“A guiding light has gone out” – tributes paid to Prof Jane Turner

Tributes to Professor Jane Turner OBE DL have poured in following her passing on Sunday, with those paying tribute including all three winners of the Tees Businesswoman of the Year accolade and directors of Jane’s Power of Women campaign.

Jane, who passed away on Sunday, aged 54, was pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement at Teesside University, where she was also gender champion.

Her peers recently voted her the region’s Most Inspiring Business Leaders in the annual Tees Business poll – making her the first female to top the poll – while she had recently launched the Power of Women campaign to raise the aspirations and ambitions of girls and young women, initially focused on the Tees region but set to target the north and the rest of the country.

Jane Armitage, Tees Businesswoman of the Year 2020-21; consultant, Jacksons Law Firm

It is impossible to find words that do justice to the amazing individual that was Jane Turner. She was driven and incredibly determined to fight for Tees Valley for the people within it and particularly the young women of this region.

However great her own personal fight became, she never gave up fighting for Tees Valley and everything she believed in. She was passionate, hard-working, highly intelligent and had a great sense of humour and fun but, most of all, she was compassionate, caring and inclusive.

She has taught so many of us so much and has given us so much and now the best way we can honour her is to continue her campaigns and to take forward her legacy.

Jane was, however, never more passionate than when speaking about her family who she clearly adored and I hope that the tributes that are paid to her and our love and respect for her provide them some comfort at this time.

Sharon Lane, Tees Businesswoman of the Year 2019-20; MD, Tees Components

Jane’s motivation and passion for improving the lives of others in a sustainable, permanent way was irresistible and infectious, so she created a powerful ripple effect around her.

She went for the nitty gritty, she talked action and reality, and she mobilised. She was fierce, warm, kind, professional, and she did it all with style and beauty, in bright colours, in Hobbs coats and Laboutin shoes.

I was in awe of her and I learned so much from her. I made a pledge to her that I would support her goals in my words and actions, and I will continue to do that to the best of my ability wherever I can. In that way we continue her legacy.

Claire Preston, Tees Businesswoman of the Year 2018-19

When my daughter saw me tearful at the news of Jane’s passing and asked why, she knew immediately who we’d lost. “The special lady you told me about, who helped you and lots of others…the one who sent me the Choose to Challenge video?”

Sadly, for so many, ‘Yes’ was the answer. I am only one of a multitude of people whose life was touched profoundly by Jane’s intent and compassion and I told her recently I often thought of her and her courage and leadership when things were a challenge.

Jane was the epitome of inspiration, her example and generosity will stay with me always and her legacy will have a lasting impact on people of the Tees Valley for generations to come.

The women and businesses of Teesside she brought together to build better futures for women and girls will make sure of that. The one-woman triumph who was Prof Jane Turner will never be forgotten.

Sleep well, Jane, and thank you for everything. My heart goes out to all Jane’s family and friends. Sending love and prayers.

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley mayor

Jane was a leading light at Teesside University and a true champion for Teesside, its students, our businesses and our communities.

She was a great a source of advice and support to me in my role as mayor, as I know she was to many others who she mentored.

We have lost one of our brightest stars and her loss will be deeply felt by the region and my thoughts are with her family at this very difficult time.

Rosalind Stuart, Power of Women director; formerly Tees Valley Girls Network

I am so saddened by the loss of Jane Turner. When I am gone, I hope to leave this world marked with the love I have for my family, my friends and the communities I love. I think that’s what we all want really. But I am no under no illusions whatsoever that these will be mere whispers in comparison to the roar that Jane leaves us with.

She loved this region, truly. And this community and her passion for the young girls, young women and women of our region is etched in her deeds and achievements.

The word inspirational gets bandied about rather more than it should and often ends up losing its impact and value. Jane’s life and her legacy are a lesson in what inspiration really looks like, sounds like and feels like – if you believe in something, support it; if you want something to change, get on and do something about it; if you love someone, show them.

Jane loved us. And she wanted us all the be the very best we can be. For her, a major outpouring of this is situated in her campaign to inspire and empower women in our region to break the mould and push forward.

In the end, we are all echoes of the lives we have chosen to live. Be like Jane and make your echo a roar.

Frans Calje, CEO, PD Ports

On Sunday, the Tees Valley lost one of its most inspirational leaders and someone that was admired by many. Jane led from the front and made her presence felt, but always in a measured and non-confrontational way.

She did not judge, nor was she opiniated, but always had a reasoned view on what could be done differently and what could be done best. In her own unique and personal manner, she connected people and brought them together. She was one of Teesside’s best and will be missed by all.

