Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Yesterday Alliance staff from the entire 21 year history of the organisation gathered in Aldershot to remember our dear colleague Jill Grieve who died earlier this month.
Jill joined the Alliance in 1999 as a press officer and for nearly everyone who has worked for the organisation she was central to of our understanding of what the Alliance is. Jill wasn’t a foxhunter, or a pheasant shooter. She could cast a fly but certainly didn’t qualify as an obsessive fisherman, unlike many of us. Like the Countryside Alliance itself she denied the stereotype and was simply someone who loved the countryside and the causes we champion.
She was involved in too many different campaigns and issues to mention them all, but the two closest to her heart fitted perfectly with her agenda.
She created the Countryside Alliance Awards with her great friend and colleague Sarah Lee. The awards took Jill, Sarah and a growing group of friends judging businesses around the country, and they in turn collected a wonderful cast of characters and brought them back to Westminster to reward their diverse and extraordinary businesses. Postmistresses from West Wales, Butchers from Orkney, marathon running village shop keepers from Durham all became part of an annual pageant presided over by Jill and Sarah with their patron saint Clarissa Dickson-Wright.
And whilst the regional judging, the epic final judges lunches and the ceremony in the House of Lords were all great fun there was, as always with Jill, a proper purpose as well. There are people across the countryside who will attest that their businesses, their livelihoods, their way of life have been promoted, protected and preserved by the public spotlight shone on them by the awards. As in so many areas of her life Jill made a real difference to other people’s.
On that subject Jill became Chairman of the brilliant charity Casting for Recovery (CfR), which takes ladies with breast cancer on fishing retreats, and masterminded its amalgamation into The Countryside Alliance Foundation which secured CfR’s future. In 2016 Jill was asked to go to Italy to help launch CfR there and in 2017 Casting for Recovery Italia ran its first retreats. So not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but in Italy too ladies with breast cancer are benefiting from Jill’s work.
But whilst projects like these may have defined Jill’s career, they don’t describe the person. Jill was the heart, soul and voice of the Alliance over the 19 years she was with us. She was the connection between generations of Alliance staff and had a huge range of friends in the media and rural politics.
The Alliance will miss her hugely and our thoughts are with her family.
Anyone who would like to donate to Myeloma UK in Jill’s memory can do so here.
Follow me at @CA_TimB