Tributes pour in for ‘passionate’ Sevenoaks campaigner John…

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Tributes have been paid to Sevenoaks community stalwart and campaigner John Morrison who died last week.

The Bayham Road resident passed away peacefully at home with his family on Friday (August 25) at the age of 68, after fighting cancer for two years.

Mr Morrison, a political journalist, was well known in the area for his work as a member of the Sevenoaks Cycle Forum and on the Sevenoaks Literary Festival committee.

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Chairman of the cycle forum Reg Oakley said: “My first contact with John came in 2009 when I was performing the role of cycling campaigner for the cyclist touring club, and John was researching for an article on cycling he was preparing for the now defunct Vine magazine.

“We met, and soon afterwards the Sevenoaks Cycle Forum was formed, principally through John’s guidance. It soon became apparent that if we wanted to achieve anything we had to first disperse some of the resistance of local government to cycling.

“This was when John’s career experience as an international political journalist came into its own.

‘Not a man of half measures’

“He never ceased to amaze me of his ability to find the people that mattered and ask the questions that couldn’t be responded to with a brief brush off.

“As a result the Sevenoaks Cycle Strategy came into being, though it has been a source of profound disappointment that we found the district council would not implement it in the way we hoped.

“It was clear that John was also very passionate about his immediate community, particularly with regard to road safety.

“I got to know of John’s various other passions involving literature and the stage.

“It was obvious he was not a man of half measures though he could be deceptively relaxed, and all the pursuits he was involved in will find themselves deprived by his passing.”

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Mr Morrison was born in Oxford and spent the first five years of his life between Juba, Malakal and Khartoum in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, where his father Jim worked as a marine engineer on the Nile Steamer service.

The family returned to Britain in 1954 and Mr Morrison read French and Russian at the Queen’s College in Oxford, where he met his future wife Penny.

After graduating they married and he joined the Reuters news agency.

Mr Morrison and Penny lived in various places in Europe including Moscow, London, Vienna, The Hague and Helsinki as part of his work, and saw the birth of their two sons, Alexander and Nicholas.

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The family returned to Britain in 1991 and settled in Sevenoaks, while Mr Morrison became an editor on the Reuters World Desk in London, and wrote books on his experience of politics in the early Blair years.

After retiring from Reuters he devoted himself to writing and theatre, and one of his plays was performed at the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton in 2011.

Mr Morrison, who could speak French, Russian, German, Ukrainian and Dutch, regularly wrote to the Chronicle on a number of issues and was especially outspoken about matters such as pollution and building developments in the town.

In late 2015 he was diagnosed with a neuro-endocrinal tumour, a rare form of cancer.

The funeral will be private and there will be a celebration of his life at a later date.

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