Ian Thomas: 29 March 1963 – 28 December 2012

IssueFebruary 2013
Comment by Sian Jones, Ippy D

We got to know Ian in the early 1990s when starting Women’s Aid to Former Yugoslavia. Ian had co-founded Tantric Technologies in 1989 – a worker’s co-op providing IT services. He – and Clive Debenham, who died last year – helped us become early adopters of the then-new email technology to communicate with women’s and peace groups in the region via the ZaMir network. He also did time in our warehouses, packing and loading aid onto the trucks.

Over the following 20 years, we had adventures together at demos, actions and messing about in boats – his racing yacht and our rusting tub. Memorably he woke us early one morning after a genial night aboard, announcing, with typical understatement, ‘I don’t want to alarm you chaps, but I fear we are sinking’.… Indeed we were.

He was a Peace News subscriber and supporter, coming to London to donate IT support for the editorial office from time to time when Ippy was editor. As ‘the trainee’ (legal observer) he provided invaluable support to Block the Builders at AWE Aldermaston (2005-8), and was an active campaigner against the replacement of Trident and the Iraq war. His outward appearance belied his radical politics: when he turned up at the G8 at Stirling in July 2007, people thought he was a police spy.

In Southampton, he was an active campaigner, notably as co-ordinator of Southampton No2ID and in the local co-op scene. He was always ready to respond to local issues, such as the impact of local authority cuts, or the management of the river Itchen – which flowed past his garden.

When we saw him in November he was as engaged as ever – talking about challenging the military-style parading of welfare-to-work draftees on local parkland, and the long-term software project he was developing with Tantric to support small groups.

Ian was one of those quiet activists, always modest about his achievements, but consistently working to make the world a better place. He was funny, clever, generous and we will miss him.

His funeral was held in Southampton on 11 January, with a wake at the local boat club.

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