Rachael Taylor Memorial

Rachael and Nick Taylor

Following her untimely passing, this memorial page has been created for us to share memories of our dear colleague and friend Rachael Taylor and to celebrate and remember her.

Rachael had worked in the School of Law for over 30 years and was much loved, admired and respected by colleagues and students alike. She was the soulmate and wife of our colleague Nick Taylor and mother of their two cherished sons, Sean and Sam. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family and her many friends, who feel the loss very deeply.

We have wonderful and happy memories of Rachael who touched many with her joyous zest for life, with her dry wit which had us all laughing, her warmth and her kindness – she brightened our lives and she will be dearly missed. We shall pass on your memories and condolences to Rachael’s family, in accordance with their wishes.

As an alternative to sending flowers, and in consultation with her family, we are planning a permanent means of celebrating Rachael’s life that reflects what was important to her and what she loved. To do this we would like to design a garden in her memory next to the home of the School of Law, the Liberty Building.  

Rachael was a keen gardener and loved spending time on her allotment with her dad. A garden in her memory is most fitting. It will be a place where people can unwind – to meet friends or sit in peace - outside the hustle and bustle of the main campus. 

If you would like to donate to the creation of the Law School Garden in Rachael’s memory, please visit the Just Giving page.

Professor Louise Ellison, Head of School of Law (on behalf of the School community)

Tributes to Rachael Taylor for this page can be sent to lawmso@leeds.ac.uk. Please make sure to include your name and any institutional affiliation that you wish to be included in the attribution.

First, a few words from Nick

“Never has it entered my head that I would be introducing a memorial page for my wife. It is as surreal as it is heartbreaking, but I have steeled myself to do this because Rachael, Rach, was a truly special person with whom I was privileged to spend so much time.

I met Rach in 1993 when I began at Leeds. I was on a one year lectureship, she worked in the Law School general office. I was utterly bowled over and spent much of that year finding excuses to visit the office. I like the fact that the 1994 finalists group photo sees us next to each other - not then seeing each other but clearly the line up wasn’t accidental!

Our first date was in July. It seemed she felt just as I did. We were engaged within weeks and in November, whilst I was following my football team in Spain, she put a deposit on a house. I’d never seen it but it remains our family home. We were very much aligned.

I still have School emails announcing the birth of our sons, Sean in 1997 and Sam in 2001, and countless photos of her at school events through the years. To say she was woven into the fabric of the school is a huge understatement. In my 10 years as Director of Student Education she was the rock. Advised, cajoled and directed…. Quietly. I have so many emails from students referring to her as their ‘university mum’. She gave a huge part of her life to the School and I am moved by this opportunity to share memories.

It is no exaggeration to say I am devastated by the passing of my beautiful wife. It does help though to share our recollections of an outstanding person. I cherish every memory. Please do share what you recall. It is cathartic to all who are shocked and saddened by her loss but, quite simply, we should remember what was good about good people. My memories…. Well, therein lies a book, though I would say that whilst she has helped literally hundreds or thousands of colleagues and students over the years, she shared 26 wonderful years with me and for that I am truly grateful.”

Nick Taylor

It took time for me to write this as I still couldn’t believe what happened. Still difficult to accept but I have to share how this amazing woman came to my life and changed it forever. I met Rachael when I first moved to Yorkshire in 2011 and got a job at Leeds University in 2012. She was our boss at the Student Education desk and a very lovely, down to earth, bubbly person who has a beautiful heart. She was always happy, positive, forgiving and very kind. For a boss, she had an extraordinary understanding of people and would always try to consider their wellbeing and even if they fall, she always manage to help them be better and she always had the belief that you can do it and you will, that’s why she makes the best boss ever! I never felt like it was a job, we were like family in the Education office, its always been fun and very positive atmosphere at work and it made it one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. She will always be the mother goose and the heart of Student Education at Law. I did events when I was at Law, the first time I booked a night out for the staff but nobody turned up – just me and Rachael  so we decided oh well lets just bloody enjoy ourselves! And that was the start of a great friendship. We called it ‘date night’ since its only me and her and we didn’t bother inviting anyone after that! Hahaha.. We went out nearly every month since then, we tried all nearly different restaurants and drank so much cocktails, its unbelievable hahaha (you know Rachael!) and continued even when I left the job. We became so close like family. She is one of my closest and consider my family here in UK. We always got on really well and we didn’t need anyone to have a good night. We always just filled the time with laughs, cries, dance, dressing up and so much fun!! Our memories are all filled with beautiful friendship and so much more. We would always turn up stumbling back to Rachael’s and Nick had to deal with not one but two lousy and very loud drunk women hahaha.. Sorry Nick! (kisses) I will always treasure how this wonderful person came to my life and made it meaningful and believe that you can always shine even if you are sad or feeling down. Rachael and Nick brought me back when I was really down and made it all good again and made it all okay. They are so wonderful and I am so so proud to be in their circle. One of the most if not, the most beautiful family I know and will always have now for life. I am so grateful for this beautiful wonderful kind person that I’ve had so many lovely memories and will remain in my heart. Thank you Rach and will always remember you with a big smile on my face, porn star martinis, sparkly dress with animal print touches and celebrate your spirit. Fly to the heavens and thank you for being my beautiful angel… love you forever and always… xx

