Monday, 11 September 2017

Film maker, socialist, husband, father and friend Stuart Monro has died at the age of 79

A socialist all of his life Stuart fought for social justice across the spectrum from Ireland to Wanstead Park and beyond to Lewisham hospital.


Stuart used his gift as a film maker to bring the lives of ordinary people to the attention of millions. He travelled far and wide chronicling the struggle of ordinary people against the powerful.


Back in the 1970s, Stuart, together with his wife and partner, Charlotte, took part in the protests for civil rights in Ireland. It was as a result of these activities that both ended up serving prison sentences for their efforts.


Stuart’s gift for telling stories may have had something to do with being the step son of popular children’s TV presenter Johnny Morris. Stuart certainly brought the same infectious enthusiasm to his work.

He studied drama at Bristol University and film at the London School of Film. Stuart was a member of the Institute of Videography, and an occasional judge for the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers. In 2016 a retrospective screening of some of the films he had made since the 1970s was held at Morley College.

A resident of Wanstead for more than 20 years, one of Stuart’s great loves was Wanstead Park. Back in 2005, he was central in bringing together a number of people to form the Wanstead Parklands Community Project (WPCP). The individuals came from a wide range of backgrounds, from historians and former policemen to local activists and left wing journalists.


Stuart hosted the meetings at his house, keeping the band of brothers and sisters together, occasionally oiling the wheels with a swift whisky from the kitchen for wavering participants.


The WPCP successfully launched a bid for Heritage Lottery funding, which enabled the group to produce a number of publications and DVDs about the park. These focused on the history, archaelogy and life of the natural world.


Stuart produced the DVDs which have sold to thousands, and continue to do so, bringing the good news of the park to more and more generations.  

Stuart remained a steadfast supporter of the park to the end, often walking with Charlotte among the centuries old trees and along the picturesque waterways.


In more recent times, Stuart used his film making skills to tell the story of those seeking to protect the NHS. He became part of the campaign to save Lewisham hospital, producing effectively a video diary of the various actions of that successful campaign.


He also played a key role in a campaign closer to home, when Barts Trust sacked Charlotte from her job at Whipps Cross. A two year campaign ensued that eventually saw Charlotte reinstated.


He also helped publicise the plight of a number of men held without trial over recent years.


Stuart was always someone you could rely on to be in your corner and stand up when the going got tough. In my own case, this amounted to protesting on my behalf when I was unceremoniously sacked as a columnist for a national newspaper back in 2004. Stuart wrote to the editor, pointing out the unfairness of the action. A  frosty reply came back. No reinstatement, no cudos but a point well made.


Stuart struggled with heart problems over recent years but kept going, bringing different struggles to public audiences. He was certainly an indomitable spirit, forming a fierce team fighting against injustice alongside Charlotte. Stuart will be missed, a man whose life made a difference to so many over the years. He is survived by Charlotte and daughter Anna.


(15/6/1938 to 7/9/2017)  

*Funeral at 4 pm on Friday 22nd September at the City of London Crematorium, Manor Park    

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