In the first of a two-part obituary for Ruth Cutter, the former managing director of ICTC who died suddenly at the end of June, HousewaresNews.net features tributes from retail customers and housewares colleagues, many of whom gathered in person and online to celebrate Ruth’s life at a very moving funeral service last Friday (July 23).
“We at Lakeland were so very shocked and saddened to hear the news. Ruth was a great person and we always looked forward to meetings with her and seeing her at trade shows. Her knowledge about product was exhaustive and she knew so much about the industry too and was always happy to share her insight. We all admired her honesty, authenticity, and sense of fun,” writes Lakeland’s head of buying, Philippa Simons.
Lakeland buyer Kathryn Farrell adds: “Ruth’s happiness and enthusiasm was infectious, and her smile always shone out from a mile away at a trade show. You could never miss Ruth in a crowd. The industry won’t be quite the same without her. Hopefully Exclusively will be a chance for everyone to share their memories of Ruth; it was always a good show for a catch up with her.”
Martin Rayner (Lakeland director since 1971) continues: “Ruth was a great ambassador for ICTC, and she will be very much missed by all her friends, colleagues and customers; definitely a life taken too soon.”
In a message from Abraxas Cookshop, directors Sarah George and Helen Sparrow comment: “We were very sad to hear about Ruth, she will be sadly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. Rest in peace lovely lady.” Meanwhile, Gary Gordon, former md of Kitchen Kapers reflects: “I will, like so many others, remember Ruth’s friendly, yet professional attitude, with a sense of fun and camaraderie. She always took an interest in her customers and did her best for them. She was too young to be taken from us, and will not only be missed by her family, but friends and colleagues alike.”
In a tribute to Ruth that looks back over her career at ICTC, James Carter, former sales director of ICTC (now director of Carters Housewares Sales Agency) acknowledges: “The impact of Ruth’s tragically early death has been huge. People from the UK housewares industry where she worked in for many years, as well as many of the international friends and colleagues that she made throughout her career have been in touch expressing their sadness and sense of loss.”
James continues: “The heartfelt message from everyone is that Ruth’s insatiable enthusiasm, coupled with her unpretentious attitude to work and life was what has remained in people’s memories. You simply couldn’t resist smiling when you were with Ruth and her natural warmth was simply infectious.
“It is very clear that so many people genuinely loved and respected Ruth not only for her professional ability, but for simply being her. Her customers respected and trusted her, and she carried herself with professional pride and integrity, mixed with style, charm and true Yorkshire wit. She was greeted with open arms wherever she went, and everyone smiled and laughed when they were with her.
“Ruth and I, as well as close colleagues Jak, Geraldine and Will, worked and travelled together for over decade while working at ICTC and as our careers advanced together, solid friendships were formed. We worked as a team – supported each other, fell out and made up but were always there for each other.
“We shared many business trips and travelled to France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland and the US amongst just some of the locations, sourcing products, representing a company that we worked hard for and doing a job that we loved. We travelled to trade shows in Paris, Frankfurt and Chicago for extended periods and were lucky enough to experience international business and learn skills that had proved valuable in both our personal and professional lives.
“We often joked that it wasn’t worth unpacking your suitcase, or that you’d have to get up before you went to bed such was the regularity of the early morning flights. We enjoyed both the experience and the responsibilities all the same and Ruth really ran the show and forged the great relationships we made with her natural charm and keen eye for a great product.
“Having held numerous sales positions including national accounts manager and sales director, Ruth was eventually appointed managing director at ICTC, which was a huge achievement for her. She led the evolution of the business’ textile manufacturing, which included a new export business and a fresh marketing campaign focusing on its high quality, ‘Made in England’ history. This was her true product “love” and where her experience and talent set her apart.
“Over the years she developed kitchen textile products for prestigious brands such as Aga, Emma Bridgewater, Ferrero and Hotel Chocolat to name a but a few. Her quality of work and knowledge remained a rare commodity and customers valued her work highly. Regardless of the customer, no matter how big or small, she took absolute pride in delivering the best product possible. Ruth had personal integrity and it remained highest on her personal list of priorities.
“After working for ICTC Ruth moved out of the housewares industry but still kept close ties with many of us. It was a good move for Ruth, and we spoke often, catching up on news but essentially maintaining the friendships that had developed over the years. It became apparent to those closest to her that Ruth was moving forward with freedom and positivity and living her best life in Norfolk with her partner Mark.
“We remember Ruth for many things. Her love of travel, her style, her energy, bravery, and her huge heart. She loved football, music and history and immersed herself in whatever culture or country she visited. She lived with a positive outlook and an open mind. She was knowledgeable, retained detail like few others and had a frankly worrying knowledge of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which we shared and quoted regularly, as well as an obsession with Cliff Richard that will never quite be explained or understood.
“These are the memories that we take with us as we face life without Ruth. It hurts because we care, and our grief is our love for Ruth that has nowhere to go just yet. I know Ruth would say the same as Eric Idle in the closing credits of Life of Brian: “Cheer up, you old bugger. Come on, give us a grin.” She wouldn’t want us to be sad. Goodbye Ruth: you really were the most incredible friend.”
* The second part of Ruth’s obituary will feature tributes from colleagues Will Crisp, Jak Rayner and Geraldine Finnan.
Top: Ruth Cutter with The Excellence in Housewares Trophy for the Top Tool or Gadget (for Microplane) in 2015. Ruth’s 1920s dress fitted the theme of the Awards night.