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Tribute to Kate Ormrod (1949-2020)

I first met Kate when she moved to Falmouth in the mid 80s and from those days particularly remember her birthday party of 1989 on the quay at Cowlands Creek up the Fal River, titled by her with typical irony “Up the Creek at 40”. It was a wonderfully convivial day hosted by Kate for all of her many friends and kindred spirits involved in the growing green marine and social scene of the time.

She was always involved in pioneering interesting social and environmental projects, which I helped with, back in the days of microcomputers, by collaborating with her co-designing leaflets for print, and we discovered a shared love of the nuances of language and design in putting these together.

In late 1993 Kate gave me a copy of the LETSlink info pack to read saying,

have a look at this and see what you think about getting involved in a Falmouth group“.

For me personally this was a gateway to a whole new world of community involvement and cooperative working which all involved embraced enthusiastically, and I got busy with Kate and others in designing Falmouth LETS’ first paper directory, and making connections with other groups in Cornwall and across the South West, as Falmouth LETS grew to nearly 100 strong in its first year.

Falmouth LETS Gathering 1995


SW LETS meeting at Wynards in Exeter, January 1997 (all smiling at comment by Kate as she took this photo)

Although I’d lived in Cornwall since childhood, I’d never met so many new friends and colleagues with shared aims and values in such a short time, and this was the first step on the road to this website, and later Falmouth LETS’ online trading site. Twenty seven years later, the group, which always had strong co-operative roots thanks to Kate, is still running.

Fellow LETS veteran Lorely has covered Kate’s special qualities and many of the community projects friends and colleagues old and new were involved in – see her recent article on reallifetools. There is also a recent tribute to her on Transition Falmouth’s website.

Kate’s family have created a wonderful tribute site at kateormrod.muchloved.com where all can share their memories.

Some of those at Falmouth LETS 10th Birthday Party at Kate’s, Palm Sunday 2004

In 2019, as Kate’s health and mobility continued to decline, but her enthusiasm for community projects continued unabated, we held regular “veterans” meetings at her home, until, with the onset of Covid-19 and the need to shield, group meetings moved online using Zoom.

Kate always found computers irritating to deal with, but as a quick and lifelong learner she adapted very well. I was so pleased to be able to collaborate with her via remote connection on a couple of typically incisive articles she wrote for Transition Falmouth in the summer of last year – she remained clear headed, good hearted, supportive and productive right to the end, and was starting to enjoy using twitter!

On 12th September 2020, the day after she died, the NHS Blue Spitfire flew over Falmouth hospital raising money for NHS Charities together. Kate was an avid explorer of new horizons on all levels, and as a lifelong community champion it seemed thoroughly appropriate to donate and get her name inscribed on the spitfire, especially given the following from an article at the time on the Falmouth Packet:

“This Spitfire, which was specifically built and used for photo reconnaissance during the conflict, carrying cameras instead of weapons, once again embodies the sense of freedom and togetherness that it did then. It has had an interesting history, which includes being flown and air-raced by the famous female ATA pilot Lettice Curtis, whose signature can already be seen on its side.”

Our dedication on screen-shot below, slightly shortened to fit from

(From:) Kate’s Friends in the Falmouth Community

We would like to nominate, Kate Ormrod, in gratitude for a life of loving support to her wide circle of friends and family, pioneering and fostering so many local community projects with her spirit of joy, community, cooperation, wit and wisdom throughout her life.

LETS is coming to Tavistock

Press Release from Robin Williams, to be published in Thursday 11 May, edition of Tavistock Times

LETS is coming to Tavi

Have you heard of LETS – the Local Exchange and Trading System?  It’s coming to Tavistock soon, so climb aboard and improve your quality of life.

The concept has been around for decades but now exchanging and trading your goods and services has been made easy due to user-friendly software that keeps track of credit points earned by LETS members.

The points for a traded good or service normally reflect its equivalent Sterling value so, for example, an hour of tutoring would earn a member 25 points – as £25 is a typical charge for this service.  Everyone has something to offer.

You can mow someone’s lawn, dog sit, trade fruit and veg grown in your garden, lend out a specialised tool, drive another member to a local airport, etc.  The list is endless.

A meeting will be held in the “Studio” in Kingdon House, Pym St, Tavistock, PL19 0AW on Wednesday, 17th May from 2-4 PM to explain LETS in more detail.

Rob Follett of the highly successful Falmouth LETS group will be on hand to demonstrate the functionality of the LETS software.

