Tag Archives: obituary

William (Bill) Peters, co founder of Jubilee 2000 and joint recipient of the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award in 2000

It is with sadness that the Gandhi Foundation has heard of the death of Bill Peters recently. He received the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in 2000 along with Martin Dent, co-founder of Jubilee 2000. He received the Cross of St Michael and St George (awarded for non military service in a foreign country) and the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (awarded for service to the Queen and is a personal award by her). He was a former diplomat who devoted his life to public service and was the co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign.

Bill PetersBill Peters who died peacefully in the early hours of Saturday March 29th was born at Morpeth, Northumberland, on September 28th 1923. The son of a cabinet maker and a light opera singer, he followed a distinguished career in the Foreign Office with a very active retirement devoted to public service. The highlight of his career after retirement was his co-founding, with Martin Dent of Keele University, of the hugely influential Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt coalition, which went on to become the Make Poverty History movement with Jubilee 2000 itself then becoming the Jubilee Debt campaign.

Bill proved himself a formidable scholar in his time at King Edward IV Grammar School and secured a place at Oxford to study Greats at the age of 17, but as with so many young men at the time, his studies were interrupted by World War II. At this time of uncertainty, he married his first wife, Catherine Bailey, known as Kit, in 1944 before deployment to Burma where he saw active service with the 9th Ghurkha rifles. His time with his regiment, which on his arrival in Burma turned out to include a number of Tibetans, made a deep impression on Bill and saw the beginning of a lifelong association both with the Ghurkhas and with the Tibet Foundation, to which he was passionately committed for the rest of his life, meeting with the Dalai Lama several times on the latter’s visits to London.

After the war, Bill returned to the UK to take up his place at Balliol College Oxford, completing his studies in 1948, and going on to do an M.Lit. at the LSE and languages at SOAS. Bill then joined the Colonial Service with a posting in 1950 to what was then the Gold Coast where he worked to prepare for the transition to independence and was asked by the head of state for the new Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, to remain in an advisory capacity. After some thought, Bill decided his career must continue to lie with the Diplomatic service and the Foreign Office and went on to postings in Cyprus, Bangladesh, Australia, India, Zambia and Malawi as well as other appointments further detailed in Who’s Who. During his time in Ghana, Bill was invited to speak to local school children and gave a speech stressing that they could achieve anything they set out to do. In the audience was a young Kofi Annan, who went on to become Secretary General of the United Nations. When they met many years later, Annan told Bill that he still remembered Bill’s inspiring speech.

In 1977, Bill was offered the post of British Ambassador to Uruguay, an exciting role but a dangerous posting, as a recent former incumbent had been kidnapped and held to ransom for several months. After some deliberation, Bill accepted and his time in Uruguay passed without serious incident. Notably Bill made a point of asking to visit political prisoners, a request which was surprisingly granted. During a prison visit Bill met a concert pianist desperate to practice in the hope of eventual release and was subsequently allowed to deliver a silent keyboard to enable him to do so. Afterwards, Bill was informed that his life might be in danger as a result of his actions and took the step of making it clear to anyone who might be interested that he carried a pistol with him at all times.

Bill went on to work as High Commissioner in Malawi before retiring from the Foreign Office in 1983. On retirement, Bill and Kit moved to Deal in Kent. There they took an active part in community life, with Bill spending 18 years as a Governor of Walmer school as well as twice becoming president of the local Rotary Club and being an active member of the Royal British Legion as well as numerous national organisations and charities including U.S.P.G., the Churches Refugee Network and the Tibet Foundation.

A few years after retirement Bill met Martin Dent of Keele University and realised that Martin shared Bill’s long-held concern at what they both considered to be unsustainable levels of third world debt. This shared concern crystallised into a campaign, which Bill and Martin co-founded, to write off third-world debt in time for the Millennium. They called the campaign Jubilee 2000 in reference to the Old Testament Jubilee requirement to cancel debts every seven years. Bill’s diplomatic skills were invaluable in launching Jubilee 2000 and helping steer it through early hurdles as it gathered momentum. It was supported by the Anglican Church, with Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, addressing a rally in Trafalgar Square with Bill and Martin and making Jubilee 2000 the subject of his New Year’s Day Millennium address on BBC 1. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, also spoke at a rally in St Paul’s Cathedral, strongly supporting the campaign and confirming the cancellation of debts to the UK.

During this time, Bill’s wife Kit, who was several years older than Bill, passed away in 1998 after a brief illness. Bill continued to play an active role in the Drop the Debt campaign in the lead up to the Millennium, seeing it grow into a series of large- scale demonstrations and twice enter the Guinness book of records, once for the largest petition and once for the most international petition. The campaign launched major demonstrations at every G8 summit from 1998 in Birmingham to Cologne and Genoa with a few people even travelling to Okinawa in Japan, where Bill was able to speak with the Japanese Prime Minister.

Bill received the Gandhi International Peace Award from the Gandhi Foundation in recognition of his efforts and of the success of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which ‘made possible the provision of basic education and health-care to thousands of people.’

In his later years, Bill retained his keen interest in politics and continued to be an active supporter of the now Jubilee Debt Campaign and of other charities. In 2004 he married his second wife, Gillian Casebourne, whom he met through his charity work. Bill is survived by Gill and her two daughters, as well as by his nieces and nephews.

William Peters, born September 28 1923, died March 29 2014

Father Alec Reid – 2008 Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award recipient

Father Alec Reid

Father Alec Reid

Sadly Father Alec Reid, who received The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in 2008 along with Rev. Harold Good, died on 22nd November 2013 aged 82 years. His role in the disarmament process in Northern Ireland, the victory of non-violence over violence, and the bringing together of the Catholic and Protestant communities with Rev. Harold Good were significant milestones on the road to peace. You can read an account of the 2008 award and speeches by clicking:


The Daily Telegraph obituary can be read here:

Cecil Evans (1925-2009)

Cecil Evans

Cecil Evans

Obituary of Cecil Evans, Quaker and co-founder of The Gandhi Foundation. Our thanks go to Douglas Butterfield and Jordans Quaker Meeting for permission to reproduce this remembrance of Cecil’s life.