Rechelle Franklin, Former Student Education Officer at School of Law, University of Leeds 

It was her calmness and generosity no matter the circumstances that I’ll remember Rachael for the most; that and her ability to find humour in the absurd as well as the mundane. In over twenty years as colleagues, never once did I witness her even come close to losing her patience, not with anyone, and goodness knows I must have tested the limits of that several times over the years. Even at my incompetent worst, not once. From helping me to navigate the mysteries of the photocopier, to directing me to the precise location of some far-away remote teaching space on campus, to solving the bureaucratic puzzles of taught programme requirements, to just listening and being there, she always seemed to know what to do, what was needed, how to make things right. And always, always, done with a selfless kindness, good grace and, more often than not, with a knowing sense of humour. And, my, did she have a sense of humour. But it wasn’t like she laughed at my every half-baked witticism – far from it; with Rachael, I found, you had to earn it, had to deserve it. I liked that about her. She didn’t do laughs out of politeness. When she laughed with you, you knew she meant it, you knew you’d connected. I can still remember the day, it was after about five years of working together, that Rachael told me she was from Farsley, in west Leeds. ‘A Farsley girl’, I thought, ‘that figures’. It struck a chord with me. I lived round the corner, in Rodley, at the time and used to look forward to my regular Saturday lunchtime visits to Farsley Town Street, with its healthy smattering of no-frills fruit and veg shops, welcoming pubs and independent book-makers. A warmer and more down-to-earth community you could not wish to find; a close-knit community too, it seemed to me. The locals had, still have, an authenticity and honesty about them, and an outright absence of pretention. So it came as no surprise to me to learn that this was where Rachael was raised, grew up and lived her whole life; no surprise then that she had no airs or affectations, that I much enjoyed time in her company; no surprise that she was as steady, good natured and dependable as they come. I remember, too, that she laughed when I said how much I liked Farsley owing mainly to it ‘having more bookies per square yard than any other place in England’. Perhaps she was just being polite, but I don’t think so – not her style. I’ll very much miss Rachael not being in the Liberty Building anymore, not being in our lives anymore. She was a kind, caring and warm-hearted soul, and a great laugh too. RIP.

Professor Stuart Lister, School of Law, University of Leeds

I knew Rachael throughout my entire time at Leeds, initially as someone who would say hello in passing and later as a friend. Rachael had an infectious personality and her smile could light up a room. I have many fond memories of Rachael, but perhaps my favourite is my 30th birthday celebrations. Having now graduated, Nick and Rachael travelled to Manchester to celebrate with me. After a typically heavy night, which Rachael managed to stay awake during, we found ourselves in the local karaoke bar. Always up for a laugh, Rachael and I sang Elton John and Kiki Dee’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.’ Now, in the moment, of course we both thought we were giving the original a run for its money, but I’m afraid Nick recently shared the video with me, and perhaps it wasn’t as good as I remember. That night we laughed, we sang and we danced, she was an incredible person. I consider myself lucky that I was able to call Rachael a friend, even for the short time that I have known her. I know that for Nick, Sean and Sam this terrible and untimely loss will be devastating. I send my love and well wishes to them all and hope they find comfort in the incredible contribution Rachael has made to the countless students who have passed through Leeds University Law School. I for one could not have imagined my experience without her.

Liam Kelly, School of Law Alumni (2015-18), University of Leeds

In the long hot summer of 2004, following a July interview in a sweltering Lyddon Terrace, I was appointed as a teaching fellow. I turned up to start my new job on Friday 1st September and spent most of the day with the admin staff, sorting out paperwork and the usual ‘first day’ form-filling stuff. In conversation, I was told that it was a great place to work and 17 years later, I am still working here and still enjoy it! The reason is undoubtedly colleagues like Rachael, whose joyful personality made each day a pleasure. No issue was insurmountable – all dealt with professionally, but with good humour and a seemingly never-ending supply of much-needed patience. At first, I thought her constant smile whilst putting up with my lack of knowledge (so, so many questions) may simply be professional – but soon realised it was genuine. Rachael radiated warmth, kindness and compassion. She was unfailingly generous and a real pleasure to be around. A good number of those I met on that Friday in 2004 are still working here – that speaks volumes. Rachael was such a hugely important part of our School community, as a colleague and a friend - we will all miss her.

