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Denis manning a WDM stall in St Leonards Gardens last year, with Christina (right).

Denis manning a WDM stall in St Leonards Gardens last year, with Christina (right).

Bexhill loses leading justice campaigner

The death last Wednesday of Denis Lucey , chairman and leader of  the Bexhill and Hastings branch of Global Justice Now, has been described as “an awful loss” to the ranks of Bexhill and Hastings’ campaigners for a fairer world. Fellow fairtrader and activist Jack Doherty pays tribute to Denis’s many contributions to the causes he passionately believed in.

Denis, 88, was a committed campaigner who, with his wife Christina, belonged to various groups which worked in the community such as Bexhill Fairtrade Committe, CAFOD, the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Global Justice Now, as the World Development Movement (WDM) has renamed itself, and was a familiar sight on our streets taking part in many activities in his fight for a fairer world.

Denis was a gentle giant in our midst, always smiling but driven with a determination for justice, fairness  and transparency. His vivacity and enthusiasm belied his age. Until very recently he was setting out stalls, dressing up for street demos and doing his delicate caring for his garden. He and his wife Christina have been key members of St Mary Magdalene Parish and choir for years.

Denis’s wisdom and sagacity at meetings will be sorely missed. As well as being an all-round loveable man for family and friends, he was consumed with a desire to actively change the lives of people, especially the voiceless and deprived.

Denis, of Maple Walk, grew up in north-east England but went on to travel and teach in Argentina where some of his children were born. On returning to Britain he settled in Bexhill where he worked as a language teacher in Downs Secondary School for boys in the mid-1960s.

In 1968 Denis played an active part in the action mounted by the National Association of Schoolmasters (NAS) to safeguard teachers’ positions when schools were reorganised and amalgamated – Bexhill was where the national principle was won and established for future negotiations. His first wife Patricia taught languages in St Mary Magdalene primary school.

With their four children – Michael, Tony, Ana and Helen – they became life-long friends with fellow foreign language teachers Christina and Val Bowler, and their children Joseph and Margaret, sharing a common interest in multilingual cultures.  After both Denis and Christina were bereaved, their friendship blossomed and they married 15 years ago.

In about 1970 Denis left Bexhill  to become deputy head of Chatsmore School in Worthing. Here he became active in the local branch of the World Development Movement and continued this work on returning to Bexhill, along with his wide aim of combating inequality in the world. This led him to support Fairtrade and take part in demonstrations such as highlighting the monopoly practices of the banking and corporate world in food production and pricing. He used a fair lens of justice and peace.

He joined the Jubilee 2000 movement for debt cancellation in Worthing and Bexhill in 1999 and participated in marches in Cologne. After this, together with local vicar Helen Dollenson, he resurrected the local Bexhill and Hastings WDM which he led vigorously and inspirationally from then on.

He and Christina have been on marches in Prague, Copenhagen, Brussels and Paris, as well as many cities and towns in the UK. He lobbied MPs and MEPs  on a range of issues, including the controversial Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) under negotiation by the United States and the EU.

Among other fellow activists who have mourned his passing are Philippa Coughlan, who commented, “Denis was the epitome of a caring and a real gentleman; this is an awful loss,” and Lesley Shareif, who said, “We have all been enriched by working with Denis.”

 

Posted 18:18 Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015 In: Campaigns

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