Obituary: Jim Guild (1968-2019)

Guests at the memorial event for Jim Guild were invited to wear red in memory of

Guests at the memorial event for Jim Guild were invited to wear red in memory of the staunch left winger.

“Politically active, full of social energy,” was how a former colleague described Jim Guild when his friends gathered in the Meeting House this week to share memories of Jim, who died on 6 May. “A lion of a man, physically and rhetorically,” was another contribution.

Born and raised in Dundee, Jim studied Modern History and Political Science at the University of Dundee, where he participated whole-heartedly in university life, organising many events and acting as a student rep. He became editor of the student newspaper, was active in the Student Association and was elected its President in 1991.

In 1994 this love of education and university life took Jim to a new life in Brighton. Working in the University of Sussex administration, he became part of a self-declared group of ‘Scottish exiles’ who joked that someone had to come down and organise the English!

During Jim’s career at Sussex, which spanned 21 years, he held a variety of diverse roles in Academic Registry, Scholarships, Student Retention, and Student Progress and Assessment.

He was also an active and committed trade union member, who challenged inequality where he saw it and could often be found on the picket line and addressing union rallies. (Guests at the memorial event were invited to wear red in memory of Jim, who was staunchly left wing.) As a local rep and president of the Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU), Jim was “a great organiser”, and generous with his time in supporting many colleagues over the years.

A highly intelligent person, Jim was extremely well informed about politics and political history. Fellow UCU rep Linda Newman recalled that Jim was “passionate, well-argued and erudite” - and he brought these qualities to a number of committees, including the UCU Committee and Senate, the University’s main academic body.

A great one for banter, Jim entertained his friends with his wry observations and razor-sharp humour. Witty and articulate, he enjoyed puns and word play, and was a massive fan of comedy, especially ‘Monty Python’.

Possessed of a rich cultural knowledge, he also loved a wide and deep range of books, cinema and music.

A talented artist, Jim drew sketches and cartoons for the children of his friends. Student Life Advisor Tabitha Ellwood speculated that, if his life had gone a different way, Jim could have worked as an artist on the children’s comics Beano or Dandy (which were produced in Dundee)!

His final role at Sussex, before taking early retirement on health grounds in 2015, was as a Student Advisor in the Student Life Centre, providing support and guidance to students going through difficult times.

At the memorial event on Monday (24 June), Rachel Gould, Head of the Student Life Centre, described Jim as “amiable but fierce, bullish but benign”. Others recalled that he was “kind and decent, with a strong sense of fairness”.

And Student Life Advisor Joanna Dale concluded her tribute by saying: “A complex, at times troubled, and always compassionate man, Jim will be remembered for the strength of his values and ideals and the warmth of his humour.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Wednesday, 26 June 2019


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