Mark Avery

Peter was always a very generous and wise environmentalist.  He has always been one of my heroes and always will be.  Here are a few thoughts about, and memories of, Peter posted on my blog.

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Sarah Burton

Peter Melchett was first a client of mine in my legal practice, who turned into a friend, a boss and then a mentor. He had a profound impact on my life. And also on the organisation we both loved, Greenpeace, because he was a change-maker; someone who had a vision for the organisation, in the UK and globally, and then worked tirelessly to help make that a reality.

As a client, he was clear in his instructions, decisive, and focused. And always grateful when a legal strategy worked! As a friend, he was warm, generous and loyal. Always made me laugh and feel good about myself. Invited me into his home, his family, his networks and with amazing facility made me feel a part of his life. As a boss, Peter was fair, honest, helpful – his job as your boss was to make you successful. He had the foresight to see the benefit of Greenpeace bringing in-house a lawyer who could both be a significant defender of the organisation, but also a proactive legal campaigner.

As a mentor, well, what does one say? In everything Peter lived his values. He was forthright, open, principled and clear-thinking. Even today, many years – decades – after we stopped working together, when needing to act in a difficult situation, particularly one involving conflict, I try to imagine how Peter would approach it, and emulate him. He could be tough as nails, but always calm and respectful. In making a complex and sensitive decision, or helping others to do so, he asked the question, “what are we trying to achieve here?” and let that guide the decision. It seems simple, but when emotions are riding high, it is not easy to step outside and ask that important question.

I learned about environmentalism from him, from his deep connection to and love for nature. I learned about management from him, from his desire to always improve outcomes and build people. I learned so much from Peter, and my only regret is not to have seen enough of him in recent years, when I have been living in Amsterdam…but that is my loss. And Peter’s death is all our loss.

Caroline Lucas MP

On behalf of the Green Party of England and Wales I’d like to send all our sympathies to Peter’s family, and to say what a huge gap he has left in the environmental movement.
He was such an inspiring leader, combining brave campaigning and brilliant political advocacy and policy-making, and as a pioneering organic farmer himself, he showed by his own example that we can do things differently and better.
The Green movement owes him a huge debt. He’ll be sorely missed.

Mike Duckett MBE FIH

I was saddened to hear the sudden death of Peter at such a relatively young age. He was very supportive while I was manager at the Royal Brompton Hospital and his common sense approach to hospital meals was refreshing and he kept everyone firmly on a objective that hospital meals meant a traditional recipe basis using the local ingredients rather than a fine dining approach. He certainly helped in reaching and the use of the available organic ingredients which supported the high level of patients satisfaction. He will be missed by many in the NHS.

Kath Dalmeny

Since receiving the news of Peter Melchett’s death, I have felt great sadness. I have also talked with others in the Sustain alliance sharing stories of their own loss, and their relationships with a man variously described as powerful, compelling, a mentor, a father figure, intelligent, stubborn and (my favourite) “chuckly”.

I have watched film showing a younger Peter pulling up GM sweetcorn, in his characteristically direct way, wearing an uncharacteristic white boiler suit. And I have enjoyed hearing his distinctive voice and warm chuckle again, in excerpts from Desert Island Discs and environmental news reports. We are privileged that so much will survive of his work, voice and spirit.

For nine years, I served as the consumer representative on the Soil Association’s processing standards committee. I went on to work with Peter and Jo Lewis on the Food for Life catering mark standards committee, developing the systematic approach to improving school and hospital food, step by principled and pragmatic step – building a large-scale market for fresh, healthy, local and sustainable food. For several years, I have also had the great privilege of working closely with Peter, as a member of the steering group for the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics – a role in which he shone.

Reading the obituaries, I have now become far more aware of the breath-taking range of things that Peter threw himself into during his life. These paint a picture of a campaigning free-wheeler, a man who sat on Cabinet, taught biological sciences, read law, campaigned on cannabis, pulled up GM sweetcorn, cut nuclear installation fences, had a family, ran a farm, won wildlife legislation, placed hundreds of legislative amendments, loved curlews, got imprisoned, harangued pharmaceutical representatives about antibiotics, and hugged people and mentored them and chuckled a lot… Extraordinary in so many ways.

I feel gutted that Peter will not live to see a major campaign milestone that is achingly close to being won: a complete EU-wide ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming. When we eventually celebrate (and the celebration will be roof-raising), then lift your glass to Peter and know that he played an important part in achieving it. And as you think of him, think about what more we can do to honour his memory, and the lives, work and passion of so many of our campaigning colleagues. I feel that the very best tribute to Peter will be to step up the fight for good food, grown well, in a way that means soil, bees, farmers, and yes – curlews – can all thrive.

Alison Reynolds

Peter was a wonderful boss at Greenpeace UK: funny and irreverent on the one hand but prepared to dig very deeply into detail. I had numerous personal experiences of helping to persuade Peter to agree plans that put the organisation at risk in taking direct actions. Oh how we dreaded those “inquisitions” before the go-ahead was given – or otherwise – but the Actions Unit certainly appreciated Peter’s thoroughness and preparedness to go for it, giving us priceless and memorable opportunities to do our “thing”.

Thank You Peter, I learned a great deal from you, Alison