A tribute to STEP founder George Tasker: 1937-2013
George Tasker conceived and founded STEP in 1991 with the express aim of uniting all of the practitioners in the trust and estate field and cutting across long-established professional boundaries. George was Chairman for three years, after which he was elected STEP’s first worldwide President.
George retired in early 2007 and resigned as President of STEP in late 2006, at which time STEP awarded him the official title of ‘Founder’. George will be greatly missed by the many friends he made in STEP wherever he went.
‘Just occasionally in life it is possible to identify an individual without whom events that have subsequently happened would not have taken place. Such an individual was George Tasker. Without his letter of early 1991 and the subsequent invitation from Stoy Hayward to a cup of tea at their London offices, STEP would not exist – or it would not be STEP and it would not exist in the form that it now takes.
‘To that extent the modest, quiet, retiring George Tasker was a revolutionary, a word he would never ascribe to himself. Nevertheless, out of that first meeting of individuals, some of whom knew each other by sight, some of whom knew each other by name and some of whom had no idea whom they were sitting next to, the organisation now known as STEP would not be here.
‘George was not necessarily a typical Scouser. To start with, he lived on the Wirral side of the Mersey, though he did work in the heart of Liverpool’s professional district. He was very clear in his views and set about the task of creating STEP with gusto and enthusiasm, and no little skill. He marvelled at the demand for reliable information on the subject of trusts and estates for, whenever those topics were mentioned in the press, and his name with them, he would be inundated with telephone calls from people wanting information and, not unusually, free advice, sometimes of a simple nature and sometimes highly technical in nature.
‘What George wanted was a group in each major town where issues of the day affecting trust and estate practitioners were discussed. He believed the essence of STEP was discussion and debate between likeminded professionals, resulting in all of us being able to do a better job for our clients. He was an educationalist at heart.
‘He was a charming and witty speaker, betraying only rarely a Scouse twang – and this was when he wanted to make a point!‘The world was richer for his presence and is poorer for his going. But his legacy – tax free! – will be with us hopefully outside even the extended perpetuity period.’ Geoffrey Shindler OBE TEP
‘It is with great sadness and deep respect that I recall one of George Tasker’s defining moments.
‘STEP was 15 years old and the occasion would not go unmarked. Four hundred people gathered to celebrate at a ballroom in a London hotel, three miles from where STEP was founded 15 years before. The Past Chairmen of STEP Worldwide were recognised on that occasion, and George was invited to speak to the gathering.
‘George began by saying that 15 years before, he had had a good idea. That idea, of course, was the founding of a society for persons in trust and estate practice, which soon became STEP. At the time, it was little more than a discussion group, and no one, not even George, could have foreseen what would develop from his good idea. And then in George’s address came what I consider to be a defining moment of his career. He said: “I had a good idea. What is so special about that? People have good ideas every day. The difference is that I did something about it. I put the idea into motion and found that others shared my idea, and this became the origin of STEP.”
‘George was far more than a man with an idea and a vision. He was a man of action with a unique ability to engage others in his enterprise. In this, he embodies the spirit of STEP, which is, of course, the enthusiasm and drive of STEP’s volunteers, who have taken the Society to all corners of the world. That spirit is commemorated in many ways: the Founder’s Awards for Outstanding Volunteerism, and the success of the Society, which speaks for itself. Six years later, as the Society passes the 21-year mark, it is fair to say that George’s legacy will never be forgotten, for it is woven into the very fabric of the Society.’ Michael Cadesky TEP
‘I first met George Tasker as a very new Chief Executive at STEP; George was charged with keeping a helpful eye on what I was doing and sharing his enormous store of knowledge about STEP – which he was always willing to do. I got to know a man of enormous modesty, in spite of his considerable achievements and abilities. Like others, I found great warmth and humour in his company.‘STEP was enormously lucky not just that George had that first idea of a networking, educating body of professionals, but in his particular character that made him such a builder of bridges and links in a nascent, then fast-growing national, and then international STEP.’ David Harvey
‘George’s modesty was key to STEP’s success, as his interest in sharing knowledge and best practice ensured the Society was, at its core, an educational body.’ Clare Colacicchi TEP
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