Obituary: Harry Turner
Lois Pryce, from Bristol, writes: Harry Turner, one of the
UK's great LETS activists, innovators and developers, sadly
died shortly before Christmas 2004 while still only in his
50s. He had contracted multiple sclerosis two years before,
and spent much of those last two years in hospital. I am one
of the many people who was powerfully influenced by knowing
Harry, and have written the piece below as a memorial to him.
I am asking others who remember him positively to write their
own piece about him and to send it to me. I will put all the
pieces together and not only circulate it back to those who
contributed and through the LETS community as best I can,
but send it to his family and his friend Ayleen who was closest
to him near the end.
In Memorium: Harry Turner
I met Harry Turner in the early 1990s when I first became
involved in LETS, and became an activist in Bristol LETS and
at a national and international level. Because of my 'non-local'
interests I became involved in Liz Shepherd and Harry's 'Letslink
UK' enterprises which guided the formation and development
of many LETS schemes at that time, and with the publication
of their Letslink magazine. The magazine was really Harry's
thing, to which he brought his humour, innovation, artistry
and grass roots sensiblities to make something accessible,
entertaining, educational and beautiful to look at. I would
go and spend a couple of days in Warminster where Letslink
UK worked out of rooms in Liz's house, and write articles
for the magazine about what we were getting up to in Bristol,
such as the formation of a Bristol Interlets system. I loved
Harry's editorial style and found it very compatible with
my own, and we had great fun and great talks. We also worked
closely together to help organise the 1996 national LETS conference
which was hosted by the Bristol groups; if anyone remembers,
those were my footprints walking across the programme cover,
from my bare feet inked up and scanned by Harry!
When Liz and Harry parted ways, I continued to visit him.
He remained deeply involved in his pioneering Warminster-based
mental health LETS, and continued to try and kickstart other
innovative ideas, including having a high street presence
with LETS wants and offers advertised on smartly-presented
cards with illustrations, like an up market estate agents
- an idea he nearly pulled off! He also started writing his
definitive how-to book on LETS for which he had received a
Around 2000 he became involved in another project with me
and a colleague, writing a website to take the place of the
now-defunct Letslink magazine. I had become upset at being
unable to access the national and international LETS news
that had previously been available through Letslink's magazine,
so I decided to create an interactive website to take its
place. The team was me as editor / chief writer, Jerry Vahrman
(creator of the 'LOIS' LETS software) as webmaster, and Harry
as designer. We put a rather good member-driven website together,
introduced with a magnificent Harry-designed hard copy; sadly
it never flourished as it should have and is now defunct.
Around this time Harry also asked me to speak at a German
LETS conference in Kassel with him and other UK LETS innovators,
the only time I have done something like that and at which
we all had enormous fun.
Throughout all this, Harry suffered from severe and often
crippling depression, aggravated by an estrangement from his
daughter which affected him very deeply (an estrangement that
happily was healed before his death). Every now and then I
would go and visit him and take him out for the day. It could
sometimes be hard not to be affected by the brutal clarity
of his views on many things, yet overall I always came away
more enlivened than depressed by his own inimitable viewpoint!
In all the time I knew him, I never knew Harry do an unkind
thing or be anything but a wonderful, original and inspiring
friend. I loved him very much and mourn his passing.
Lois Pryce, Bristol
Please e-mail me with your own contribution
to an expanded obituary for Harry