Dr Richard Peake, School of Law, University of Leeds

I have held off writing this because I wanted to have the time to do Rachael justice. But the reality is that was always going to be impossible; Rach would have forgiven that I am sure. When I think of Rach I think four memories dominate. First, I see her in various ‘sporting’ endeavors. Rach was dedicated to raising money for Parkinson’s UK, but she also found herself on that oh-so-familiar treadmill of trying to be fitter, slimmer and healthier. When the spin bikes made their way to the School, we often found ourselves on them at the same time, leading us to share music and tales. She always entertained me with her claim that she simply could not cycle standing up and thus could not do spin. At Tough Mudder I quite literally pulled up around some bits of the course. I worried she might find me and my pestering enthusiasm annoying, but afterwards she sent me an email thanking me. That she bothered to take the time to write and send that says a lot about the kind of person Rach was. Second, in her professional role I worked with Rach in my various roles. Rach was a font of knowledge, competence and tolerance. But she was also a kind, humane, generous and talented team leader. She stuck up for her team whilst always getting the best out of her. She led by example. In more recent times, we began to enjoy some candid exchanges about work stuff. It was wonderful to see that her dry humor come to the fore. I had so much more to learn from her. Third, that eyeliner, and those leopard prints. I envied the strength, boldness and individuality of her style. She always looked ace. Finally – but certainly not least – that smile. It was one that could tell 1000 stories – sometimes kind, sometimes barely concealing a story, sometimes accompanied by a glorious giggle. I will miss her terribly, but I will make sure that she is always with me through the memories and lessons she has blessed me with. Thank you Rachael for being you.

Dr Imogen Jones, School of Law, University of Leeds 

I think Rachael has always just been part of my SES life at Leeds, I knew I was lucky to work with her when I moved into assessment. She was such a supportive, and integral part of our assessment team, bringing her knowledge, her wit and the glam. I know I have relied on her support, checking in and just being there when the doubts crept in. Nothing we say can make this better, but Rachael really was a kind, loving, funny and shining star, making our corner of the world that little bit better. Like so many others whose life she touched I will miss her, and count myself in one of the lucky ones who got to know her. Thinking of Nick, Sean and Sam.

Rachael McConville-Darwin, Assessment and Progress Manager, University of Leeds 

I have many happy memories of Rachael. Rachael was a great help to me when I joined the School in 2016 from the Netherlands. Together with Nick she patiently guided me through the intricacies of student education, in particular its rigid exam scrutiny system, (non-existent on the continent). It is so hard to believe she will no longer join us in meetings, exam boards, graduation ceremonies and Christmas dinners. She was such a pillar of the School and the faculty. It really took time to process the news of her death. My fondest memory of Rachael was at an alumni event in London at one of the Inns of Court. We had a great time, especially at the after-party where we consumed a considerable amount of very expensive wine. Rachael was a star that shone brightly and who touched many lives. She will be dearly missed.

Prof Dr Elies van Sliedregt, Director Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds 

I have a lot to thank Rachael for. When I started in Assessments in the School of Politics and International Studies, she was always there for me. Answered my frequent questions and supported and encouraged me.

Sue Humphries, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leeds 

As is abundantly clear from the entries already posted, Rachael was a brilliant person to work with. When I started at Leeds in 2001, Rachael and Lindsey Hill shared a little room next to the Head of School's office on the second floor in Lyddon Terrace. That little room always seemed such a vibrant, fun and happy place. Rachael was really, really good at her job - I don't think anyone in the School could say that they were better at their job than Rachael was at hers. She always had the answer to a question, never seemed flustered, was always supportive of students and never hassled me about missed deadlines! I will remember Rachael with great fondness for all the happiness she brought and good she did.

Dr David Pearce, School of Law, University of Leeds 

I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Rachael. She was a very kind hearted and warm person, always welcoming and helpful to the Law School students. Nick was my Law Degree 1st Year tutor and also very kind and always helpful. My deepest condolences to Nick, Sean and Sam. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Yousef Simeon Walker, University of Leeds Law School Alumni (1995-98 and 2000) 

It is with a great deal of sadness that I contribute my recollections of my time working with Rachael. I first met Rachael when I joined the School of Law in July 2009. I worked directly with her and her husband, Nick for three years. I remember from that time that Rachael was a dedicated and hardworking member of staff. She was thoroughly knowledgeable regarding all aspects of student support and administration. She simply got on with her job and was a great role model for her team. I remember various conversations about managing marking loads (as part of workload planning) and it was with a huge sense of relief that I could leave all aspects of that with her! She excelled at what she did and had endless time and patience with staff and students, though she may not always have felt it. I was fortunate to come into contact with Rachael at various points in my career since then, within the Quality Assurance Team and more lately in my role in the School of Education. Only days before this terrible event I was in a Teams meeting which included her, and I remember remarking to myself as her boys wandered in and out of the room where her PC was located about how much they had grown. I was in complete shock when the email about Rachael came to us from the Dean. It took several days to process the news. I am hopeful that, in time, her family and friends can look back at the happy memories of good times shared, and that this will be a comfort in the coming weeks and months.

Marie Fordham, School of Education, University of Leeds 

It goes without saying that Rachael was a kind, warm, funny and generous person – she was a constant in the Law School, always happy to help with any queries or just to have a chat. She always reassured me if I had any worries, and was so patient even when I would forget or misunderstand things. She was like human sunshine and lived every day to the fullest. She made the lives of those around her happier and better just by being there, always with a kind word and laughter to share. On the occasions that I arrived at or left the Law School at the same time as Nick and Rachael, I would see them walking in together, hand in hand, and at the end of the day one would always be waiting for the other, smiling as they met again and headed home. Their love for one another was abundant and it brought so much light into the world. They were perfect for each other. We will all miss Rachael and her memory is a treasure and a blessing.

