Messages , memories, condolences

Most of these messages were posted on FaceBook in the days immediately following Ian’s death. Most are from Ian’s own FaceBook page.

Peter Oliver: I am deeply saddened to learn from Deborah Arnott of Ian’s untimely death. As a barrister, I had the immense pleasure of working with them both in 2015-2016. Ian was a delight to work with, not only because of his wonderful sense of humour but also because he was exceptionally quick-witted and completely on top of the case. He will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Richard Faulkner, Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I find it difficult to express the scale of my sorrow – and shock – at Ian’s untimely and sudden passing.  I had the good fortune to know him really well during the early years of the century, when he and I were working together to achieve the introduction of a smoke-free Britain, and to pass the legislation which would make that possible. Ian was a tower of strength to us and to my colleagues who were seeking the same objective – the most important contribution to public health since the clean air laws of the 1950s, and the Victorians’ drinking water improvements. That will always be Ian’s legacy. He was a marvellous speech writer, funny, literate and absolutely to the point.  I shall miss him hugely, as I know you and all your family will. You are much in my thoughts.

Sarah Veale: I am so, so sorry. I am really shocked and saddened. I have known Ian since 1981. Thinking of you and all friends in common, as well as his family. 💔😥

Phil Rimmer: That’s awful news, I just heard from Deborah Arnott at ASH, where I work. Ian was a wonderful friend and colleague who I will miss hugely.

George Young, Rt Hon Lord Young of Cookham CH: I was so sorry to hear that Ian has died and  I just wanted to write to say how much the cause of anti-smoking owes to him over so many years. I didn’t know Ian well but he was a brilliant campaigner and a master of his subject. He will be sorely missed. 

Melodie Tilson: I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Ian’s passing. I worked with Ian at FCTC meetings, particularly on negotiations for the Illicit Trade Protocol. Ian was bright, with a keen political mind, with a very sharp wit. I especially remember one post-meeting dinner at a café in Geneva in early summer. Ian shared his music with me for the first time, and I was so impressed by his artistic talent. He will be missed by many. My heartfelt condolences to Ian’s family & loved ones.

Jen Ruddick: When I first started working for ASH, I didn’t understand why a small charity with limited funds would employ a man to show up when he fancied and play chess online. It soon became clear that under the chaotic exterior lurked a brilliant mind. Ian was very kind to me, and generous with his time and advice even once I’d left ASH. I am proud to have known him and I will miss him.

Lucy Craig and Gordon Best: I’m writing to express my deepest condolences on hearing of your son, Ian’s, untimely death. Many years ago, during the time when Ian and I were both on Haringey Council, I remember my husband Gordon and I met you and your late wife, at some of the parties at Holcombe Road. Before they moved to Tottenham, we lived in the same road in Muswell Hill as Kathy and Ian which is where we got to know them so well.  Together, the four of us argued politics together for hours over many delicious meals and bottles of wine.  We spent a memorable holiday together in Spain and we also stayed in your house in Wales – the house of course where Ian died but one which he so loved. Maybe that was fitting… As a fellow councillor, I valued Ian immensely for his help, advice and amazing political acumen but, in particular, I appreciated his wonderful and unwavering personal support when I went through a really difficult period with the Labour Party. Both Gordon and I send you – and the rest of your family – our heartfelt sympathies.

Adrian Long: This is sad. After meeting Ian in Oxford and then again in north London I’d lost touch until Facebook came to the rescue a year or so ago. All the things I best remember about Ian were still there. Condolences to family and friends.

Anca Toma Friedlaender: Hadn’t seen Ian in a while when i heard the sad news. I met Ian a few years ago and remember it was so easy to be challenged by his well argued opinions, and laugh a one of his quirky jokes. I remember fondly a very knowledgeable discussion on star trek a couple of Septembers ago, a few minutes after a very knowledgeable meeting on tobacco tax. Such was Ian. Rest in peace.

Hazel Leat: It’s a very sad day and he will be truly missed by all of us who worked with him at ASH. Every one of us has an Ian story and I hope when the time is right we can come together and tell them. Haphazard, brilliant, and generous, the world is poorer without him.

