Carol Mansley

carol-at-scintilla-2Many moons ago I worked at a graphics bureau in Brum called Scintilla. I was there for just over five years, and for most of that time I had a colleague called Carol Mansley. At the outset she was employed as production manager, but her style was completely dissimilar to her predecessor: Carol’s blended management with a hands-approach.

Over the months, as our small team grew in proficiency, the pecking order became less marked and we became a group of equals. This actually didn’t diminish Carol’s role as much as it sounds, because I think it meant she enjoyed the job more: in the Us and Them game she was definitely one of Us. During our tenure we had our ups-and-downs, but I only recall one incident where the exchange of words became heated.

Carol was far more methodical and diligent than me, and had the sure-fire ability to quickly understand what needed doing, and when. The four of us were a team, and depended on each other. If you asked Carol to help out with something you knew it would be done – she was a very dependable and considerate workmate.

It was very difficult to see below the surface with Carol, as she kept her own counsel on most issues. She was certainly of the school that teaches one to sit back and observe, rather than offer half-baked opinions. She had a broad spectrum of interests: sport, gardening, technology, photography, reading etc. I recall that we shared a fondness for the TV series Red Dwarf, and she could do a cracking impersonation of Craig Charles!

When Carol did venture opinions, or wade into conversation, we were assured of a statement that made sense, was not verbose, and cut to the chase. Carol could say more with a few words, and the arching of one eyebrow, than most folk manage with minutes of chattering.

It was with much sadness, then, that I heard that Carol died a couple of weeks ago. By all accounts it seemed she died suddenly, at home, of kidney failure. I’m not aware if there’d been any build-up to this, or any period of illness at all. Unfortunately, I could not attend either the main funeral in Chester or a recent memorial service in Bartley Green. So, by way of poor compensation I’ve decided to pen this blog entry.

I invite all who knew Carol, and most of all Colin and Steve Mansley, to leave a comment here, either adding to what I’ve written, or correcting me if I’ve misremembered something!

I have a link to some pictures that Carol uploaded to Flickr only just recently. Sadly it looks like this was a process she was just getting into.


  1. Colin Mansley
    November 15, 2007

    Carol was born on 14th November 1963 the third child of Gwen and Harold Mansley. She was a cheerful child with a twinkle in her eye, rosy red cheeks and a shock of auburn hair – and could do little wrong in the eyes of older brothers Colin and Stephen.

    She began school at St Mary’s on Heath Road and then Upton Manor (As it was then known) Primary School. Carol was bright and intelligent and did well academically – one memorable achievement was that she won a fancy dress competition at the school and went on to represent them nationally and won an award for them. Her costume was Madame Cholet from the Wombles and was made by her Mum.

    Making clothes for her dolls and teddys was something Mum enjoyed doing for Carol and she remembered going to sleep hearing the sound of the sewing machine working downstairs as Mum made another new dress or costume.

    Carol enjoyed secondary education at the Queen’s School where she made many friends with whom she continued to keep in touch. She became godmother and companion to many of her friends’ children and would know just the right thing to say to them because she was in touch with their interests.

    When Carol was sixteen her Mum died of complications caused by kidney disease. It was a terrible blow to her. Carol had helped Dad care for her mother as she underwent dialysis treatment at home and in hospital. She had a very close relationship with her Mum and she lost a soul friend when she died.

    After completing school Carol studied for a business degree at Bradford. There again she made several friends to whom she remained affectionately loyal. Her university studies included a year’s placement with GKN in Smethwick which led to her eventually finding further work with them after her degree and remaining in Birmingham.

    Her career was based in business analysis, computer database systems and project management. She also worked at preparing presentations for firms and auto-prompting work for video shoots, award ceremonies and television. She worked for a number of different firms before setting up her own free-lance business in recent years.

    Carol was very creative in work and in her pastimes too. For several years she has attended art classes in Birmingham and was becoming quite an accomplished painter. This is something again she inherited from her mother. An interest she shared in common with Dad was a love of gardening. She loved Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and made an annual trip to the Chelsea Flower Show. Carol’s garden in Birmingham is a mass of colour and variety of plants.

    Carol’s Mum was a good tennis player and would take Carol with her to watch tennis at Wimbledon. Carol continued to go to Wimbledon every year and, with school friend Vicky would queue up for tickets all night to make sure they got a good seat. The influence of her Dad and brothers meant that Carol had no choice but to be interested in football and cricket in order to have any meaningful conversation with them. The interest became her own and Carol enjoyed going to watch cricket at Edgbaston or further afield watching Cheshire play. Last winter she made a journey to Australia – to watch the cricket – but also to retrace some of Dad’s steps there when he visited with the Royal Navy in wartime. It was the holiday of a lifetime.