Dr Rosie Fox, School of Law, University of Leeds 

Rach: Some people are designed to make the world brighter, With the grace of the gentle and the strength of a fighter, On the days when I thought I was meant to drop out, Rach was an anchor to quieten my doubt. Over the 13 years I got to orbit this star, Her support helped so many great people go far. From an incredible professional to a most treasured friend, There was nothing a big hug from Rach could not mend. Solver of problems and giver of smiles, And not only that, but she could run miles and miles! Nick and Rach came to celebrate our wedding, And she even gave me an essay mark I’d been dreading. Her magic lives on in Nick and her boys, And in a hundred kind memories and a thousand small joys. Thanks for the kindness, support, and limitless fun, I will toast you with every prosecco marvellous one.

Alex Pearl, PhD Researcher and Teaching Assistant, School of Law, University of Leeds

I actually can’t remember if I first met Rachael through my role as a SESM or an Assessment Manager: she just always seemed to be a part of my University life – always there with a smile, making me laugh and cheering up my day. She was such a significant part of the University assessment team and brought such experience, wisdom and sunshine to all our work. I miss her endless positivity, humour and kindness, very much, and hope that the knowledge that Rachael made so many lives so much better is of some comfort to those who were closest to her: my thoughts are very much with them.

Louise Feaviour, Assessment Manager for the Faculties of EPS and ENV, University of Leeds

We had the distinct privilege and honour of not only meeting Nick and Rachael during our time reading law at Leeds but also during their visit to Singapore. She had accompanied Nick on a trip here on official university business but took time out of official engagements to explore the country, its culture, food and people. We remember this moment fondly, munching on local delicacies amidst the warm humid climate, and Rachael taking the time to hear each of our life stories, our struggles, and our happy moments. She brought with her a retrospective glimpse of the best three years of our lives in Leeds, back to the days when life was just that little better. Rachael was one of the kindest persons we ever had the pleasure of meeting. Friendly, affable and beaming with positive energy, she made a huge difference during our time in law school as international students. We count our blessings to have known Rachael in life and have her make her mark in our lives as well. As friends, we share Nick's loss and pain. This came as a huge shock for the both of us and we were deeply saddened to hear of her sudden passing. She had been a steadfast rock and pillar of support for Nick, and we see and feel the love and affection they had for one another. They were definitely the power couple in our books. We will miss you dearly, Rachael. "What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we loved deeply becomes a part of us." - Helen Keller

Brandon Lim and Christine Gan, Singapore, School of Law Alumni, University of Leeds

I have known Rachael since joining the School of Law 19 years ago. Throughout that time I only ever saw: warmth, kindness, ability, empathy, professionalism, accessibility, friendliness and practicality. However the one memory I want to share which shows her kindness is from outside the School of Law. Nick and Rachael were visiting and I was cooking. Everyone else was at the dinner table and I was in the kitchen. I managed to burn myself and let out a scream. I do not think anyone else batted an eyelid but Rachael was in the kitchen in seconds looking for the first aid kit.

Professor Roger Halson, School of Law, University of Leeds 

I’m so saddened to learn of the death of Rachael Taylor. I met Rachael when I started my law degree at Leeds in 1997. She was gorgeous, smiley, helpful and always made time for students if they needed any help. If I was going to the law library I’d always give her a wave through the little window hatch in the entrance to Lyddon Terrace. Rachael was so lovely and her kindness shone through. Occasionally she’d bring baby Sean into the office too and clearly absolutely adored him. I want to send all of my love to Nick, Sean and Sam at this sad time. Please know that I am thinking of you all and I’m so sorry.

Georgina Tripp (nee Whitaker), School of Law Alumni (1997-2000), University of Leeds

When I began studying criminal justice at Leeds, I saw a woman in the office at Lyddon Terrace, and she looked familiar. She introduced herself as Rachael, and I realised that she was the big sister of a friend from junior school and had been in the same school year as my brother (a fact I regularly apologised for). As a new, mature student with no clue about university, Rachael was a friendly (always smiling) face who made me feel at home and helped me navigate the weird ways of the law school. Pigeonholes, essay bins, what on earth the Nathan Bodington building was – whatever the issue, Rachael could and would help. When I returned to work at the Law school as a lecturer several years later, Rachael made me feel at home, remembering me immediately. She knew the answer to everything and was a supreme professional. She threw herself wholeheartedly into everything she did, whether supporting students and staff or having a brilliant time at the law balls. I remember a particularly intense game of giant Connect 4 at one ball, between Nick and Ben Fitzpatrick. Rachael thought things were being taken too seriously and attempted to distract Nick through various ridiculous acts. Rachael taught me that joyful isn’t something you feel occasionally, but instead is something you are.