Alison Cox: Ian was unmanageable and chaotic, and one of the smartest and most interesting people I’ve ever met. So funny, and brilliant at taking the p**s out of any body and everything. He was warm, kind and generous (when he remembered to show up). He committed his career to making a difference – and he did. Sending my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends

Roger Higman: This is such sad news. Ian was a kind and brilliant man who was a joy to work with – and a pleasure to spend time with outside work. I’ll miss his sharp, insightful political commentary.

Martin Dockrell: Ian was clever and talented and kind and his passing leaves me very very sad

Tony Bosworth: So sad to hear this news. I worked with Ian at Friends of the Earth and enjoyed his company, his insight and his oh so sharp humour. In recent years his analysis of UK and US politics was a constant delight and often spot-on. Deep condolences to his family and close friends.

Alisa Rutter: I loved Ian and his eccentricity and his amazing intellect. I so loved logging into Facebook and seeing what he had to share. There was so much sense and wisdom. Oh and the fabulous shirts he was always sharing with us.

Still in shock.

Sending everyone tonight who knew and loved Ian the biggest hug tonight X

Owen Tudor: That’s awful news. Gobsmacked. He was always there. Even when he was delayed. Or didn’t turn up. And now he never will. Difficult to believe. so sorry.

Sean Humber who was the solicitor from Leigh Day who supported us in the plain packs case particularly wanted me to pass on his condolences.

As well as working with him while he was at ASH, we had both worked at Friends of the Earth in earlier times.  More recently, during the coffee breaks of the plain packaging Court hearings, Ian would fill me in with his endless supply of (usually defamatory)  political gossip.  I also remember him getting into a prolonged dispute with an over-officious court clerk about using his mobile phone when in court (you weren’t supposed to) and him trying to use it as surreptitiously as possible while the clerk glared suspiciously at him. I always found Ian a funny and irreverent but also clever and principled man.  I think a little bit of all of us hope that we have made the world a slightly better place.  I think he definitely did.

John Howarth: I liked Ian so much. We met about 40 years ago, from completely different worlds but became friends – which involved giggling a lot. I stayed (along with lots of others), at the place he had at the time in Fulham. I was never sure if I had been invited but he didn’t seem to care and was entirely welcoming. He was also fiercely bright and so not at all ever boring. Random, eccentric, orbiting a different sphere, all that but never boring. We lost touch, of course, but I was delighted that our paths collided on Facebook and imagined I might run into him one day. Now I won’t – but I’m so glad I did. RIP Ian.

Katie Kirk: Farewell Ian.
Safe passage old bean.
With love xx

Peter Brown: As worthy a sparring partner as any in the field of politics, semantics, philosophy, music – good grief, anything interesting!
So sad that such a gifted and sparkling personality is snuffed out like this. Too bloody young.

Liana Stupples: Oh Ian Wilmore you are gone. I will never forget this music you shared. We all knew you were a fantastic campaigner. But this really showed what an appreciation of beauty you had. It breaks my heart as have you.

Florence Berteletti: I am very very sad that Ian passed away. Ian was bigger than life, one of the cleverest person I have ever met, incredibly bright and inspiring. I remember clearly the very first time I met him. He was working at ASH UK with Deborah on a dossier called RIP cigarettes. Whilst we disagreed (and I was wrong) on the strategic way to move forward at EU level, this did not stop us working closely together in the following years. I respected his views immensely and I will miss him dearly. Very very sad.

Julian Rosser: So sorry to hear Ian has died. Raoul Evelyn Bhambral and I really enjoyed working with him at Friends of the Earth and met up with him in Llandeilo last year as he was on his way out west. He bought lunch and provided gossip and scandal and was brilliant in every way. We’ll miss him. Rest in Peace, Ian.

Joanna Watson: Ian was unforgettable. Funny, belligerent, shy, kind, fiercely intelligent, brilliant political animal, great musician, baker of amazing cookies with a startling effect. We will miss him

Ed Matthew: Such sad news 😔 – when I arrived at FOE in 2000 the place was fizzing with campaign energy and Ian was at the heart of it. FOE was getting more media coverage than any other green NGO by far. He was a brilliant campaigner and media strategist and how many lives did he save as a result of his campaign to stop smoking in public places…..and he had an acid wit with a huge heart.

