Foremost we acknowledge the very sad loss of John Gordon, a key member of our organisation, who died on 2nd February, the obituary below was a joint effort between Simon Kenton (previous CAG Oxfordshire Project Coordinator) and others, who worked alongside John on several issues, and formed wonderful friendships with him.
John was a pivotal figure in the CAG network and the Oxfordshire environmental movement, an active member of Sustainable Wallingford and chair of South Oxfordshire Sustainability (SOS).
During his working career John was a diplomat for the UK government and a fluent Russian speaker. Crucially, he worked to deal with the consequences of the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 – an experience that helped shape his future environmental work. (Read more about John’s work here).
After retiring in 1990 John threw himself headlong into his work on social and environmental justice. He was a principled internationalist with a commitment to humanity, often seen campaigning on a Saturday morning in the local market place. Somehow he did so much – he used his energy effectively and efficiently to get things done. John understood our climate emergency and, as anyone who worked with him will tell you, he expected you to work with the same urgency. Never have I had longer ‘to-do’ lists than after coming out of a meeting with John!
John was an active member of CPRE Oxfordshire and a founder member of the Need Not Greed Oxfordshire coalition. Forever the diplomat, John’s strength lay in building alliances between organisations, such as drawing together Thames Water and South Oxfordshire District Council to work on the increased threat of flooding. He was also relentless in using his powers of persuasion to get the right outcome, as many of the organisations he worked with will tell!
During his 6-month illness John’s passion for the environment rarely faded. Between writing his memoirs he demanded updates on SOS, on meetings with MPs, on conferences and talks attended, etc. I remember speaking to him back in November from New Zealand and he was more interested in talking about the various organisations I was volunteering for than how he was doing himself.
However, all our fondest memories of John are as a friend. There was always time for visitors; for tea and cake (always cake!); for canoeing and rowing on the river; for walks; for holidays; for his dog and of course, for his wonderful family – wife Liz and sons Alex and Tim. John had a warmth and manner that made everyone feel the centre of his attention – always interested in you, your family, your aspirations – whilst himself providing excellent conversation and deep discussion. Many a happy few hours were passed putting the world to rights with a bottle of wine.
John fought tirelessly to make the world a better place, and that world will miss him very much. Thank you, John.
Having read this, I have a greater understanding as to why John would get was so frustrated in some of our meetings, when we did not have the people on board with the time to really get stuck into projects. We miss your whole hearted concern for all environmental and humanitarian issues, your enthusiasm, and desire to help where you saw fit. You have left a big gap in our group, and we trust you are now at peace.
John sat on the committees of South Oxfordshire Sustainability (SOS) and Need Not greed. (N.N.G.)
SOS was formed by John, to enable networking between different sustainability groups in South Oxfordshire. Their aim is to advise and influence the policies and actions of the district council.
NNG is a coalition of groups co-ordinated by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). The aim of this group is to discuss the unrealistic housing targets for Oxfordshire and promote our rural community.
One of John’s wishes before he left us was that some action should take place within Wallingford, about the air quality. He had discussed this with him G.P. and gained their interest also.
Clean Air Group, evolved out of Sue Roberts and Alison Smart’s determination to carry out John’s wishes. They have met several times now, and people have already made headway with projects they had a passion to carry forward, i.e. 20 mph restriction in Wallingford and encouraging primary schools to promote Better Ways to School week 21st May to 25th May. If you would like to get involved in either of these projects get in touch via the website or contact Caron on 01491 825034 and we will point you in the right direction.
Oxfordshire clean Air had a very productive meeting in Oxford on Sat. 24th March, they are working with Oxford City Council and Friends of the Earth, setting up an anti idling campaign, produced some brilliant car stickers for the person travelling behind you to read. Want to see this happening in Wallingfiord? Then get in touch.
Waste group, this group have been looking into Repair Cafe’s, and are launching their first one on Sat. April 14th at !0.00 in Centre 70. This will be run alongside our usual swap Shop. So bring tools to be sharpened, clothes that need mending /altering, small electrical items that may be able to be repaired. Bicycle repairs will also be taking place. The bonus of Repair Cafe’s, are that you get to watch and learn how to do these repairs yourself, to empowering you to carry out repairs in the future. You can also enjoy a cuppa and homemade cake, what a brilliant way to spend a Saturday morning.
Want to get involved/? The next meeting of this group is on 10th April, see our website or contact us for more details.
Fame at Last! Several people have approached me and told me (Caron Spence) that they saw me on the TV, on the South East News programme about how we can use less plastic, this was back in February. I did not see myself as I do not watch TV. So I was filmed in the Local Producers Market, in St. Mary le More church, one Saturday morning doing my shopping , where you can buy organic Vegetables and fruit loose, local cheese only wrapped in greaseproof paper , cakes and locally made savoury items with little packaging. I was also interviewed and had a chance to plug Sustainable Wallingford, Rebecca Carozza who was also filmed and interviewed, refilling her cleaning product bottles at Just trading and at home making her own Ricotta cheese.
Film Showing – of “Tomorrow” at the Corn Exchange on 14th March, was a great success. 76 people watched the film and about 25 people stayed on for the after film discussion groups. Eight people attended our film follow up meeting, some of which have chosen to find out more or contact certain people with a view to moving forward on an action plan. We will meet again on Monday 9th April at 7.15pm in the back room of the Dolphin Pub, in St.Mary’s Street, Wallingford.
Smarter homes visits are being offered by Thames water. I really did not think it would be worth my while getting them to visit our house, as between 2 of us we only use 6 cu. metres. of water over a 6 month period. However out of interest as to what they could offer we asked them to visit. An environmentally conscious young man visited, and after completing his short questionnaire, he fitted a little gadget in the toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water in a flush. Good timing for when we removed the old Hippo bag from the cistern it fell apart in my hand, well it had been there a very long time. They also give out fat boxes to encourage people not to put grease down the drain. Excellent simple solutions and interesting discussion on environmental issues were enjoyed by all, well worth it.
Annual General Meeting, this is on Wednesday 25th April, preceded by a talk from David Bermingham about his Biogas plant at Ipsden. After a very short AGM there will be refreshments and time to socialise. So 7.15 for 7.39 start at St. Mary Le More Church, Wallingford.
We would love some fresh blood and new skills bought to our group which is at the core of the organisation’s activities. In particular we are looking for someone with good communication skills to help us raise our profile. We also need someone with mathematical flair or even booking skills to take on the position as Treasurer, the current Treasurer is happy to hold your hand for a while.
Want to be a Journalist? The Wallingford Herald has offered us a weekly column, where we can write up to 400 words on sustainability related subjects. Catherine has bravely taken this on, get in touch if you would like to help
Cholsey Tomorrow is a new sustainability group which has just formed as a Community Action group. We hope to work together with them in the future, and are currently offering them any support they may need. If you want to get to know more contact Ginnie on 01491 651249.
Newsletter updates. – if you feel you could make a better job of this newsletter in any way, please get in contact with Caron, she will not take offence!