Duncan Cunningham (@ChinaDuncan ): Missing From The Stream

One of the best aspects of social media is being able to connect with old colleagues who you have lost touch with, due to geography or reason to connect. my reconnection with Duncan Cunningham is one such story. As training director for PrimeTime Recruitment, I ran a team who developed and trained literally 1000’s of recruiters who got their first break in the business.
Our strategy was to recruit and train people with no previous experience. During my time with the business we recruited heavily and opened over 100 branches across the UK. From induction (on-boarding) to director development, we helped recruit, train and develop a constantly changing workforce at every stage of their career.
One of the great things about being active in the social channels is when former colleagues stumble across each other and reconnect. Having trained so many new entrants in to the business, it’s great to hear from people who I trained in their first days in the business who have gone on to open businesses or take up senior positions so much later in their careers.
When you’ve trained a lot of people, some really stand out in your memory for a whole host of reasons. Some because they had a precocious talent that you just knew would take them far. Others who just came across as good people who it was a real pleasure to be in their company. Duncan sat firmly in both camps when he started work for PrimeTime in the Glasgow office in the early days.
Duncan stood out, not least because he was quite posh in what was essentially an industrial staffing team. He was mostly self-taught, running Perm Sales Recruitment on his own with no real guidance, just lots of enthusiasm and an infectious personality.
Duncan was also a bit of an opera singer, an unusual background in this team. With the encouragement of a few beers he would perform a full rendition of a song “wee stabby knifey” that entertained all.
Jump forward quite a few years and we crossed paths again thanks to a mix of LinkedIn and Twitter. Duncan was working for Aquent (then run by Greg Savage) in China. We exchanged messages most days about all kinds of things and spoke via Skype every few weeks. It was good to be reacquanted, and interesting for me to learn more about the market in China.
Over the last few months Duncan had ventured out on his own in Shanghai. Although it was tough getting going, I know Duncan was enjoying the challenge, working a mix of recruiting where he could get opportunities and introducing social media to companies in China. As with any new ventures, this took much of Duncan’s savings with a young family to support, but it was an investment for the future.
I was saddened recently to hear from Greg Savage the Duncan had suddenly died aged 38, leaving behind his family.
In adversity, it’s encouraging to see how recruiters band together to help in whatever way we can. For all the bravado and competition, we are actually a tight knit community. A fund has been launched to help Duncan’s family at this time.

 Whilst the cash is no doubt helpful, it must also be of some comfort to know the high regard Duncan was held in, and that others will do what they can. Aquent have started things off recognising Duncan’s 10 years plus service with a significant donation. Greg Savage is putting on a training session for 150 plus recruiters with all procedes going to the appeal. (It’s in Sydney on the 10’th August entitled New Kool v Old Skool.) Greg first covered topic in a track of the same name at #trulondon in Feb. I know it is going to be a fitting tribute. Please attend if you can.
Duncan had no life insurance, so any support you can give will be invaluable, even if it is just sharing the story. If you knew Duncan or not, recruiters stick together! Duncan had no life insurance and a young familly.
A fund has been set up to support the family. Please give what you can:

Donations can be made directly to the Family Fund via:
Bank: Commonwealth Bank Australia
Country: Australia
Bank Address: Martin Place, Elisabeth Street Sydney Bank No (or sort code):BSB – 062000 Account Number:14155368 IBAN number: Only have the swift code CTBAAU2S Account Holder’s name: The Duncan Cunningham Family Fund
Account Holder’s address: Brown Street Bronte 2024, NSW Australia

You can read Greg Savages touching post to his friend and colleague, as well as finding more detail about the event HERE

On my part I will miss @ChinaDuncan in the stream. I raise a glass to a short life well lived, and attempt a rendition of “Wee stabby knifey” not half as good. on this occasion, it doesn’t make me smile.


4 comments on “Duncan Cunningham (@ChinaDuncan ): Missing From The Stream

  1. I have never met Duncan in real life, but reading this blogpost gives me a sad feeling. Probably like many others Duncan and I knew each other from Twitter only. Our first Twitter conversation was on the 24th of June, this year. That day I was present at #truLeeds. Duncan followed the #truLeeds Twitter stream and we started talking about when Bill was planning to organize #truShanghai. Something he looked forward to attending. It was a short conversation, nothing more than a few words that connected two highly engaged recruiters with the same interests: recruiting and Shanghai. But it felt good and I remember thinking at that time that I looked forward to meeting Duncan in real life, so we could talk further about these subjects.

    Our first Twitter conversation now appears to be our last. Duncan’s tweets end at June 30th.

    I have never met Duncan in real life, and I am sad that I never will.


  2. Thank you Bill for such a touching tribute to Duncan. Once again I’ve shed a tear because I miss this remarkable man, who was a wonderful colleague to work with and a great friend. His rendition of “wee stabby knifey” was always my number 1 request when we were out on the town and by the end of it, he had everyone singing along. He is sorely missed.

  3. Hi Bill,
    My name is Iain Paterson, and I very good friends with Duncan at music college in Glasgow.
    We kept in touch for many years, but lost contact a few years back. I had been trying to get back in touch with him for some time, unsuccessfully.
    I’m devastated to hear that he is gone.
    Any info that you could pass on to me would be greatly appreciated. There will be many people back in Scotland who will miss him.
    Many thanks,

  4. reading Bills words and the other comments, it seems he hadn’t changed at all, I also studied with him in Glasgow, (for studied read, played cards etc )
    we kept in contact for years and drifted as many people do. He was a great support for me at college, and was always kind and generous. It’s truly dreadful news

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