    Dad died two and a half years ago and Carol had devoted much of her time in caring for him, visiting and helping out when he became increasingly immobile.

    Carol became an aunt for the first time when Colin and his wife Carole adopted André and Deon three years ago. She developed a wonderful relationship with them – always patient, kind and able to enter into their world. They shared a mutual admiration for Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and latterly Nev the Blue Bear. She was the best birthday present and Christmas present buyer ever known – so thoughtful and painstaking.

    Carol shared some lovely times with her family in the last twelve months. Last October, to celebrate Colin’s fiftieth birthday Carol, Stephen, Colin, Carole and the boys had a wonderful long weekend in Southwold – brilliant weather, games on the beach, fun on the pier and excellent food and drink. Then just three weeks ago, again to celebrate Colin’s birthday the family, this time including Uncle Tom, met in Chester for birthday cake and drinks before André and Deon had an eventful evening as mascots for Chester’s game against Hereford. We are so grateful to have had these times together.

    Carol was perceptive, witty, strong, knew her own mind and did not suffer fools gladly. She has died suddenly, unexpectedly and with so much still to offer and experience. She will be much missed but remembered with great affection as a friend, a sister, a godmother and a favourite aunt to her nephews.

  2. Mark Perry
    November 20, 2007

    Like Ken, I also worked with Carol for about five years at Scintilla and we were a very efficient and dependable team, often being required to work very long hours at very short notice. Apart from the usual Christmas parties etc we didn’t socialise as a group a great deal outside of work until, ironically, after we’d all left the company and were working elsewhere. We used to have regular get-togethers and I think we got to know a different side of Carol during these more relaxed, non work situations. Sadly these gatherings have become less frequent in recent years as increased family-life commitments have demanded more and more time of everyone.

    She had a sharp, dry sense of humour and we were all aware of her great love of gardening, tennis and particularly cricket and she often went to Edgbaston for the matches.

    It was of course tragic news when Ken phoned me a couple of weeks ago to say that Carol had died of kidney failure and although I could not make the funeral in Chester I was able to attend at Bartley Green for the memorial service instead. There were many moving tributes paid to Carol during the service and I found listening to the music from OMD and Squeeze painted as much of a picture of Carol as the tributes themselves.

    It is a terrible loss and she will be sadly missed but remembered with affection.

  3. Karen Topham-Steele
    November 23, 2007

    My first introduction to Carol happened over 10 years ago when she drafted me for an interview at Planet presentations where she had recently taken over management of the satellite office. Some of my fondest memories were of the fun we had at Planet Christmas parties. Being a small office we were a close team and we had a fabulous relationship – she was a great mentor and I still employ many of her working practices today in the role I currently have. During my second maternity leave she also covered my time away and did a brilliant job of course. Many of my colleagues still remember Carol and her efficient, calm manner. When things get a bit stressed at work I often reflect and think ‘I wander how Carol would have handled that?’ She was a confident, a mentor, a role model and also a great friend and I will miss her greatly.

  4. Gill Ranson
    June 4, 2008

    Joining Scintilla as the earliest member of the ’employed’ team, I witnessed many changes in 7 years within this small organisation. However, before I left the company it was evident that a very strong core dynamic of people had emerged. Carol’s arrival had strengthened that dynamic with her obvious talent and intellect, and a distinctively different personality, and I echo all Ken’s words above.

    However, my own personal memories of Carol have been brought to the surface with a jolt on reading this terribly sad news. Our working relationship (Carol as Production Manager and I in sales) was always a good one; Carol’s quiet, dry sense of humour was always near the surface, even when fairly heavy discussions were taking place. She was one of the most modest, laid-back, unflappable people I have met, but her sense of fun bubbled underneath all this much of the time. Her unique, and sometimes wicked, style of sending people up was unrivalled! At the same time, her work ethic was always a serious, dedicated approach. During the time we worked together she was unerringly supportive and as is inevitable in a small team, everyone was always reliant on one another. Carol was a clear leader and never let you down. I admired her a lot.

    Yes, difficult to fathom sometimes, and a very private person, However, I remember when she bought her first house and we went there together one lunch time, zipping along in her red Peugeot 205, it was a happy time.

    Carol had the most amazing laugh, amazing hair and was an amazingly good colleague. This news is such a shock, and I am so sad to hear it.