Dr Linda Asquith, Leeds Beckett University, School of Law Alumni and former colleague 

I was shocked to read a message from the Head of School, Assoc Prof. Dr. Harmahinder Singh, on the passing of Rachael. Within seconds, I immediately recall my conversations with Nick and Rachael Taylor in October 2019 during the ICFLP conference. I was sharing my experience in teaching law using gamification and I remember Nick mentioned that I should come to visit University of Leeds. I looked at Rachael and I remember her smile when she said 'We will see you in Leeds real soon.' One month later, I received an opportunity to be a Visiting Scholar at University of Leeds. I would forever treasure that conversation which has changed my life. Whilst I was in Leeds back in January 2020, Rachael was very warming, welcoming and helpful to ensure that I had a pleasant stay at Leeds. I remember that it was raining one day and she gave an umbrella to keep (which I still have it here in Malaysia with me). Throughout my short visit at Leeds, I really appreciated her friendliness and thoughtfulness to take care of her university academic partner. My thoughts and condolences are with Nick and her children. I feel privileged to have known Rachael.

Puteri Sofia, Senior Law Lecturer and Programme Director for Master of Laws programmes, Taylor's University 

I knew Rachael though my two periods of working at Leeds, so I feel I should say here how much I, like all at what is now the School of Law, benefitted from her professional competence and diligence. But I write this mainly to say that Rachael was one of the nicest colleagues I have had the privilege of working with in the course of an academic career of now approaching forty years. My wife Jill and I are offer our heartfelt condolences to Nick and Nick and Rachael’s sons on their dreadful loss.

Professor David Campbell, Lancaster University Law School 

We will all miss Rachael so much; she was such a fantastic colleague and person. I don’t have one ‘big’ memory of Rachael, but lots of little lovely ones. Reflecting back on them, I suppose what they have in common is they involved undertaking the everyday (but essential) activities of our law school with dedication, an unspoken generosity and a down-to-earth humour. Crossing paths in the ground floor kitchen and comparing lunches. Giggling in lengthy scrutiny committees at a sarcastic amendment proposed by Nick or Ian. Being ‘kept right’ in that lovely understated way in countless meetings, exam boards and mitigating circumstances boards. Talking over drinks in some bar after a staff Christmas dinner. And, of course, seeing Rachael and Nick leave Liberty Building at the end of a day and thinking what a canny couple of soul mates they were. A reminder of what is truly important if ever there was one.

Rebecca Moosavian, School of Law, University of Leeds 

I have known Rachael a long time and what follows is a series of memories throughout the years. I have a vivid, almost cinematic, recollection from when Rachael first started working in the General Office in Lyddon Terrace, then the home of the Law School. The very first recruitment video for the School was a ‘Day in the Life’ of a typical law student. The student protagonist (and it was a male) has to ask for something at the General Office. It is Rachael who comes to the window hatch in the hallway of Lyddon Terrace. She looks very young, with 1980s long blonde curls, and smiles and hands over what is asked for. It is not surprising that Nick thought she looked like Sarah Lancashire who was then playing Raquel Watts in Coronation Street! My next memory is from Rachael and Nick’s wedding reception at the Parkway Hotel, close to Golden Acre Park. It was quite late in the evening and it was in the Ladies’ Toilets. Given the width of her wedding dress Rachael needed some assistance in manoeuvring from her bridesmaids. She looked incredibly happy and perhaps just a little drunk! The births of Sean and Sam followed, and I remember both were premature and had to spend a number of weeks in the Neonatal Unit at the LGI. It was a very worrying time but I remember feeling so impressed by Rachael and Nick’s strength and devotion which got them through to bringing both boys home. I also recollect meeting Rachael, Nick and the boys on summer holiday in France. We were camping with our three little ones in the Vendée and they were a little way up the coast in a caravan. We met up for a day out and a BBQ together. I remember Rachael looking tanned and relaxed, clearly enjoying her time away from work with Nick and family. I have a vague memory of going up a lift inside a tall water tower as you could walk around the balcony at the top with fantastic views across the French countryside, but Charles can’t remember doing that! Over the years, Charles and I met up with Nick and Rachael at numerous Law Balls. One that stands out is when Nick and Charles both partook rather a large amount of the vodka luge and Rachael and I comparing the hangovers of our partners the next day. We both got new puppies about ten years ago and when they were both young dogs, we met up for a walk over the Christmas and New Year period, starting at Barden Bridge and walking through to Bolton Abbey. Rigsby and Monty got on reasonably well although Rigsby was quite a lot smaller than Monty. I loved the way that he always sat on Rachael’s lap in the car. He was a very sweet dog. There are various memories of visits to Malaysia. One of my latest memories is from October 2019 in Kuala Lumpur. We were attending a conference hosted by Taylors’ University prior to Nick and Rachael staying on for the Annual Partners’ Meeting while I was travelling on to Jakarta in Indonesia. We met up early evening in the Club Room of Traders’ Hotel for cocktails and snacks. We got prime seats looking across to the Petronas Towers and over KLCC park as the sun set and night fell. I remember lots of laughter and enjoying their company very much as often on international visits I travel alone. I remember that they added a few days’ holiday on to the end of the trip and the images of the tropical island they stayed on looked idyllic. These are just some of my personal memories of Rachael. In terms of work, I worked particularly closely with Rachael for about a decade from 2000 onwards. She was Core Services Co-ordinator with responsibility for all administrative and clerical staff within the School. Over that time she was exploring different options for self-development within the University which culminated in undertaking a MA in Work Based Learning with the Business School. Rachael juggled her studying with working full time, alongside caring for Nick and her family. She passed with Distinction which was very well deserved. From her visit with Nick to Louisville School of Law, she brought back ideas about using honour codes as a way to deal with issues of academic integrity. She presented this not only to the School at an Away Day but also at the University Learning and Teaching Conference. Although nervous at the prospect of speaking to an audience comprised mainly of academics, she gave a confident and polished presentation. Over the years I have admired Rachael’s professionalism, meticulousness, team management and leadership of student education services within the School of Law. She was a brilliant and dedicated colleague, warm and generous and always ready with a smile. I do feel privileged to have known Rachael for such a long time and to have so many happy memories. My thoughts and condolences are with Nick, Sean and Sam.

