One wonderful thing about Jill Gough is her passion for peace. Volunteer national secretary for CND Cymru since 1991, and editor of its bilingual magazine Heddwch since 1994, Jill is an inspiring constant in the tumult of activism in Wales. She is one of the people who make things happen, and in 2006 was pivotal in Social Forum Cymru.
In 1980 Jill resigned as a deputy head teacher to start a family. The same year Britain made the baleful decision to permit deployment of US cruise missiles at Greenham Common and Molesworth. “I thought it was pointless teaching my kids to clean their teeth while Thatcher and Reagan conspired to ensure they wouldn't live long enough to benefit,” Jill recalls. “Maybe it's my archaeologist training, but I would like there to be people in the future as well as some remnants of the past for them to dig up and learn from!” So she made the decision and became active, first with Preseli anti-nuclear group and later as secretary of Aberystwyth CND , today part of Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network.
A different flavour
Having lived in Wales since she came to Cardiff University in 1970, Jill learned Welsh and is committed to the nation. “There is a different flavour to CND in Wales,” she says, “stemming from traditions of pacifism and non-conformism; activism is more anarchic.” Though there is no friction between CND Cymru and the organisation in England, quite the reverse, CND Cymru has fully taken on board opposition to nuclear power as well as weapons. So, from protesting at Greenham to opposing the dumping of nuclear waste in Wales, successive governments ensured Jill has never been at a loose end.
Our underlying problem, Jill believes, is a democracy that amounts to dirty politics done by greedy men behind closed doors. Peace is a moral issue, capitalism makes it political: arms dealers ensure there is always war. “I see my role as helping people access tools to act democratically,” Jill says. She does not, however, expect every activist to be as full-on as herself: “We pick up the baton and run with it for as long as we have energy, then pass it on.”
The running has to be fun though, fuelled by joy and love, because Jill knows we have to live like it's a world worth saving.