From: Keith Hodgson, North East WEA Regional Chair
Like so many people on Tyneside I have been in some shock this weekend at the sudden death of our friend and colleague, Nigel Todd. He was such a pivotal figure in so many important issues and campaigns, and it is impossible to imagine the scale of loss so many now feel. He was a very gentle, kind man, always self-effacing, and never seeking the limelight; yet he had a quiet, steely determination to make things happen. His list of achievements in so many different areas and causes is truly exceptional, and he had a deep and profound knowledge of the history of the working class and adult education in our region.
Nigel was an active member of the WEA Regional Committee, and has had a long association with our movement and the whole cause of adult learning. He was, for example, the person who in 2018 first drew our attention to a long forgotten report “The 1919 Report” on the reconstruction of Britain after the First World War and the Flu Pandemic; and that 2019, would be its centenary and should be celebrated. His Motion to our Annual Meeting was forwarded to our National Conference, and subsequently brought together all those interested in adult learning through the Centenary Commission, which has continued over this last year to host seminars and discussions on how liberal adult and community learning should play a key role in the recovery after this pandemic.
In the WEA Nigel had many roles – as student, volunteer, Regional Secretary from 2005 -2011, as a National Ambassador, and as a treasured historian of our movement. He was actively involved in helping our History and Heritage Branch get established, freely sharing his knowledge and skills. He also was instrumental in establishing our Green Branch, as well as an important £1million Big Lottery Project “Greening Wingrove” in the West of Newcastle, where he was a long-serving and highly regarded Local Councillor. With his knowledge of climate change and the need for measures to ensure sustainability, his activism has led other regions of the WEA to develop Green Branches, and the issue is now embedded in the core curriculum of the WEA. Without Nigel’s knowledge and skill in networking and politics, it is unlikely any of these would have come to fruition.
Nigel’s work covers so many areas: a life long campaigner for the Co-Operative Movement, a committed socialist and campaigner against racism, an environmentalist and a great believer in social justice and international solidarity. In the week before he died he was involved actively with so many areas of his work.
Many members have contacted me to say they are heartbroken, and the sense of loss of a friend, a colleague and a comrade is palpable. As one Regional Committee Member said “They say no-one is irreplaceable, but Nigel came as close to denying that as anyone I have ever known”.
His life and legacy is something we treasure and celebrate. A life well lived.
See also these tributes from:
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
The Co-operative Heritage Trust
Workers Educational Association: WEA
Greening Wingrove and Arthur’s Hill
Joan Allen, The Society for the Study of Labour History
Chi Onwurah MP (Facebook)