Professor Norma Martin Clement, Pro-Dean International, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, University of Leeds 

I met Rachael when I was at Leeds Uni and from the first moment I met her I felt we had a connection. She just seemed so lovely and caring and funny and we got on immediately. I’m not really sure what I brought to the party but she seemed to love me all the same. Through all my years at uni she has to have been one of the nicest people I met. We really bonded and she became like my uni mum always checking on me making sure I was alright and getting on ok. She always looked out for me and was so kind to me even when I would say something stupid. Her and Nick were just the perfect couple and so sweet together. I’ve never met a couple more suited in my life. They just worked so well together it was like one person. I’ve had some amazing nights with both of them and my other half Courtney, nights I will never forget. Ones that usually ended up in Rachael falling asleep somewhere, whether that be in a taxi on the way to the club, in a booth in the club or bar, or sometimes on either Nick or my shoulder. I will never ever forget Rachael and everything she did for me which was more than she ever knew. All my thoughts and best wishes go to her family who sadly lost her way too soon. To Nick, Sean and Sam, I’m so sorry for your loss she was an amazing person and she will never be forgotten by the people she touched in life which will be more than any of us could ever imagine, she was that special.

Grant Morris, School of Law Alumni, University of Leeds 

I first met Rachael as a student at the school. Rach had the type of personality where you just loved her from the moment you met her. She was so fun to be around, always smiling and gave off a certain positive energy that was infectious. At the same time Rach was so caring and maternal, you always knew that you could count on her to look after you as a student. Once I joined the school as member of staff, that’s when our friendship truly began. At every school event, I could guarantee that Rach would be there, Nick would always be by her side or somewhere very nearby. Rach and Nick were always there for me, I remember being so nervous for my first staff party and there they both were, looking out for me. More often than not these events would end up with my partner Grant (who Rach adored) joining us halfway through the night and us four having a blast together until the early hours of the next morning (Rach would usually have a nap at the table during the night to keep herself going). My favourite night was when she fell asleep in a 2 minute taxi ride from one pub to the next, like a power nap to make sure she lasted until the very end! I will miss these times and Rachael’s amazing bubbly personality so much. Rach has been taken from us far too early, but she lives on in her gorgeous family, Nick, Sean and Sam.

Courtney Leader, Postgraduate Researcher and Module Assistant, School of Law, University of Leeds 

Rachael had a gift for improving the world around her. She was often the first person I met upon arrival at work, the clickety-clack of her heels and cheerful ‘Morning!’ shaking me from any concerns about the day ahead. She must have supported thousands of students over the years: many referred to her as their ‘university mum’, their affection evident in photographs of Rachael and Nick surrounded by beaming alumni. I recall seeing her peddling away during the School’s static charity bike ride to Malaysia in 2018, always enjoyed her contributions to charity cake Mondays, and know that she was integral to many of our fundraising endeavours. As the School’s Education Service Manager, she was quietly, modestly, utterly brilliant at her job, whilst her warm and collegial management style enabled her colleagues to thrive. During the decade that Nick was Director of Student Education, seeing Rachael and Nick work so closely together, I thought many times how fortunate we were to have Team Taylor at the student education helm. My thoughts are with Nick, Sean and Sam at this time. It was a privilege to know Rachael for almost 17 years and I will miss her greatly.

Dr Sam Lewis, School of Law, University of Leeds 

Rachael was one of the first people I saw when I walked into Lyddon Terrace 19 years ago. I remember then she had a kind face and a lovely smile and that is how I will always remember her, as that is how she always was. Over my last few years in the School, Rachael had become my ‘go to’ person. Whether my problem was real, perceived and/or of my own making she had a calm solution. She told me recently we had a few scrapes to get out of over the years – but in reality she got me out of the scrapes, with a good many laughs along the way. Rachael always had time for people, however busy she was, and I have been incredibly lucky to have known her and to have had the chance to work with her for so long. Rachael was a wonderful and amazing person and the world will be a poorer place without her.

