From Kai

Dear Andrey, Denny and Gigi,

Our deepest felt condolences. Words can never express our feelings, but we would like to let you know, that our thoughts are with you and with our dear friend Maria at this dark time.

Maria has been a companion for us – professionally and privately – since December 2003. We had the tremendous pleasure of having her as our guest and as a trainer in Bulgaria, India, Austria and Germany during the past 12 years.

She always brought joy of life, deep understanding and love for the people around her and an incredible feeling of being welcome, no matter who they were. As someone said on your page, Maria simply loved people.

She will be in our minds and part of our journey forever. A wonderful mind has left this world, and we hope to reunite with her in another one.

We would like to share some pictures of our shared time with Maria.

With love and sorrow,

Petra & Kai with Arjun & Lola


From Elaine

Dearest Denny, Gigi, and Andrey,
You’re right, Denny, in what you wrote on your mum’s beautiful tribute page. Words aren’t enough, they don’t fit and mean what they need to, in times like these…when I want to reach out and offer some small measure of comfort, but am instead struggling, too, to squeeze this wordless, silent fog of sadness into some form of conventional sentence.
I have only known Maria relatively briefly, for these past 8 years, with long periods inbetween without seeing each other, yet I remember clear as day the very first moment I met her in the Coghill and Beery offices, and she introduced herself. I remember the first car ride down the M40 to deliver our Tesco workshop, coming by your house early in the morning to pick her up. Watching her deliver, so effortlessly, connecting ideas and people seamlessly, with such unbridled intelligence, force of character, and great charm. In the greatest of admiration then, and still now, through these last painful years and months, even weeks, when we last exchanged text messages, when she was not feeling well enough to deliver the talk she had committed to, when we met at Mosimann’s to rekindle work talk when she explained the foundation of ULead to me, the firm hopes we both held of seizing the pleasure of working together again… that iron determination, that immense capability, that rich sense of humour, subtlety and tact, and profound compassion and care for everyone around her, yes, that was your mum for me. But you know that already – she is your mum! And your wife! How much more you must have seen that, every day, and therefore must you be feeling that much more grief at your loss.
In the face of that awful finality, which awaits us all one way or the other… we celebrate, or rather, I mustn’t presume; I celebrate, I would like to offer some small but heartfelt witness of the greatness that was Maria, the life that she was, that she made and that she led, and which, despite the Pain of her physical absence, lives on, every single day that the three of you still live, and the many, many of us who still live, and remember her and hold her in our thoughts and hearts with admiration, affection, and gratitude. She has given me so much inspiration in our relatively brief friendship, and I will forever be glad that I could have her as my friend.
I cannot tell you how much it meant to Philipp and me that Andrey, you and Maria made it to join us on the 21st of March. That radiance, strength, watching both of you dance to the band’s music, seeing her deep in conversation with our other friends, or just quietly, contentedly taking in the atmosphere of it all. I know what an effort it must have been for her to come, and her smile! I drank in the sight of it all evening, and it will be how I will hold her in my memory.
I leave you with a few mementos from that evening, in the hope that it will come to bring you some joy and solace, too, after the darkness has passed.
With love and my deepest condolences,


From Nick

Dear Denny, Gigi and Andrey,
I was so deeply saddened when I heard about Maria’s passing. It seems surreal to me, as I’m sure it has been to you. I don’t think I got a chance to see her since her diagnosis. The last image I have is of her with her characteristic radiant smile, boundless vigor, and truly infectious positive energy. Looking through your memorial website gives me comfort that she fought to uphold those lovely qualities up until the very end.
I think back to all the times we spent together as two families, and how she was always the one to make us laugh, to suggest a new travel adventure, to bring out a delicious surprise dessert after we all thought she was done stuffing us with other delicious food, or to take us for a evening walk along the Thames, sometimes for no other reason than simply to breathe in life and enjoy it for all its worth.
I will always remember the warmth that you emanated as a family, always laughing together, celebrating the small moments. I can only hope that this positive family spirit remains even after the loss of one of its brightest stars.
I wish I had gotten the chance to see you all together one last time. Life is unfairly short sometimes, but if there ever was anyone who can continue to live through all the people she touched, that person is Maria.
We will all miss her dearly.
Sending all my love, sadness, and support your way. I hope I will get to see you all again in due time.

Tributes from Incite Learning Faculty – thank you all

From David, thank you for sharing these with us. They are lovely.

Part of my announcement to the faculty:

“…Maria began working with us back in the Exetor days around 2000.  She was one of three in a small firm in London, one of which was in my graduate program in the U.S.   The people she touched over the past 15 years were changed in some way by knowing her.  Susan and I spent time with her and her family over the years and I am glad they have each other to deal with her loss.  Both the girls are living at home so they can be near and hold close to each other.

I loved her sense of humor and that sly look she would get when she was just waiting for you to catch on to what she was really saying.  She loved life, loved her family, and loved her work.  She began her own practice, The Ulead group a few years ago and was gaining momentum when the original diagnosis was given.  From there is has been a struggle but she was always positive and looking to the next time together.  In her last email to me she spoke of getting together the next time we are in London and go to a new cafe on the river. Perhaps we will do that with Andrey and the girls and in a fine Bulgarian tradition…drink heavily in her honor!!