Cecil Evans was born in 1925 in Liverpool of Welsh parentage.  He was not born a Quaker. He wanted to be English and disengage from his Welsh roots so he and his brother joined the Congregational Church which was nearer their home and more progressive than the Welsh Chapels with younger ministers.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Cecil was a pupil at the Liverpool Institute High School, which was evacuated to Bangor. He went back to Liverpool during the “phoney war” but was evacuated again when the Liverpool Docks were bombed. Cecil took School Certificate in 1941 and Higher in 1943; leaving school in April 1944. His was a classical education. His classics master wrote “He has worked with vigour and determination. I am sure that his classical training will serve him well, and that his personal qualities and intellectual ability will carry him far in whatever field he eventually enters.” Cecil tried unsuccessfully to get a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford, to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Wartime service

So Cecil registered for military service and joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve on a scheme that was 50% military service and 50% university – with the government giving maintenance grants to ex-service men to go on to university after the war.  He volunteered to serve on minesweepers in the Channel. This experience of wartime naval service shaped his thinking about war. In later life he recalled his naval service with some pride in having cleared the coast of mines, looking back with some satisfaction when in the 1960’s and 1970’s his Quaker service was closely involved with disarmament efforts.


Cecil went to Oxford University to read PPE after the war, where he met Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, who interpreted the West and the East to each other, and wrote Recovery of Faith: the way to a religion of the Spirit, later becoming the second President of India (1962-1967). Cecil also attended a series of lectures in All Souls College stimulated by an American student Richard Hillman. These experiences shaped Cecil’s thinking about religion.

Cecil met a Friend at a lecture he attended – a Mr Sutton who was a professor at St Edmund Hall –  who told Cecil about the Religious Society of Friends.  Cecil did some research on Quakers using Whittaker’s Almanac. He received a brief personal letter in response to his enquiry from Edgar Dunstan, the predecessor of George Gorman, secretary to Quaker Home Service, giving him contact details for Wallasey and Birkenhead Friends Meetings.  He attended Birkenhead Meeting from 1949 and was accepted into membership in 1953.

In 1949 Cecil left Oxford and got a temporary job teaching Latin in a Quaker School at Wigton in the Lake District, moving on to teach at Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire.  He qualified as a teacher at Liverpool University.

12 years in North America; work in the Quaker United Nations Office, New York

Cecil emigrated to Canada in 1952, and spent 12 years in North America. After a period as a university lecturer in philosophy in Manitoba, he become General Secretary of the Canadian Friends Service Committee in Toronto from 1956 to 1960, and attended Toronto Meeting.  He was deputed to attend the UN General Assembly to represent Canadian Friends for a month in 1958.

Cecil then spent 3 years from 1960 in New York as a staff member, and latterly the Director, of the Quaker United Nations Office. Cecil wrote on the issues that the Quaker office was working on; disarmament and world order, conciliation in East-West relations, early cessation of nuclear testing, development of regional peace forces, concerns about the situation in Cuba, the “China Question”, Algeria, Israeli-Arab questions, abolition of capital punishment, and the abolition of slavery worldwide.

Cecil wrote about the formal and informal interactions with delegates that staff of the Quaker UN Office enjoyed, and about holding Quaker House functions on such topics as the role of small nations in disarmaments, the work of the UN Housing Commission, China’s relationship to the UN, and developments in Latin America. All meetings were off-the-record and conducted in an informal atmosphere, where guests generally felt free to participate and found the experience relaxing and refreshing. Many delegates, as well as members of the UN Secretariat, were often glad to explore aspects of problems on which they were working with a group like Friends, a testimony to the confidence established by Friends over the years, especially through relief and educational work. The Quaker UN programme won the respect of Hugh Foot, then the British Ambassador to the UN, later to become Lord Caradon.

Cecil later described this as the high point of his working life, and it left him with the life-long conviction that Christians and the Church should be involved in the political process, not necessarily as politicians, but concerned with political issues; how people are treated, how they are rewarded, how they are housed and educated, as well as with the wider sphere of international relations, for peace and the conditions which make for peace.

Return to England; work for Quakers in London (Britain) Yearly Meeting

In 1964 Cecil returned to England, and worked in London jointly for the East-West Relations Committee and the American Friends Service Committee, with special reference to western relations with China.

Cecil then returned to teaching, obtaining a teaching post at Leighton Park, the Quaker School in Reading, where his friend Richard Coleman was head of Divinity & Classics.  He taught the History and Principles of Quakerism for four years. He completed a Master’s degree in International Politics at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Cecil was the first chairman, from 1966 to 1971, of the United Nations and Disarmament (UNAD) Working Group of Friends Peace and International Relations Committee (FPIRC), and built it up into an effective Group.

In 1971 Cecil was appointed the International Secretary and later General Secretary of the FPIRC. He actively promoted the campaign for the renewal of Britain’s acceptance of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the ratification of the two United Nations Human Rights Covenants. He encouraged Friends to write to MPs. He promoted the campaign to withdraw Britain from the Arms Trade. He wrote to The Times about the importance to the Church of having only ethical investments.

With restructuring in October 1978 he was appointed Assistant General Secretary of Quaker Peace and Service, the amalgamated body of Friends Service Council and the FPIRC, a post he held until his retirement (circa 1990).

Nicholas Sims, who was chairman of UNAD and its successor (the United Nations Committee of QPS), and a member of FPIRC and QPS, writes “During his time at Friends House he was very supportive of his committee members and his colleagues, just the kind of loyal servant our Society owed so much to in the heyday of Quaker international affairs work. He took infinite pains to enable Friends to carry the work forward and to get it right.” Cecil was also secretary of the Quaker group for diplomats in London.

