To the Editor,
I read your obituary about the untimely passing of Bill Olner with great sadness and grief.
I first met Bill in 1997 when I was interning for him in the House of Commons, a study abroad program hosted and coordinated by the London School of Economics, where I was studying at the time.
Bill was more than eager to show off the House of Commons to me, introducing me to staff, other Members of Parliament, and even Government Ministers – as well as, of course, the people of Nuneaten and Bedworth. Bill did this generously not just for me but to scores of college students interested in and passionate about politics and public service. Bill had a particular fondness for hosting – and befriending – American students studying in London.
But it wasn’t only about the work in the House of Commons. Bill graciously invited me numerous times – including over the holidays – to stay with him and his beloved wife, Gill, at their home in Nuneaton. What started as me working as Bill’s American intern turned into a multi-year, Transatlantic friendship, rekindled whenever Bill’s parliamentary travels brought him to New York City, where I reside.
Having worked in politics for more than 20 years – in Bill Clinton’s White House, for Edward M. Kennedy in the US Senate, and on the campaign trail for candidates like; Hillary Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, and Tony Blair, I have been around numerous candidates and elected officials.
What always and vividly stood out to me about Bill was how he was always a true man of the people. Bill simply never forgot who he was working for in the House of Commons. I met some of Bill’s colleagues – other Members of Parliament who were caught up with their own public profile or putting on airs about them. Bill never had any of that – he was simply interested in serving the people.
Scarcely a moment would go by when I wouldn’t hear Bill speaking with another Member of Parliament about how real people were in need or fiercely advocating for the interests of the people living and working in Nuneaten and Bedworth.
With Bill’s passing, Nuneaton lost a passionate advocate and a true treasure!
Rest In Peace, Bill Olner.
New York, NY
Bradley Honan is the CEO & President of Honan Strategy Group, a New York City based Democratic political consulting, polling, and data analytics company