Andy Goldsworthy

Today I returned to a fence that I worked upon with ash sticks on 29th August which I believe was the day that Peter died. I made another work there today, again with ash sticks.  It is a blustery day – sun and clouds – but no rain. The work was being buffeted and bounced by the wind but stayed firm.

It was a privilege to have known and worked with Peter and it was with sadness and pleasure that I was able to contribute to the celebration of Peters life,

Best,  Andy

Windfallen Ash. Wrapped  around sheep netting and barbed wire. Blustery. 

For Peter Melchett, 7 December 2018. Dumfriesshire

ash

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John Newton

Peter was always such a generous and entertaining host. Great company and very inspiring and helpful. We have lovely memories of some of the fantastic parties held at the farm back in the 80’s.

Paul Horsman

It was a sad shock to hear the news about Peter who was so much larger than life. I cannot be at the commemoration tomorrow as I’m too far away, but I will be remembering him during the day. My first knowledge of Peter was before I joined Greenpeace when, as part of the Peace Movement, Peter had joined in the ‘Snowball Campaign’ by cutting the fence at the nuclear base which several people have spoken about. In fact, although I subsequently got to know Peter when I did join Greenpeace, my lasting picture in my mind was of Peter, leaning on a stick talking to a journalist at that fence.

I first met him in person as part of the ‘Wildlife Link’ group I got to known him better when I worked in Greenpeace. I started full-time at Greenpeace about 6 months after Peter became the ED. He was inspiring, fiercely protective of the people and the organisation and consistently had the backs of us all. I can hear his chuckles, see a twinkle in his eye, and remember seeing the long hours he worked. We would come to the office in the morning with notes scribbled on by Peter as to what needed to be done. He believed in what we were all doing with passion – which continued after he left Greenpeace. I will remember him as a kind man, a humble and passionate campaigner and an example for many of us.

Emma Hockridge

I feel great sadness at the loss of Peter. He was a quite extraordinary man and I can’t imagine how life at the Soil Association will be without him. I had the huge privilege of working closely with him for around ten years.

After meeting Peter at various meetings while working in London I was excited to get a job working in his team. I was immediately thrown in at the deep end as a big story on additives in children’s food broke and Peter put me forward to be on the Today Programme just a couple of weeks into my new role. In the end the interview was bumped because Pavarotti died the day before which I was somewhat relieved about!

Soon I did have to do media interviews and many other new activities which seemed a little daunting.  Peter always had the utmost confidence that I would be able to rise to the challenge, and with that support, somehow, I did. I felt I was continually learning under Peter’s patient and encouraging guidance.

I had the pleasure of taking part in all kinds of events with Peter including meetings with ministers and MPs, giving evidence to Select Committees, running events at Clarence House and hospitals, taking organic businesses to Westminster, loads of fantastic farm visits, travelling to far flung research institutions and universities and meetings with big and small businesses alike. Whatever event we went to, Peter always showed the same high level of enthusiasm, charm, incisive questioning, sprinkled with a good dose of chuckling good humour. There were usually plenty of stories about his farm as well!

Peter started, led and worked on a huge number of projects, campaigns and other areas of work across the Soil Association. I’ve put together this little collage of photos of reports and campaign logos which Peter was closely involved in. I’m sure others will spot many I’ve missed! This only covers a fraction of the work he was involved in.

PM

In recent days many current and past Soilies have talked about just how central he was to the organisation. He developed many of the positions we hold, questioned us and held us to account. Alongside all this, he produced a quite prodigious amount of work behind the scenes. Constantly emailing to gain or impart information, writing letters, articles, briefings, editing press releases, comments and reports.

I am thankful that Peter recently saw important leaps forward on some issues he had been closely involved in. They include the landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice that a controversial new generation of genetic engineering techniques will be subject to the same safety checks and product labelling as existing GMOs.

In August a US court ruled against Monsanto on the negative health impact of glyphosate. We also heard recently that the Foston pig farm has closed down. The farm was the centre of what I think was my most memorable piece of work with Peter.

We launched the ‘Not in My Banger’ campaign after we were threatened by the infamous libel lawyers Carter Ruck. The Foston Pig farm owners were trying to open ‘mega’ pig farm which would have housed over 20,000 animals. The campaign included meeting the pig farm owners who offered to show us the proposed site in their private helicopter. Peter politely turned down the offer! We’re still mentioned on the Carter Ruck Wikipedia page, which Peter and I were always quite tickled by.

It’s wonderful to hear how many people also count Peter as a mentor and how many of their stories have a similar narrative to mine. I look forward to sharing more memories of this brilliant man with them and others.

John Little

The 10 December 2012 saw the Daily Telegraph’s leader proclaim an ‘Agricultural Revolution’ to introduce GM crops in the UK. Peter, then at the Soil Association countered with his paper ‘The pro-GM lobby’s seven sins against science.’ Subsequently the Daily Telegraph failed to debate any of Peter’s arguments. With the dismissal of Owen Paterson from Government the threat of GM agriculture receded, although it is still with us. It was Peter who has gained us time to expose the fallacy of GM and the danger it poses.

In an otherwise comprehensive obituary the Telegraph could not help itself into one last cheap shot at Peter, stating that he tried ‘to rid the world of the fruits of scientific progress.’ Clearly an attempt to ridicule his endeavours but I look at it differently, Peter’s works and writings still clearly pose a threat to them and long may they continue to do so.