My day began and ended with lawyers. I started the day by attending the memorial service for Stephen Lloyd at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The church was packed to the gills. A wonderful Quaker silence part-way through, interrupted only by a helicopter, a man in paroxysms of coughing and what may have been a grand-child doing what grandchildren do.
Sadly, it struck me that I only seem to go to St Martin-in-the-Fields for memorial services, most memorably for Sir Anthony Parsons and Sir Geoffrey Chandler, the last of whom was very much in my mind today, as a long-standing leader in the field with the likes of NCVO and Amnesty. Geoffrey, like Stephen, was a wonderful ally who was willing to stretch boundaries way beyond the then seemingly possible.
There was glorious music this morning, including Agnus Dei, Jerusalem and Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, and an astonishing cross-section of the multiple universes in which Stephen worked as probably the country’s foremost charity lawyer. Lovely double header from Jonathon Porritt and Tim Smit, another brace of Sirs, with Jonathon describing Stephen as sustainable development embodied, a one-man roundtable.
As I sat listening to the service, I reflected on the lawyers I have encountered over the decades. They include, most notably, my beloved and much lamented cousin Hollister Sprague, a WWI American fighter pilot in France and then Mr Boeing’s lawyer. He was a wonderful host in the Seattle area in the 1970s, with his home Forestledge overlooking Puget Sound and housing what was once the largest organ room in the West.
Speaking on behalf of the City of London, Sir Thomas Gifford said that Stephen was a lawyer who somehow always found a way to say yes. Then I thought of the lawyers who prosecuted and defended us when we collided with McDonald’s in the Green Consumer Guide era, a battle I recorded in A Year in the Greenhouse, published in 1990.
But I had met Stephen well before that, back in the mid-1980s, when he helped us at the brilliantly ambitious but ultimately ill-fated Earthlife Foundation. Then, years later, he helped The Environment Foundation, of which I was Chairman, to fight a 3-year battle against the Charity Commissioners to establish sustainable development as a charitable objective. We won, entirely due to Stephen’s determination to see right prevail.
A joy to see so many old colleagues and friends at the reception afterwards, among them Colin Hines, Camilla Toulmin, Nick Hurd and Tessa Tennant. And then up popped Steve Warshal, originally a lawyer originally from Seattle who worked with Release back in the day and then was a Director of Greenpeace UK for many a year. I remember Steve coming to dinner at least once brandishing a court injunction from BNFL. he and I had a lovely lunch in the Crypt before I had to race back to Bloomsbury Place.
And then this evening there was BBC2’s stunning dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, featuring Mark Ryland as Thomas Cromwell, another lawyer, here defending Cardinal Wolsey. So I ended the day in a much more positive frame of mind about the legal profession, though in the past most lawyers have tended to bring me out in hives. (Some would consider the many years I spent with SustainAbility in their Bedford Row offices, smack in the heart of London lawyerdom, as the height of poetic justice.)
The day also spurred my ongoing internal debate about what I should do next, as did a call with Andrew Winston this afternoon, and an email exchange with Tim Smit. It is clear that things are changing and that the next decade is going to be very different, profoundly challenging. Our capacity to speak truth to power – and to ourselves – will be vital. Stephen Lloyd was one of those people who did this quite naturally, or so it seemed, and yet did so in ways that left people wanting more. I can’t have been the only wishing that such people didn’t set the benchmarks quite so high.