Vestas Campaigner Patrick Rolfe Dies

Sad to hear that 24 year old Vestas Campaigner from London died yesterday from a rare form of stomach cancer. Do you remember meeting him when he was on the Island in 2009?

Sad news reached us here at VB this morning, when we heard of the death of Patrick Rolfe.

Patrick Rolfe at Vestas Rally in Newport August 2009Anyone involved in the Vestas protest will remember 24 year old Patrick, who came down to the Island to show support and solidarity for the 500 workers about to lose their jobs back in July 2009.

Patrick, originally from London, but more recently studying in Leeds, has been fighting a rare stomach cancer for the last few months and was finally defeated by the disease on Friday.

Share your good memories
His family and friends are keen to hear good memories from anyone who met Patrick during his time on the Island.

Feel free to leave your comments below for all to see.

We’ll be updating the article when other tributes are posted on the Save Vestas Blog [see post here] and Workers Liberty Website [see post here].

You can email Patrick’s friend, Edward Maltby, on for details of his funeral.

Thanks to Vicki M for letting us know. You can read her tribute to Patrick on her blog.

Our sincerest condolences go out to Patrick’s family and friends.

Monday, 13th June, 2011 11:46am



Filed under: Isle of Wight News, Newport, Overseas, Vestas Sit-In

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Those who knew Patrick through the Vestas campaign can leave tributes to him here:

    Tributes to Patrick will also be posted up on the Great Unrest blog he wrote for, at

    This is an article that Patrick wrote during the early stages of the Vestas campaign, when a small group of us were leafleting the factory and trying to get a first meeting going. Patrick was central to that:–-fight

  2. Bass Gurl

    13.Jun.2011 1:10pm

    Really sorry to hear this news, I remember meeting Pat on the roundabout and thought he was a lovely guy. Rest in peace.

  3. Written for the ‘Vestas Library’ website:

    Remembering Patrick Rolfe who died 10th June, one of a small group of young activists who came to the Isle of Wight in the summer of 2009, camped out in the Ryde Labour hall and the industrial estate in Newport, and helped kick-start the big campaign to keep open the Vestas factory and save 500 local jobs. Patrick had been involved, before this, in laying the groundwork of the politics that motivate this kind of unusual and radical intervention.

    He helped set up the Workers’ Climate Action Network as a student, which took up and developped the growing demand for “Just Transition”. This demand is aimed at uniting the interests of those fighting for the environment, and those fighting for jobs: towards a transition to a sustainable economy – “just”, in that it should not create unemployment in areas that rely on the fossil fuel economy (aviation, coal, cars etc). Just Transition” and “Green Jobs” had become key slogans in the new red-green alliance that was slowly forming internationally.

    Workers Climate Action, with Patrick heavily involved, worked within the Climate Camps protesting at Heathrow airport and Kingsnorth coal power station, to encourage workers in these workplaces to put themselves at the forefront of the struggle for the environment, and fight for alternative job creation. Workers Climate Action argued for a policy – with activists, local residents and workers – of “a workers’-led just transition”, asserting that those working directly in these polluting industries were key to bringing them down, but this relied on workers being won-over to fighting for, and actively shaping the creation of, alternative sustainable, socially-useful, skilled and rewarding work.

    Patrick was among a few activists who researched the Lucas Plan from the 70s, where workers facing factory closures, developped an alternative workers’ plan that was submitted to management and government, in which they put forward some 250 alternative ways to deploy their existing skills and machinery. The workers at Lucas were leaving a legacy, that Patrick was keen to popularise, a challenge to future workers to relate to their work not as bees do, working unconsciously, but as active architects, designing the production of socially useful goods for the future. The Lucas workers decided that they would rather be designing and producing medical and mobility aids and green technologies than components for the arms industry.

    Patrick saw not just the positive need for Vestas workers to keep making wind-turbines, but for workers at places like BAE on the island, to transition towards this type of socially progressive production, and for all production to be cooperative, free and publically-owned.

    One of the lessons of the Lucas Plan was the need for cooperation and solidarity between the different groups of workers involved in taking forward new technologies and industries, academics, R&D workers, shop-floor, logistics, admin, etc. The idea is that through autonomous cooperation among the different sections of labour, workers could be rid of domineering and parasitic managers and bosses, and also overcome the alienation of doing (and understanding) just one part of the division of labour.

    The Vestas campaign entailed mainly shop-floor workers, with the Research & Design being kept on, and very much separate in workplace, conditions and type of work, pay and background. They are relatively well-protected in an otherwise market-led company, where if the market dictates they will shut down a useable site on the Isle of Wight and build an entirely new one in Sheerness. If the R&D workers had had more loyalty to the shop-floor workers, then that would be the beginnings of a viable outfit for production on the Isle of Wight, accountable to the community not a trans-national company.

    Pat chose to do a PhD focussing on the democratic issues entailed in the construction of wind-farms. He revisited the island last year to see the site at Cheverton Downs, where the Tory council had notoriously turned down the planning application that would have seen the first three wind turbines go up on the island. This was the other major issue holding back wind-energy production in the UK: planning policy and practice, especially in Tory areas.

    Patrick and I talked, when he was here for the 1st Year anniversary of the Vestas campaign, about this project – the Vestas Library, independent working-class education – and he was very enthusiastic. He was also optimistic about local democratic planning, and we talked about the Ryde Community Plan. Had hoped to draft in his help at some point. The aims of this project, are very much in keeping with the kind of thinking that motivated Patrick, to help develop working-class self-education, confidence, creativity, cooperation and action, so that working-class people gain the perspective and the ability of taking control of the work they do.

    I will remember Pat for his commitment to a socialist future. He wasn’t particularly dogmatic about what you called that better world, and he worked with anarchists, environmentalists, students, trade unionists, migrants – seeing that through solidarity, education, debate, party, music, work, love and struggle, a better world could be created.

    I am weary with sadness at the loss of someone who offered so much to the areas of work I engage in. He was hugely active for free education, which meant to him, not just no fees, but an education shaped by students themelseves, in a world where distinctions of workers, students and teachers – and workplaces and universities – are abolished: every worker a student, every student a teacher, every workplace a university, every school a workplace etc. Built on equality, liberty, cooperation and solidarity against capitalism, greed, exploitation and alienation .

    Pat was also a very good person, bright, funny, cheerful, thoughtful, creative, serious, earnest, humble, brave, hard-working. He is now even more to live up to, and we will all miss him.

  4. A lovely, gentle and caring man. Very sad day

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