Gary Mahoney, in the words of Friends of the Earth members and contacts who knew him over the years….
After a Liverpool FoE group meeting in 2010; L-R: Val, Frank, Gary, Katie, Cllr Colin Eldridge, Rachel, “Hidden Man” (?Alan ), Rebecca
Marching through Bonn during the International Climate Summit (Kyoto Protocol negotiations), July 2001. Lifeboat t-shirts were given to stewards (asked to volunteer on the day!)
Gary was an utterly principled caring person. A great environmentalist, trade unionist and all round good guy. He was one of the best people I’ve ever worked with – principled, thoughtful, caring, unambitious and sensible. When Yvonne and Gary got together, Katy and me both thought it was a match made in heaven and were so happy for them. Please pass on to Yvonne our deepest sympathy. Gary is someone who should be remembered and cherished with love and respect. Maybe, because he was such a good guy, we should all use him as an example to think about how we manage our differences in working to further our values, while recognising the things we have in common – I include myself in this.
Steve Munby, Liverpool Riverside Labour Councillor
So difficult to find something positive to say about such a loss. Steve has done so, however, and I agree completely.
John Coyne, Liverpool St Michaels Green Councillor
Gary was passionate about the environment and Friends of the Earth as an organisation. He loved the fact that it was run in a very democratic way. Once a year all local groups would meet at the local groups conference and he would enjoy the motions debate where all the members voted on the issues the FoE would work on. He was held in high regard within Friends of the Earth with many in the higher management of “Foe” seeking his advice. You would often hear someone in the bar come up and say: “Gary, we were thinking of announcing this – how do you think that would go down with the local groups?”
He was knowledgeable and approachable to all – a very gentle man, able to make all members of the group feel they had equal importance.
Mark Anders, Liverpool Friends of the Earth
Raising a glass to Gary with two of the bike group. We found a Camra pub in Bradford.
Gary was something of an icon when I was at FOE. An environmentalist of my (our) generation, grounded in grassroots politics and social action the likes of which Labour have long forgotten. Maybe not a natural fit with FOE centrally – their issue, not his – he brought a valuable dose of reality for the rest of us, always putting his views forward with charm and confidence I think. I’m glad that he didn’t suffer but undoubtably he’s gone way, way too soon.
Donald Ritchie, ex-Local Groups Development Coordinator, Friends of the Earth
We can’t afford to lose people as good as Gary. He was one of the good guys who helped you believe better was possible and we can make a difference, individually, and especially together. I hope he knew how much he was loved and respected. The mug was given to me by a dear friend, Tiah Niagwan, who chose it specially for both its design and its words – ‘Listen to the world’. I chose it for this photo because that was what Gary did.
Val Walsh, Liverpool Friends of the Earth
Such sad news. I heard from my sister who was a work colleague of Gary’s. He was so well liked by all a really genuine bloke, down to earth, solid, committed and dependable when it came to environmental matters he knew so much. When I worked for FoE he was one of my best local group leaders and always brought so much to debates at National Conference. A true loss. I last saw him about three years ago and we always meant to catch up. We never did and I am sad about that. His family have lost a very good man. All my very best wishes to them.
Alison Ball, former Northern Groups Development Officer
I am so sorry to hear the news. What a shock . Gary was a tremendous force for FOE across Merseyside for many years, a lovely man and truly committed to the environment and environmental justice. I’ve alerted the activism team and ask that we pay tribute.
Helen Rimmer, current NW Campaigner, FoE
Thanks for letting us all know Frank, I had known Gary for many years (25-30?) and we always got on well. I hope we can all fill the big gap that he leaves in the environmental movement in Merseyside.
Lawrence Brown, Secretary, Liverpool Green Party
Gary was one of those larger than life figures, a quiet unassuming guy but when faced with a challenge took it on with commitment and enthusiasm. Gary had been a long standing member and supporter of the Trust. He gave so much time and effort primarily to FoE over many decades but his support to other environmental causes was second to none. Our condolences go out to his wife, daughter and family. Rest in Peace our friend.
Don Thompson, Chair, Merseyside Environmental Trust
I’m so sorry to hear this and for your loss such an awful shock for everyone, though I didn’t know Gary well at all he made a difference even I could see and was hugely respected. Go gently in sad times.
Sarah Dewar, NHS
Gary was one of the people we in the Croydon local group in the mid 1980s (so last century) saw as a model local activist. We’d return from each annual Local Groups’ Conference asking ourselves how we could be like ‘that Gary from Liverpool’. We were in awe of how Gary made his point and debated respectfully with others while fully mastering his case, drawing on local examples of need to illustrate national or global issues.
In particular I think we thought Gary kept Friends of the Earth ‘real’ by reminding us of the realities of life for many people in communities the organisation was, at that point, rarely working for or trying to reach. Since then, we have sought to address what we now called justice and rights issues. I relate much of that back to how Gary pricked our consciences then. We were on annual nodding terms for a few years of Conference encounters before our Saa-rf Larn-don mob ventured to get to know him better. Needless to say we benefitted more from this than he did.
Paul de Zylva, former Head of England Team, now national campaign leader, Friends of the Earth
Well said Paul; Gary was indeed a star of the local groups network, a local group conference regular and very adept at using the motions process. A sad loss indeed, best wishes to all.
Chris Crean, W Midlands Regional Campaigner
I knew Gary in the mid 1990s when we moved in the same circles, particularly when he did his Masters and through Liverpool Environmental Forum. Here’s a photo of me drinking a toast to his life. Please pass on my sympathy to his wife and daughter.
