They say it’s there in your genes. Never more so than in the case of Nick Lamborn, one of the most charismatic of Billericay Mayflower Rotarians, who died tragically at the age of 67 on June 14 and robbed us all of so much talent and zeal.
The path was mapped out for him in two contrasting ways. The rare hereditary kidney disease that was to claim the life of Nick’s father in 1981 imposed a sentence to be played out 37 years later. But there was another trait that was to shape the priorities of our Nick in so many ways. It came from his Mum.
Back in 1995 a lovely lady, Jessie Lamborn was named by this club as its first Citizen of the Year, an award created to recognise Billericay’s unsung hero who worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the benefit of others in many different ways. Recognise the connection?
Her son Nicholas came with her to keep her company on the night that District Governor Frank Collins arrived at Rose Hall to present the club’s first rose bowl trophy to Jessie. Nick knew nothing about Rotary, but he was soon to find out. It was to light a spark within him that saw him become a Mayflower man within months and ignite a career in the movement that would bring him a sense of purpose and the respect of those he encountered along the way. Yet the thread remained. Put to one side for a moment his roller-coaster success as a businessman and admire the two driving forces in the Nick we knew… his love for his family and his admiration for the aims and purpose of the Rotary movement.
That twin driving force can be linked typically in one word. Thriftwood. His grandson Callum faced an uncertain future when he would leave the school that had catered for his particular needs. The necessity for a special college to set a path to a realistic adulthood was being highlighted, but it could only come about if an available building could be equipped: money was needed for that. The rest, as they say, is history. Nick provided the driving force, the inspiration that was to motivate Rotarians here and thousands of miles away in South America and unlock the coffers of Rotary HQ.
Thanks to the incredible headteacher Sally Davies and the Lamborn tenacity the college was created and is now in its fourth successful year of operation.
As a result, in March 2015 Nick, already a Paul Harris fellow, was invited to a ceremony at the House of Lords for a presentation of RIBI’s most prestigious award as a Champion of Change.
Back at the Mayflower club that admired him and teased him with the ability to sell snowballs to Eskimos, he could present a project that no one would dare to refuse. Pacing the room, giving his red braces a tweak, tugging his trousers to where a waistline should be, he would launch an incontestable argument. He always won, of course.
It was not just in Rotary that Nick shared a common interest. He was a member of Chelmsford Cavaliers with others in the business community, but it was as a freemason that he earned the particular respect of his fellows when he joined St Michael’s Lodge No 6683 in 2008.
But quietly, behind the scenes at home, the cornerstone of Nick’s otherwise challenging life and lifestyle was always there.
Young Alison was a mere sweet 16 the day her cousin took her to a sports day and she met up with young charmer Nick. Romance blossomed, and married life began at Redbridge in 1974. Daughters Jenny, Victoria, Claire, and son Nicholas were to arrive followed by grandson Callum and granddaughter Abbie Rose.
Nick had been a successful student, having attended a school near his Ilford family home to win a scholarship to The Forest public school.
He began a lifelong career in the insurance world, but in later years took full advantage of business opportunities that spun from this.
A transfer to Hertfordshire followed his first foray in business with a home at Enfield and then a three-year move to Aberdeen. That ended while Nick was seconded abroad, and Alison was suddenly faced with finding a family home back in Essex. She succeeded, found a house at Ingatestone, and she had already moved in with her young family when Nick returned to see his new base for the first time. He approved.
Then 18 years ago they moved to their home at Willow Green. There, right now, Abbie Rose has moved in to keep Alison company and has insisted that only a Teddy can occupy granddad’s chair with the latest newspaper.
Outside, Nick was no gardener, but inside at the chef’s table that was a different matter. He loved cooking, although not all of his experimental menus brought unanimous family approval. Traditional Christmas dinner was different. While every year Alison went off on Christmas morning duty as a health care assistant at Billericay, Chef Nick turned the food he had been out to buy the previous day into a dinner fit for the family he loved.
Nick, who had fought for years against the curse of renal failure including regular dialysis, had received a “new” kidney after a race through the miles to Addenbrookes at Cambridge some years ago for a transplant. But it was at Broomfield in early June this year where he was placed into an induced coma in a vain attempt to fight the serious complications that had arisen.
Friends would sometimes chide him for testing the fragility of his health but would then concede that “Nick was Nick and you won’t alter him”.
In many ways we didn’t want to. They broke the mould when they made Nick Lamborn. There was just no one quite like him.
Original Text by Peter Owen and published in the June edition of the club newsletter “Mayflower News”