From John H

Dear Andrey, Denny and Gigi,

I learned today with profound sadness and shock of Maria’s passing. I know you must be devastated and wondering how you have been so unfairly deprived of a wonderful, vibrant, inspirational wife and mother. Words cannot provide comfort to console you however, I hope you will take heart in the knowledge that the love you have for each other and your memories of Maria will sustain you in the weeks and months ahead.

My first recollection of Andrey and Maria dates back to the early days of the Richmond MBA Program and how much you both added to the intellectual and cultural richness of the experience. Not only were you incredibly hard working, but also very well connected to sources for interesting Bulgarian wines. Perhaps my fondest memory of you both was the night Maria effortlessly chopped the top off a champagne bottle (sabraged) while Andrey’s attempt resulted in the first champagne shower at the Richmond School of Business. I guess this baptism of bubbles was an appropriate harbinger to the many successes and achievements Maria crammed into her remarkable life. I enjoyed numerous debates with Maria on the topic of cross-cultural communication, in particular, as we weaved our way through the Program’s International Marketing and Strategy courses. What a proud moment for Richmond to witness Maria’s subsequent success with her cross-cultural counselling work and to realise her dream of having her own consultancy.

I was delighted to engage Maria and Candy Beery to deliver several cultural awareness courses at the Aga Khan Institute for the Study of Muslim Cultures. Their input had a very significant impact on our post-graduate students who were less-worldly wise than they thought. As I moved away from private education I lost touch with Maria, but this did not diminish the fondness and indeed respect I have for her and for you Andrey. The determination, fortitude and willpower you demonstrated to establish yourselves in the UK with new careers and to raise your family is amazing.

Maria’s death is a huge loss to you and to the countless number of students, business executives and colleagues who have benefited from her gifted contribution to the world. We are all poorer for her passing.

If I can borrow an Irish saying that sums up my sentiment…

Death leaves a heartache

no one can heal;

Love leaves a memory no

one can steal.

God Bless you all.

John Hough

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