Julie Hotchkiss, Liverpool
There are some people you wish you knew longer and better: Gary is definitely one of them for me. For the limited few years I knew him, I can look back on laughs and good times. I will miss him…
Michael King, current Coordinator, Liverpool Friends of the Earth
I was terribly shocked as I’ve known Gary for over 20 years and worked with him closely on the Liverpool air pollution project with the Vauxhall Health Forum (I think) when we got their concerns up on a giant billboard opposite the then Department of the Environment in Westminster back in 1994/5. He was a thoroughly nice man and a campaigner of great integrity. I always used to enjoy his interventions at Conference and it was great to catch up with him regularly at different venues around the country. He was one of the stalwarts at Friends of the Earth and we should definitely honour his memory by raising a pint or three in his honour.
Please pass on my sympathy and condolences to Yvonne and Cathy. We will miss him greatly but he will leave a giant hole in their lives which only time will heal.
Joanna Watson, Events Coordinator, National Friends of the Earth
Terribly sad. I knew Gary through various organisations including as a fellow environmental health worker. He sometimes stayed with us in London. Always looked forward to catching up with him for a few beers at FOE conference. Hadn’t seen him for a few years. Do pass on my condolences.
Quentin Given, national Campaign Coordinator, Friends of the Earth
That is sad news indeed. Gary was such a lovely man. As you say no one ever had a bad word to say about him.
Liz Gould, Greenpeace
Really sorry to hear this. I only met Gary briefly but have heard so many good words about him. We’ll be putting an obituary in the next Change Your World magazine.
Rachel Hubbard, FoE Activism Team
So sorry to hear about Gary – I didn’t know him all that well, but I know every time I did meet him or hear from him there was great chat and great points made – he was definitely one of the local group stalwarts and stars. Sorry for you, his family and all those that were close to him.
Karen Leach, Birmingham Friends of the Earth
Sincerest condolences to Gary’s wife and family from all of us at Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth. Liverpool FOE have lost a fine and dedicated campaigner.
Dot Kelk, Preston
Incredibly sad. I knew Gary from when I started at Friends of the Earth in the Water, Waste & Toxics team in 1990. Gary was a star activist of course. And it was a please to provide him & Liverpool FOE with some support when I was a LGDO. He was a man who personified justice and sustainability.
Mike Childs, Head of Science, Policy and Research, Friends of the Earth
Shocking news, Gary was instrumental at the start of Hazards on M/Side and several other organisations. Really sad new for his family, friends and the movement.
John Flanagan, Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group
This is really sad news. Gary was a committed environmentalist with a strong sense of social justice, but most of all he was a really nice person.
Tania Sayer, South Cheshire FoE (and national Board Member)
Thanks for letting me know – desperately sad news. Gary was a great activist for whom I had huge respect, and a really nice guy as well.
Tony Bosworth, National FoE Campaigner
Shocked to hear this. A big loss to Liverpool as well as to his friends and family. Thanks for letting me know, will pass on to other (ex)Lancaster people who may have known him.
Jon Sear, North Lancs FoE
Such an interesting, knowledgeable, dedicated man – but always seemed to have so much time and quiet patience for everyone. I remember how friendly, warm and welcoming he always was – specially at my first meeting, when I was very shy and very nervous about meeting lots of new people – Gary made me feel right at home, and was very kind. The memory of that – and his integrity and dedication to FoE and environmental work – will always stay with me. I do hope Gary knew how much he was cared for, and how much good he did.
Cate Simmons, News From Nowhere, ex-Friends of the Earth NW volunteer
That is such sad news. I remember Gary as being always very kind and supportive – a gentle giant with all these years of knowledge behind him letting me take the reins on Liverpool FoE for a short while. I imagine in all walks of his life he will be very sorely missed. Wonderful man, someone who was a great role model to everyone really.
Rachel Penfold, former Coordinator, Liverpool Friends of the Earth
I’ve not seen so much of Gary these past few years but still I caught up with him often enough to catch up and see that he was the same quiet, thoughtful, caring person . Thanks for the details about his funeral. Unfortunately I will be teaching that afternoon so I won’t be able to go but I should be able to make Dec 17th if a celebration for Gary is organised for then. I think that an event would be a very good thing and I can help to get things ready if you need a hand so just let me know. Best wishes,
Rebecca Lawson, Liverpool Friends of the Earth
Liverpool Friends of the Earth plan to host a party to celebrate Gary on Wednesday 17 December. Details will be posted on http://liverpoolfoe.org.uk/blog/
He was such a lovely gentle but passionate man.
Anna Watson, Rights & Justice Team, FoE
Gary Mahoney was the first real contact I had with Friends of the Earth, in Liverpool around 1991. I thought that if he was typical of its membership, then this was a campaign group I definitely wanted to be involved with. It was thanks to his support (moral, practical, tactical, knowledge-based, always friendly and so under-stated) that I went on to work as FoE’s North West Campaigns Coordinator for eleven years, and have remained a local group member. He was well-known and hugely respected in national Friends of the Earth circles, and across boundaries of interests and politics on Merseyside. He never set himself on any kind of pedestal. We all simply looked up to him. He wouldn’t have wanted the fuss of being told that, I just hope he knew. Thanks, Gary. We were lucky to know you, we’ll miss your immediate presence, but will always have your positive influence.
Frank Kennedy, Liverpool Friends of the Earth