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Tribute to vicar who had a passion for social justice

The community has paid tribute to a former Knowle West vicar who made his mark serving the area for ten years and had a passion for social justice.

Alister Palmer, originally from Australia, was vicar of St Barnabas and Holy Cross Churches, and also Chair of Trustees for five years at The Mede Community & Learning Centre  – which he saw re-named as the Inns Court Centre.

He retired in 2013 and moved to Whitchurch, saying in an interview with The Knowledge that his time in the area “had been fantastic experience and a great place to end one’s work and ministry.”

He also said there were “lots of major movers and shakers in the area” who continued to make contributions.

As a former Chair of the Regeneration Planning Group, Mr Palmer worked on the 2012 Regeneration Framework and always said he felt it important for “the community to be heard”.

Denise Britt who worked with him recalls: “When we first started doing the planning group Alister was Chair and we were doing work around Filwood Broadway.

“We had around £300,000 and we had some consultants in to help and see what the community wanted, the houses over the park and the supermarket, the new layout of Filwood and we had plans drawn up…

“Alister was a gentle and calming man and if he could help you he would. He worked hard for the community of Knowle West.”

Alister always cited one of the highlights of his time in the area was helping to save The Mede and a large number of homes in the Inns Court area from demolition as part of the council’s regeneration plan in 2010. 

He saw his dream fulfilled at the launch of the new Inns Court Centre in 2013 with the day nursery and a refurbished café.

He also helped to set up a food store at Marshall Walk which was the first in the area. It was run by the Inns Court Centre in partnership with the Matthew Tree Project and local churches to help fight food poverty in Knowle West.

Mark Goodway, Founder of The Matthew Tree Project says: “I count it a great privilege to have known Alister, initially as a colleague, and then as a friend. We first met in 2012, not long after the launch of The Matthew Tree Project charity… It was quickly apparent that Alister was a deep thinker with huge compassion for the poor and a great passion for the Inns Court Community… 

“It is impossible to quantify just how much I personally, and The Matthew Tree Project,  organisationally, benefited from Alister’s deep and progressive understanding of social issues. Alister will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and the wider community. ..”

The Rev Bernard Morris, Chair of the Inns Court Community and Family Centre and Senior Pastor at the Inns Court Christian Fellowship says:  “…He was a man of vision, a dedicated vicar and a hardworking advocate for social justice.

“Among his many roles, he took over the role of Chair of Trustees of The Mede Community and Learning Centre in April 2009. The Centre faced many financial challenges, but Alister just rolled up his sleeves and got on with it.

“Over the ensuing years, Alister engaged with the local authority, charitable funders and anyone else who would listen, in order to secure sufficient resources to keep the Centre going. 

“Personally, I learned some much from him as a friend and colleague. As his deputy chair, I supported his tireless work until sadly he had to resign in late 2013 due to ill health, a role I subsequently inherited.

“To his family and close friends, we send our condolences.”