Cecil managed the “One Percent Fund”, arising out of the concern endorsed by Yearly Meeting in 1968, to encourage (by practical example and advocacy) the Quaker concern that 1% of the GNP (the value of all goods and services produced) should go to overseas aid. This target had been recommended by the 2nd UN Trade and Development Conference for overseas aid programmes of wealthier countries by 1975, endorsed by the Pearson Report of the World Bank. Cecil supported the view that this was “the first stumbling step towards the ideal of an international welfare state”, and Cecil was advocating that Friends ought to be concerned about fair trade agreements with developing countries, as well as aid for development. Eventually the work of this Fund was taken forward by the Committee on the Sharing of World Resources.

Cecil is represented in Quaker Faith and Practice in an article he wrote in 1987, and it is a fine expression of Quaker conviction on the roots of world poverty and speaking truth to power;

“Our primary objective in speaking truth to power on social and economic issues, especially on the problem of world poverty, should be the interests of the poor. Our role is to remind the rich and privileged, including ourselves, of the challenge to surrender privilege.”

Cecil represented British Quakers for years on an annual consultation on Quaker work at the UN (QUNC) set up in the 1970s. He participated actively in the NGO Human Rights Network in London, acting as its secretary for a time.  He strongly supported the Quaker witness in Europe at Brussels, and the setting up of Quaker House in Brussels.

Cecil was active ecumenically. He was a member of the British Council of Churches Advisory Forum on Human Rights in the 1970’s. He was greatly valued by his counterparts in the other denominational headquarters and the BCC. He was influential in getting ecumenical support for the abolition of torture, and the abolition of the death penalty, as concerns to be taken forward by the British churches together and promoted on UN agendas.


In 1982 Cecil married Isabel Copeland-Watts at Uxbridge Meeting House and they both became members of Jordans Monthly Meeting (now Chilterns Area Meeting) in 1983, worshipping firstly at Amersham Meeting, where he was an elder, and then at Jordans Local Meeting where he has served as clerk and in many other ways. Friends rejoice at the happiness that their marriage brought to both of them over 26 years. Cecil and Isabel are remembered for their guided walks in the area to trace out the early history of Jordans Meeting in the 17th century.  Cecil is also remembered for his ministry on the life and teaching of William Penn, who is buried at Jordans. He often ministered on the writing of William Penn:

“True Godliness does not turn us out of the world, but enables us to live better in it, and excites our endeavours to mend it”

Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund

From 1980 Cecil has been a Trustee, Chairman and, latterly, Patron of the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund in London. Originally established in 1962 as the relief arm of Amnesty International, the Fund is now a separate charity and the only agency in the UK making grants specifically to prisoners of conscience – individuals who have been persecuted for their conscientiously-held beliefs, provided that they have not used or advocated violence.  The Fund aims to raise and distribute money to help prisoners of conscience and/or their families rehabilitate themselves during and after their ordeal.  Financial grants cover general hardship relief, furniture, medicines, travel costs, family reunion costs, education, counselling, requalification costs, resettlement costs and protective accompaniment.

As a trustee of the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund, in 1992, Cecil introduced the Fund’s work to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), based in Geneva.  Through Cecil’s initial recommendation, this UN Fund agreed to support the Appeal Fund’s beneficiaries who had suffered torture.  Cecil nurtured this relationship for several years as Chair and the support is still ongoing, 17 years later.  In total, £700,000 has been raised to support prisoners of conscience who have been subjected to torture, and  thousands of individuals and their families have benefited from this wonderful legacy. Rosamund Horwood-Smith, former chair of the Fund, has written;

“My memories of Cecil are of his gentle integrity, his sensitivity to the needs of others and his modesty.  He had a wonderful and ready smile, his voice was melodious and his words considered and he gave his time and wise counsel to us at Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund without stint.  We will remember him with great affection and gratitude.”

Tom Blumenau, former Director of the Fund, has written;

“I think the overwhelming quality, which Cecil had, was a complete fairness and the support he gave to his colleagues. He was very much supported in his activities — particularly his work with the Quakers – by his wife Isabel.  He was what one would call a really good man”

Cecil has written many articles on subjects related to peace, particularly for The Friend.  For example, he wrote about his belief in the power of letter writing in ‘speaking truth to power’, and another expressing his approval of the setting up of a Quaker Fellowship by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. He spoke extensively at Friends Meetings, and meetings of the UNA.

Conscientious Objection to paying tax for war purposes

Cecil became the clerk of a Meeting for Sufferings group on Conscientious Objection – the withholding of taxes for military purposes.  With the assistance of Meeting for Sufferings the independent Peace Tax Campaign was set up in 1980. Meeting for Sufferings agreed, on behalf of its own employees, including Cecil, that it could support the conscientious objection of staff members to paying for arms through PAYE, and was supported by Yearly Meeting in 1983. This led to the Clerk and Assistant Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings, Beryl Hibbs and Maisie Birmingham, appearing in court, and judgement was awarded to the Inland Revenue. The decision was appealed before the Master of the Rolls, the clerks spoke movingly in their own defence, but the judge found that the lack of the right to withhold tax did not infringe fundamental liberties. Meeting for Sufferings decided to pay all the withheld tax, on the grounds that the law had been tested as far as possible. In 1987 Yearly Meeting took on the concern afresh, and minuted that

“We are convinced by the Spirit of God to say without any hesitation whatsoever that we must support the right of conscientious objection to paying taxes for war purposes”

Meeting for Sufferings appointed a Working Group on Taxation for Military Purposes, of which Cecil was the clerk, and the group consulted widely with local meetings. In March 1989 Meeting for Sufferings decided in principle to support those employees who held a conscientious objection to paying taxes for military purposes, including Cecil. However, this decision caused considerable controversy locally, and no practicable way forward was found, and the staff request has not been considered further since that time. Meeting for Sufferings also considered a proposal that it should express a corporate objection to collecting tax for military purposes by ceasing to pay this proportion of tax to the Inland Revenue. However Meeting for Sufferings did not proceed with this proposal because of the unease of some staff. From December 1991 Meeting for Sufferings asked its clerk to write a letter to the Inland Revenue each month when the PAYE cheque was sent, explaining the concern of Friends and making it clear that payment was being made under protest.
Yearly Meeting in 1993 agreed to “accept the discipline of taking parliamentary action on payment of taxes for military purposes” which included the writing of letters to MPs.

