In memoriam – Harry Turner

The following sad news received from Lois Pryce of Bristol. I only ever met Harry once, at the LETSlink UK Conference in Bristol in 1996, but found his passion for LETS as a grassroots initiative and the early LETSlink magazines thoroughly inspiring (Rob, webmaster) .

Subject: In memorium: Harry Turner
From: Lois Pryce
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2005 19:53:02 +0000

Harry Turner, one of the UK’s great LETS activists, innovators and developers, sadly died shortly before Christmas 2004 while still only in his 50s. He had contracted multiple sclerosis two years before, and spent much of those last two years in hospital. I am one of the many people who was powerfully influenced by knowing Harry, and have written the piece below as a memorial to him. I am asking others who remember him positively to write their own piece about him and to send it to me.

I will put all the pieces together and not only circulate it back to those who contributed and through the LETS community as best I can, but send it to his family and his friend Ayleen who was closest to him near the end. Please e-mail me at

In Memorium: Harry Turner

I met Harry Turner in the early 1990s when I first became involved in LETS, and became an activist in Bristol LETS and at a national and international level. Because of my ‘non-local’ interests I became involved in Liz Shepherd and Harry’s ‘Letslink UK’ enterprises which guided the formation and development of many LETS schemes at that time, and with the publication of their Letslink magazine.

The magazine was really Harry’s thing, to which he brought his humour, innovation, artistry and grass roots sensiblities to make something accessible, entertaining, educational and beautiful to look at. I would go and spend a couple of days in Warminster where Letslink UK worked out of rooms in Liz’s house, and write articles for the magazine about what we were getting up to in Bristol, such as the formation of a Bristol Interlets system. I loved Harry’s editorial style and found it very compatible with my own, and we had great fun and great talks.

We also worked closely together to help organise the 1996 national LETS conference which was hosted by the Bristol groups; if anyone remembers, those were my footprints walking across the programme cover, from my bare feet inked up and scanned by Harry!

When Liz and Harry parted ways, I continued to visit him. He remained deeply involved in his pioneering Warminster-based mental health LETS, and continued to try and kickstart other innovative ideas, including having a high street presence with LETS wants and offers advertised on smartly-presented cards with illustrations, like an up market estate agents – an idea he nearly pulled off! He also started writing his definitive how-to book on LETS for which he had received a Lotteries grant.

Around 2000 he became involved in another project with me and a colleague, writing a website to take the place of the now-defunct Letslink magazine. I had become upset at being unable to access the national and international LETS news that had previously been available through Letslink’s magazine, so I decided to create an interactive website to take its place. The team was me as editor / chief writer, Jerry Vahrman (creator of the ‘LOIS’ LETS software) as webmaster, and Harry as designer.

We put a rather good member-driven website together, introduced with a magnificent Harry-designed hard copy; sadly it never flourished as it should have and is now defunct. Around this time Harry also asked me to speak at a German LETS conference in Kassel with him and other UK LETS innovators, the only time I have done something like that and at which we all had enormous fun.

Throughout all this, Harry suffered from severe and often crippling depression, aggravated by an estrangement from his daughter which affected him very deeply (an estrangement that happily was healed before his death). Every now and then I would go and visit him and take him out for the day. It could sometimes be hard not to be affected by the brutal clarity of his views on many things, yet overall I always came away more enlivened than depressed by his own inimitable viewpoint!

In all the time I knew him, I never knew Harry do an unkind thing or be anything but a wonderful, original and inspiring friend. I loved him very much and mourn his passing.

Lois Pryce, Bristol

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