the loss of David Megginson

As many of you know, we lost David Megginson to a long-term illness last month. Here is what members of the CCG had to say about the impact of David upon our lives and practice.


Bob Garvey

We met first in 1991 when I was contemplating doing a PhD on mentoring. David was an obvious person to contact because of his pioneering work in mentoring and coaching. My first impression was of a very erudite person, full of charm, decency and generosity. We kept in touch and through the fledgling European Mentoring Centre worked together with others to develop the now EMCC. In 1999 and a PhD later, a job appeared at Sheffield Business School. I immediately contacted David. “Wow, if you come, we could start a Mentoring and Coaching Research Unit” he said – and we did with Paul Stokes.  The three of us worked together to create the MSc in Coaching and Mentoring (the 2ndsuch course in the world) and we delivered it together in Switzerland and the UK. As a team we were in the same office for 10 years.  Often, if one of us were struggling with something or was looking puzzled David would say “Coffee?  You look like you need a good listening to!” Lunch was always an occasion if we were all together. It involved going somewhere interesting to eat and we had both serious and fun conversations. There was often much banter and laughter. David was a masters of conversation.  Over the years we exchanged produce from our respective gardens and we discussed the delights of vegetable and fruit growing. David was a scholar, a scientist and artist, a poet, music lover and runner. He spoke truth to power with such elegance!  Over the years my first impressions of him were confirmed – erudite, charming, decent and generous. He lives on in his work.  His physical presence has left us but he lives in our hearts and minds. It was an honour and a privilege David! 

Katherine Long 

His joy and energy…

Memories of the EMCC Bilbao conference: A brilliant and energetic dancer who could boogie with the best of them at last night conference discos, a keen barefoot runner who I had the privilege of enjoying some early morning runs, a mutual fan of foraging and mycology where we had fun taking turns to remember the latin names of the funghi in the evening meal’s risotto, glorying in the wonders of the field maple which mingled in the hedges of his plot of wildness and weeds. 

His compassionate disruption…

Holding the coaching world to account, challenging it to look deeply into itself, not hide behind its sacred cows – I remember his playful session title ‘does contracting make us smaller?’ and have shared that quote many times, as well as ‘good mentors coach and good coaches mentor’. 

There was always a twinkle in his eye, a feeling of mischief just below the surface, the joyous bow ties. He shared briefly of early ventures into Esalen, his love of Mentor in Odysseus and the swallow as his spirit guide. Perhaps he now too has taken the form of a swallow, and  in the words of Homer, has flown up to perch on the roof beam of the smoke-darkened hall. 

It will take a long time to process – I trust there will be some amazing celebrations- he was a polymath, a rare creature to grace the coaching world, which would not have been born without him.

Keri Phillips 

I had the pleasure and privilege of being with David in many different settings, both formal and informal. He was always warm and  encouraging, whilst offering new, often challenging perspectives. 
I have many fond memories of our encounters in Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and elsewhere. His legacy endures in my mind and heart . 
  Keri Phillips 

Reinhard Stelter 

I am very sad to hear that David passed away. I had a lovely relationship to him. Met him both in Copenhagen, where I invited him a number of years ago, I met him at Sheffield H. where I was invited to speak at a coaching research conference, and I met him at several conferences. He was British in the best version. And he was a fantastic inspirier for me and many others. 
I have heard that he was not doing well for some years. From that knowledge, it has not been a total surprise. But it is always sad to me a good colleague, a humanist, and friend.
I am with his family and all who will miss him
Warm regards

Mike Leigh  

Since that day when David was no longer able to join us at Arnos I often wondered how he was and thought how good it would be to see him again. When you asked me to speak yesterday, I mentioned his sharing; David always gave of himself and opened the way for you to do the same. 

This morning as I was waking, David came into my thoughts, and I remembered chatting with him one day about poetry when he asked if I knew of Elizabeth Bishop’s work. I didn’t and he suggested I start with her poem, ‘One Art’, which was about losing things. 

I was surprised that poem should come into my head because David only mentioned it in a passing comment, but it does seem strangely apt. At the start, the poem could seem quite light-hearted, but as we get into it we may feel the tension and the pain of loss. 

Sometimes we might feel special in the company of someone because of, say, the position they hold, their status or fame. David allowed you to feel special about yourself without having to draw attention to himself. He met you as an equal with something to share.  