Parliamentary action continued, and in January 1994 a 10 minute rule bill was introduced on behalf of the Peace Tax Campaign and an Early Day Motion on the subject by the close of the 1994 session of Parliament. A report on this was received by Yearly Meeting in 1995. In all of this, Cecil kept alive a vision of a peace-building fund created with funds diverted from tax revenue used for military purposes, which could be spent on helping to remove the causes of war, such as poverty, the plight of refugees, as well as peace keeping and peace research. Cecil quoted Robert Barclay in his Apology recognising that it may be right for an individual or group to take a position for which most people are not yet ready. Cecil felt that there should be some in the world who seek to present a standard of Christian perfection by going the whole way now, thus being able to indicate the objective to which all will eventually be drawn.

In 1996, Cecil wrote a booklet, The Claims of Conscience, Quakers and Conscientious Objection to taxation for military purposes, published by Quaker Home Service, London, which sets out with great clarity the ethics of conscientious objection, and the history of the concern amongst Friends, with a vision for the future.

The quality of Cecil’s service and the recognition that he had much to offer adult education in the field of international relations led to an invitation in 1994 to become  a Friend in Residence along with his wife, Isabel, in Woodbrooke, the Quaker Adult Education Centre in Birmingham.  Out of his experience he led sessions on the United Nations and rose to the challenge of engaging with diverse views on the role and effectiveness of the UN.

The Gandhi Foundation

In December 1982, Sir Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi won 8 Oscars.  At the time, Cecil was Assistant General Secretary of Quaker Peace and Service and had met Surur Hoda in his role as UK Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation.  They discovered that they both had a deep admiration for the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi.

The astounding success of Gandhi in the UK months later prompted Surur to invite Cecil to go with Lord Ennals, Diana Schumacher, Martin Polden, Rex Ambler and himself to Sir Richard’s house with a view to setting up The Gandhi Foundation.  The trust deeds were duly completed later that year with Richard as President and David Ennals as Chairman.  Cecil contributed enormous energies to an already dynamic Committee which, from 1985, organised with increasing success three annual events and a quarterly newsletter.  The Gandhi Foundation Annual Lecture is on Gandhi’s birthday [2nd October – now UN Day of Nonviolence] and has had five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates deliver the Lecture to date.  The Gandhi Multi-faith Service has been held every year since 1987 to mark Gandhi’s death on 30th January and a week long Summer School is held to elucidate a Gandhian response to contemporary issues.  The Gandhi Way newsletter has been edited since 1984 by George Paxton which means that the 100th issue will be published this Spring.  The Foundation has funded many other projects over the last quarter century, both here and in India, most benefiting from the tens of thousands of pounds that Cecil raised for The Foundation.

Cecil always offered wise counsel on the way forward.  He led discussions in Committee, in the Summer School, in Conferences and gave lectures about Gandhi whenever he was asked.  Many will happily recall how his diplomatic skills were used so gently but authoritatively, most publicly when he ‘refereed’ speakers at the Multi-faith services held in Kingsley Hall and in St James, Piccadilly:  some let their enthusiasm take them beyond their allotted time and so were shown first a yellow card and then a red card!

Cecil took over as Chairman of the Foundation when David Ennals died in 1995. He then presided over the Annual Lectures given by The Revd the Lord Soper, Mairead Maguire, Bruce Kent, Professor Adam Curle, Dr. Scilla Elworthy, John Hume MP and Simon Hughes MP.  He continued to come to the Lecture even though poorly until October 2008 when Rev Harold Good and Father Alec Reid, who jointly witnessed the decommissioning of IRA weapons, gave the Lecture and received the Peace Award in The House of Lords.

In 1999, Cecil and Surur conceived, planned and presented the first International Gandhi Peace Award.  This was received posthumously by Lady Eirwen Harbottle, the widow of Major-General Sir Michael Harbottle who had founded “Generals for Peace”.   In subsequent years, Cecil saw The Peace Award being given by the sub-Committee to his friends Nicholas Gillett, Peter Dent & Bill Peters, the latter two being the Founders of “Jubilee 2000”.  The Peace Award will continue to be presented in memory of Cecil and Surur Hoda for as long as it is given.

The grace of God in Cecil’s life

Since 1953, when he first joined the Religious Society of Friends, Cecil has worked tirelessly on behalf of others by promoting peace and non-violence.  Stuart Morton, staff member of Quaker Peace and Social Witness writes:

“Throughout all of his work, Cecil has touched and improved many thousands of lives around the world through his dedicated championing of peace, non-violence and reconciliation.  He continues to be an inspiration to all of those who have the pleasure of knowing or working with him. Cecil combined moral and intellectual clarity with a great respect for whoever it was that he was engaging with.  He was dedicated to the work of peace and in my experience worked very hard to be fully ready for any dialogue that would promote peace and justice. His tone of voice was always one of positive encouragement to those staff and committee members who worked alongside him. His generosity of spirit, outward calm, and sensitive veracity marked him out as a Quaker and a diplomat.”

Friends who knew Cecil have commented that he was “a kindler, not a snuffer”: He always wore the broken chain of the Jubilee Debt Campaign in his button hole. He worked constantly for peace; he loved people; he was always gracious. He had a gift for building people up with quiet words of appreciation. The Grace of God shone through him in all these ways. Cecil left us with a vision for the future. He hoped that in the coming century – sooner rather than later – we shall be able to abolish war, and the conditions that make for war. He wrote;

“it may sound far-fetched, but it could be possible, with God’s help, if we have a will to do it. One of the ways of achieving it will be through a strengthened United Nations. The UN has the machinery potentially through it preventative diplomacy and in other ways to help achieve it. It is the responsibility of member governments to enable the UN to fulfil its potential, and for its citizens like ourselves to see that governments do so”.