Caroline Theobald CBE, Power of Women director; Co-founder and chair, First

A guiding light has gone out. Jane’s premature death is an enormous loss for the north of England, but that is as of nothing compared to the loss it will be for her husband, her children and her mum. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Those of us who knew and loved Jane owe it to her to continue bringing hope and inspiration to young people, particularly the young girls of the Tees Valley.

Bob Cuffe, non-executive director, Resolution Media and Publishing

Jane and I go back before her role at Teesside University – my eldest was in the same class in Whickham as Harriet, Jane’s daughter. My heart goes out to Jane’s family, who meant absolutely everything to her.

I don’t think anyone has had the extraordinary impact on Teesside that Jane did – she has been a whirlwind, bringing much-needed change here. She has inspired so many in everything she did – in her professional role, in her galvanising of others, especially young women and girls, her mentoring and, of course, in her courage and fortitude.

Her legacy is unique – and I know that the Power of Women and those involved will ensure Jane’s ambitions are delivered for many years to come. Jane made a difference – and Teesside will be forever in her debt.

God bless, Jane.

Chris March, Power of Women director; CEO, Allies Group

Jane Turner reached for the stars. She had an incredible talent for bringing people together to work collectively on important causes and you couldn’t help but get carried along by her constant wave of enthusiasm. She would ignite a fire in you and knew how to get the best out of those around her.

Jane was an exceptional woman and massively courageous, never giving up on anything or anyone.

Jane’s legacy will live on and I’ll do everything I can to make the Power of Women campaign a success and something that she would have been proud of, and that her family will be proud of, knowing that she started it and was the driving force.

Jessica Williams, managing director, Just Williams

It is truly hard to find words that will do justice to Jane – all that she believed, all that she achieved and all that she changed for the better. Jane brought a passion, a determination and a level of resilience to the Tees Valley region and all those she encountered. She touched the lives of many and has created a future for all girls and women in the region on an equal footing. For that, we will all be forever grateful.

Katrina Morley, Power of Women director; CEO, Tees Valley Education Trust

Four years ago I turned up to the Boho building in Middlesbrough to undertake an interview as a shortlisted candidate in the inaugural Tees Businesswomen Awards. My life changed…upon arriving I met a young woman at reception who I used to teach. Reminiscing, she asked if I’d like a coffee and pointed up a seat. Opposite me, sat the lady I came to know and love, Jane.

She too asked for a coffee and we started chatting about teachers, people who we remembered and who inspired us… A fitting introduction considering everything. We talked, exchanged numbers and promised to meet.

On the actual evening of the first awards, I realised she was one of the inspirations and breath for the evening. She was also a fellow nominee – and a far more deserving one at that.

In the following years, we shaped an offer to over 1,000 primary schoolchildren and hundreds of staff by supporting research and the development of a breadth of teaching, learning, training and development opportunities. I was fortunate to be involved with International Women’s Day with her and others, as well as a part of Teesside’s Northern Power Women. Just some of the incredible ways she #paiditforward

I then had the privilege of being nominated and shortlisted last year for Tees Businesswomen Awards and, again, it was in Jane’s category. Rightly, she won. I had the chance to tell her just what a difference she had made to my life and those around me.

I asked recently what she’d like if she could go shopping (which she couldn’t) and a Chanel lipstick was the answer that followed. The lips that drank the coffee, the lips that started the conversation, the lips that spread so much hope, ambition and aspiration. The lips that proffered friendship and learning. Like so many, how much I will miss them but by the same token was I blessed to even hear from them.

When somebody next asks you for a coffee – remember the power of sharing and caring and #payitforward.

Kirsten Donkin, head of PR, marketing and communications, PD Ports

I am deeply saddened to hear of Jane’s death. The world is a better place for Jane’s passion and commitment which made a positive difference to the lives of so many.

She was an inspiring and spirited role model who took every opportunity to be supportive and teach others to have self-believe and self-worth. I am honoured to have known Jane and so appreciative of the support she gave me personally since we met. She was truly one of a kind. My thoughts are with Jane’s family and loved ones.

Yasmin Khan, founder-director, The Halo Project

I’ll remember Jane’s ambition to ensure girls and women in our region have more than hope to achieve their goals. She instilled confidence and inspired others to remove the barriers and attitudes which hindered achievement.

She has left a clear plan for others to take the torch forward now and to live the dream she knew they could. Once in a lifetime you meet such an inspirational woman – I’m privileged to say I have done so in Jane Turner.

For more tributes to Jane, click here: University and PoW pay tribute to Jane Turner – Tees Business and here: Tees Business tribute to Professor Jane Turner OBE – Tees Business