Charity worker ‘who touched many lives’

Nigel West
Nigel West

TRIBUTES have poured in after the death in India of Sheffield charity worker Nigel West.

The former teacher worked in the voluntary sector throughout the country, including with Oxfam and Barnardos and latterly with Voluntary Action Sheffield, Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Sheffield Well-being Consortium.

Nigel, who was planning to retire at the end of this year, died at the age of 60 while on holiday in Kerela with his wife, Cein. The Indian authorities gave the cause of death as coronary and respiratory failure, but an inquest will be held in Sheffield.

“We have had hundreds and hundreds of cards from people saying how much he had touched their lives,” said Cein. “He was such a loving and thoughtful person. He did whatever he could to help people.”

Nigel was noted for his sense of humour and as a gentleman, and “a huge part of his life was his music”. He played guitar and sang - along with Cein - in the folk/blues band Soapstone Dragon, playing with other musicians in Fagan’s pub in Broad Lane. He recorded a CD of his songs, which will be played at his funeral today (Thursday) at 11am at Abbey Lane cemetery.

The couple’s enthusiasm for music led them to launch their own mini-festival, Chickenstock, two years ago at their home in Calow, Chesterfield, featuring ten bands. In his memory, it will held again this summer.

But it is for his charity work that Nigel is best known. Some of the tributes have come from Africa where he did education work for Oxfam.

He spent more than ten years with VASS, teaching community groups how to cook “real” food. When VASS heard of his death, it cancelled an ‘away day’, and the wake will be at its headquarters in The Circle, off Division Street.

At Sheffield Well-being Consortium, he co-ordinated a network of community health champions, encouraging people to lead a more healthy lifestyle, whether it be through a better diet, more exercise or stopping smoking. The consortium described him as “a gentle, principled man who inspired many people to achieve their potential.”

Nigel, who went to King Edward VII School and Oxford University, also leaves sons Paul and Stephen, stepchildren Angharad and Rhys and grandson Oisin. Donations are being requested for Assist Sheffield, which helps refugees.

“He was the most wonderful man in the world,” said Cein. “Everybody loved him and everybody is devastated.”