Maria leaves behind husband and life partner Andrey as well as two grown daughters, Denny and Evvy.  Her family is outstanding and I find some comfort in that.  She leaves a big hole in our U.K./Europe team and will be sorely missed.”
What follows are the responses from various faculty members with others who sent short condolences as well. Laurence sent a longer letter which she has probably already shared. David Agran, David Marvin, Wendy Webb (Zeke’s wife), and Nancy Campbell all sent their sympathy and wishes.

Lizzie Pawsey:

I learnt so much from her and, as you know, did most of my programmes with her after she brought me into the Incite family. She always so generous with her time and I so admired her skills. Participants loved her. As you say, this is a huge gap in the European Team as well as a good friend and colleague. I can’t imagine her not being around for future programmes.  I always think of her mantra when I always doing programmes – What’s helpful for the participants?  (Rather than what we “experts” think will work).

Vassilis Chantziaras:

Last time I saw Maria, it was 2 months ago. We were discussing one of her own programs, that we were planning to run together in a few weeks. I could tell, she was not as fit as I knew her, nevertheless she was very positive and determined to be active at work. She was so determined to live, that I gave up any “doubts” I had about her health situation. I thought she will recover soon and be back in action.

Maria has been a very generous and wise friend. She has been always supportive. Although very experienced and with an extraordinary coaching talent, she was always very humble. She would treat people with respect and honesty. The way she was interacting with participants has been very inspiring to me. I learned a lot from Maria. I am very sad that she won’t be there in our next program. I ‘ll miss her greatly.

Her death reminds me one more time to live & love more fully. Maria I will miss you a lot. May your soul rest in heaven.

Kelly Ross:

Such sad, sad news!  To Maria and her wonderful smile and fantastic perspective.

Zsuzsanna Tungli:

I have known Maria for a very long while, from the 90s. My love and respect have always been there for her and for me she was a very special person: Intelligent, caring, humble, funny, always wanting to help and learn. I really hope that the strong family they had together, her husband and girls will be able to support each other.

I know we have to celebrate her life, and there are many reasons for this, but I just feel very sad right now. I wish Maria all the best and am sending her a lot of love to wherever we find ourselves when our life ends here.
Margaret Allen:

Thanks for the email – such sad, sad news. I am in complete shock – it seems like only yesterday we were all working together and benefitting from Maria’s amazing serenity, wisdom and fun. I didn’t know she was quite so ill – I think she was a very proud and dignified lady so can’t begin to imagine what she must have been going through to try to keep it all together.

Thanks to you, David for introducing me to her. I not only enjoyed working with her but benefited hugely from her sense of perspective and insight.

Sydney Jay:

I just came from a Buddhist conference/teaching event, one filled with the typical focus on the transient nature of our existence, to hear this incredibly sad news.  Maria was the absolute embodiment of love, care and compassion and our world is lessened by her passing.  All we can do is let the warmth and generosity she gave to us live onward through our interactions with others.

I join all of you in mourning our loss and pray for her family as they deal with their more personal loss.

From Laurence

Many thanks dear Denny, Gigi and Andrey for posting the wonderful tributes and photos that remind us of your amazing mother and wife!

This photo of Maria deeply concentrated watching her computer, reflecting, at Fulham Palace Cafe, makes me smile and cry at the same time..

I could just imagine what was the next moment as if in a movie: she would lift up her head, having sparkling eyes and say something really wise, often smiling…
Thank you Maria, my dear friend,

Dear Maria, my dear friend,
Here you are now, in peace, with no pain, in the light of the 7th plane, twinkling,

With your wonderful smile, and your laugh, as if zillions of blue bells were tinkling,

I can see warmth, care, wit, creativity, connectivity as always in your eyes, sparkling.

I am still under shock as, until the end, I believed, you believed, we were believing

that your inner strength and strong will power would win over the crab progressing.

But the Universe decided otherwise. You went the 2nd time your heart stopped beating.

I started to know you via the Bulgarian network some years ago, and also the neighbouring,

you were living at number 57 mirroring mine, Inglethorpe street, and we were both running

along the river Thames, sometimes together, sometimes with our partners, and greeting,

or in the past months going together to our local sport club at 8am for your fitness reviving.

We got closer professionally too, we enjoyed mutual stimulating discussion and sharing

about our learning points, experiences with people, possible ideas, concepts, projecting

to create and do even more together, for our complementarities and similarities joining.
We had endless discussions when you wanted to transition to your own firm of coaching,

and then you jumped with your enthusiastic energy and proudly U>lead group was birthing!
“What is the key small step that will be next for you?”, your preferred question, solution focusing!

I would ask the same question to you, and we would laugh! “Just be my friend, stop coaching!”

You incarnated elegance, and this was another of our favorite topic of discussion: how combining

colours, how matching clothes with body shapes, how accessorizing make a difference in impacting

self & others in an audience! How the height of heels is correlated with self-confidence boosting!

