Many of you will know Nikki Thomson, a lifelong Liberal Democrat who fulfilled many roles in the Party. If you’re in Liberal Youth and you’ve enjoyed Activate weekends, it was Nikki who first set them up way back in the 80s.
It’s barely a week since Nikki told us the devastating news that her Cancer was terminal and that palliative care was the only option. That in itself came little more than a week after the official diagnosis. You will understand, then, how shocked her friends and family are to hear that she passed away at 2am this morning. It’s been a devastating few week which Nikki dealt with much better than I ever could.
She was a warm, funny woman who did so much for her community and to help other people. I first got to know her on Cix in the mid 1990s. We found ourselves on Training for Trainers together and hit it off in person as well as online. In 1999, Nikki successfully proposed a motion to Liberal Democrat Conference condemning Nestle for the way they marketed their baby milk in Africa and committing the Party not to using their products in HQ. Nestle put up a fight and took a room in the nearby Sheraton Hotel, determined to put their case to Conference goers. A crowd of us, including Nikki, James Graham and I, went to pay them a wee visit and put our views robustly and politely to them.
After she moved up here from London in 2002, she took a leading role in organising the annual Meadows Festival, which is a superb and busy event. As well as that she studied for an MBA as well as having a really stressful job with the Edinburgh Tenants’ Federation where she helped make sure tenants’ voices were heard. She worked all hours with groups, advising them and helping them develop the skills to do what they needed to do – which at one point involved them rejecting a housing stock transfer.
In recent years, she’d been seconded to the Council where she worked as a Project Manager making council houses more energy efficient, saving both the environment and people’s bank balances. She lived her radical, liberal values in everything she did.
She also sang with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and was a real help to me in encouraging a reluctant Anna to continue with her choir when she was having problems with motivation.
She also blogged occasionally at Nikki’s blog. I’m updating what I wrote earlier because something had stuck in my mind about her writing about her choral work and the pleasure and pain it gave her and I couldn’t find it. No wonder, cos I’d forgotten the main bit of the piece – it was written about gang culture and how long term investment in group activities for young people in creative and cultural activities could really help young people develop and grow up with a sense of purpose.
Apart from her Nestle triumph, there are another couple of memories I’d like to leave with you. The first was that 2 days after the devastating 2011 Holyrood elections, she sent me a really intelligent, wise, brutally honest vision for the way forward which I absolutely appreciated. She saw with real clarity exactly what needed to change and was able to express it in exactly the right way at an emotional time.
The second, much happier set of memories was a couple of shows we went to see at the Festival a couple of years ago. The first was stand up comedian Toby Hadoke‘s Moths Ate My Doctor Who scarf. We were both big Doctor Who fans and we laughed ourselves silly that night – and enjoyed it so much that we went to see Hadoke in his Now I know my BBC show the week after. Two fun filled carefrree nights.
Stephen Glenn has also written beautifully about his memories of Nikki.
Her local Tory councillor has also written about her on his blog, which underlines her position in the local community.
And, finally, Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron made me cry this morning with this touching tribute.
“Very, very sad news. In the days when young Lib Dems and Lib Dems students were separate entities she was an enthusiastic and effective link. I was very fond of her. A proper radical. The party is poorer without her.”