Dr Sarah Brown, School of Law, University of Leeds

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Rachael and to benefit from her many wonderful attributes – caring, perceptive, and superbly professional. I knew her from the day she joined as a teenager at the Law School in Lyddon Terrace where she worked our lively General Office. I followed her career through to her senior roles, especially when she was our main administrative officer during the time I served as Head of School. Her kindness and diligence were shining virtues. It was Rachael who had the box of tissues at the ready to console the students (and sometimes staff) when setbacks occurred. It was Rachael who worked tirelessly and with amazing accuracy on the processing of the minutiae of exams results, staff allocation schemes, and a million other tasks at a time when our computing facilities were more rudimentary than today. I shall struggle to imagine the Law School without the customary smile from Rachael as I pass her office. My thoughts and condolences are with Nick (we also go back a long way!) and his family.

Professor Emeritus Clive Walker, School of Law, University of Leeds

I was shocked and saddened to learn that our valued colleague Rachael had passed away. It is hard to imagine the Law School without her. She always was so kind to everybody, positive, constrictive and willing to assist staff and students beyond the call of duty. We have lost a gem, a superb human being and a wonderful colleague.

Professor Surya P. Subedi, QC, OBE, DCL, School of Law, University of Leeds

Rachael must have made an impression on thousands of people who passed through Leeds law school, and I along with them will always be in her debt. I could not count the amount of times I was struggling with something, or needed advice and guidance when I was starting out on my career at Leeds, and I, like many others, knew I could turn to Rachael. She was not only my first port of call for help, she would help without judgement, and with good cheer, regardless of how busy she was (and how dumb my question). I cannot recall a single occasion when she was not happy to help me or the hundreds of others who turned to Rachael for help. How comforting it was to know that she would be downstairs whenever I needed her! I would often try and distract Rachael with chatter, and enjoyed talking to her about her young boys (and my young girls). I remember discussing her sons scouring the Argos catalogue before Xmas and joking about how sensible her boys must be as I would never dare to let my kids see such a thing! I have a cardigan in my wardrobe that Rachael commented on (she liked it) and it always makes me smile when I wear it knowing that Rachael liked it because she always looked so effortlessly perfect! I always wished I was more like Rachael (I was even secretly delighted that we both had puggles!) – always happy and endlessly kind and helping others, and so great at her job as well as everyone else’s! It was as clear as day just how much she was loved by, and loved Nick and her boys. We should all be so lucky to have such love in our lives. There is no doubt that Rachael had much joy in her life, but most of all, she had the gift of spreading that joy to so many others. She will be so sorely missed by so many, but I am grateful that I had a chance to know her just a little for a short time.

Dr Carole McCartney, Northumbria University (Leeds Law School 2001-2013)

My thoughts first and foremost are with Nick, Sean and Sam. It is fitting that my first concrete memory of Rachael is of her having her lunch with the boys at the back of Lyddon Terrace and laughing as they climbed trees (they were much younger then!): she was utterly dedicated to her family. Two years later, after I had graduated from the School and re-joined as a Lecturer, she became a colleague and, a little further down the line, a friend who my husband, parents and I enjoyed nights out with. Rachael was the life and soul of any party, and the workplace: vibrant (including in her fantastic dress sense), warm, very funny, and interested in really getting to know people. She was also forensic in her understanding of, and commitment to, student education. Over the years I lost count of the number of times we relied on her detailed knowledge of a student's particular circumstances - she knew everything and could find a solution to any problem in a calm and thoughtful manner. She built an incredible team of people who are very much in her mould: committed, professional and kind. One of the last times I saw Rachael was when she drove all the way to Liverpool and back, just so that Nick could speak with my Dad, who was going through a tough time: she was unfalteringly generous. Several years ago, Nick told me that relationships should always be fun - and my word, did they look to be having the time of their lives. Nick and Rachael were, and are, inseparable in my mind and my deepest sympathies go to him, Sean, Sam and their wider family for their devastatingly untimely loss. Next time I'm able, I'll raise a Pornstar Martini to Rachael and remember her fabulous, infectious laughter.

Lydia Bleasdale, School of Law, University of Leeds 

I joined Leeds law school at the same time as Nick. We shared a landing for much of the next ten years. Rachel was the perfect match for Nick's mischievousness, wit, and infectious laughter. She was a first-class administrator but most of all, she was a warm, kind, funny, and gentle human being. The strains of life didn't take that away from her. I last saw Rachel four weeks before her life was abruptly taken away. The sky was illuminated by a blazing sunset that evening, as she talked lovingly about Nick, her sons, and their future plans. I couldn't have imagined that I would never see her again. Her sudden loss is unbelievably tragic and devastating. I shall never forget her smiley eyes full of hope and love for her family.

Professor Aurora Plomer, University of Bristol 

Shocked!! I know Rachael Taylor because I’m a cleaner at the law school!! I’ll miss her lots. She had a good heart and nice talk with me when I cleaned her office.

Amanda Atkin, School of Law, University of Leeds

It was a privilege to work with Rachael and Nick at Leeds University Law School between 1993-2000, to see their wonderful romance blossom to marriage, and celebrate the arrival of Sean and Sam. Incredibly sad to hear such devastating news. Sincere condolences and kind thoughts to all the family. Rachael stands out in terms of her charm, humour, exemplary professionalism and a smile that would light up any room, but most importantly the love for her cherished family. Heartfelt condolences to Nick, Sean, and Sam.