You would suggest and organise our theatre plays going, and I would the music concert listening,

filling the car with family, friends, and, to be on time, through the Fulham back streets slaloming!

And when you were diagnosed with cancer, in January 2013, you showed what open-minding

truly meant. You started to explore new ways to eat, drink, breathe and discovered meditating.

Together, we did some chakra clearing, we would meet more often, to Fulham Palace Café walking.

You would just text me and ask to pop in at home, we would sit, drink herbal tea, garden watching.

Relaxed, you would start talking about your childhood, releasing well anchored memories, sharing

your dream about retiring in your home in Burgas, by the sea, excited about the refurbishing,

a project for and with your family, for the historic features and the stained glass highlighting,

as it was this image you were contemplating as a child, from the house opposite where you were living.

Through this image you were aspiring to go upper, forward, even further, your world expanding

to even more beauty and intelligence, to even more discoveries, explorations, further away flying.

This is what you have achieved in your life, flying, creating, interacting, en-joy-ing, building, connecting,

loving your husband, two daughters, friends, it was easier for you to give, you learnt more about receiving.

You had plenty of ideas to develop, and you started to write, the red book story, your own story telling.

It became less easy when you felt more frequently tired, and when your right arm started swelling.

So you plugged again to your crusader self, converting your negative thoughts and emotions into positiving.

Our discussions were more interrupted by more crying, and you felt being in the being was relieving.

We were looking forward to going to Brighton in July to practice Intuitive Anatomy in Theta healing,

as a way for you to take control again of your health, rebuild your body, your positive mind still driving.

So now, when I will be on my own in Brighton, or anywhere from now on, I will for your signs watching..

Will you be this bright butterfly in the sky flying?

This colourful one with elegant wings?

As always, you, the way U>leading …

for aspiring and inspiring,

promising and delivering,

smiling and exploring,

laughing and fulfilling,

high flying..

Thank you Maria for all your gifts. I feel I was so lucky for you in my life meeting.

I promise that I will continue to be mindful and grateful for each moment of being.

See you over there, where you are, in the Light, one day, when time will be coming.

Yours, heart to heart.

Heart hurting.

Heart smiling.
Heart living

From Giles

Dear Denny, Andrey & Gigi,

I am so terribly sorry, devastated for you all.

I was enriched by spending time with your wonderful Mum and wife, she was one of the most radiant people I have ever met. Her love for people shone. Always. My thoughts are with you, and I can only imagine how you all feel.

When someone you care deeply for passes away, the written word seems so shallow, so inadequate.

Maria, has a very special place in my heart. I know a little of what a wonderful, truly wonderful woman she was. Forgive a ramble, I don’t think I can write anything that doesn’t simply pour out of my heart. She would have smiled………she always smiled. Maria always made order and sense from my ramble.

I know you know so much better than I everything I am about to write….

Maria has touched so many hearts, made so many lives the better for her friendship. She was amazingly giving, I used to ask her who looks after the giver? Who cares for the carer? She gave so very much because she was one of life’s unstinting givers. She gave without expectation of anything being returned. She emotionally healed……She helped.

I first met Maria in the USA on a WPP senior management course, Maestro. It was amazing. She was amazing. I cried. She cried. We laughed, we worked hard. She gave. I learned, I changed – she helped me understand that I’m at my best being me, when I had spent twenty years trying to be something and someone else. The week I spent with her changed me deeply. It is perhaps the most special memory, the most impactful week I have spent in my thirty years at WPP. She listened, she understood, she helped.

We stayed in touch, I saw her every four months or so. Our lunches and work together on leadership courses were always uplifting, always enriching. I treasure the time we spent together. She often talked about you all, and her eyes twinkled, I know how proud and how much joy each of you brought to her. Her tales of Bulgaria, she entertained me, enthralled me………….

Dearest Maria, dearest friend (that’s how she used to write to me) you’ve left us all far, far too early. I’m not sure that I said thank you enough, I’m not sure that I listened enough, I’m not sure I told you how much I (and so many others) cared deeply for you. But I know you knew, you always knew, you were such a sharp brilliant woman, so intuitive, you wore your sharp intellect so well, used it for good, and for others. Goodbye gorgeous. XX…….

A life well worth living is measured in legacy. Wow what a legacy you left, full of hope and joy and positive energy. Full of smiles.

We who spent time with Maria loved her dearly.

Thank you for sharing your amazing, beautiful Mum and wife with us. Today the world is a lesser place………less beautiful, less giving, less loving, simply less…..

I first met you in tears….and now I find I leave you the same way…………….


A message from Ian

I’ve been thinking all day about her impact and her legacy. She got people doing what humans should do. Nothing revolutionary, nothing about saving the planet but making people connect better, making the world a better place which may save the planet. I thought she’d live forever. Like a fairy godmother. In her last act she showed vulnerability and that nothing is forever.

When I was thinking this I was out on my mountain bike. I turned away from the sun and was riding into my shadow. Over the Chilterns I saw shadows and I wondered if that was a metaphor for death. In that our shadows grow bigger and bigger until they consume us. But then I thought actually our shadows stay with us, day or night, light or dark. A bit like hope. A bit like love. A fairy godmother.