Chris Bertram: I am so sorry to hear this news. I first met Ian when I arrived at Oxford in 1978 and he had rooms above me. I don’t think I would have got through first-year logic without his help! Later at UCL we both sat as postgrad reps on the NUS committee there, I as a trot and he as firmly not but willing to gently tease me about it. I’m pretty sure I’ve not seen him since about 1984 but Facebook brings people back together again.

Fiona Godfrey: I was really shocked to wake up to this news about Ian yesterday morning. Ian was a work colleague and we had not seen each other in a very long time but he was still a presence in the lives of those who knew him, whether or not you saw him on a regular basis.
Lots of people have commented on Ian’s ferocious intelligence and wit and they are right about that – he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He didn’t take any prisoners but I think that is a really. underrated quality and I appreciated that in him. He certainly made meetings far less boring than they would otherwise have been and that is another rare gift. I remember sharing a bus ride from the conference centre in Geneva to the railway station with him. He asked if I had seen The Wire and I said no (we didn’t have TV at home here in Luxembourg). He told me I _had_ to watch it as it was the best TV series ever. Of course, I didn’t get round to it. Months later I had back surgery and had three months sick leave. I was moaning about being bored so he told me to stop moaning and (again) to watch The Wire. I followed his advice and binge watched five series in as many weeks. It left me traumatised for life but it certainly took my mind off my back surgery. Ian went well before his time but he left a lot of people with a lot of great memories and he won’t be forgotten. 

Kerry Postlewhite: My memories of Ian: his planet-brain (more Jupiter than Earth); his kindness and generosity; his chuckle; his unrivalled aptitude for political strategy and tactics; his never-properly-knotted tie and crumpled suit at council meetings; his forever pushing his glasses back up over the bridge of his nose; his wittiness; his hands full of an untidy, disorganised pile of papers; his amazing double-act with Owen Tudor; his partnership with the beautiful Kathy Jones; fun and ever so slightly intoxicated moments; his commitment to social justice, equality and fairness; feeling very proud and humbled if any idea I had was judged by Ian as having merit; sometimes being madly infuriated by him, especially his tardiness or waning attention span (because he had already moved on several steps ahead in the game); his ability to bestow the most perfect nickname; most recently, swapping magical music moments via Facebook messages (including Ian sending me a video of Sweep Sings Robbie Williams 😉). Ian, you will be missed. Shine brightly. ♥

Frances MacGuire: So shocked to read this news, I was thinking about Ian only today and what a good move it had been to escape London to Pembrokeshire before the lockdown. Only the other day I was appreciating his FB fashion sense. So, so unfair, so sad.

Helen Bailey: So sorry and shocked. Love and sympathy to  all those close to Ian!

Dawn Anderson: Oh no. I’m so very sorry. Rest in peace Ian ❤️

Andy Rowell: That is awful news. So sorry. I was FB chatting with him just 10 days ago when he was in Pembrokeshire. Rest in Peace, Ian

Henrietta Marriage: I’m simply very very upset. But please let me know if I can do anything useful, and pass on by best wishes to his family. I’d be really grateful if you could keep me posted about any future Ian related stuff.

Iain Watson: a mutual friend told me this terrible news had been posted on facebook. I hadn’t seen Ian in a while but fondly remember his wit, intelligence – and musical talent. I still fondly remember my time with you and him in Broadhaven. I’d always thought I’d see him again – I am so sorry to hear about what happened and the suddenness seems all the more shocking. My thoughts are with you and all who knew Ian.

Gaby Solly: I knew Ian in the days when he used to smoke like a chimney at Friends of the Earth, before having his damascene moment. What obviously didn’t change tho was his acerbic wit and sharp mind, and deep intellectual and political curiosity and unswerving reach for social justice. I have loved having Ian as a more recent Facebook friend popping up often and always with worthwhile content- whether hilarious or fundamentally necessary. Sending my condolences to his nearest and dearest. What a sad day. X

John Howarth: This is really sad. I will miss him. There is a big gap. I’m so sorry – my condolences.

Peter Brown: I’m shocked and saddened. We had reconnected via FB a couple of years ago, after some crazy years together in student politics in the early 80s. His intelligence, humour, and warmth will be sorely missed 🙁

Jane Hutchings: My condolences, and my thoughts to his family

Neil Verlander: I’m so sad to hear this awful news. I worked in the Friends of the Earth press office with Ian. He was kind, clever and funny. Condolences to his family and friends.  Working with Ian was never dull. When I think back to those days, as I have quite a lot these past 24 hours, it’ s hard not to smile. He had a great sense of humour and a healthy irreverence for the world around him.

