A Tribute to Laura Eyres our first chair
By Phillipa Goodrich & Charlotte Baker
Laura Eyres who has died at the age of 56 after a long illness was a founder member of EGRA and its first chair.
Laura was a passionate and highly effective campaigner on the issues affecting our daily lives in East Greenwich and her loss will be deeply felt by the community of which she was such an important part.
Laura revealed her campaigning talents in the autumn of 2013 when she galvanised friends and neighbours in the streets around the river to protest against the proposals by developers to substantially increase the number of flats in the Lovell’s Wharf development. Laura organised an online petition, designed posters and flyers and memorably led a street demonstration one Saturday morning in October. The film of that day shows her at the front of a crowd of local people with one of her beloved dogs by her side.
At the planning meeting where the issue was decided, Laura’s impressive grasp of detail helped clinch the decision in the protestors’ favour and EGRA was born out of the success of the campaign, (possibly over the post-council meeting celebratory drink in the Cutty Sark pub).
Laura lived with cancer for several years and endured long spells in hospital or recovering from surgery. Nevertheless, she threw herself into campaigning against the proposed cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf, for which Greenwich Council had secured permission in 2015.
Along with colleagues from EGRA and Tower Hamlets she organised the No Toxic Cruise Port for London campaign. No Toxic Cruise Port’s main objection to the scheme was the lack of plug-in onshore power for the cruise liners, which it said, would mean the ships would have to keep their diesel engines running 24/7, massively increasing air pollution levels.
This was an ambitious and hard fought battle into which Laura successfully drew local politicians, including MP Matthew Pennycook, the media – amongst them BBC London and the Guardian newspaper – and, as always, local residents. The campaign gained momentum through 2018 and culminated in the Council and the site’s owners abandoning the scheme in November of that year.
While Laura was deeply engaged in the local community, her horizons were wide. She had a masters degree in European public policy and was a committed Europhile. During the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 she briefly diverted from local issues to add her firepower to the Remain side of the argument. When the annual Open Garden weekend came along in early June, she set up a table outside her home opposite the Ballast Quay wharf garden and set out her pitch to passers-by, with the help of the loyal team of her husband and her sons.
Laura loved Greenwich, she brought up her boys, Louis and Oscar, here and she and her husband Tim spent a lot of time in the borough’s parks and green spaces walking their dogs, Minty, Basil and Biscuit. Above all she loved the river and the riverside and it’s her commitment and hard work that have ensured that the streets around the Thames in East Greenwich are still a great place for us all to live. That’s a legacy to be proud of.
We’ll miss her sparkling energy and brave spirit and, of course, her friendship. Our deepest sympathies go to Tim, Louis and Oscar and to all Laura’s family.