Fi Radford obituary

Other lives: Extinction Rebellion activist who devoted her retirement to environmental campaigning

My friend Fi Radford, who has died aged 72 of cancer, devoted her retirement to environmental activism. She was active in many organisations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Green party and the anti-fracking movement, and, with the birth of Extinction Rebellion (XR), saw hope for a livable planet for her grandson.

Her involvement with XR included inducting hundreds of activists into the cause, and she was part of XR’s Rebel Elders and Aged Agitators groups. With both XR and Greenpeace she took part in many campaigns on deforestation, energy, oceans and climate change, and against expansion of Bristol airport.

She also founded Bristol Environmental Activists Together, was a member of Grandparents for a Safe Earth UK, and regularly demonstrated against the financial sector’s worst offenders on fossil fuel investment. At XR’s “You Can’t Eat Money” action outside BlackRock’s London HQ in 2019, she told fellow demonstrators: “People need to know what goes on behind those shiny glass doors. The business they’re engaged in is actually destroying our life-support system.”

Fi Radford at an Extinction Rebellion protest outside BlackRock’s London HQ in 2019
Fi Radford at an Extinction Rebellion protest outside BlackRock’s London HQ in 2019 Photograph: provided by friend

In 2019 Fi gave a powerful TEDx Talk, What did you do in the climate crisis, Grandma?, calling for the mobilisation of “an army of rebel retirees”. In the talk she said: “It’s time to reboot retirement. This is not the time to rest on our laurels, spend the children’s inheritance or to stay at home feeling unwanted and lonely. We have never been more needed and more valuable.”

Born in Farnborough in Hampshire, one of four children of Dennis Hammond, a second world war pilot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Joan (nee Cowley), Fi was educated at Varndean grammar school, Brighton, where she met Andrew Radford. They married in 1970, shortly after Fi had gained a degree in modern languages at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

After obtaining a postgraduate diploma in library and information studies from University College London, Fi worked as a librarian for Portsmouth City Libraries and then, from 1973 until 1976, at Portsmouth Polytechnic, before moving into full-time motherhood while also becoming involved on a voluntary basis with various charities, including the National Childbirth Trust and the Christian Healing Trust.

Always courteous and impeccably dressed, she will be remembered for her sunny smile, intelligence, inclusivity, courage and commitment to protecting our precious planet from further harm, right up to her first signs of cancer.

She is survived by Andrew, and their sons, Richard and John, and grandson, Edgar.

Jo Flanagan

The GuardianTramp

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