Robin Williams, a Tavistock resident, will lead the discussion.  His immediate goal is to form a committee of volunteers to create a plan for a local group.

For more information on LETS go to: www.letslinkuk.net

Falmouth LETS looking for new meeting venue

Due to the closure of the Four Winds pub early this year Falmouth LETS (and Transition Falmouth) are now looking for a new venue for meetings.

Any suggestions for a nice quiet public venue in Falmouth available free between 6:30 and 9pm on the fourth Wednesday in the month are most welcome.

In the meantime, please contact us if you’d like to come to the next meeting which is held in one of our members’ homes on Wednesday 27th January.

n.b. We have now settled on meetings on the fourth Wednesday of the month at The Boslowick Inn, Prislow Lane, Falmouth, Cornwall UK TR11 4PZ which has proved to be ideal for our needs over the past couple of months.

LETS Meet in Dorset – 23rd Sept 2012

We have a LETS marquee at Heavy Horse Show and Country Fayre. This is a wonderful day out for all ages, with so much going on and so much to see. Click here to see a description of the show.

It starts at 9am, on 23rd September, at the turnpike Showground, Motcombe, Dorset (off B3082 Gillingham Road). All the Dorset LETS Groups have been notified and are probably coming to see us and maybe trade a little, North Dorset LETS Group for definite. There could be some Dorset ‘goodies’ to trade; Dorset Apple Cake, Dorset Ginger Wine……yum!

Entry is £6 per adult and £2 for under 15’s under 5’s go free

Camborne & Redruth LETS Summer Camp 2010

Camborne & Redruth LETS are holding their Summer Solstice Camp from 25th-27th June, and members of other LETS in Cornwall are invited.

See C&R LETS newsletters for Summer 2010 for more on this year’s Summer camps, and for a review of last year’s in the Winter 2009 newsletter.

I went to one of these in 2008 – they’re great fun.

Rob, webmaster letsf.co.uk

New LETS launches in Truro

A new LETS group launches in Truro: Saturday 26th June 2010, 10:00am to 11:30am at Archie Browns Cafe,105-106 Kenwyn Street, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3B.

Come and sign up on the day, and see how to use the new Truro LETS interactive web site to exchange skills with other local people without the need for money. For more info see trurolets.org.uk (*)

Anyone wishing to find out more about the group or bring a completed application form will be most welcome.

New members also welcome on Falmouth LETS see:

Camborne & Redruth LETS are holding their Summer Camp on the weekend of 25th-27th June.

See http://falmouthlets.org.uk/pages.php?id=15 for contact details for all LETS currently operating in Cornwall (and beyond via Google Map)

Both Falmouth LETS and Truro LETS get a positive mention in Pete North’s excellent new book “Local Money – How to make it happen in your community“, as does the open source local exchange software used on both sites.

See http://is.gd/cLSP3 if you wish to buy a copy of the book. I can certainly recommend it.

SW LETS Mailing List – uklets_sw

ukletsSW is an internet mailing list for news and discussion of LETS in the South West Region of the UK. It is open to members of any LETS within this area.

If you wish to join please contact us, stating that you wish to join the mailing list and including your name and the LETS group within the region that you are a member of. You will be sent joining details and guidelines for using the list.

See here for map of LETS groups in the SW.

Camborne & Redruth LETS Solstice Camp 2007

Camborne & Redruth LETS are holding their Solstice Camp at Tehidy Events Field from 22nd – 24th June…

It is open to LETS members, prospective members and friends. Paul Martin of C&R LETS has told me that members of neighbouring LETS, including Falmouth, would be especially welcome.


For further details contact Simon on 01209 204342 or Paul on 01872 262259.

Cash for LETS groups

Hello, I am Richard, previous chairman of Ashburton LETS which closed several years ago. We have £125 left in our cash account which is mainly the unused part of a grant we had many years ago.

In accordance with our constitution, if the society closes, any money left should be distributed to other LETS groups so that it is still used to benefit LETS members.

Having discussed this with some of our previous core group members I can now offer this money to any LETS group or for use of SW LETS generally. If you have a project that needs funding for your group or to benefit all SW LETS groups, email me with brief details for consideration (distributed via uklets-sw mailing list shortly after this post – robf)

Round the World on LETS – James Taris in Kingsbridge

Kingsbridge LETS (Devon) are very privileged to be hosting perhaps the world’s most enthusiastic LETS supporter ever. He’s travelling a long way to meet us – all the way from “down under”.