Daniel Doherty 

David Megginson surfaced in my life in Sheffield in the mid-seventies as an educator working a modernising agenda within the Steel industry, where I was struggling to keep my head above water as a stripling OD and training practitioner, and felt immensely supported by him. At the same time, David was a strong voice in the CIPD locally and nationally. I gravitated towards  Sheffield Poly as a student sitting at the feet of both David and Mike Pedler, who were massively influential in shaping my practice, encouraging my instinctively disruptive tendencies while counterbalancing that with a degree of institutional caution.  

Thus fortified by these intensive formative infusions of David, it was not until around 2004 that he re-merged in my life as a contributor to my doctorate into creative OD practice, when I learned of his foundational leadership in the field of coaching and mentoring. When I expressed critical doubts as to the commercialisation of coaching and its appropriation, he immediately responded not with the discouragement  you might expect from a founder but with vivid curiosity. He leapt at the opportunity to speak to Bristol University Management School where I was teaching, secure in the knowledge that his imprimatur would do much to solidify the emergence of a critical coaching voice in a geography beyond Sheffield Hallam, where critically and reflexivity were firmly embedded within the Coaching and Mentoring Unit which was shaped in his image and likeness. 

From that point on, David became an unwavering contributor to the Critical Coaching Group (CCG) for ten years, until he could no longer travel. That the CCG has continued beyond his direct presence is a tribute to the generosity of soul that he gifted us, leaving us buoyed by the deep moral purpose that he ushered into our lives

Caroline Taplin 

I know you had a great relationship with David both academically and as a dear friend. My thoughts are with you. I hope all the words written are helping you us snd if course his family. 

I loved Katherines swallow image and the freedom That evokes. 

Here are my thoughts for David 

My heartfelt thoughts to David’s family . David was renowned internationally for his contribution to the Coaching and Mentoring world and we were immensely  privileged to have David as part of our Critical Coaching Group. 

On a personal level he was an Inspiration to me in changing my career  to a  Coaching and Mentoring focus through his training and writings. 

David had that unique gift that made you feel you mattered , always giving time to listen and ignite my thinking.

And David always had a sense of fun , he will be sadly missed as CCG not least for his sense of humour and penchant for natty Socks 🧦 🧦

Ginny Baillie 

I know David more by his presence at CCG than personally.   I once shared a train with David home from one of the CCG meetings.   He unwrapped his apples from his garden very carefully and ate them as we chatted.  I was very struck by how calm and peaceful he was and he shared his Quaker practices with me.   I’ve taken a lot of train journeys in my time, all over the world and had a lot of conversations, this one stands out as having the most impact and I often come back to it when I need a moment, a sense of peace and an idea of what’s waiting for me when I can let go of the busy-ness and ego of life.  He was an extraordinary man in this. 

Steve Linstead 

I first met Dave in Dyson House, Sheffield, in 1978. He was in his running gear and for a year or so that was how we tended to meet – I was usually on my way to the weight room across the road – and I could recognise him more easily by his legs than the rest of him. Communication was mostly via sweaty grunts. When we did get a chance to chat, at a party, I was struck by how much we had in common and how imaginatively he responded to the everyday, and how much I wished I wasn’t about to leave Sheffield and people like him. As my career developed elsewhere and I began to explore training and development more deeply, Dave’s contributions were everywhere, always thoughtful, keen eyed and eared, original and human,  keeping me in touch with a lot of intangibles that he understood so well that were nevertheless grounded in the grit of the city we had in common. They were the ones I chose to shape my work with managers – even in my spells in Hong Kong and Australia, because he asked better questions and was open to a more generous possibility of responses. As I became more active internationally, especially the US, it was a delight to realise that his was one of the names that would be frequently brought up in presentations and discussions as T & D struggled to find new identities in HRD and beyond and the new fields of mentoring and coaching took shape – by people from much more celebrated institutions than Sheffield City Poly/Hallam. And in England, working across boundaries with major companies and universities on corporate initiatives, I was always asked whether I knew him. I was delighted to be able to say yes, I’d learned a lot from him – but today I’m sad that it was far more than he’ll now ever know.

Geoff Pye 

The word “Dignity” came to my mind when remembering David. A dictionary
definition of Dignity is “Nobleness or elevation of mind” which, for me,
captures a key aspect of the man.

Creative Writing for Coaches of all persuasions

I am delighted to announce that, following the successful pilot of the programme ‘Crafting my Coaching Story,’ that the Association for Coaching has agreed to host a second rendition of the same, beginning on 10th September 2021. The full details are as below.

