A tribute to Reverend Alan Tanner

By Peter Jones, MD, former WFH Executive Chair of Communications

The commitment and dedication of individuals are crucial to the success of any organisation. The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) is no exception. It owes much of its success to the wisdom of the pioneers and leaders who helped build it into the organisation we know today.

The Reverend Prebendary Alan Tanner was one such person. He was both Chairman and President in the latter part of the last century, and he was dedicated to improving and sustaining care for people with hemophilia throughout the world. This intent was strengthened by the loss of his firstborn child, Mark, who died of infection related to his treatment for hemophilia.  Suddenly, Alan had to face the death not only of his son but of many of his friends and colleagues who passed away from AIDS and hepatitis. They included the WFH’s first President, Frank Schnabel.

A deeply religious man of great integrity and enormous compassion Alan soldiered on with the unfailing support of his beloved wife, Tess, and his daughters. I remember seeing what this remarkable man was capable of when, despite his own loss, he continued to offer help to others in distress. His church, St Botolph-without-Bishopgate, in the city of London, had been caught in the blast of bombs detonated by the Irish Republican Army in 1992-1993. The force of the blast had lifted the massive roof and settled its remains so that they lay askew upon the original walls. Within the plastic shrouded and dusty interior Alan continued to work aided by his redoubtable and much loved daughter Mary-Ann. It was in this scene of utter devastation that I watched him help to forge the future of the WFH and the delivery of effective hemophilia care throughout the world.

Alan died on August 5, 2015, in his 90th year. He had a profound and lasting impact on countless men and women living with hemophilia and related disorders. He is greatly missed by many throughout the world.