John Rowley of the Gandhi Foundation writes

“The lasting memory of any encounter with Cecil was his gentle humour, the grace of his manner and the thoughtfulness of his words.  All of us who knew him throughout his unstinting support for The Gandhi Foundation, or who heard or read his erudite and articulate advocacy of non-violence in all human activity, or who benefited from his vast practical experience in resolving conflicts will remember this man with love and a smile.  We were privileged to know him.”

In his garden Cecil was passionate about growing roses, and to the end of his life was the President of the Seer Green Horticultural Society. He found rose growing a therapeutic and restful change from the stresses of his working life. Cecil always carried the Tewkesbury Abbey blessing with him, and it expresses well how the grace of God shone through his life:

Go on your way in peace. Be of good courage. Hold fast that which is good; render no man evil for evil. Strengthen the faint hearted, support the weak, help and cheer the sick, honour all men, love and serve the Lord; and may the blessing of God be upon you and remain with you for ever.

In the last months of his life Cecil moved into a nursing home where he was cared for whilst suffering the early symptoms of dementia, and limited mobility. He was cheerful and positive to the end of his life, sharing worship with Friends who called to visit him in the last two days of his life. Asked how he was he replied, “All the better for seeing you!” He was a benign and kindly Friend who always left his friends feeling better for having met him and known him.  We are glad to have known him.

Surur Hoda (1928-2003)

Surur Hoda and friend at The Gandhi Foundation Summer School

Surur Hoda and friend at The Gandhi Foundation Summer School

For 25 years Surur Hoda was international secretary of the civil aviation section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF). He was also chief executive of the London-based India Development Group (IDG) and the founder of the Gandhi Foundation. A democratic socialist — he formed the India Socialist Group in London in 1960 and was an active member of Socialist International — his work for the world’s rural poor was based on the precepts of Mahatma Gandhi, Fritz Schumacher and J P Narayan.

Surur was born near Chopra, in Bihar, India, the eldest son of a middle-class Muslim family. He attended Patna University, graduated as a railway engineer and joined the railwaymen’s union. His union activities made it prudent to move to London in 1962, where three years later he joined the ITWF as secretary for railways and civil aviation. Meanwhile, he had become active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, forming lifelong friendships with Fenner Brockway, Philip Noel-Baker and David Ennals.

In the 1970S, when J P Narayan the socialist leader was jailed by the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi during her ‘emergency’, Noel-Baker chaired Surur’s Free JP campaign, which contributed to the effort to restore democracy in India.

By 1970, Surur had joined forces with his brother Mansur, who was with Schumacher’s Intermediate Technology Group. Together they formed the IDG, supported by Indian business and professional people in London, with the aim of equipping Indian villagers with simple technologies.

The birth of independent Bangladesh out of East Pakistan in 1971 led to many Bihari Pakistanis being stranded in the new state. Surur organised a delegation, headed by Ennals and Ben Whitaker, which contributed to nearly 200,000 folk returning to Pakistan. Surur and Ennals also worked to promote Tibetan self-determination and the restoration of Fiji’s democratic government.

After working with the ITWF civil aviation section, Surur headed its Asia/Pacific region. There he fought many cases of human and trade union rights violations.

In 1983 Surur created the Gandhi Foundation in Britain, to promote knowledge about Gandhi’s teaching and relate them to problems of violence, social injustice, environmental destruction and racial and cultural conflict. This, and the IDG, were the focus of his activities in the last 10 years.

His wife Elizabeth’s role in all of Surur’s work was invaluable, and his achievements owe her much. The help of their son Mark was also increasingly important. A man of great charm and warmth, inspired by the teachings and example of great men, Surur inspired his friends and colleagues. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE. He is survived by Elizabeth and Mark, and by his son Firoz and daughter Afshan from his first marriage.

George McRobie

Tributes to Surur Hoda

Richard Attenborough writes:

There would have been no Gandhi Foundation without Surur Hoda. The very concept was his and indeed the inspiration for its creation was his. During the 20 years of our existence there have been both successes and crises. He has always been steadfast believing passionately in the advocacy of all that Gandhiji stood for. Everyone here today will miss him greatly. We all owe him an incalculable gratitude. I knew Surur well, both as a colleague and friend and I shall miss him during the rest of my life.

Diana Schumacher writes:

It is difficult to express the sense of inestimable sorrow and loss all Surur’s friends have experienced at his untimely death in June this year just after his 75th birthday.

I met Surur Hoda together with Lord Ennals and Cecil Evans at the first meeting of the Gandhi Foundation in London in 1983. Subsequently I was asked to serve as a Trustee of both the Gandhi Foundation and the India Development Group (originally founded by Mansur and Surur Hoda together with George McRobie and my late father-in-law, Fritz Schumacher). To have known each of these remarkable men has been an exceptional privilege and in each case one is rnpted to quote M K Gandhi:

“When people walk their own truth with compassion there are no religious boundaries and nothing can impede change.”

Surur, as many of know, was a true Gandhian in spirit and in action — modest, compassionate, courageous, wise and forever championing the cause of the poor, the dispossessed and the marginalised. It was with great reluctance that he was persuaded to take over the Chairmanship of the Gandhi Foundation earlier this year, although through his illness he was unable to attend his first meeting as Chair in February.

