Tributes Flood In For Licensing Industry Legend Kelvyn Gardner

Tributes have flooded in from greeting card publishers, retailers, licensees and brand owners, to pay their respects to Kelvyn Gardner, a leading light in the licensing industry who died unexpectedly from a heart attack a few days ago.

Hugely respected, widely known and much loved by all, Kelvyn, the founder of Asgard Media, long-time managing director of Licensing International UK and active Light Fund committee member, passed away on January 26.

At the request of Kelvyn’s family (his widow Michelle, daughter Regan and son Eliot), PG Buzz’s sister newsletter shared the very sad news on the day of his death.

https://www.licensingsource.net/sad-loss-industry-legend-kelvyn-gardner-has-passed-away/

Kelvyn was always so generous with his time for those in the greeting card world, sharing his expertise and encouragement. A natural orator, he spoke at The Ladder Club as well as at PG Live exhibitor meet-ups and was always on hand to answer any questions from publishers and artists about licensing. He also chaired the License This! competition, which has touched the lives of greeting card publishers/artists over the years.

Above: Kelvyn proudly wearing his Warrington Wolves shirt.
Above: Kelvyn proudly wearing his Warrington Wolves shirt.

One of Kelvyn’s lifelong passions was Warrington Wolves, the rugby league club, of which Stuart Middleton, the creative director (and significant shareholder) of Card Factory is chairman.

Paying his personal tribute Stuart (who was brought up on the same street as Kelvyn’s family) told PG Buzz: “Kelvyn was a life-long avid Warrington Wolves’ fan, he was an encyclopaedia of everything rugby league. He travelled up North for every home game and brought his parents Arthur and Mary, also avid supporters until Arthur died a couple of years ago. Kelvyn was often seen at away games, including our visits to Perpignan in France and of course, Wembley for the Challenge Cup. One thing is for sure, he always wore the Primrose and Blue [the club’s colours]!

I enjoyed our little chats after the game and valued Kelvyn’s honest opinion whether it was a win or a loss. He was always philosophical and made me see things slightly differently. He sent me a text only a few weeks ago to wish me luck for the new season and told me he’d just watched the Warrington and Wigan game from 1988, his words were “those boys did it tough”

Kelvyn also sponsored some of the younger players over the years, he was keen to see their development into elite professionals, especially the local kids. He also sponsored many initiatives with the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, including the annual local schools tournament.  He saw them as investments rather than giveaways, the best return is when lives change for the better in some way.

I am truly grateful for Kelvyn’s support of the club and for me personally as Chairman. I valued his friendship and will miss him. His name will live on at Warrington Wolves and when we win the elusive Grand Final, I will salute him!”

Above: Stuart Middleton (left) with the Challenge Cup Warrington Wolves last won in 2019.
Above: Stuart Middleton (left) with the Challenge Cup Warrington Wolves last won in 2019.

Among the many others in the industry who have come forward to pay their respects to Kelvyn is Dan Grant, licensing director of Danilo.

Summing up the invariably flamboyantly dressed Kelvyn, Dan told PG Buzz: “I was shocked and saddened to hear about Kelvyn and even now it doesn’t feel real.  For myself and I’m sure for many people, Kelvyn was a true ambassador of the licensing industry. Ever present at events and someone who had such great knowledge and experience in his field. He was one of those people who would generally know the answer to most things or would know where to look to get you that answer. He always made time to say hello and ask how you were. A fun, intelligent and well-respected man who will be massively missed in our industry.

My fondest memories of Kelvyn would be the time I spent working with him on the judging panel for the License This! competition.  He was so good at facilitating those events and also providing feedback and advice to those people looking to enter the world of licensing for the first time.

The licensing industry has lost a real figurehead. We must remember Kelvyn for his efforts to help grow the licensing industry into what it has become today. He will be massively missed. My thoughts go out to his wife and children.”

Above: Kelvyn Gardner (centre front) with the 2019 License This! judges which included Danilo’s Dan Grant (5th from left) and This is Iris’ Sarah Lawrence (far left).
Above: Kelvyn Gardner (centre front) with the 2019 License This! judges which included Danilo’s Dan Grant (5th from left) and This is Iris’ Sarah Lawrence (far left).

Adding her memories, Sarah Lawrence, now of This Is Iris, but formerly of Portico Designs also shared her thoughts: “Like so many, I was shocked to read the news about Kelvyn. There really aren’t many people within our industry who hadn’t met or heard of Kelvyn and his fabulous jackets. I first met Kelvyn, many years ago when I worked as a junior designer at Portico Designs. Since we started our own agency, Kelvyn would continue to pop by, give his support and share stories of how Ailsa Black’s artwork reminded him of trips away, so much so he’d end up with a bag full of samples for Michelle. I even caught him showing them to a retailer in the aisle of BLE, saying they should be stocking them! which they did! In the last few years Kelvyn joined me on the License This! panel which gave us an opportunity to talk through ideas on how to build the profile of art & design licensing within the industry.It was never a problem to have a chat and talk through an idea, and for that I am very grateful, as I am sure so many others are too. When you come straight from art college into the world of licensing, it’s people like Kelvyn that make a lasting impression. His passion, enthusiasm and fabulous jackets will be his wonderful legacy.”

Above: Kelvyn (right) drawing the raffle at one of Max Publishing’s awards events (raising money for The Light Fund), with Ian Hyder, joint md director of Max Publishing.
Above: Kelvyn (right) drawing the raffle at one of Max Publishing’s awards events (raising money for The Light Fund), with Ian Hyder, joint md director of Max Publishing.

Meera Santoro, co-owner of Santoro was another of Kelvyn’s fans, greatly admiring his enthusiasm and individuality. “Kelvyn was enthusiastic and active right up until the day he died on Zoom and Twitter – he had new ventures he was looking forward to. I just loved the way he used to express his individuality with his quirky jackets. As a result I was able to spot him in a crowd a mile off, I can’t remember how many times I greeted him with: “Hey Kelvyn, looking snazzy!” I remember that particularly at the wonderful Christmas drinks party at The Ivy where he was in full swing! Such a sad loss especially at so young an age. It just gives us a jolt as to the fragility of life. Love and condolences to Kelvyn’s wife and family.”

In response to requests, Michelle, Regan and Eliot have asked that anyone wishing to make a donation in Kelvyn’s memory should do so via The Light Fund, our industry charity. All monies collected will then be divided between two charities that were close to Kelvyn – the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation (the charitable arm of Warrington Wolves Rugby League Club which was created to provide life changing opportunities through sport, education, health and the arts which enrich, inspire and celebrate the Warrington community – https://warringtonwolvesfoundation.com/) and Help Musicians (an independent UK charity for professional musicians of all genres – https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/)

The Light Fund bank details are:

BANK: BARCLAYS BANK

ACCOUNT NAME: THE LIGHT FUND

ACCOUNT NUMBER: 50068357

SORT CODE: 20 96 89

IBAN: GB70 BARC 2096 8950 0683 57

SWIFTBIC: BARCGB22

Please be sure to include your name/company name.

Kelvyn’s family requests that no flowers are sent, but anyone who would like to get in touch can do so by writing to them at Pendragon House, Wicken Road, Deanshanger, Milton Keynes MK19 6JR.

Above: Kelvyn launching his Living With Licensing podcast series last September.
Above: Kelvyn launching his Living With Licensing podcast series last September.

Top: Kelvyn Gardner in one of his famous fancy jackets.

 

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