A tribute to our colleague and friend, Rosemary Bayman

All of us at Incite were deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of our much-loved colleague, Rosemary Bayman.

Over the course of the last few weeks, many of us at Incite have been swapping our stories and experiences of Rosemary as we struggle to get our heads around the idea of life without our friend. The common picture that emerges is of someone who made her fellow colleagues immensely proud to work alongside her. Rosemary possessed a sharp and brilliant mind that inspired, challenged and motivated colleagues, balanced with a big, beautiful heart that always left room for care and compassion.

Rosemary joined Incite in 2012, having already established a reputation as a true rising star within the industry. Blessed with a fierce intellect, insatiable curiosity and a talent for impact, Rosemary was a natural born consultant and researcher. Never one to rest on her laurels, she complemented these in-built attributes with a tireless work ethic and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for self-improvement. Her impact at Incite was undeniable, with clients and colleagues alike queueing up to work with her. If you were lucky enough to work alongside her, you couldn’t fail to notice a deep and genuine care for her colleagues. Though one suspects she would’ve dismissed ‘team player’ as vacuous CV fodder, that’s exactly what she was; whether you were a rookie finding your feet or a battle-hardened veteran, Rosemary had your back.

Rosemary excelled when it came to the serious business of work but it is inevitably the moments of levity that will linger most in the memory. In short, Rosemary was a riotous laugh. Whip smart and possessed of a quintessentially British dry wit, her mastery of the withering zinger was truly a joy to behold (provided of course that you weren’t on the receiving end!). Whether it be bemoaning colleagues’ erroneous use of the apostrophe, surreptitiously swapping notes on trashy reality TV or being kept up to date with the mixed fortunes of her Fantasy Football team (‘Baymanators’, for those of you wondering), laughter was a gift from Rosemary that all enjoyed.

Over the last five years, Rosemary fought a long and increasingly difficult battle with ME / CFS. Commonly known as ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) but also regularly referred to as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), it’s a chronic, life changing, multi-system illness affecting the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems.

Badly underfunded and frequently misunderstood, it continues to be afforded marginalised status despite both its prevalence and profound impact on sufferers. In lieu of mainstream dialogue around the condition, it often falls to sufferers and their loved ones to push for more widespread recognition, both within the medical community and wider society. Once diagnosed, Rosemary quickly set about doing just that. A hugely talented writer, Rosemary’s regular blog posts – eloquent, witty, searingly honest – formed an incisive and insightful body of work, providing a vital window into this devastating illness and the profound impact on those who suffer from it.

It’s often said that ME/CFS sufferers ‘disappear’; that over time, the isolating nature of their illness means that they slide out of the hearts and minds of their peers. For us, Rosemary never disappeared. When the severity of her illness became such that she was no longer able to work, she remained a vital and much missed part of the Incite family; anything else would’ve been an impossibility, given the profound impact that she had on both the business and so many who work within it.

Nor will she disappear in the future. Though her loss is an incalculable one, she leaves behind a powerful and enduring legacy. Her dedication to forcing ME/CFS into the public consciousness was hugely inspiring; doggedly relentless and characterised by a determination to improve the fortunes of all of who suffer at its hands. It’s a baton that all of us who knew her will willingly receive and take forward.

More importantly there are lessons that we can take from the way in which she chose to lock horns with her condition. Despite the unfathomable toll that ME/CFS took on her life, she never succumbed to bitterness. When the physical and mental impact became severe, she made a conscious choice to focus on the positive fragments of life she could still enjoy. Finding beauty in the darkest of places, counting our blessings in the face of rank injustice – hers was a message that consistently and relentlessly focussed on that most precious of commodities; hope.

So, here’s to Rosemary; a colleague, a mentor, an inspiration and – most importantly – a friend. We will miss her terribly but honour her by making the most of life’s possibilities.

The Open Medicine Foundation is a charity that seeks to improve health care for patients suffering from ME/CFS. To learn more about ME/CFS please find them here.

Rosemary has a JustGiving page to support The Open Medicine Foundation. If you would like to support them, please see here.