The faculty for this programme is drawn almost exclusively from CCG members, including Daniel Doherty, Jen Gash, Chris Mabey, and Pippa Warin, supporting the estimable Julia Forster. The pilot was enjoyed by two of our number, who speak well of it. Please let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested in this by email at, or if you simply want to know more about this.

The impetus behind this is to promote creative literacy among coaches. Sometimes the text that comes from our keyboards is all very worthy, and sometimes it reads as if drawn from a random buzzword generator. Let’s liven things up. There is little financial gain in this for the faculty; the rewards are rich, and largely non-monetary, including the learning gained from working together.

the uplifting news on this programme is that four of the original attendees on the pilot programme are returning for more of the same on this return programme. We must be doing something right here.


Wanting to coach ER doctors?

Sally Webber invites you to the following:

I’m helping organise some coaching for doctors as the move to high pressure jobs in the Emergency Department in hospital in Bath.I love coaching doctors as they’re all really bright, interested in learning and wanting to do the best job they can – which is tough at the moment!
Might be 20-25 of them who take up the offerWhich is:2 session x 60 minutes on Zoom / Teams, your preference, from mid August – end November (probably)Payment is £60 per session – so not great but not pro bono
This is a pilot for the hospital so we’ll expect to collect some feedback at the end from each client
If you are interested and have availablity can you email Sally Webber on and let her know

Launching the Critical Coaching Blog

I guess there must come a time in every twenty-first century network’s life when the need for a blog becomes an inevitability, and not only for fashionable reasons. Launching this CCG blog feels kind of grown-up somehow, but it also feels down-with-the-kids. What the creation of this blog does reflect is the fact that the horrors of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have driven the CCG from being an in-person gathering to a becoming an online phenomenon. I am at this point resisting the urge to post up a screenshot of all our tiled faces on Zoom, just to prove it is true. But it is. 

I have to say that when lockdown descended on us in March 2020, I had to scrap all forward conference room bookings at our much loved Arnos Manor hotel, and ask booked speakers if they would mind doing their thing on line. This sudden switching of arrangements made me fearful, as I felt then that much of the value of our regular meetings lay in the opportunity to meet face-to-face, share chip sandwiches and flaccid salad, and munch over what provocations our visiting speakers had planted. I did not think that our members would take easily to this transition to a two-dimensional digital experience; nor did I think that the CCG would remain a priority on their minds, given all else that had been disrupted by the pandemic. 

I need not have worried. Far from the need for us to gather together going away, it became apparent that in the face of all of the challenges posed to our personal and professional lives, the wish to to get huddle in any form remained as strong as ever. In fact the move to online, in liberating the CCG from the geographical constraints posed by being locked into the Bristol location, has allowed us to draw upon a far wider range of speakers from across the world. And has attracted in new members who are more than happy to become a part of our group, without having to commit to making the far-flung trip to the South West of England, which as we all know is a two-days stage-coach ride away from London. And a one day ride from Exeter. 

At first, old stagers said that they were prepared to live with online presence as a somewhat second-best interim solution, while the lockdowns blew over and normal in-house services could resume. However, as our Zoom years have progressed, the nostalgic cries for a prelapsarian return to the container that is the Gallery Room have muted, replaced instead by an excitement at the new horizons online has revealed. For our new members who have known nothing else, then they have been happy enough with the online experience not only to sign-up for more of the same through to next year, but to invite their colleagues at similar career stages to come along too. I must say that it is most gratifying to learn that the culture of open inquiry and challenge while being supportive of each other has persisted into this new format. 

I anticipate, then, that as we progress into 2021 and beyond, that we will move towards a hybrid configuration, where regular monthly meetings will be augmented by a number of in-person gatherings a year to allow us to breathe the same air once more, and merrily kick over coffee cups strewn across the open-U circle of rickety chairs. But meanwhile I am delighted at the uptake of speaker invites from all over the world – my, how I am resisting with all my might and main the temptation to use that much-abused term ‘global’- and look forward to a rich and relational year together. 

So where does this blog fit in? Well, it is early days, but in addition to serving as a container for updates such as this current rambling, this blog also offers opportunities for the curating of offerings from members and speakers that they feel will be of interest to our members. These offerings are likely to be in written form, but could also be imagistic, in audio or video form, or free-form interpretative jazz. It is really up to you. Let me know if there is something you wish to post, great or small, and I will ensure that it gets up there. Looking forward to it. And welcome to the CCG Blog.