastic and noble things he did just in this period – things I didn’t realise I wouldn’t have a chance to learn about from him in person, due to the tragic circumstance.

    The time I spend with Wayne was largely before the period Sue describes. Being a few years younger, I knew him from childhood. In that time, I would invariably find his presence a complete joy; I felt so happy when I was with him, on family and personal visits and Wayne, for me, was one person in the world who I could talk with about anything, and feel so comfortable.

    Before I even had any idea that he was unwell, I had relished the prospect of finding good periods of time we would be able to spend in each other’s company, I really expected that we would have this time, and had no idea of the prospect of not having that time… so I was devastated and shocked to learn of his passing – and the nature of it, having no clue as to his state of final deterioration.

    I remember Wayne vividly, as a vivacious, confident, good-humoured individual and one I would not want to do without in my life.

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