Mel Starrs (@Melstarrs) tragically collapsed and died at the weekend.
I heard the news via a telephone call from Martin Brown this morning, and it was soon confirmed by an email from mutual friend Claire Walker – we had all worked with Mel at an event just two weeks ago.
Mel was an associate director in the environmental consultancy team at PRP Architects. An environmental accreditation system expert, she was a licensed BREEAM and LEED assessor and pioneer of BREEAM AP.
Her professional interests also extended widely online. She started her Elemental blog in 2006, and has been writing and speaking about sustainability issues ever since. When Martin and I co-founded Be2camp in 2008, combining our interests in social media, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and sustainability, Mel (then at Inbuilt, and commuting weekly from her adopted home town of Leeds) was one of the very first people to join, and she came along to the first Be2camp conference at the Building Centre that October.
Mel was from Northern Ireland (like my wife’s family), and I delighted in her gentle accent and talk of Tayto Crisps and other aspects of life across the Irish Sea. I learned Mel had worked, like me, at Halcrow, and we soon became firm friends, talking, tweeting and blogging to and about each other. But it wasn’t just an online thing. Mel, who eventually settled near Mornington Crescent in north London with her partner Mark, could be tempted by a pie and a pint at the Bree Louise pub near Euston station, and came to various London tweet-ups as well as further Be2camp events.
We last met in Leeds, when she travelled up her do a keynote address on corporate social responsibility at Leeds Metropolitan University on 5 July (she later blogged about it). We bantered about train problems, phone technology, indie music, changes to the Leeds restaurant scene and Mark’s Leeds United addiction, and she and I finished the day off with a quick pint of real ale at the Brewery Tap.
I – and many others in Be2camp and across the industry – will miss her a lot, and I extend my deepest sympathies to Mark and to the rest of her family. Mark has written a heart-felt blog post, which talks of the funeral, gives a link to Cancer Research for donations (no flowers), and mentions a picnic in Regents Park on 28 July.