Tributes after death of Clitheroe businesswoman

PEOPLE PERSON: Gaynor Ruddock with husband Dermod. (s)
PEOPLE PERSON: Gaynor Ruddock with husband Dermod. (s)

“Successful and driven, with great business acumen - a natural people person” was the way Clitheroe husband and Moorland School deputy headteacher Dermod Ruddock described his wife Gaynor, who succumbed to her two-year battle with liver cancer last week.

Gaynor, a co-founder of successful Blackburn-based estate agency Holden & Kelly, was born in Shrewsbury in 1950.

One of three sisters, she moved to Standish in Lancashire in 1970 and subsequently to Leyland in the late 1970s. Son James was born in 1978 and Gaynors first foray into her property career included stints working for agents Nationwide and Whiteheads.

After forming Holden & Kelly in 1990 with colleague Chris Kelly, Gaynor, then known as Holden, moved the company to its familiar Preston New Road premises in Blackburn in 1992 and the business went from strength to strength. She took over complete ownership in 2001, and Holden & Kelly quickly became the largest letting agency in the area with over 250 properties on its books.

After selling the company to Countrywide in February 2011, Gaynor planned on a quiet retirement, but remained involved in the business she had nurtured.

Her husband Dermod said: “She didn’t let go of it completely and many of the landlords that she had dealt with over the years preferred to do business with her as they knew they always received the best old-fashioned customer care and service. She knew everyone by name and always did her very best for her clients.”

The couple, of Princess Avenue, Clitheroe, had been married for four years when Gaynor became ill in November 2011. Diagnosed with liver cancer, it quickly became apparent that the disease had already spread, but Gaynor underwent both radiotherapy and chemotherapy with typical determination.

Dermod continued: “We had a good first year after diagnosis and Gaynor was frank and open about her illness and completely pragmatic even when the disease spread to her spine 6 months ago. She was so courageous and decided after another bout of chemotherapy in January that she didn’t want any more treatment, preferring instead to enjoy the time she had left.

“We travelled extensively throughout our time together and even when she was ill, we managed a cruise which took in all the major western Mediterranean cities and involved lots of exploring and sightseeing. She coped with the illness amazingly well.”

Long-time friend Dorothy Tierney who worked with Gaynor at Holden & Kelly described her approach to work and life in general: “She was super-efficient and organised and also a very glamorous and well-groomed lady.

“She always looked immaculate and loved clothes and fashion. She was such great fun and even when she was ill, she made time for her friends, making light of her condition so it wouldn’t be awkward to talk about it. She loved her friends and family dearly.”

A service of thanksgiving will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 19th at St Mary’s Church, Clitheroe and at Gaynor’s request, mourners are invited to wear an item of pink clothing. The committal will take place beforehand at Skipton Crematorium at 1 p.m.

Donations in memory of Gaynor can be made to her chosen charities; the North West Air Ambulance Fund, Macmillan Cancer Care or Cancer Research UK c/o Mrs Dorothy Tierney, 43 Waddow View, Waddington, Clitheroe, BB7 3HJ.