Surur had persuaded me, as a guest of the India Development Group to give the first Mansur Hoda Memorial Lecture in New Delhi in January this year in memory of his brother Mansur who had died just over a year earlier. though in extreme pain himself through a back injury, Surur masterminded the entire 16 day visit, even accompanying myself and others to the Schumacher Institute of Appropriate Technology in Lucknow against the advice all his medics and colleagues. He was, however, unable to complete the rest our itinerary and after the main Lecture was over, I and others had to continue with the rest of the programme without Surur. However, it was typical his generosity of spirit that on my last day back in Delhi, on yet another cold grey evening, Surur had staged a farewell party and dinner at the hotel where I was staying and insisted on accompanying me to the airport at some unearthly hour of the morning. That was, poignantly, the last time I saw him, although we had several productive telephone conversations after his return to the UK.

On July 31st in Bristol at the latest meeting of the Board of Directors of the IDG, Dick Gupwell (Delegated Chair) made the following statement:

“The Board of Directors expresses its heartfelt appreciation for the vision, inspiration, Leadership, courage and tireless hard work given by M S Hoda over many years striving to uplift the conditions of the deprived rural population of India on basis of M K Gandhi and E F Schumacher. Expresses its determination to ntinue the work of M S Hoda in promoting the ideals of E F Schumacher with regard to rural development and appropriate technology in India and, thereby, preserve the legacy of its colleague and friend M S Hoda.”

Thank you, Surur, for your generosity of spirit and your spirit of self-sacrifice. We who remain must now all strive with renewed vigour to fulfil the universal vision of the social and environmental justice which your life exemplified at such cost to yourself and family.

Martin Polden writes:

I met Surur some 20 years ago when I became involved and participated in the formation of the original Trust. His energy and devotion to its inception and determination to guide the organisation through days of difficulty as well as those of impressive success, served, in turn to energise us all. He was ever, and so remains, a beacon of light whose life and work exemplified the instruction of the prophet Micah,

“to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God”.

Godric Bader writes:

The immediate compassionate warmth that Surur brought always gave me the necessary support in my often difficult endeavours to pursue Gandhian Trusteeship principles in the growth and development of the Scott Bader Commonwealth. Gandhian Trusteeship purposes gave our Commonwealth foundation its basic building blocks, and to have had the understanding and support of the Gandhi Foundation through its leading light Surur was so valuable and inspiring over the years and continues to be, particularly now in these days of world crisis. Whilst we all sorely miss his bodily presence, his spirit and what he stood for will never be lost.

Arya Bhardwaj writes:

The void created by the sudden demise of dear friend Surur Hoda is an irreparable loss to all those who have had the good luck to come in contact with him during the long spell of his public life of more than half a century. I came in close contact with Surur from the time of the formation of the Gandhi Foundation, UK, but I knew him from 1974 when the JP-led movement for Total Revolution was at its peak and Surur was supporting it from Britain. Surur had been very close to JP ever since he became a socialist in his student days. He became a socialist youth leader in his native Bihar and had then risen at the national and international level when he joined the International Transport union. I was actively involved in the JP movement, being a Sarvodaya worker. During the Emergency when I was in jail, I used to listen on the BBC about the Free JP Campaign launched by Surur with the help of human rights activists like Michael Foot.

When The Gandhi Foundation started a Summer School in 1985, I had the good luck of attending as a resource person invited by Surur. On my visits his home became my home. Surur, Elizabeth and son Mark made me a part of their family during more than 20 visits to their home in Purley. It was here that I came to know Surur’s multifaceted qualities of head and heart. In one line if I have to sum up his life I would say that he was a man of Conscience. He would not leave any stone unturned in serving the cause of others, whether it was the question of Indo-Pak relations, the cause of industrial workers, of the Bihari Muslims discarded by both Pakistan and Bangladesh, of human rights and civil liberties, promoting communal harmony, international understanding, world peace and nonviolence.

Mark Hoda writes:

My family has taken great comfort from the number of tributes from friends and colleagues following Surur Hoda’s passing. Reading through the messages of condolence it is clear that he is remembered for his kindness and commitment to the various people, organisations and causes he worked for during his life. The sentiments expressed also very much reflect the feelings of his family.

I think one of the main reasons for this congruence of emotions is that the affection and commitment Surur showed members of his large family was also very present in his relationships with friends and colleagues.

Surur was born in Chopra, Bihar, India in 1928. As the eldest of six brothers and three sisters he took the responsibility placed on him to look after his siblings and their families very seriously throughout his life. However, he also relied heavily on their love, support and advice.

Settling in London in 1962, some of his family later followed him there, but he remained very close to his extended family which is spread all over the world. Surur led an extremely active life and travelled the world working tirelessly for a large number of organisations and causes. However, his family was extremely important to him and he always found time to be with them.

I have vivid memories from a very early age of always having uncles, aunts, cousins and other relations visiting our home and also visiting family members and friends in the UK and around the world. This left me in no doubt that for Surur and his family spending time together was one of the most important things in life.

This is why Surur’s passing has created a huge void in the lives of his family members. Being the eldest of his generation put him at the apex of the family. We have lost a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle and with it an invaluable source of love, support and advice.

However, we are very conscious and comforted by the feeling that he touched many other people’s lives and that friends and colleagues with whom he worked will miss him greatly but also remember him with a lot of affection.

Cecil Evans writes:

The inspiration for setting up The Gandhi Foundation in 1983 and subsequently sustaining it was largely provided by Surur Hoda. Characteristically, he would claim that the support of many others was also important. His brother, Mansur, for example, was one of the early team until he had to return to India to pursue his interest in intermediate technology.

Richard Attenborough’s film, Gandhi, was, and still is, a constant source of inspiration and he agreed to serve as President. David Ennals, formerly a government minister, was our first Chairman. He had collaborated with Surur on efforts to help the Bihari refugees to return to Pakistan. Hoping to enlist the support of Quakers, Surur and Mansur approached me at Friends House.

Surur told me that friends in India had hoped that a Gandhi Foundation could be established here in the UK, similar to the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. We hoped that Richard Attenborough’s film would succeed in capturing the imagination of the public, and particularly young people, for Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. While this goal has not yet been realised, it has never been abandoned!