Anna Thomas: A person who really knew how to create connection – in my case, with someone he hadn’t seen since we worked together at FOE 20 years ago. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling despondent, and I posted a photo of sundown, with the phrase “Winter always turns to spring”. Lovely Ian responded with a video of a song by Jeff Buckley and Elisabeth Fraser “All flowers in time bend towards the sun”. I felt like I was in the room with him. I’m shocked and sad.

Claire Wilton: I am so very sad to hear this. I was terrified of getting into an argument with Ian at Friends of the Earth because he would always find the hole in my defence. But he was so kind too and not long ago ordered special stones from the USA for my daughter’s rock collection. Facebook will be a sadly less bonkers space without Ian.

Anna Watson: So sad to hear this. Sending love and hugs to all that knew him. We will raise a glass tonight thankful we knew Ian. What a huge force of nature he was. He’ll live on in all of us that knew him. X x x x x x

Paul Convery: This is truly awful news. Scarcely believable. One of the cleverest, wittiest guys I ever knew. And such great fun. This is desperately upsetting. I wish I had kept more in-touch. To family and his closest friends, my thoughts and condolences.

Lisa Fagan: Shocked and saddened to hear this news about a former colleague at Friends of the Earth. He was clever and funny. A political nerd, a committed campaigner and a creative genius.

Joanna Watson: Very sad to hear this. I am grateful that Neil [Verlander] rang me to let me know but we did end up laughing about some of the wonderful and funny memories we had of Ian. Lovely man who will be missed.

Clare Oxborrow: So sorry to hear this news. I knew Ian in my early days as a very green campaigner at FOE. Will never forget his training on public speaking that turned into a fascinating lecture on the art of oratory. And his kindness and help with my first scary media interviews. Rest in peace you clever, funny, kind man xx

Craig Bennett: Oh goodness, I’m so very very sorry to hear this news. I learned so much from Ian in my first few years at Friends of the Earth. He had any incredible nose for a story, and an extraordinary ability to anticipate precisely what a journalist would need and precisely when. How sad that he has gone. He will be greatly missed. Craig

Sarah Donnelly: Oh no, this is such sad news. Such a smart and funny man. We had a hilarious time at one of the COPS. I remember being really pleased to have made him laugh. Thanks for letting us know Roger x

Hannah Griffiths: My heart has been heavy since I heard this news. Such a strong personality, acerbic wit and great sense of humour. I remember being overwhelmed by his knowledge and always hoping to impress him. It was like he had a sixth sense for the media. How lovely to see all you old FOE faces remembering Ian. What an amazing asset he was. Love to you all. Xxx

Kerry Postlewhite: My memories of Ian: his planet-brain (more Jupiter than Earth); his kindness and generosity; his chuckle; his unrivalled aptitude for political strategy and tactics; his never-properly-knotted tie and crumpled suit at council meetings; his forever pushing his glasses back up over the bridge of his nose; his wittiness; his hands full of an untidy, disorganised pile of papers; his amazing double-act with Owen Tudor; his partnership with the beautiful Kathy Jones; fun and ever so slightly intoxicated moments; his commitment to social justice, equality and fairness; feeling very proud and humbled if any idea I had was judged by Ian as having merit; sometimes being madly infuriated by him, especially his tardiness or waning attention span (because he had already moved on several steps ahead in the game); his ability to bestow the most perfect nickname; most recently, swapping magical music moments via Facebook messages (including Ian sending me a video of Sweep Sings Robbie Williams 😉). Ian, you will be missed. Shine brightly. ♥️

Neil Cleeveley: Beautifully put Kerry Postlewhite, just how so many of us will remember Ian. God, he could be exasperating, but what lovely, kind and warm friend. He will shine on in all our hearts.❤️

Rachel Brooks: I’ve written a longer piece about my memories of Ian which is now up on http://ianwillmore.com/ but I wanted to add something here to the many other comments.