Professor Alan Reed, Northumbria University 

I worked at Leeds for 12 years until 2013. That they were very happy years was down to great students and fabulous colleagues. Nick, you were one of the best of those colleagues. Your door was always open and I was lucky enough to wander in many times to seek advice and reassurance. I learned a great deal from you. Rachael was another. So kind and immensely knowledgeable and so good humoured and upbeat about developments that got many down. I remember her laughter at social events and her cheery presence as I came into the (then) brand new Liberty Building. She helped make the building so welcoming. I recall the great regard in which she was held by all of us staff and by the students. I remember her helping me on numerous occasions. I am so very sorry to learn of her passing. With every good wish to you Nick, and to your family and to all at the Law School.

Professor Emma Cave, Durham University 

Rach was an amazing lady who as a student was always there for and especially at my most needed times. She leaves a lasting legacy and without doubt touched the lives of so many, who are forever thankful for the kindness that she showed them. Her legacy will continue and we will never forget her.

Lee McAteer, President of Leeds University Law Society 2006-07 and Tranmere Rovers Associate Director

I write to offer my sincere condolences upon your loss. I was so sorry to read of Rachael’s passing. I met her in my capacity as external examiner for the School of Law, and my dealings with both Rachael and with Nick were marked by the good humour, enthusiasm and efficiency that characterise the best of the School, which I took the pair of them to represent. It was apparent to me that Rachael was a valued member of the School community, and that she did so much to support students and colleagues alike.

Professor James Lee, King's College London

There’s not many people I’ve known for 22 years and even fewer who, like Rachael, I probably saw more days than not over those years. She was one of the first people I met when I was interviewed. When I got the job offer, she gave me the forms to fill in. I messed them up. She smiled and laughed and gave me some more to do properly – I think she might have made me a cup of tea as well. That small interaction probably summed up the next 22 years. Rachael was unfailingly kind and generous, and one of the few people I’d ever be comfortable asking for help from. Rachael’s great gift at work was her ability to do the impossible through collaboration. She defended and protected her team to the hilt. She was kind and supportive of academics and understanding of when we faced challenges. She always insisted on being fair to students, and on giving them what they needed to do well. Somehow, when it looked from the outside as though some of those things were in tension, she would always work with people to find the way through it, and she always did. There was genius in that. Over the last two weeks, I don’t think a day, or a meeting, has gone by when I haven’t at some point thought “What would Rachael do?” – and whatever the context, it helps. There are so many memories that I can’t do justice to here. I, and the whole School, will miss her so very much.

Dr Chloe Wallace, School of Law, University of Leeds

I joined the Law School in 1992/3, at much the same time as Nick, and so I had the pleasure to first meet Rachael on my arrival nearly 29 years ago. I have wonderful memories of the General Office in Lyddon Terrace in those early years and young Rachael with her smile, good humour and friendly assistance was at the centre of it. I was subsequently lucky enough to attend the celebrations for Rachael and Nick’s wedding and to meet and watch from afar the boys as they grew up and their relationship as it continued to blossom. More recently, I had the honour to join Rachael and a few other colleagues and students in the Law School Tough Mudder team on a rainy day in July 2019 to raise money for Parkinson’s Research charity (see photo below). As the tallest member of the team, I performed the slightly uncomfortable task of acting as the human ladder over which others climbed! It was therefore my absolute pleasure to assist, in a small way, Rachael over a few muddy hurdles. In so doing, I was able to help a beautiful, generous and caring woman who helped and touched so many others, over much more substantial personal hurdles. For me Rachael was an ever-present shard of light, humour and kindness within the Law School, one that is both irreplaceable and evocative of all that is welcoming, warm and good about the workplace we shared. She was also intrinsically linked, in so many ways, to Nick. In my mind they were and are inseparable. My heart and condolences, therefore, go out to Nick, Sean and Sam for having such a gorgeous partner, mother and friend taken so early – far too early – along the special voyage they carved out and shared together. Rachael will be sorely missed by many, but we were also privileged to have been touched by her warm presence while she was with us.

Professor Adam Crawford, School of Law, University of Leeds
Tough mudder


I felt my blood freezing when I first read the email from Louise informing Rachael’s sudden departure; I just could not believe it. It is a loss not only for her family, especially for Nick, but also for the whole law school. Although Rachael has physically left us, she stays in our memory forever, and her kindness to her colleagues at the law school, especially to the junior staff like myself, is permanently appreciated. As a newcomer at the law school in 2016, I made many mistakes in managing teaching issues, and every time Rachael always returned detailed instructions offering specific guidance with great patience; she never showed any irritation for my repeated errors. Rachael was a supportive colleague and acted more like a sister, looking after people surrounding her. I am sending my deepest condolence to Rachael’s family, in particular to Nick. May she rest in peace.

Dr Zinian Zhang, School of Law, University of Leeds