Remembering Julia Waterlow
Transition Town Lewes is heartbroken to announce the death of Julia Waterlow, a driving force behind TTL who inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of people to take steps to live more sustainably. If you knew Julia, feel free share your thoughts and memories here.
It’s with deepest sadness that we announce the death of Julia Waterlow after a short battle with cancer, writes Juliet Oxborrow.
Julia was treasurer and steering group member for Transition Town Lewes. But she will probably best be remembered for the many brilliant events she devised to inspire people across Lewes and far beyond to take steps to a more sustainable way of living.
She was the mastermind behind the hugely popular Lewes Open Eco House Weekends, where dozens of ‘green’ homeowners across town threw open their doors and invited anyone to come and see how they could make their own homes more energy efficient, better insulated or configured to run on green energy.
Following the same idea that people love learning from what others are doing, she also launched the Lewes Electric Car and Bike Show. Adamant that it should be a car show without “pushy salespeople”, she instead invited local motorists and cyclists to bring their e-cars and e-bikes along and share their practical experiences – good and bad – of ‘going electric’.
Both events were so popular that she kept both the Eco Open House and the Electric Car & Bike Shows going through the Covid-19 pandemic, with online events. You can still watch the recordings here (eco open houses) and here (electric car and bike shows).
Originally qualified as a chartered surveyor, Julia was a brilliant analytical thinker and organiser. She helped set up the original TTL Energy Group which transformed into local community energy company, Ovesco, which has subsequently installed enough solar power in East Sussex to power over 1,800 homes. She was also invited to become a director of Meadow Blue, a major community-owned solar farm near Chichester.
Having previously run her own smallholding with livestock on the outskirts of Lewes, she more recently renovated her own eco-home, installing solar panels, a large green roof, external insulation and rainwater-harvesting to flush toilets.
But as well as being super-practical, she was also creative and playful in her efforts to engage people on climate change. She could be seen at environmental marches dressed in a full-body tiger costume, honking a vintage carhorn. Last year at the Planet Party at the Linklater, which she helped to organise, she devised a magnificent Green Goddess costume to wear as Mistress of Ceremonies. Only a few months ago, she started running her own one-woman anti-SUV campaign, leafleting SUVs parked in town with engaging facts about the environmental impact they have.
There is so much more we could say about Julia – and we hope to in a celebration of her life, possibly in September, to which everyone is invited. In the meantime, here are a few more things her friends and peers have to say about her.
If you have a memory or thought to share, please add it in the ‘Comments’ section below, ideally with your name, and we will include it in any future celebration of her life.
Donations to Friends of The Earth can be made on Julia’s behalf c/o Richard Green Funeral Service, 170 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, TN22 1RN. Tel: 01273 488121. www.rgreenfs.co.uk
“What I remember from working with Julia to organise the electric car show and the online Lewes Eco Houses is her no-nonsense energy. She managed to charm and cajole so many people to come together to make an event happen. I think she had eco-anxiety as much as any of us, but her belief of there always being something that you could do to help inspired us all, and will continue to inspire us in the years after her passing.” Tim Rabjohns
“Julia was very grounded – a good person to ask for advice and a reality check! She was trustworthy, honest and fair. She had a good eye for design and was very creative. Also good at keeping things going, such as meetings! And keeping them to essentials. But there is much that is inexpressible – she was just nice to be around.” Ann Link
“If we had an idea for a new TTL project, Julia would ask ‘and who’s doing that?’ And then she would organise everything and everyone. Julia was simply a driving force for the change we urgently need to see in the world.” Chris Rowland
“I first met Julia in 2007 when she took part in a Low Carbon Households project we were running at Lewes District Council. Her enthusiasm then for tackling climate change and motivating others to do the same was inspiring. I worked with her on many events like Eco Homes, the Electric Car Show, the Planet Party and many other climate-focused events. I’ll miss the fun and determination she brought to these events and the wider climate work she did in Lewes.” Matthew Bird, Lewes District Council
“Julia had a profound effect on my Lewes eco life. Just after I moved here, she organised the first Lewes Eco Open Houses weekend, and I saw all the insulation and energy-lowering measures in her Landport farmhouse. ‘I want to be part of this’, I thought – and when I bought a house I followed her fine example, and am eternally grateful to her for her inspiration.” Jill Goulder
“Plenty of us have good ideas in organisations like TTL but it takes the likes of Julia to make them happen. She was not only our relaxed but careful treasurer, she was courageous, intelligent, pragmatic, and creative. A favourite memory has to be the day we travelled to a London Climate march, on the train & tube, with Julia dressed in a zip up tiger suit, complete with tail. Sitting down was awkward, going to the loo almost impossible, but we laughed, chanted & protested to the full. It’s been a life well lived, with integrity & passion. We couldn’t save this beautiful world, but you did try and you did make a difference. I’m going to miss you.” Sue Fleming
If you have a memory or thought to share, please add it in the comments, ideally with your name, and we will include it in any future celebration of her life.