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Mark Hanson 1974-2011

Clare writes for the Guardian’s Other Lives

My husband, Mark Hanson, who has died aged 36, had three obsessions: social media, the Labour party and Everton FC. The first two of these passions culminated in him working with Jag Singh and Alex Hilton, among others, to bring the Labour party into the modern age. With them, he helped set up the online community Labourhome in 2006-07.

As an unpaid new media adviser for No 10 and the Labour party, his advice was highly respected. He was credited with inspiring John Prescott to use Facebook and Twitter, and was involved in Labour’s election campaign last year. In his own words, he became “a proper, official ‘Labour new media strategist’ which included being a spokesperson for the party. People don’t realise how big a thing that was. It was mega!”

He was born in St Helens, Merseyside, and studied business management at Newcastle University. Having begun his PR career in the Lloyds TSB press office in 1995, he worked at Lansons Communications for around eight years, specialising in financial PR, and also had stints as a reporter on the former TV channel Simply Money, and as a DJ on local radio in Merseyside. He moved to the PR agency Staniforth in 2007 and then became deputy managing director of Wolfstar Consultancy, a Leeds-based PR agency specialising in social media, in 2009.

I remember Mark introducing me to Facebook on our honeymoon in Jordan in June 2007. It became part of the daily routine to visit the business centre after dinner in whichever hotel we were in, as he needed to get updates on Hilary Benn’s deputy leadership campaign, which he had been working on (in his spare time). It was not the most romantic way to spend honeymoon evenings but indicative of Mark’s drive and zeal.

So many people knew Mark as confident, professional and modest, but behind closed doors he was struggling with depression. No matter how many times I urged him to speak more widely about it, he steadfastly refused and attempted to teach himself to think differently in a bid to rid his mind of dark thoughts. But the only escape he could see was to take his own life. The response to his death has been overwhelming. The fact he was trending on Twitter is a fitting tribute to a social media guru. I survive him, along with his mother, Ursula, his father, Leslie, his sister, Michelle, brother-in-law, Ste, and nephews, Daniel and Jonathan.

(From the Guardian)

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