Photo at The Crow’s Nest at the Pier Tavern, after the Sunset Cruise, 18th July 2013

It is with great sadness that I have to pass on the news that our dear friend and colleague, Tim Cox, passed away last week. Some of you may know that Tim has been seriously ill for a while.  Although we knew this was coming, it is still a shock that it has happened so soon.  Tim has been one of the most committed environmental and community activists in Devon and has been working full time as a volunteer for no salary for over a decade.  Tim was one of the founding members of 361 Energy and has been our Finance Director.  He was a vital part of our organisation who will be much missed.

He grew up in Oxfordshire and joined the Vickers aircraft company as an apprentice.  During that time he worked with Barnes Wallis on swing wing aircraft designs and later on the TSR2, an advanced aircraft design which was scrapped before going into production.  He later worked for the British Motor Corporation and project managed the setting up of Unipart and also came up with the name.  He came to the south west to work on hydroelectric systems for Evans Engineering and he also had a period as a college lecturer in Plymouth.  Later he ran the Cornwall Knitting Centre, but retired in 2001 due to ill health.

In Ilfracombe he initially lived in a motor caravan out at Chambercombe Manor, where he was  volunteer head grounds man.  In 2002 he joined Trans-Send (Transition to Sustainable Living in North Devon) as a volunteer renewable energy advisor.  In 2004 he became the Managing Director of Trans-Send Ltd.  That year, he and colleagues from Trans-Send organised a Community Renewables conference at the Landmark Theatre.  This was the UK’s first renewable energy conference for community members and the first national conference to be held in Ilfracombe.  For several years he worked in Trans-Send’s office and shop at 139 High Street in Ilfracombe, near the bottom of Oxford Grove.  Here, Trans-Send would offer advice on energy saving and renewables and sold energy saving light bulbs, radiator reflectors and other technologies before they were commonly available in shops.   Many of us learnt more about sustainability and renewables locally and became more active in this area through visiting the Trans-Send shop.  Over the last few years he has been been trying to get several local renewable energy projects started.  These have included tidal power turbines off the northern Devon coast and biomass district heating schemes.

He was a founder member of many Devon environmental and sustainable energy organisations.  These included the Greater Exmoor Network for Renewable Energy, the Devon Sustainable Energy Network, the Devon Renewable Energy Advice Partnership, the Ilfracombe & District Green Alliance and 361 Energy, for whom he devoted most of his time over the last couple years.

As a community activist, he regularly had to work with local authorities and politicians and counted many among his friends.  He stood as a candidate for the Green Party at the local council elections and was also a supporter in campaigns for renewable installations in Northern Devon.  He spoke in favour of Fullabrook Wind Farm at the Public Inquiry and his introduction of the Stern Review at the inquiry may have played a role in the final outcome.  He also negotiated the generous terms for the Fullabrook Community Fund, which will provide £3.4 million to the community.

Outside the sustainable energy field he was also active in other community organisations.  He set up the Ilfracombe Farmers Market in 2003 and operated this until 2010.  He was Director of Greener Ilfracombe, which has several community gardens in Ilfracombe.  He was a great believer in planting trees and enjoyed spending time this summer working in the garden at Larkstone.

He has been an organiser of the annual May Day Celebrations in Ilfracombe since 2004.  He set up the community group Combe Business in 2010 and was the finance director. Last year he also set up the Combe Training Centre which provided short adult learning courses.

Given his devoted work for the community over many years, he was presented with several awards.  These included winner of National Year of the Volunteer (SW) award 2005 and the ‘Pride in Ilfracombe’ Good Citizen Award in 2006.

While Tim worked hard during the week on sustainable energy and community activities, he also knew how to party.  His second home was the Pier Tavern Pub at the far end of the Quay where he had many friends, enjoyed listening to live music and would party until the early hours.  He held his 75th birthday party there before he let everyone know about his illness.  Last month he took many of his friends from the wide range of activities and organisations he has been involved with on a sunset cruise up the coast.  It was a magical evening and we saw Dave the Dolphin showing off in Combe Martin bay.  A photo I took of the dolphin that evening was subsequently published in the North Devon Gazette.  After the cruise several of us had a drink with Tim at the Crow’s Nest at the Pier Tavern and that is the photograph I in this post.  Tim has spent many evenings over the summer watching the sun go down from the Crow’s Nest.

Tim has been a tremendous mentor and being a founder member of 361 Energy, has been a vital part of the success of the organisation.  We have all learnt from his many years of experience.  His wide ranging personal contacts have helped us gain support from local councils, local businesses and activists in the local community.  He has ensured our finances have been kept sound and has worked hard, applying for grants for us to fund our activities.  He has been particularly active recently in helping set up the 361 Empower project which enables people in fuel poverty in Ilfracombe to access funding for replacement boilers and insulation.  Tim was a remarkable person who can never be replaced.  We will miss his wise words of advice, support and the dedication he has shown to ensure that 361 Energy successfully promotes energy saving and renewable technologies for the benefit of the local community and the environment.  One of his main concerns in the last few months was to ensure that some of the projects he started will be will be carried on.  With the help of the local community, 361 Energy and the other organisations he was involved with will do this.