Lena Inger was a longstanding Circle member and an influential educator for over three decades. With her long-time partner, Sandy Leckie, and fellow Circle member Vivienne Franks, she managed one of the most important wine schools in the country, The Wine Education Service Limited. Fellow members pay tribute to Lena:
“So many people who enjoy wine will be sad to hear of Lena’s death. She was a talented wine educator, who made her classes fun as well as informative, and she was one of the most significant influences in setting me on the road to wine-writing. When I was just starting, I went (at the suggestion of the late Jack Cooper, then the Ham & High’s wine columnist) to a series of different kinds of tastings – including one of Lena’s LCC evening classes. That was many decades ago, but I remember how stimulating an experience it was – and it prompted a long friendship. She was such a special person, and we’ll all miss her – inside the wine trade and way beyond it.”
– Liz Sagues
“Lena was running a wine tasting evening class in Notting Hill when I first met her, in the late 1980s. We were an often-unruly after-work crowd and she was an admirable teacher: patient and knowledgeable, with an infectious enthusiasm for her subject. We all loved her class and it quickly became the focus of the week, leading to much enjoyable socialising afterwards. I remember Lena as a truly kind-hearted person who was always interested in others and excellent company. As my first teacher, she was probably the single individual who was responsible for encouraging me to pursue my wine studies, and I’ll always be grateful to her for setting me on that path.”
– Beverley Blanning MW
“I joined the AWE back in 1997 and Lena was already one of the established figures within the association. I remember one of the first events that I attended was a training day on improving presentation skills for our courses and events. Lena, along with Sandy Leckie, and also Elizabeth Gabay, were also present.
As a relative newbie to the Wine Educators, I was a little apprehensive to be role-playing in front of much more experienced members than me. I needn’t have worried, as Lena put me immediately at ease with her charm and genuine interest in what I was saying. This was Lena. Generous and kind-hearted, but no pushover either. She knew her mind and was not afraid to express her opinions.
Most of all Lena had the knack of engaging with people on all different levels. She was not a wine geek – her interests went way beyond wine, as demonstrated by her extensive work in Mental Health and her passion for literature and the Arts. She did so much with her time and connected with so many people with her fine brain and quick wit. She was always a pleasure to sit next to at any AWE or Circle event and to hear her perspective and her insightful opinions.
As a wine communicator, she was very popular with her audiences not only by her professionalism and knowledge but also by her enthusiasm and humour. People learnt from Lena that wine was not an elitist subject, and by sharing her own experiences, her influence over many people over the years was considerable.”
– Carolyn Bosworth-Davies
“Lena was a particularly lovely woman. Gentle, thoughtful and a sheer joy to be with.”
– Stephen Barrett
“Lena was an early member of AWE, and her support and commitment cannot be overstated. She was always bright, ever sharp and totally passionate. Her knowledge was incredible, and she was more than happy to impart it to all who had an eager ear.
I would say that her influence was far greater than many of the ‘big names’ in wine communication. Of course, she did not suffer fools gladly, although would always give me a hearing! The world is a lesser place without Lena.”
“I have known Lena through both the Circle and Association of Wine Educators and she was always a regular at Circle tastings and a welcome contributor to the Q&A sessions. She was a kind and thoughtful lady who always made a point, when we met, to check that all was OK in my work! I will miss her.”
– Andrea Warren