Passionate To The End
Nigel Todd, co-founder and chair of Greening Wingrove & Arthur’s Hill, passed away unexpectedly but peacefully at his Croydon Road home on Saturday 27 March, aged 73.
A well-known figure locally, the constantly active Nigel was preparing for re-election to the City Council in May, having already served as a West End Labour (& Cooperative Party) councillor for 41 years, most recently for the newly created Arthur’s Hill ward.
His zeal for Arthur’s Hill and Wingrove was evident, not only through his campaigning work but through his lifestyle choices. He had lived in the area for 30 years, describing it as “a great place”, which “we could make better’. He believed fervently in the “wacky” idea of turning our neighbourhood into “a sustainable inner-city garden suburb”.
He campaigned tirelessly and helped found Greening Wingrove as a ‘green’ response to the rubbish and fly-tipping beginning to blight our area.
It generated more than £1m income for Wingrove and Arthur’s Hill and has supported community engagement in local issues such as growing fruit and vegetables in our backyards, initiatives to encourage and retain wildlife, schools education, recycling and improving the appearance of our streets and back lanes. Neither would he be afraid to get his hands dirty and would regularly be seen on the community litter picks he helped set up.
He was especially active during the pandemic, working tirelessly to sustain community creativity and resilience, all in a Covid-secure manner.
He encouraged the development of the Bike Garden in Nuns Moor park, a meeting and activity space centred around a community garden, developed from a disused bowling green and pavilion.
His active interest in local matters, led to him opposing the destruction of the 126-year-old Nuns Moor allotments on Brighton Grove to make way for cattle grazing, accusing the city’s Freemen of doing a u-turn on a promise to restore a smaller allotment site.
He worked more successfully with them as one of the council’s Town Moor Committee and helped pave the way for a part of the land on Barrack Road to be used for cricket matches for Bengali youth.
He chaired the New Deal for Communities initiative, which brought millions of pounds of regeneration funding into the West End over a ten-year period 2000-2010. He also actively supported the work of the Nunsmoor Centre on Studley Terrace
Having come from a humble background, but offered educational opportunities through the prestigious trade union Ruskin College (which he credited with transforming his life), Nigel spent most of his working years in the adult education sector and remained a passionate advocate to the end.
He helped found the North East Open College Network and was appointed as its first chief executive in 2000. He had a longstanding commitment to the Worker’s Educational Association (WEA) as a volunteer, student, tutor, historian and Regional Director.
He was quoted approvingly in the House of Lords earlier this month in a special debate on the future of adult education, when one of its members relied on Nigel’s explanations of the value of adult learning.
He was a keen advocate of co-ops and his own home was rented through the West End Housing Co-operative. He served as chair of the Co-operative College board which in 2019 with the WEA and Oxford University launched the #AdultEducation100 campaign, setting out a vision for lifelong adult education for the century ahead. He was also chair of the Newcastle Fairtrade Partnership.
His other enthusiasm was the North East and its history. Although not a native, he settled in Newcastle in his late 20s and remained here ever since. He was respected as a local historian and in demand on the local speaker circuit. He was the author of several book and pamphlets, numerous articles, and was an active member of the North East Labour History Society. He was recognised nationally as an expert on the rise of fascism in the UK in the years leading up to the Second World War and remained a staunch enemy of racism throughout his life.
He leaves behind a daughter, Selina, his close family and hundreds of people who have been touched by his generosity of spirit and passionate belief in equality of opportunity for all.
His family has asked for a private funeral and expressed a desire to hold a more public remembrance when circumstances allow larger gatherings, this being in chime with Nigel’s views on Covid safety.
Tributes have poured in …
“I am devastated to hear about the death of my friend and colleague, Nigel Todd. He was widely known, and hugely popular, across the West End of the City; everywhere he went people would stop, say hello, and ask him for advice or help.” He “never lost faith in his vision of a better world, never had an unkind word about anyone and always had a friendly smile”. Newcastle City Council leader Cllr Nick Forbes.
“Deeply saddened and distressed to learn of the sudden death of my great friend & comrade Nigel Todd. Nigel was a socialist who truly loved people & communities, championing their interest & working with people & for them so that they could make their lives better.” Chi Onwurah, Newcastle Central MP
“All at Co-operatives UK are very saddened to hear that Nigel Todd passed away yesterday. A passionate co-operator – including as chair of trustees for the Co-operative College – our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this incredibly difficult time.” Co-operatives UK
He was “a keen advocate for co-operation, equality and peace. He dedicated his life to tackling poverty, racism and inequality – and was passionate about life-long learning.” Rebecca Harvey, Co-op News
“Nigel was a shining beacon for kind, caring politics. He was a true community leader, representing the residents of Arthur’s Hill and Newcastle with passion and compassion, bringing people together, and fighting for fairness and peace.” Alistair Ford & Taymar Pitman, Newcastle Green Party.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Cllr Nigel Todd. Nigel was a well respected representative of the local community who cared passionately about tackling poverty and inequality and championing lifelong learning. Members of our party speak highly of his anti-racism work.” Cllr Nick Cott, leader Newcastle Liberal Democrats.
“Really saddened to hear this news. Nigel was a very lovely person and a very passionate and knowledgeable co-operator. We will be much missed by his many friends across our team and our Party.” Joe Fortune, general secretary the Co-operative Party.
“His knowledge and passion for adult education (and the North East) and pioneering work in supporting environmental agenda are just the tip of the legacy he leaves behind. Our thoughts are with his family.” WEA
“Truly tragic news about the sudden and unexpected death of Cllr Nigel Todd. He was a genuinely lovely man, with real passion for transforming his community for the better. He will be missed by all who knew him and leaves an enormous hole in the co-op sector.” Nicola Huckerby
LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS
We intend to publish a lengthier tribute to Nigel and his work in a few weeks time. If you have anything you wish to contribute please email to firstname.lastname@example.org