26th October 2017

Lord Joel Joffe

Lord Joel Joffe

Last night I had the privilege of attending a memorial event for Lord Joffe – or Joel as everyone knew him.

I knew of Joel and his connections with many Swindon organisations of course way before I met him. His patronship of Swindon 105.5, involvement and interest in the Harbour Project and Swindon City of Sanctuary to name but a few.

But it was only relatively recently that I had the pleasure of meeting him.

Carole Bent, a friend of Joel’s for 18 years and latterly a close colleague facilitated the introduction. As part of their work together , Carole introduced Joel to a range of people also positively engaged in Swindon – some of whom he knew – and some previously unknown to him. The common factor being that all were taking positive actions in reference to Swindon.

Anyway, the nice upshot of all that was Joel taking an interest in this here blog and signing up to follow it – which thrilled me to death of course! I love a new blog follower of any description!

Always the lawyer, chatting with Joel felt ever so slightly like an interrogation. But it was a privilege to be so interrogated. 🙂

Last night’s event, organised by Carole at the request of Joel’s wife and daughters, constituted a wonderful opportunity for representatives of Swindon’s community organisations and businesses to pay fitting tribute to him.

Held n the UTC central atrium this was a splendid affair, in a super splendid building, in a splendid town honouring a splendid man. This man who had saved Nelson Mandela from execution was the biggest champion for and advocate of Swindon.

arriving at UTC

This article in the New Internationalist, remembering Lord Joel Joffe gives you more story about him and his charitable endeavours.

There’s no finer tribute to Joel than this film from Swindon’s Create Studios. He tells his story in his words and pays tribute to the Swindon people who worked for him.

My favourite bit? I‘m paraphrasing slightly:  ‘Everything is good about Swindon. But I sometimes don’t think the people of Swindon realise how good it is. I want everyone to be proud of Swindon and say ‘hey – this is a good place, we’re proud to be from Swindon.’

He’s right. Everything IS good about Swindon. Well –  almost everything anyway. And I can’t begin to convey the frustration I feel when I hear people knocking the place.


This is one of Joel’s favourite quotes from Václav Havel, the Czech writer and dissident:

Václav Havel quote

I like the entire thing, but in particular the last sentence: ‘There is only one thing that I will not concede and that is that might be meaningless to strive in a good cause.’

Thank goodness for the Václavs and the Joels of this world. And thank goodness too for the groups and individuals in this town that continue to strive for good causes. I’m in awe of the effort they put in. There’s too many to mention here but Swindon would be poorer without them for sure.

It was a delight to know you Joel – albeit briefly.  From one Born again Swindonian to another: RIP.

See too: The Hoarusib Elephant  – a surreal day indeed!  

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