Surur worked tirelessly through summer schools, lectures and an annual inter-faith service to help make Gandhian ideals a reality. Our lives have indeed been enriched by his pioneering spirit and his friendship. The best tribute we can make to his memory is to continue to work for the objectives of peace, social justice and good inter-faith and community relations, which have been so integral a part of his active life.

Betty Clarke writes:

I was so sad to learn of the death of Surur Hoda, without whom The Gandhi Foundation would never have existed. It was his brainchild, and together with Cecil Evans they worked tirelessly to raise funds. Richard Attenborough became involved because of the depth of his feeling for Gandhi after making his famous film, and thanks to his generous donation of £5000, Surur and Cecil were able to engage me as very part-time secretary (with small ‘s’) and later as Treasurer. We had to beg the corner of a desk and an old typewriter from Kingsley Hall and then we were ‘in business’. I typed the Newsletter from Kathleen Jannaway’s hand written scripts, and together Surur and I photocopied them and posted them to our new members. Meanwhile Cecil was busy fundraising, particularly amongst his Quaker friends.

I worked with Surur for about 10 years, meeting him at least once a week and never, during all that time, saw him other than calm, sweet natured and considerate, although this hid a steely resolve never to accept failure. He was always full of faith and optimism that projects would turn out well.

His commitment to the Gandhi Foundation was shared by his many family commitments, by his active support for his local Labour party and for Gandhian projects in India together with his brother Mansur, who died over two years ago.

How much he is missed by his close family I cannot begin to imagine. He was my dear friend, and will never forget him.

Peter Cadogan writes:

Surur had a rare and special genius for people, for finding the right people to do things and then never interfering in the way they did them. He worked on trust, a great virtue long in decline. I long wondered how he did it, until one day, sitting in a small group of three or four people he told us. He told us the story of his childhood, of the big house he lived in with his grandmother, her sons, their wives and children, a classic extended family. The grandmother was guv’nor. She never gave orders, she simply said what was to be, and so it was. It was the rule of love. It was in that context that he grew up and how his remarkable character was formed. Then the grandmother died, and one by one the families went their separate ways and a great extended family slowly dissolved. But its memory and example did not dissolve, as Surur’s subsequent life and record are our witness.

Nicholas Gillett (1915-2008)

Nicholas Gillett who died on 23 June was a worthy recipient of the International Gandhi Peace Award in 1999. In his acceptance speech he spoke about caterpillars, horse flies and bees to illustrate the need for fresh approaches to peace building. Had he been less self-effacing he might have spoken of his own background and achievements.

He was born into a Quaker family in 1915. His great grandfather on his mother’s side was the radical, anti-war MP, John Bright. His mother went to South Africa in the aftermath of the Boer War to teach Boer women, confined in concentration camps set up by the British, to spin and weave wool and generate a small income. Later on in 1931 his mother was introduced to Gandhi but as it was Gandhi’s day for not speaking, they communed in silence.

Nicholas’s father owned and ran a private bank. His uncle was Joseph Rowntree, founder of the charities from which many peace organisations have benefited. Both parents were active supporters of the League of Nations, set up after the First World War.

Nicholas went to the Quaker school, Leighton Park, and then to Oxford where he studied philosophy, politics and economics. One of his first friends there, Chandra Mal, had worked for Gandhi as a secretary and was a committed devotee. During the vacations, Nicholas went to a variety of work camps in this country and overseas. He helped Corder Catchpool in Berlin in his work for reconciliation and was appalled as he watched Hitler address a youth rally in Innsbruck.

At a work camp in Salford, Manchester, he met Ruth Cadbury and they were married in 1938. Ruth’s grandfather was George Cadbury who had established the Bournville chocolate factory and estate for the workers. Her parents, Henry and Lucy Cadbury, were wardens of the Quaker Study Centre, Woodbrooke, where Gandhi stayed in 1931.

After initial training to be a teacher of physical education, Nicholas grew increasingly interested in educational psychology. He, Ruth and their growing family of six children managed two farms during the Second World War and from 1945 onwards Nicholas lectured at Teacher Training Colleges at Saltley, Cheltenham and Dudley while studying for an MA in education at Birmingham University in his spare time. He helped to found the first Parent-Teacher Associations in the country and served UNESCO in the Philippines, Thailand and Iran. The family moved to Bristol in 1965 where Nicholas lectured at the University and gave generously of his time and money to various peace and development groups and especially the UNA.

During this time, Nicholas withheld the part of his tax payment which would have gone to the Ministry of Defence and he and Ruth had their more valuable furniture and other possessions seized by bailiffs to make up the deficit. Some of the property was bought at auction by members of the family and returned to them but it showed their commitment to the pacifist cause.

From 1975 to 1977 Nicholas and Ruth represented Quaker Peace and Service in Northern Ireland where they supported the Peace People led by Mairead Corrigan, Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeowen. Ruth took the lead in setting up the means by which disaffected paramilitary men from both sides could disengage from their units, adopt new identities and live peaceful and useful lives.

Three years after their return to Bristol from Belfast, Nicholas and Ruth went off to serve QPS again in the Quaker UN office in Geneva. Ruth died suddenly two months after she and Nicholas had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in Bristol in 1988.

Nicholas practised farming in his early adult life and he spent his last years helping his second wife, Mehr Fardoonji, manage an organic market garden near Chester. Mehr is a Parsee and had walked with Vinoba Bhave in the Land-Gift Movement. Nicholas continued to write and speak about peace, development and education.

Nicholas’s parents had been close friends with Jan Christian Smuts who had been responsible for imprisoning Gandhi in South Africa. Each man had considerable respect for the other and while in prison, Gandhi made a pair of sandals as a present for Smuts. Later, Smuts gave them to Nicholas’s mother. Nicholas found them in a cupboard one day and continued to wear them until they were worn out. He, more than most people, walked in the footsteps of Gandhi.

Graham Davey

Peter Cadogan (1921-2007)

Peter Cadogan, who has died at 86, was once called ‘the most expelled socialist in England’. He campaigned effectively on many fronts for peace, justice and human rights in print, on the streets and through teams of like-minded thinkers.

