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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

RIP Tim Evans

Updated: Mar 20

On the same day that I helped drag a drowning man out of the swimming pool (why does all the drama happen at once?!) I discovered that a dear friend of mine, Tim Evans, has died. One saved, one lost… It’s been a very morbid day. I thought I had already filled my crying quota for 2024 - apparently not.



Tim sadly passed away on 13th March, but his family didn’t make a public statement on his Facebook profile until today. A friend of mine sent me a link to the post which described Tim “as a loving, generous and larger-than-life character who touched the lives of many” including mine. I first met Tim, during one of our typically crazy protest stunts outside the Supreme Court in London where Gina Miller was bringing a court case which asked whether the power to invoke Article 50 to start the process for the UK to leave the EU lay with the Prime Minister or Parliament. I had created a huge illustration which was displayed on the side of an ad van which we drove around London, Tim (along with several others) was dressed as a supreme court judge. It was a wild day, full of so much fun and excitement – and the first of many such moments I shared with Tim.



I knew Tim struggled with his mental health, he had been open and honest in conversation with me about it, and I was always struck by the power in his vulnerability. He was only 63 when he died, the Facebook post stating how he had been ‘battling bipolar disorder for over 40 years and even though he never let his illness define him, it was a part of him’.

 


I was devastated by this news. Not least because of the kindness Tim had shown me at a time when I was being exploited and abused by everyone else. He was my champion, insisting that the ‘Is It Worth It” Bus’ organisers bring me and Drew, the singing Boris Johnson impersonator along to perform during the UK national tour – and unlike nearly everyone else we worked with, he made sure we were paid for our time. More significantly, he was the only person who stood up for me and protected me when a member of our campaigning circle was sexually harassing me and assaulted me on multiple occasions. When I had told others about what was happening, I was met with shrugs or told that nothing could be done because the perpetrator was an alcoholic and “emotionally vulnerable”. When Drew saw one of the incidents of assault, he told Tim – who was having none of it. He made sure that everyone knew that it was not acceptable and measures were put in place to protect me at future events. I will never, ever forget this act of care and kindness.



Tim was the person who brought communities together, mobilised us into action and held the space for others to express themselves. He had a career in theatre, amongst many other jobs, and I was always struck by his impressively powerful singing voice. He was often behind-the-scenes supporting others, sorting out logistics and technical set-up (holding the mic for me when there was no stand), but he could also take centre stage when it was needed and blow everyone away with his passion, energy, humour and performance skills. One of my friends reminded me of his hilarious rendition of the "Horse's Arse" song, which he belted at the Palace of Westminster as we sailed by during one of our Remain boat parties on the Thames (hence the sailor costume above - Tim in the background holding the whole event together). The lyrics go something like this; "Rees-Mogg is a horse's arse, Boris Johnson is a horse's arse, Michael Gove is horse's arse..." etc. You get the idea - he would have us in stitches.



Unlike so many of the other male campaigners I encountered, he wasn't afraid to dress up in a silly costume and make fun out of himself - he wasn't subsumed by his own ego in the way that many activists are - he was humbling to be around. He introduced me as the MC at many events and during the ‘Wooferendum’ march (dog walkers and their dogs protesting against Brexit), held my overly-excited German Shepherd whilst I performed on stage.



There was also the time that we ambushed Dominic Raab in a pub (where else would he be?!) after a protest outside the Tory party conference in Manchester. Tim carrying a stack of my '24 Reasons to Remain' leaflets which he had been handing out to anyone who would take them, assertively demanding of the weaselly politician that 'we're going to have another vote aren't we?'. Tim didn't take no for an answer.



Looking back through the photographs I have of me and Tim – I realised the intense joy and creativity of our moments together. I feel intensely guilty that I have not had much contact with him since the Covid pandemic and I wish I had reached out and spoken to him more recently. Just like the drowning man in the pool – it's a reminder to cherish life whilst you have it.




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