So lets show our appreciation by coming to his inspirational talk in our droves! Invite a friend if you wish but do please come and welcome this amazing friend of LETS.


Saturday Evening, 8th November
“Round the World on LETS” – Talk by James Taris
at Harbour House, Kingsbridge 7.30 to 9.30pm


LETS Changed My Life

by James Taris

Once you’ve grasped the LETS philosophy, then trading in LETS points becomes an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

My LETS philosophy is, “Don’t think of LETS points as pounds. Think of them as favours”.

LETS, or Local Exchange Trading Systems, are local community trading groups where members exchange their goods and services with each other in a spirit of harmony and a genuine desire to help each other.

The LETS group’s function is to act as a bookkeeper for the members’ transactions, keeping record of these ‘favours’ (also called ‘beans’, ‘auras’, ‘shells’, ‘talents’, thank yous’, etc.) and putting the members’ accounts into debit or credit accordingly. An account which is in credit identifies a member who has given more favours than he’s received. An account which is in debit identifies a member who has received more favours than he’s given. As there is no interest paid to accounts in credit, and no interest charged to accounts in debit, neither situation is a problem, and both are necessary in order to make transactions happen.

I’ve been involved with LETS since 1994, and once I understood and accepted the principle of give-and-take with my fellow LETS group members, I quickly noticed a sharp rise in the quality of my lifestyle.

Having a limited income meant that I could only afford to pay for the essentials in my life: rent, gas, electricity, phone, petrol, food, clothes, and so on. Everything else became a luxury, which I either did without, or chose to do myself.

But that all changed with LETS, because I found that I could at last enjoy some of these luxuries by offering a range of goods and services through my LETS group. Very soon I was mowing lawns, removing rubbish and painting rooms. Later on I was also designing business cards, brochures and newsletters. And I even traded tiny picture frames, small bookcases and kitchenware.

In return I received massages, piano tuition and restaurant meals. Computer support, computer software and web design services. Greeting cards, teddy bears and bonsai plants. All of these goods and services would’ve been reluctantly by-passed if I had to pay cash for them. Thankfully, LETS made them all possible.

However, problems can emerge when members allow their accounts to go into debit rapidly. Often LETS groups place a maximum debit limit on their members’ accounts to keep this in check, and encourage them to take appropriate steps to reduce their debit level as soon as possible. This can be achieved in several ways: by increasing the number of goods and services they are offering; by volunteering to supply goods and services promoted in the Wanted section of the LETS newsletter; by promoting themselves as Keen Traders in the LETS newsletter; by bringing goods to trade at the monthly Trading Day Markets; by accepting requests to trade whenever asked.

But trading isn’t the only way that members benefit. That’s only part of what LETS is all about. Just as important is the role it plays in developing the skills of its members.

When I asked to be involved with producing the newsletter for my LETS group, I didn’t even know that Publishing software existed, let alone how to use it. LETS gave me the opportunity to learn those skills whereas I would never have been given the same opportunity in the cash economy. And eventually that experience improved my skills to such a high level that I began to earn cash outside the LETS system. Because of LETS, I’d managed to build my skills adequately enough to become a professional Desktop Publisher.

In October 2001, I took my involvement with LETS to a much higher level. I founded the web site www.LETS-Linkup.com which is an international LETS directory. And it’s since grown to 80 pages featuring over 1,500 LETS and Community Currency groups from 39 countries on every continent in the world. It also has links to over 100 web sites which have information on LETS, the money system or community currencies.

This was purely a labour of love, and little did I know that it would be the catalyst I needed to undertake one of the greatest international exchange ventures ever attempted through LETS. My book, ‘Travelling the World With Funny Money’ (link from www.JamesTaris.com), is a collection of my travel experiences in 2002 through 8 countries (England, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, South Africa and Japan) trading my speaking services in exchange for accommodation, meals, local transport and computer use.

My involvement and interaction with these LETS groups differed with every country I visited.

In Bristol (England) I got my hands dirty helping a LETS member renovate his house. In exchange I was given the use of a bicycle for the week I was there. In order to process my transactions, a temporary account was opened and all transactions put through it. After all entries were made, the final balance on my account was zero and my account was closed. So all members involved in my transactions were properly rewarded.

In Erlangen (Germany) I spent a couple of days with Gunter Koch, founder of Goldring. He had developed a unique trading system which even rewarded members who didn’t, or couldn’t, trade with other members (non-producers) . and he paid them all a monthly amount in real gold! I offered my services as an editor for his Goldring presentation (English translation) and was given a 5gm gold ingot in exchange.

