Gareth Coles

I was so sorry to hear the terrible news about Ian. I remember him so fondly as a quick-witted person in family gatherings, but I wanted to share how he’d influenced my professional life. 

About 13 years ago I was working for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in London, and we were conducting research for a publication about successful campaigns. A few people suggested speaking to someone from ASH about the smoking ban, and I said that I knew someone who worked on that. 

I contacted Ian to arrange a meeting and he was incredibly generous with this time and ideas. In a conversation that ranged from poker strategies to the tactics of American Civil War generals, he opened my eyes to campaigning. That day I moved from having an aimless sense of activism in support of a cause, to a practical and clear-sighted focus on legal and societal change and how to achieve that. It profoundly affected my subsequent career in the voluntary sector – to this day – and I can remember verbatim many of the things Ian told me in that two-hour conversation. 

There are some people who continually pop into your mind when you’re faced with a problem, and you wonder “How would they have tackled this?” For me, one of those people was and still is my cousin Ian.