He was one of those people who was very particularly himself and he leaves a gaping Ian-shaped hole. A very loyal friend, he had a great capacity to inspire love and affection in others, along sometimes with frustration and head shaking for his disorganisation and idiosyncrasy. He was formidably bright, and especially a very creative political thinker.

I really miss him. My heartfelt condolences to Ian’s family and to all those who knew and loved him.

Martin Dockrell: Ian was clever and talented and kind and his passing leaves me very very sad.

Martyn Willmore: Sorry to hear this news. I only met Ian a few times (although I suspect some of the goodwill shown towards me from others in tobacco control was because they thought I was related to Ian)! The one person who definitely didn’t believe this family link was Ian himself, as every time we met he would point out that I spell my surname differently to him. He stated this with such certainty every time that I began to believe it myself 😆

John Erskine: I knew Ian in student politics and more recently on Facebook. A wonderful, funny, soulful man, and a great socialist in both the personal and political sense. Reposting one of the final posts our friend and comrade Ian Willmore made before his death this week, (“Refutation of anarchism: sometimes it’s really important to have a government, and for it not to be full of idiots”), thinking of him as I start my shift at ASDA this morning, and remembering one of relatively few people who would understand what I’m referencing by describing it as my ‘turn to industry’. 

Charlie Mansell: So sad to hear this news. I remember him well from late 80’s and early 90’s political debates. Condolences to his family and friends

Michael Heiser: I remember Ian from university- shocked at this news

Sioned-Mair Richards: Oh no. So kind to me when l had cancer a few years ago.

Katie Kirk: I loved working in the Parli Unit and the background dialogue between Ian and Neil was priceless.
Ian’s challenging nature made me better at my job; the things I learned from him have stayed with me.
His wit was razor sharp but his eyes were soft and deeply compassionate.
I was very fond of the ole badger.

Flora Matthew: So sad. Such a smart, funny super campaigner of a man. X

Frances MacGuire: Finally finished my work for the EU on healthy ageing. Now raising a glass to Ian. I’m shocked by the news and I’ve been leaking tears all day. It’s 19 years since I last saw Ian at FoE but we’ve kept in touch more recently on Facebook. I have three clear memories of Ian which often come to mind: the time in a meeting when he described himself as having the attention span of a gnat and I thought this couldn’t be true but now feel it applies to me; the time at COP 6 when Ian printed all our press releases on attention grabbing orange, green and pink paper and it worked; and the time when Ian commented on a climate article of mine and said I actually had writing potential. I was secretly pleased to get this feedback. I will miss Ian’s astute political analysis and his Facebook postings of high fashion which I would have loved to see him try out.

I thought it was so apt that Ian was born on 5th Nov because I couldn’t think of a better person capable of sticking a firework up government!

Chris Bertram: I am so sorry to hear this news. I first met Ian when I arrived at Oxford in 1978 and he had rooms above me. I don’t think I would have got through first-year logic without his help! Later at UCL we both sat as postgrad reps on the NUS committee there, I as a trot and he as firmly not but willing to gently tease me about it. I’m pretty sure I’ve not seen him since about 1984 but Facebook brings people back together again.

Margaret Luce: I didn’t know Ian very well, but met him several times through Kathy, at her parties and gatherings, and at Stewart Lee comedy gigs.  I remember telling Ian that I didn’t see much comedy, and he took the opportunity to give me a long list of comedians I ought to go and see.

We tended to meet before the gig for drinks and something to eat.  One of these occasions was earlier in the year of the US elections.  I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask Ian his views about how the elections would pan out, knowing (from Kathy) that he was extremely well-informed, followed all the complicated stages of the election processes with great care, and was generally accurate in his predictions.  So, in a bar in Leicester Square, early one evening, I took a deep breath and asked Ian what he predicted would happen in the US elections.  He replied that, based on his intricate knowledge and understanding of the US political landscape, there was absolutely NO WAY that Donald Trump would be elected President.  He went on to explain – in some detail – why that was the case.  I’m afraid I didn’t retain enough of what he said to reproduce his arguments here.

We all know what happened next.  At that time, I reminded Kathy of that conversation we had had earlier in the year, and what Ian’s prediction had been.  He completely denied having said it.

I was looking forward to resurrecting the question for this year’s elections, especially given the current (changed) landscape everywhere.  Sadly, I won’t now have that opportunity.”