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« Forest and The Free Society at the Conservative party conference | Main | Thirteen days to Bangalore »

Life after Forest

Good news - there is life after Forest!! At the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool I bumped into my former colleague Martin Ball. Martin joined Forest in, I think, 1996 and later became campaigns director. As well as being a fearsome interviewee, he was a tireless writer of letters to the local press and wrote articles like Fag ends of freedom (Times Higher Education Supplement).

Martin's lasting achievement however was to expose a growing trend by which companies were placing recruitment ads for "non-smokers only". In 2000 we published a report entitled The New Apartheid. It was based on a close examination of recruitment ads in the Guardian and elsewhere and created a bit of a stir. In my view it was responsible for the problem not escalating, at least for a few years.

Anyway, contrary to what I was warned before joining Forest, Martin's subsequent career demonstrates that there is life after tobacco. First he worked as head of public affairs at a mental health charity. Now he is news and public affairs manager at a leading housing association.

Nor is he alone.

My immediate predecessor Marjorie Nicholson has enjoyed a long and successful career as group communications manager for the Fenchurch Environmental Group which provides filtration solutions for air quality problems. Marjorie became something of an expert on this while she was at Forest, advising the likes of Heathrow and Gatwick airports on how to provide well-ventilated smoking areas.

Another ex-colleague Jo Gaffikin joined Forest from university in 2001. She edited Health Wars, The Phantom Menace: An Audit of Health Scares and did a great job at a very difficult time. (We also worked together on The Freedom Association magazine Freedom Today until we were unceremoniously sacked for being too, er, liberal. But that's another story.)

Since leaving Forest six years ago Jo has worked for the National Gallery, the Crafts Council, and she is now communications manager at the Design Museum in London where she is responsible for the museum's website and marketing. (See also Here comes the bride.)

Oh, and I mustn't forget our former secretary Jenny Sharkey who left Forest for her "dream job", working for Teresa May in the House of Commons. Nine years later Jenny is still working for the MP for Maidenhead except that her boss is now Home Secretary!!

Reader Comments (2)

Be interested to hear that story. Fits with my cursory impression that TFA is firmly on the illiberal end of the libertarian spectrum.

September 23, 2010 at 10:55 | Unregistered Commentercerebus

The difference of opinion that I had with The Freedom Association was with the previous regime, not the current one. In recent years, thanks to present chairman Roger Helmer and director Simon Richards, there has been a far greater willingness to address issues relating to individual liberty. (Roger has actually spoken at a couple of Forest events.)

Like the Conservative party, however, TFA members reflect a broad range of opinion, ranging from social and economic liberalism to a rather more paternalistic outlook that borders on authoritarian.

September 23, 2010 at 12:16 | Registered CommenterSimon Clark

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