18 May 2024, 20:39
By Furniture News Apr 05, 2019

RIP Matt O’Flynn – industry leader, radical, friend

Wow. Just three letters into the headline, and I’ve given away the punchline.

I’m writing this on April Fool’s Day, so, in the spirit of the man himself, was hoping to pen a bit of a wind-up before dealing out the bad news.

At the close, Matt joked that “every day is a pun day”, but for once, I’m struggling to come up with one. It’s funny how hard it is to find the funny in death, but, in the end, smiles are a far more fitting tribute to Matt than tears. 

I was a young(er), green(er) journalist when I first met Matt on the steps to his family’s upholstery business in Long Eaton. That day, he had his Long Eaton Guild hat on (as well as his Meadowmead hat – he had a lot of hats). 

I was immediately won over by Matt’s openness and impish sense of humour, and thus began a friendship which endured a good deal of hat changes – from taking the helm at Collins and Hayes in my hometown of Hastings, to his work in the upper echelons of the BFM, and innovating at the industry’s vanguard at Orbital Vision alongside his close friend, Rob.

I keenly felt his ups and downs over these years, often surprised – and subsequently impressed – by the paths he forged and the decisions he made.

Matt was a charismatic guy, and his geniality and verve brought people together to achieve great things.

But he was much more than a facilitator. In the spirit of every visionary, Matt was a rebel (in the best sense of the word), questioning everything, and challenging preconceptions. Most people are simply concerned with getting from A to B, rarely (if ever) stopping to think how they might do it better, or whether they should do it at all. Matt saw what others could not, and would fight for change – consequences be damned.

He was still fighting when I said goodbye. Matt bore his illness bravely and with good humour from start to finish, and my heart goes out to his wife Moira, and his four children – Ruari, Cameron, Evie and Finlay – as they face a future without him.

But now is not the time for a lament. Matt urged those that loved him to “Make the most of the rest of your ride” – we should not focus on his absence, but remember how he made us smile, and bring his example to mind when faced with a dilemma, an opportunity, or the chance to grab a cold beer with a friend.

Farewell (for now), to the impish, irrepressible and idealistic Matt O’Flynn – father, husband, Super Rams fan (nobody’s perfect), and friend.

This tribute was written by Furniture News' Paul Farley upon learning of the passing of upholstery industry leader Matt O'Flynn, who passed away at the age of 44 on 29th March, 2019.

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