‘She’s given me the will to succeed’ - tributes continue to pour in for business mentor who died after cancer fight

Mary-Jane Kingsland with her husband Adrian Kingsland, pictured in 2014. Photo: EDP

Mary-Jane Kingsland with her husband Adrian Kingsland, pictured in 2014. Photo: EDP - Credit: Archant

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a sparkling business mentor, wife and mother who has died aged 56 after a short and sudden fight with cancer.

Yet more messages of admiration and grief on the loss of Mary Jane Kingsland have been sent in by readers to the EDP and Evening News. Mrs Kingsland was a business mentor, chair of the Norwich Business Women's Network, mother and wife who died aged 56 on Saturday April 11 after a sudden fight with cancer.

Andi Blackmore, director of Inspire Interactive:

I wanted to express my deep sadness at hearing about the death of Mary-Jane last week. I've been a member of the Norwich Business Women's Network for many years now and we have lost our leader and shining light. She was such a happy, bubbly and professional lady and defined the enthusiasm of the NBWN. It will be a very sad day when the NBWN meet again on 13 May and I'm sure all of us will try our best to continue in the positive and inspiration way in which she led us.

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My heartfelt condolences go to her family and close friends.

Many thanks,

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Kate Herren:

I first met Mary-Jane (M-J) almost ten years ago - she was taking part in a charity fashion show for The Big C and her beaming smile lit up the catwalk as she raised thousands of pounds to help others. Helping others was certainly a theme that was so prominent throughout her life. As a 20-something new business owner I needed plenty of guidance to help me navigate the world of business and Mary-Jane was always beyond generous with her sage advice and words of encouragement. I was privileged when she invited me to become the youngest committee member of the esteemed Norwich Business Womens Network and took every opportunity I could to absorb her knowledge and improve myself. We shared a passion for womens rights and I was lucky enough to appear on the radio with her, when she always spoke so eloquently about the challenges of shattering the glass ceiling in the workplace and encouraging more women into business.

Always thinking of others, she gave so much of her time to voluntary efforts, not least as long-standing chair of the Norwich Business Womens Network - since 1991 the network has donated over £60,000 to local charities.

The last time we met, she was brimming with enthusiasm about the challenges ahead as she embarked upon her PhD and told me how privileged she felt to have secured such an opportunity against hundreds of applicants.Those senior academics saw the same qualities in M-J that we all did - she was smart, savvy and her zest for life infected everyone around her. I feel hugely privileged to be able to call her my mentor and my friend - she leaves a huge void in our lives and the wider business community.

Kindest regards

Kate Herren

Sally and Adrian Murphy:

My husband and I were very saddened to hear of Mary-Jane's passing.

Although we'd only met her socially relatively few times, we considered her & Adrian friends.

We have lovely fond memories of laughs together. I knew that she was a very intelligent lady who had many strings to her bow.

She was beautiful inside and out. She spoke so fondly of her daughter Rebecca.

Our sympathies are sent to all her family & friends.

She will be sorely missed.

Sally and Adrian Murphy

Jenni Sutton, Holden Group

I am very lucky to have known Mary-Jane, she is a totally inspirational woman. Mary-Jane always had a friendly smile, we would often chat and have a giggle at networking events. This beautiful lady will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with Adrian and Rebecca and I would like to take this opportunity to offer my support to them both.

Jenni Sutton

Jayne Raffles, Raffles Restaurants:

It was totally shocking news when as a member of the NWBN I was informed that Mary Jane had passed away. Mary Jane was a natural leader always calm, firm but also welcoming to any new members of our group, I think I can speak for all that knew Mary Jane she was an inspiration to working women, always glamorous and 100% professional, it was a pleasure to know her.

Best wishes

Jayne Raffles

Lucy Marks, Norfolk Network:

I am deeply saddened to hear the news today of Mary-Jane's sudden death. Mary-Jane was a member and great ambassador of Norfolk Network some years ago. This was at the time of her moving to Norwich and I remember her excitement of starting up Green Light. She was a vibrant, intelligent and empathetic women who really cared about developing others. She spent a lot of time informally mentoring me and sharing her wisdom at a time when I needed to step up and the lead the network. We got to know Adrian her husband too when he occasionally attended our events with Mary-Jane and her brother-in-law Alistair, was an active member and ambassador of the network too. I will remember her very fondly and my thoughts go to all the family at this very, very sad time.

Best regards,

Lucy Marks

Mary-Jane Kingsland set up her own mentoring company, Green Light, to work with clients in East Anglia and London, and was twice elected chairman of the Norwich Business Women's Network (NBWN),

NBWN members said in a statement: 'The time and energy that Mary-Jane committed to the network was admirable and above and beyond expectation. She had a natural talent for bringing out the best in people, and will be sadly missed by all.'

Book clubs, friends and a glass of wine were as important to Mrs Kingsland as the business PhD for which she won a scholarship to complete at Manchester Metropolitan University, said her husband and daughter.

Her daughter Rebecca Kingsland said she felt very lucky her mother had also been her best friend.

'She's given me the will to succeed, but also the knowledge that success comes in many forms,' said Ms Kingsland. 'That to love and look out for people is a key thing in life, which is what Dad and I are doing for each other now.'

Mrs Kingsland became a matrimonial solicitor in Oxfordshire, but then moved into coaching, said her husband, Adrian.

'Self-improvement and helping others was so big for her. Even at 56 she was looking ahead to what she'd do next,' he said. 'And when she was diagnosed, there was not a single tear, not a thought for herself. She was just worried about friends and family and that they would be all right.'

After leaving her role in Oxfordshire, the family moved to Norwich and later to Whinburgh, near Dereham, during which time Mrs Kingsland became a professional business coach.

With a masters in business coaching from Oxford Brookes, mid-way through a PhD in the same area, and a member of the Association of Coaching, this was a woman many in the business community greatly admired, said one peer.

'She was able to bridge many groups. I feel for the Norwich Business Women's Network: they've lost a wonderful leader,' said Martin Lake, chairman of the mid-Norfolk branch of the Federation of Small Business.

Nigel Pickover, editor of the Eastern Daily Press, for whom Mrs Kingsland wrote a business column, said there were very many superlatives when describing her.

'She was a beacon in whichever meeting she was in and was a lynchpin for the Norwich Business Women's Network,' said Mr Pickover.

'I know she will be missed by so many in professional circles but particularly by her loving family, who she talked fondly of whenever I met her.'

Having visited her GP for deep vein thrombosis, Mrs Kingsland received a diagnosis of secondary stage cancer. She passed away within 14 days, on Saturday, April 11.

•Would you like to pay tribute to Mrs Kingsland? Email jessica.staufenberg@archant.co.uk

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