Kate Pollard

Sad news arrives that Totterdown community activist/whirlwind Kate Pollard died in hospital in Sydney on January 2nd after a long fight against cancer. Kate died with her family in Australia, which is where she wanted to be.

Kate will be well known to many people in Totterdown – where she made her home – as well as in many other communities across Bristol. Through a long community work career Kate battled daily against injustice alongside other ordinary Bristolians making those small differences that we often take for granted but that really matter.

In Totterdown, Kate’s kindness, common sense, empathy and organisational skills allied to an extraordinary ability to persuade and cajole the people around her to stop watching the telly and actually do something will be sorely missed.

Even up until Christmas, despite a debilitating illness and all the way from Australia, Kate was still contacting Totterdown residents, using those persuasive skills to make sure the things that neeeded doing were going to be done.

Towards the end of 2006 Kate published her book, Totterdown Rising. The full title of the book is revealing : Totterdown Rising: The Story of a Community Enduring and Surviving a Planning Disaster.

It was typically Kate that a book about a community that was deliberately split in half and decimated to make way for a road that was never built, was not about a community beaten into submission by a hopeless council’s misguided obsession with the motor car but a story of how people rebuilt their community and reinvented that special Spirit of Totterdown right there in the face of uncaring and misguided government.

Kate was no victim; she stood on her own two feet. And she understood that people and communities had to stand on their own two feet too. You should never just be the passive and convenient victims of the grand schemes of those in power. Communities and their people, regardless of circumstance, can always rise again and fight for another, better day.

In a time when every two-bit political careerist and calculating bureaucrat perfectly understands the financial value and political utility of ‘the community’ to their own plans and their business partners’ profits, Kate understood and could communicate the real value of our communities here in Bristol – they’re our places to live, work, love, learn, laugh, cry, organise, manage, fight, win, endure, survive and sadly, die.

Friends of Kate in Totterdown will be organising a bash in a few months time with music and dancing and revelry to celebrate Kate’s life. If you knew Kate and want to be involved, email the Blogger and your details will be passed on.

This entry was posted in Activism, Bristol, Bristol South, Local government, Politics, Totterdown, Transport and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Kate Pollard

  1. Jozer says:

    RIP to her. This is all new to me. How was Tott ‘split in half’? The only main road through it is the A4? I would like to hear more.

  2. thebristolblogger says:

    Here’s what the Three Lamps once looked like until the council glory boys set about it.

  3. Jozer says:

    I see.The bottom of the hill. Everything levelled to make the A4 & A37 into trunk routes. But what was the road ‘that was never built’?

  4. Bristol Dave says:

    News to me too, I’ve only lived in South Bristol for a few years and never had anything to do with Totterdown. Even so, she sounds like the kind of person the city and the world need many, many more of.


  5. thebristolblogger says:

    The road was the proposed outer circuit road. Totterdown was demolished to make way for an interchange. The only part of the road that exists is Easton Way. Ask residents of Easton how they feel about it.

    It was proposed it would go through Clifton and St Pauls too. Utterly bonkers. But then this was a council seriously proposing to fill in the docks and put a road in there too.

  6. Finbar Cullen says:

    I worked with Kate a few years ago in St Pauls. Lovely person, great loss.

  7. TonyD says:

    Condolences to Kate’s family – it was people like Kate who reminded us that the graphs and artistic impressions on planners and developers charts dramatically affect the lives of real living people.



  8. Zoe Pollard says:

    Many thanks for the tribute to my Mum (kate Pollard) I always knew she was an amazing woman the fact that she’s made such a difference in the community and inspired so many people, will help our family through our loss.

  9. Judith says:

    I knew Kate as a neighbour (in St Andrews) and friend; I was impressed by her knowledge and passion for dark ages history and archaeology, something I think she learned from her mother. She had had a hard life but was stoical and positive, never complainingbut getting on with life. We lost touch after both moving house, but I am very sorry that her vivacious spark of life has been put out.

  10. deni says:

    I answered an an evening post ad to flat share with a single mum. That was 40 years ago. That was Kate. Nine years my senior she was my hero from the day we met. Her magic was motivating others to make their own magic. She encouraged and thus empowered. At 20 years old with a young son I went back into nine years of full time education as a direct result of flat sharing with Kate all that time ago. I last saw her a three years ago when she and Zoe visited me in
    Portugal. Kate was never sentimental but she had a heart the size of an elephant’s which manifested itself in the most practical, hands-on, result orientated help and support in all manner of ways to all manner of people. Infact , Kake herself had manna.

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