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.
During my all-too-brief sojourn in Lewes, Julia seemed to have a finger in most eco-pies; she was utterly focused on organisation, capacity and outputs; and she appeared to be indestructible. A very sad loss.
Never even realised Julia was ill. Seems like only yesterday I was talking to her about her SUV campaign, and she was as full of energy and ideas as always!
Feeling gutted. So often, the good ‘uns are taken too soon.
I think I will go and flier some SUVs in her honour.
Julia: what a woman. I am the partner of her daughter and she has inspired me so much, both in an eco manner but also in life. I have learned a lot from her and I won’t forget the many happy memories we shared. I am so glad we got to share our wedding day at the hospice. A happy memory I will never forget.
Julia was a dear, dear friend since the late 90s when we first met up at Wallands school. She managed to encourage a slacker like me to improve my eco-game without covering me in guilt, always very practical in her suggestions. I think of her every time I use my water butt, every time I harvest the raspberries she gave me, and each time I admire what we call “The Julia Veg Bed,” currently housing potatoes. There’s a huge hole in my world where she used to be.
I met Julia shortly after moving to Lewes. She was so friendly and welcoming and told me all about TTL.
It was always a pleasure to meet her and see her lovely and genuine smile. She was an uplifting person of hope and joy.
I am returning from a two month vacation with my daughter and have just read this very sad news. I have enjoyed working with Julia, attending events she organised and chatting when we crossed paths. Always a pleasure to find her attending the same event and having a catch up. I will miss her. More recently she hosted the on line eco house events brilliantly . An inspiring, practical and fair lady . Always questioning the important detail. Wonderful really. Such a sad loss for the eco community, her close family and friends.
Thank you to Julia for always being so kind and encouraging to me. Julia’s passion for activism and taking care of our green planet has been hugely inspiring and has shaped me as a person since we met. I’m thankful for advice, communication, and time she spent listening to me, whether on serious issues or when meeting on the bus! Julia encouraged me to start Litter Free Lewes, something I would never have done without the support of TTL, and joined us on our very first litter pick and many more. Some of my personal accomplishments are down to her positive influence, as part of our wonderful community in Lewes, I’m so very thankful that our paths crossed.
Dearest Julia was a much-loved, enthusiastic and voracious reader of our book group for over 20 years. Julia was a key member of the group and rarely missed a session and always managed to read the book! During our book group meetings, we laughed a lot, tried not to drink too much wine, ate a lot of cheese, shared stories about our lives, supported each other and eventually got round to talking about the book. Julia had strong opinions and her contributions were invaluable and most of all inciteful. She was so knowledgeable, always inquisitive and was good at listening to others. I will always remember Julia fondly and I will miss her at book group. It won’t be the same without her….
Lewes has lost a leading light in making our town and our planet a better place. The EV show organised by Julia was instrumental in helping me navigate the switch to a hybrid. This is just one micro example of her influence across many domains of sustainability in Lewes. She leaves a huge legacy.
Lewes “punches above its weight”, and Julia was one of the major fists.
What a loss! We should all emulate her example and carry on her work as she would have wished.
Thinking of Julia today & missing her. Looking forward to meeting up with friends of hers in October.