Tributes to ADASS president following sudden death

Harold Bodmer collapsed at council meeting just three months into presidency of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

Harold Bodmer
Harold Bodmer

Tributes have been paid to Harold Bodmer, after the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president died suddenly yesterday.

Bodmer collapsed during a meeting of the health and social care executive of Norfolk council, where he was the executive director for adult social care, and despite help being provided at the scene he could not be revived.

The news comes just three months into Bodmer’s year as president of ADASS.

Kindness and generosity

Norfolk’s managing director, Wendy Thomson, and leader, Cliff Jordan, said: “Harold will be deeply missed, remembered for his kindness, generosity, and commitment to Norfolk and social services more widely. “Widely thought of as ‘such a nice man’ at the same time respected  for his quiet determination, Harold’s motivation and achievements were powered by his deep commitment to social justice and human compassion.”

ADASS vice-president Margaret Wilcox and immediate past president Ray James added: “Many people today have used the words “such a lovely, honourable man” capturing how, in addition to his professionalism and expertise, his values, integrity, compassion, humility and warmth meant Harold was not only deeply respected but also held in great affection by so many people.”

Career shaped by apartheid

Bodmer was born in what was Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and studied social work in South Africa. Reflecting on his time in apartheid South Africa in his presidential speech to April’s ADASS spring seminar, he said: “From a position of privilege I saw at first hand the powerlessness and desperation of people who had, no safety net, no employment, no running water, desperately inadequate healthcare.”

He said this had stayed with him through his subsequent career. After that, he moved to England and began a career in social services, first in London, then Cambridgeshire and finally, in Norfolk, joining as assistant director in 2003. He became director in 2006.

ADASS presidency

He was vice-president of ADASS in 2015-16, taking up the presidency this year. In his presidential speech, he said a particular priority was the sustainability of the home care sector, which he said “keeps me awake at night”.

“We need to up the level of debate about this, increase the volume, share best practice , run innovation masterclasses, whatever we need to do. We will never bring any meaning to integration while the bulk of home care is still based on time and task and on the whole unconnected to the mainstream NHS provider services.”

He also highlighted the importance of social work to social care and in helping people “living in complex situations to realise full lives, to fully understand interventions that are available in often controversial circumstances”.

‘Heartfelt condolences’

Thomson and Jordon added: “We know that we speak on behalf of everyone from across the health and social care services in Norfolk, when we express our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy to Harold’s wife Julie, daughter Holly, and sons Joel and Sam. A lovely and loving family who had hoped to spend more time together as Harold looked forward to enjoying his presidential year with ADASS and took more time for himself.”

Sector tributes

Tributes to Bodmer have also been paid by many sector leaders.

Skills for Care chief executive Sharon Allen said: “He was a thoroughly decent man who always looked to find the positives in any situation no matter how challenging it was, and that was recognised by his peers when he was elected as the president of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Those of us who had the privilege to work with Harold will miss his sincerity and genuine commitment to our collaborative work.”

Alongside his ADASS role Bodmer was chair of Think Local Act Personal, the sector coalition charged with embedding the personalisation agenday in practice. Its director, Lynda Tarpey, said: “Harold Bodmer’s  untimely death comes as a terrible shock to all of us who knew and worked with him. He was a caring, gentle person and in the brief time that he chaired the Think Local Act Personal board he impressed us all with his genuine humanity and concern that the needs of people in receipt of care and support should be foremost in our thinking.”

“He was an honourable and decent man who cared deeply about people, especially those in need of support,” said Care Quality Commission chief inspector of adult social care Andrea Sutcliffe. “In his too short months as ADASS President he had gained a reputation for straight-talking about the challenges facing social care and social work and only last week was highlighting the financial pressures affecting the sector.”

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Meetings at Norfolk county hall have been cancelled today as a sign of respect.

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2 Responses to Tributes to ADASS president following sudden death

  1. Greg Hewitson July 21, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

    So sad to learn of Harold’s untimely death whilst actively engaged in his professional responsibilities. I recall his positive support to the Eastern Region’s Heads of Performance who regularly met discuss and influence the appropriate recording and reporting of performance and his encouragement to us all to listen and learn from each other. Rest in Peace Harold.
    Greg Hewitson (Retired Social Worker)

  2. Neelam Bhardwaja July 27, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    Devastated to learn of Harold’s passing. We worked together in Cambridgeshire for a number of years and then followed each other’s careers with great interest. Harold was always warm, gentle, wise and unassuming. Last time I met Harold, we shared a great deal of sense of loss of two of our former divisional directors in Cambs having passed away within a few months of each other. I will miss Harold’s warm smile and gentle words.