A Tribute to John Poole (27.11.1947-08.10.2010) Founder of TRiM (Timber Recycling in Manchester)
I first met John when he came in to the wood recycling Project in Brighton back in 2000.
I am not sure how he heard about us, but he seemed keen on the idea and he stayed for a chat and a cup of tea, and asked all the right questions. Of course we get visited by a lot of people who want to set up, but very few of them actually get anything going. So I didn’t think much of it.
But he had decided that it could work in Manchester… and he made it happen.
Of course it wasn’t going to be easy, I recall the difficulty he had getting the right partners and there wasn’t any funding around. But he believed in the concept, knew it would work and persevered – well beyond the time when others would have given up.
Eventually I got a call from John asking me to come up to Manchester and go to a meeting with him. It was an early start, so I had to travel up the night before and he kindly offered to put me up.
That’s when I started to get to know John and understand what kind of person he was; it was the first of many visits to Manchester to follow the development of TRiM and many good nights crashing at his flat.
He was often promised support from this or that agency that didn’t materialize, so in the end, in 2003 … he just did it himself, he found the money himself, bought a truck, sorted out premises and got on with it. And TRiM is still going, still saving resources and still serving its community.
So what kind of person was John for me?
The first thing that struck me about John was his total commitment to social justice – he was a really selfless person, whose motivation genuinely seemed to be about caring for the planet and helping people. I’d hear him at TRiM asking the volunteers what they would like to do – I’d be whispering “tell them to do this, order them to do that”. But that wasn’t his style – John had a thoroughly gentle way of managing people … but it worked – the work got done and people felt empowered by him. He was totally respected.
His home, when I visited it, was testament to his love of wood and his skill in working with it. I’d turn up in my suit and tie – trying to look dapper for a meeting – and he’d have the bench out in the middle of his lounge, his tools spread about the floor, chiselling away at a gate or bookcase. I would end up covered in dust whilst hanging on to one end of a bit of 4×2.
He was genuinely one of the cleverest and wisest people I have come across. We spent evenings with him trying to explain to me how weather works or why the flow of water around Anglesey was so treacherous (he was an accomplished sailor who loved the North Wales coast). And whilst discussing the disempowering nature of corporate capitalism, or the importance of community enterprise, we’d nip out to Asda along the road to pick up a family sized Tiramisu and stuff the whole lot!
As a “wood recycling business advisor” to John, I often felt I was nagging him: John, you’re too nice, John, you think too much of the others, John you’re too caring. He took it serenely. My goodness, I’d be very proud if that was the worst that people could say about me.
I saw John as a force for good; he served his community and TRiM is part of his wonderful legacy.
It was a privilege and pleasure to know John and our network of community wood recyclers, and certainly my life has been thoroughly enriched by him.
– Richard Mehmed
Richard Mehmed of the NCWRP and John Poole of TRiM in 2009
Donations in John’s memory can be made to the Ellen McArthur Trust or via the NCWRP