Licensing industry saddened by sudden passing of Kelvyn Gardner

Published on: 27th January 2021

Kelvyn Gardner was a well known and much loved figure in the licensing community; his wife Michelle shared the sad news on LinkedIn yesterday.

Kelvyn passed away yesterday morning (26th January). Michelle wrote: “As I am typing this I just cannot tell you how we feel, we are at a loss… It was Kelvyns 66th birthday on the 22nd of January 2021 and was going to be our big wedding anniversary; 40 years. We had joked that he wouldn’t know one end of a ruby if it bit him, so I think I might have got some ruby coloured Warrington gear!”

Kelvyn’s career in licensing dates back to 1979, when he worked marketing Disney products for an Italian publishing company. For the next twenty years Kelvyn marketed literally hundreds of licensed products all over the world. During the 1990s, Merlin Publishing, founded by Kelvyn and three colleagues in 1989, became the fastest growing private company in the United Kingdom. Kelvyn recently “relaunched” licensing consultancy Asgard Media. He was also managing director of Licensing International UK for many years and was an active member of the Light Fund charity, serving on the committee, and recently entertained the licensing industry with his Living with Licensing podcasts.

Michelle added: “Please feel free to get in touch, as Covid is so crap. You know that funerals are 30 people, so in time we think a memorial service in its stead (Covid notwithstanding).”

Many took to LinkedIn to express their condolences and share memories of the popular industry character, who seemed to know and be known by everyone in licensing.

Anna Knight, VP of Global Licensing Group, Informa Markets, said: “Goodbye to an industry legend, Kelvyn Gardner, and one of the kindest people I’ve met in licensing. You were so supportive of me, our group, the shows – and wow, you loved the shows. We used to joke about which jackets you’d wear each day and whether they were “too loud” for the Americans in particular! We were planning to make you one, to wear for the 2020 BLE that didn’t happen. So much to say and in time we’ll write better words to do justice to you and what you mean to our licensing event family. So much love to Michelle, your children and the rest of your family. Rest in peace.”

Darran Garnham of Toikido described the news as ‘heartbreaking’. “Kelvyn was the father of the licensing business for me,” he wrote. “Always a kind word and interesting tale. He played at our Moshi party and had everyone on the dancefloor. I will be digging out my loudest jacket and lifting a glass to him this evening.”

“I was very sorry & shocked to hear this news,” added Ian Downes. “Kelvyn was very much one of the personalities of licensing – he informed, influenced & inspired lots of people. He was a great advocate for the industry. I enjoyed my chats with him and the jokes we shared. Time spent with Kelvyn was time well spent. We had a lot in common and I will miss him. I am really sorry for you all and send my sincere condolences.”

Toy World publisher John Baulch commented: “Kelvyn was known and respected by everyone in the world of licensing, and many people from the toy community will have worked with him over the years. The huge number of comments on the LinkedIn post by his wife Michelle announcing the sad news pays testament to just how well-liked he was by everyone he met. His sudden passing has come as a huge shock to everyone, and our thoughts are with his family, Michelle, Regan and Eliot, at this very sad time.”

To add a message to the LinkedIn post from Michelle Gardner, click here.


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