It is with the greatest of sadness that I have to inform everybody over the passing of Michael Tucker, on March 2nd in a North London hospital.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Mike whilst taking part in the daily CIWF (anti) live export vigil held in Whitehall, London, run by great friend Liza, outside of the Ministry of Agriculture (then MAFF) offices during the early 90s.
Anyone who ever attended those Whitehall vigils will always remember Mike. A very smart, well-dressed man, Mike became a visual ‘celebrity’ because each and every vigil day, throughout each week, he would arrive with mop and bucket in hand; put on his ‘Ban Live Exports’ bowler hat, and proceed to start washing down the outside walls and steps of the MAFF offices; his simple message being, “MAFF, clean up your act regarding live animal exports”. The bowler hated mopper was a real campaign ‘attention-getter’, especially with all the London visitors and tourists.
With all his posters and placards on display along the MAFF outside walls, showing the suffering of farm animals undergoing long-distance (export) transport, Mike was paramount in obtaining the backing and new support of so many visitors and London workers into the big live export campaign and the issue of long distance live animal transport. His more than friendly approach to visitors and workers gained him so much respect for something that he so passionately believed in – that live international animal transport is both unnecessary and very cruel in the suffering it inflicts on sentient beings. Mike played a very important part in gaining public support in London against the trade in live animal exports.
As the MAFF offices were located in Whitehall, a very busy part of central London; over the years of his campaigning, Mike became friends with many of the London bus drivers who used to stop at the bus stop adjacent to where his posters were located. He always got the thumbs up from them in support of his tenacity on the export issue. His friendly nature with people saw him being constantly provided with cups of tea and coffee, fruit and biscuits by many passers-by who had become his friends over the months.
Mike has severe health problems throughout most of his life, but this did not stop him from making the daily train journey from his home in Harrow, Middlesex, down to Whitehall where he was a constant voice for the animals. As a young man Mike had begun his training with the Parachute Regiment, but this was brought to a sudden end when he was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident, riding pillion with his brother. The head injuries that resulted from this accident left Mike with severe walking problems; but despite this, the Harrow-Whitehall journey to the live export vigil became his daily target. He worked as a gardener around Harrow for many years prior to his retirement; then moving over to being a full time vigiler.
I had the pleasure of becoming very good friends over the years with this Stalwart hero of live export campaigning. Many times I have the enjoyment of his company whilst staying at my house in Kent for a few days. Whenever possible, I would try to drive Mike down to Dover; especially to meet up with another regular campaigners at the harbour, and occasionally to be in the position where he could actually witnessed the live animal transporters taking livestock on the horrendous journeys from the UK to mainland Europe. We both shared a love of military aircraft; with the Spitfire being his all time favourite. I was really pleased that during one of our trips to the Kent ports; I took Mike to the Spitfire Museum at Manston airport; where he was able to get ‘close, down and dirty’ with his favourite flying machine.
Mike sometimes made the long journey from his London home down to Shoreham when the animal exports were being organised from the port. His many visits to Shoreham in all weathers resulted in Mike contracting pneumonia at one stage – but after recovering he shrugged this off and continued with his fight for animals undergoing long distance transport.
For the past few years, Mike’s disability meant that he was unable to attend demonstrations; but he and I kept in very regular contact, and I kept him well informed of the work being done by many of us to try and permanently stop the live animal trade from Kent ports. Mike was a member / supporter of KAALE www.kaale.org.uk and helped us considerably with financial donations and support for the printing costs associated with our EU report (with Animals Angels, PMAF and Eyes on Animals) into the transportation of Irish calves to mainland Europe via Cherbourg, France.
Mike was a person who had complete and utter respect for all life. He was also a campaigner who put pen to paper when physical problems no longer allowed him to get right into the action. Live animal export campaigning was his thing, and as such, I am proud to say that Mike was very much a real hero in the massive reduction in live animal exports we are now witnessing from the Uk.
The photo attached shows Mike, complete with another of his ‘tools’; a cut down road cone which he used as a loudhailer at many demonstrations. This picture is from ‘The Independent’ national Uk newspaper, published on Wednesday 2nd February 2000; and shows Mike doing his stuff at one of the demos at the NFU conference at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London.
I am proud to have known Mike for so many years in an issue which we both consider(ed) to be our No. 1 campaign. The only regret I have is that Mike was unable to witness a complete cessation in live animal exports from Kent and all Uk ports before he passed on. I am sure that he is still looking down on us all and giving us his full support on the current issue of exports from the port of Ramsgate; our remaining hurdle which hopefully will then see a complete stop to animal exports from the Uk.
Rest in peace Mike and on behalf of all your friends in live animal export campaigning, thank you for being such a voice for the animals over so many years. You will be very much missed, but it was great to have known you as a great mate and to be able to call you a real campaigner friend.
Mike was 83 years of age.
EU Correspondent – Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE) and Serbian Animals Voice (SAV) Founder.