In Amsterdam (Holland) I met with representatives from all 120 LETS groups in the country. Their largest group, Noppes, had 950 members! And we exchanged ideas on how to attract food suppliers, or supplies, into their LETS groups.

In Cape Town (South Africa) I was involved with launching LETS into the country. No groups existed there at that time, but within 5 days several people had taken steps to making LETS groups in Cape Town a reality. The focus being very much on establishing LETS groups in the poor black populated areas of the city.

In Fukuoka (Japan) I met with City Council representatives and Mr. Idemitsu, director of IDEX Petroleum, one of the 10 largest companies on Kyushu Island, to discuss ways of introducing a community currency system into their city. I also met with struggling LETS groups around the island, and in Kagoshima, I gave an ‘Introduction To LETS’ presentation to 2,000 locals at their annual Harvest Day Festival.

But it’s the ‘LETS family’ factor that made such a massive venture possible. My objective was to travel the world sharing my LETS philosophy and highlighting the benefits of trading through LETS. I’m passionate about LETS and my belief in the system is unwavering.

My LETS hosts around the world knew that I was genuine about my desire to help them, my LETS family circle, and they responded willingly with my travel requirements. When it came to speaking about LETS, I would speak with anyone at any time. I didn’t hold back my services and I found my hosts didn’t hold back theirs. We traded with a community spirit, so it was harmonious, unlike the cash economy which is purely profit motivated.

So just to summarise.

  • LETS points should be thought of as favours, not dollars.
  • LETS trading should be performed with a community spirit, rather than being profit motivated.
  • LETS is the perfect way to improve your lifestyle by providing luxury goods and services.
  • LETS groups can help members reduce large debit balances.
  • LETS offers members opportunities to learn, improve or perfect skills.
  • LETS can be used internationally if you’re genuine about helping LETS members, and accept visiting places where you’re invited, rather than places you specifically want to go.

Happy trading,

James Taris

(James Taris is a self-confessed LETSaholic. He’s the founder of www.LETS-Linkup.com the largest LETS Directory on the internet – you can register as a LETS-Linkup.com member – top right-hand corner of LETS-Linkup homepage (it’s FREE). And James is also the author of ‘Travelling The World With Funny Money’ which can be read FREE off the internet – link to it from www.JamesTaris.com. He has recently returned from a LETS Tour through the North and South Islands of New Zealand, where he also featured as a key speaker at the 2003 National LETS Conference held in Invercargill. All correspondence is welcomed. Contact him by email on jtaris@nex.net.au )

If you’ve any queries, contact Michael Loxton, coordinator for Kingsbridge LETS, on 01548 854028.

SW LETS Meeting in Somerset – Oct 11th, 2003

Taking Control… A day of skills sharing and networking for new and existing co-ops and community enterprises…

Including meetings of SW LETS and Radical Routes SW

Saturday October 11th 10.30-5
Flax Drayton, South Petherton, Somerset

Attendance free * Bring and share lunch * Creche
Suitable for old hands and raw beginners alike!
Please confirm attendance before October 9th,
especially if you require the creche for your children

For more information contact UpStart on 0845 458 1473
Email upstart@co-op.org or visit www.upstart.coop

There are some funds available to help with travel costs, and we may be able to arrange some overnight accommodation.

Sessions include:
Setting up Housing Co-ops * Worker Co-ops * Car pools and Renewable energy projects * Supporting and publicising LETS * Developing a community economy * Troubleshooting for co-ops * and more.

SW Meeting in Exeter

South West LETS Activists Meeting.
Saturday 28th June 2003, 11am – 4pm
Palace Gate Centre, Palace Gate, Exeter EX1 1JA

A long overdue meeting to discuss issues of common concern:

  • how can we help struggling LETS groups stay afloat?
  • How can we increase participation and membership?
  • What next for the CELT?
  • What kind of regional structures do we need?
  • How can we introduce LETS to areas that don’t have access to it?
  • How can we introduce more products and services?
  • How should we relate to Time Banks?
  • Can we resolve some of the divisive issues around LETS?

and whatever else your group wants to add to the agenda.

Contact: Alex Lawrie on 0845 458 1473 upstart@co-op.org.

Palace Gate is off South Street, near the Cathedral. If you are coming by train, Exeter Central is a ten minute walk away. The Palace Gate Centre is opposite Brazzâ. Parking is difficult, so use one of the main city centre car parks.