He moved from radical politics [Labour, Communist, Workers Revolutionary and Socialist Worker Parties] to radical spirituality as he came to the conclusion that William Blake, Gandhi and John MacMurray were his greatest mentors for living a compassionate life. He died a happy man.

Peter Cadogan was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1921 where he witnessed the poverty and humiliation of workers during the Depression. The images of war veterans and unemployed miners begging on street corners stayed with him and drove him all his life.

After working briefly as an insurance clerk, he went on to serve in the Air Sea Rescue Service from 1941 to 1946. This proved to be a profound experience. Desperate attempts to save lives, during which he found authentic friendship with the men under his command, were separated by long periods of inactivity in which he read Shaw, Wells, John MacMurray, Laski and, most importantly, Lenin’s State and Revolution. He realised much later that this book “was a lethal confidence-trick”.

On demobilisation, he immediately joined the Communist Party to which he gave 10 devoted years, thrilling to the ideas buzzing around the Historian’s Group of the CP with Christopher Hill, E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm and others. In the meantime, he studied history at Newcastle University, married, had a daughter and moved to Northampton and then Cambridge to teach history in Secondary Modern schools. He is still remembered in both as an inspiring teacher.

In 1956, Khruschev’s demolition of Stalin came as a blow and, when the USSR invaded Hungary, his sharp criticisms of the CP found their way into the national press. He was suspended and then quit, quickly joining the Labour Party. Two years later, he organised for them the first nuclear base demonstration against the American Thor missiles at Mepal, near Ely.

He became a founder member of the Socialist Labour League which later became the Workers Revolutionary Party and was expelled by the Cambridge Labour Party. Other joinings and expulsions of factions on the Left followed.

In 1960, Bertrand Russell proposed non-violent civil disobedience against nuclear weapons. Cadogan joined his Committee of 100 and their campaign climaxed in September 1961 with a vast but banned demonstration in Trafalgar Square. Russell was arrested along with 1300 others. Early in 1962, Russell sent him and others to the World Peace Council in Moscow where they “staged a free, unlicensed demonstration in Red Square against all Bombs including those of the Soviet Union. The police moved in immediately. It was the first free demo in that Square since the 1920s and made world headlines”.

Within days of the Biafran War starting in May 1968, Cadogan had set up the Save Biafra Campaign and worked vigorously for 18 months getting a lot of national coverage. All to no avail as the Foreign Office “was stuck with the Lugard doctrine of ‘one Nigeria’ and the Wilson Government, as usual, did what it was told. London supplied Lagos with all its arms, ammunition and military advisers. Moscow provided its Air Force and trained its pilots – an unholy alliance to end all such alliances”. About a million innocent people died of starvation.

From 1970 to 1981, he was the General Secretary of the South Place Ethical Society at Conway Hall, known as London’s ‘temple of dissent’. He saw his main task there as defending ‘the rational religious sentiment’, each individual’s ‘sense of the sacred’, and to this end conducted over 50 weddings and funerals. In 1975, he wrote “Direct Democracy: An Appeal to the Professional Classes, to the Politically Disenchanted and to the Deprived. The Case for An England of Sovereign Regional Republics, Extra-Parliamentary Democracy and a New Active Non-Violence of the Centre”, modelling his title on The Levellers and integrating his “revelatory discovery” of William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche. In it, he pioneered the idea of the gift economy.

This led to him co-founding the organisation and journal Turning Point with economist James Robertson which was published for over 25 years. From 1981 until his retirement in 1993, Peter was Tutor in the History of Ideas in the Extra-Mural Department of London University and the Workers Education Association.

By 1987 he had become disillusioned with all forms of protest and put his energies into what he called positive and practical solutions. From 1993, he worked for The Gandhi Foundation, leading their project in Northern Ireland and advocating Non-Violent Direct Action. He set up Values and Vision and Save London Alliance in his home on the base of his conviction that authentic national democracy can only emerge from local democracies. He became well-known in Kilburn for saving a local park, for Xmas lights on the High Road, his letters to the press and his garden. Local kids called him ‘Mr. Peter’.

During the 1990s he became the subject of great interest to historians, pre-eminent amongst them Professor Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at Manchester University, who interviewed Peter in depth, placed the recordings in the National Sound Archives and anthologised his papers on the CP.

Peter continued to e-mail and write articles and letters to the very end. Throughout 65 years of radical activism, he was never afraid to speak his mind, to challenge and question his own and other people’s thinking. This seemed at first to many as intolerance, even arrogance. In fact, all soon discovered that it was no more than his passion for accuracy and clear thinking in the overall pursuit of justice.

Like Gandhi, he became and remained friends with all his temporary enemies. Over 70 people, old comrades and new friends, came to his bedside in St Mary’s Paddington or sent him messages of love and respect. Peter had co-founded The Blake Society in 1985, was its President for the first four years before becoming Life Vice-President. So it was appropriate that his last days fell during the month of Blake’s 250th anniversary. He quoted Blake’s poems to those around his bed and told us that Blake’s “Jerusalem” ‘said it all’. His dying words were Blake’s moral imperative “Live differently”! Peter did just that, his integrity intact.
John Rowley

Instead of ending his copious and challenging notes, letters and writings “with all good wishes” or something, Peter would say “oxygen, peace, flowers”. I loved that ending: oxygen for the life we breathe in and out; peace, we all yearn for whether secretly or openly; flowers, symbolising nature which surrounds and nourishes. Peter first introduced me to the Northern Ireland Working Group in London which he and I represented within the GF. In the 1980s, we joined a group to visit Dublin to discover more about “the Troubles” from across the border. He was indefatigable in his work and writings, giving great support to those he believed had “got it right” in Northern Ireland. He was a warrior of the right kind and he leaves a gap behind him. Go ye well, Peter. It was rich knowing you.
Denise Moll


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