Nigel Todd: A tribute

The Co-op College chair and Newcastle councillor has passed away unexpectedly, aged 73

The co-operative movement is mourning the loss of Nigel Todd, who passed away last night (26 March) unexpectedly, at the age of 73. 

Nigel, who was a Labour/Co-op councillor for Newcastle’s Arthur’s Hill Ward, chaired the Co-operative College’s board of trustees, and recently joined the board of the Co-operative Heritage Trust. He also chaired the Newcastle Fairtrade Partnership and was a keen advocate for co-operation, equality and peace. He dedicated his life to tackling poverty, racism and inequality – and was passionate about life-long learning. 

In 2019, he and the college worked with adult education charity WEA and the University of Oxford to launch the Adult Education 100 campaign to boost adult learning. “Adult education enhances people’s lives,” he said at the time. “It helps in acquiring skills for work and everyday life, building self-confidence, and improving or maintaining health and wellbeing.”

Nigel Todd speaking at a Co-op College event in 2019

A statement from the College said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Nigel Todd, who has died suddenly and peacefully yesterday at his home in Newcastle. As our chair of Trustees, Nigel was a much-loved member of the College family and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

On Twitter, Co-operatives UK also paid tribute, saying: “All at Co-operatives UK are very saddened to hear that Nigel Todd passed away yesterday. A passionate co-operator – including as chair of trustees for the Co-operative College – our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this incredibly difficult time.”

Nigel was first elected to Newcastle City Council in 1980, and served as a councillor in Elswick and later, following boundary changes, in Wingrove Ward and more recently the Arthur’s Hill Ward.  

“I am devastated to hear about the death of my friend and colleague, Nigel Todd,” said Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council. “He was widely known, and hugely popular, across the West End of the City; everywhere he went people would stop, say hello, and ask him for advice or help.

“He chaired the New Deal for Communities initiative, which brought millions of pounds of regeneration funding into the Inner West. He was active in the Labour Party, most recently chairing the city-wide Local Campaign Forum. And he was also passionate about the co-operative movement; he lived by these values and was a keen advocate of co-operative housing developments.”

Mr Forbes added that Nigel was a “tireless campaigner [and] dedicated environmentalist” who “never lost faith in his vision of a better world, never had an unkind word about anyone and always had a friendly smile”.

He said: “I know that in the months ahead we will want to find an appropriate way of celebrating his many achievements, but for now we all share a deep sense of loss at his passing. Rest in peace, Nigel, and thank you for your service.”

Alistair Ford and Tay Pitman paid tribute to Nigel on behalf of the Newcastle Green Party: “Nigel was a shining beacon for kind, caring politics. He was a true community leader, representing the residents of Arthur’s Hill and Newcastle with passion and compassion, bringing people together, and fighting for fairness and peace. 

“His tireless work for organisations like Greening Wingrove showed that he understood the importance of the local environment in our lives. He will be truly missed by people of all political colours, and we are proud to have called him a friend.” 

In a statement, Cllr Nick Cott, leader of the Lib Dems on Newcastle City Council, added: “We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Cllr Nigel Todd.

“Nigel was a well respected representative of the local community who cared passionately about tackling poverty and inequality and championing lifelong learning. Members of our party speak highly of his anti-racism work.”

Joe Fortune, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, said: “Really saddened to hear this news. Nigel was a very lovely person and a very passionate and knowledgeable co-operator. We will be much missed by his many friends across our team and our Party.”

Tribute was also paid by the WEA, the adult educational charity, with whom Nigel worked with for many years.

“We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend Nigel Todd,” the organisation said in a statement. “His knowledge and passion for adult education (and the North East) and pioneering work in supporting environmental agenda are just the tip of the legacy he leaves behind. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Full obituary to follow.