A little tribute to Mr Phil Jewitt who retires from local government on Friday
by Darren Caveney
Leeds was my Uni town and so it will always hold a lot of fond memories for me. And I’ve tried to get back there with work as many times as I could in the 25 years since I left there with a graduation hangover.
It will have been on one of these trips that I became aware of the work of Phil Jewitt.
He’s leaving local government after 34 years with Leeds City Council.
“Less for murder”, he would joke.
I thought it would be fitting to pull together a little ‘Did you know?’ list to mark this milestone. So here goes…
My Top 10 facts about Phil Jewitt
Phil didn’t take the conventional route into comms. He wasn’t a journalist, like many, or a PR graduate, like people including me. As a young man he was actually a surveyor in Syria looking for oil in the desert. He explains the journey here.
Phil is one of those people who would have been good at whatever he did. He works hard, does his research, talks to people, he speaks the truth, he’s nice, he listens, and he’s full of ideas. That’s pretty much the perfect person specification for a comms person.
In 2016, Phil won the prestigious ‘Lifetime Achievement’ UnAward. He remains the only man to ever scoop the accolade. It’s decided by public vote. That tells you everything you need to know about Phil. He dedicated his win as ‘One for the quiet people’.
I would describe Phil as the comms person’s comms person. He just got on with the job and never sought the limelight. But that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have an impact or built a profile.
Phil coined the phrase ‘life leak’ and was an early advocate for trying to look after mental health and wellbeing in our industry.
Phil is a talented photographer. Check out his pics on Instagram and on his official snaps site. Although it does have to be said one of his best shots ever was ‘accidentally taken’ during a photography workshop he led at Comms Unplugged 2018 😊
We’ve since become buddies and I have benefitted from his wise counsel when I was having a bit of a shitty time with an issue. A pint of Leeds Pale Ale and a chinwag can help sort many a problem.
Phil has an aptitude for attracting feline friends. You’ll find Phil within the #NotMyCat hashtag on social media and you’ll see what I mean.
Phil is a natural leader. The quiet, smart, thoughtful type. The type who others will navigate to to seek advice. He’s begun doing some mentoring and he’ll be so good at that. And his leadership extends beyond work, so when he started playing golf of course he would become the captain of the club.
I, together with Emma Rodgers and Kate Bentham, had the great pleasure of being invited to Leeds to celebrate Phil’s 50th birthday a few years back. It featured a lovely film (The Station Agent) at Cottage Road Cinema and then a meal with friends and family. We met his wife Fran, his boys, and his lovely Mom and Dad. What a perfect day.
Thanks for everything you’ve done for local government. Thanks for the support you’ve given to me and comms2point0. And tonnes of good luck for the next chapter.
Don’t be a stranger
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of Creative Communicators Ltd
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Pic via Phil